I’m doing two poetry challenges this month. One is a poetry form challenge hosted by Khara House over at her blog, Our Lost Jungle. The other is a challenge to write a poem a day sponsored by Striped Water Poets and hosted this year by Brendan McBreen over at August Postcard Poetry Fest(ival) blog. Both challenges foster networking between poets and give them ample opportunities to expand and deepen their poetry skills.
This week Khara challenged us to write a poem in Pleiades form: seven lines, each beginning with the same letter or sound and lines with alliteration. I began on Tuesday to piece together a Pleiades before climbing Mt. Healy with my daughter and her boyfriend on Wednesday. On the trip up the mountain there was plenty of opportunity to alliterate. “Quaking quads.” “Little steps, no regrets.” “Thunder thighs take me home.”
This morning was deadline day so I got back at it and may have gone overboard with the alliteration but I couldn’t help myself. I like alliteration. Alliteration was part of the reason I was drawn to poetry. I like a lines of internal rhymes. Not that I’m good at it but it still grabs me when I hear one.
Turns out I came up with the dark theme but I make no excuse for this. Poetry should give voice to all things great and small and dark and light. What would poetry be if it were only made up of angels and bright smiles? Most certainly, a one-sided monster.
The great thing about doing a poetry form that you wouldn’t ordinarily is that it often reveals subjects and correspondences that you would otherwise not uncover. Obviously, my subconsciousness was thinking of hate crimes and the ugly side of our history in the western hemisphere. Not that I think we are unique in the world in this. Since the Nazi craze began in the first half of the 20th-century, there have come other numerous mass exterminations plans. It is obvious that large political movements can morph into a race crushing machine when led by power-hungry maniacs set on building a myth of perfection around one particular race. Needless to say, these mean movements also spawn weak and disturbed individuals who commit atrocious acts on innocents in the name of some ideal of racial or ethnic purity. I think this is what was on my mind when I wrote these lines.
Fast the innocents fell in fields full of fooled fellowers
fighting for fatherland and Fuhrer’s glory.
Fast forward, shy fourscore, this ferocious fiasco:
fiends still stumbling on vicious lies with glorious goals.
Fooled again, they gather guns and ghoulish gumption,
fermenting death and sorrow from Norway to the states.
Frightening is this horrendous heritage of hate.
I think it would be naive to think hate inspired violence will play itself out. It always astonishes me that the foot soldiers of hate often come from well-educated but overly idealistic and morally weak minions fed on an ideological diet based on fear in which the goal of every meal is racial or religious supremacy. History shows humanity’s ability to thwart these genocidal-based atrocities is dismal. Right now butchers are in operation in Syria, Mali, Afganistan, Berma and a dozen other countries.
I saw at the opening of the Olympics in which the crowds were a gush singing the old Beatles song, “All we need is love.” Boy, I wish that love was all we did need. I think alongside of love we need a good dose of justice, diplomacy, acceptance, integrity, honor and compassion. A little poetry wouldn’t hurt too.