Punctuation in Poetry

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Punctuation in Poetry

Gardeners

when three bearded men
unbury winter’s bones they pick
at old wood scars dead trees and
their limbs now lying there lifeless

they dig deep at flowerbeds
uprooting a riot of Japanese
Knot Weed untangling roots
all tangled and twisted with
Bees’ Balm and perennials
that stray across borders
unwelcome immigrants neither
barriers nor fences can possibly hold

they probe between flag-
stones where wintering birds
and squirrels and chipmunks
cracked the seeds and wild weeds
that grow there and flourish

but where would the land be
and what would it accomplish
without helping hands
and the power of strong fingers
and fresh eyes that spot those
intruders who diminish
the space where good flowers
grow strong with fresh herbs
chives and oregano basil
and parsley peppermint sweet
crushed beneath feet

Comment: I posted this poem yesterday. It’s another raw poem. On re-reading it, I found it confusing. To punctuate or not to punctuate, that was my question. I decided to rewrite it and use punctuation. Here’s the new version.

Gardeners

Three bearded boys unbury
winter’s bones. They pick
at old wood scars, dead trees and
their limbs now lying lifeless.

They dig deep at flowerbeds
uprooting a riot of Japanese
Knot Weed, untangling roots
all tangled and twisted:
Bees’ Balm, Cape Daisies,
and quick-growing weeds
that run across borders,
unwelcome migrants
that barriers can’t hold.

They flourish between flag-stones
where wintering birds,
squirrels, and chipmunks
cracked seeds from the feeders.

Where would the land be,
and what would it accomplish
without helping hands,
the power of strong fingers
that pluck out the intruders
that infringe on the spaces
where proper plants grow
unthreatened by weeds?

Second Comment: Both versions work, but in different ways. The first version is more spontaneous and less logical. It allows thought and image to freely flow, but there’s some repetition and a certain lack of clarity. It does allow the  reader to be creative and to seek for alternate meanings and choose the combinations that please the most. The second version is more logical and expresses a slightly different train of thought. Punctuation forces revision and a revision that punctuates demands good grammar, less freedom of speech. The result is a tighter, much closer expression. By extension, the need to punctuate also demands more thought, more concision. Needless words are eliminated. Better combinations are possible. In addition, I find the rhythm becomes more prominent, but less spontaneous. To punctuate or not to punctuate: only the poet can decide, but any comments will be most welcome.

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Gardeners

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Gardeners

when three bearded men
unbury winter’s bones they pick
at old wood scars dead trees and
their limbs now lying there lifeless

they dig deep at flowerbeds
uprooting a riot of Japanese
Knot Weed untangling roots
all tangled and twisted with
Bees’ Balm and perennials
that stray across borders
unwelcome immigrants neither
barriers nor fences can possibly hold

they probe between flag-
stones where wintering birds
and squirrels and chipmunks
cracked the seeds and wild weeds
that grow there and flourish

but where would the land be
and what would it accomplish
without helping hands
and the power of strong fingers
and fresh eyes that spot those
intruders who diminish
the space where good flowers
grow strong with fresh herbs
chives and oregano basil
and parsley peppermint sweet
crushed beneath feet

Comment: This was the day for Thursday Thoughts, but I don’t have any, save for those in the poem. How does Mother nature manage without us? What is the difference between a weed and a flower? Why do the dandelions dance in my garden and why so many, fresh every spring? What happens when the gardeners no longer garden and nature takes over? Is the wilderness that arrives really a wilderness? The garden that grows, does it really need us? Do we own the land, or does the land own us? The same with development: do we shape the land or does the land shape us? Was the wilderness a wilderness before we arrived? I watch the deer drifting past the trees in the garden. They are so tolerant, so aware of my presence. “Beware of the possessive,” my teddy bear tells me. “I’m not your Teddy and you’re not my master. The world exists without you possessing it. It will continue without you. And yes, I can hear you: ‘my flowers, my garden, my bees and my deer, my house and my grounds, my groundhog and my Teddy.”‘ “My God,” says the Teddy Bear who sits on my bed and hears me snore and watches me dreaming … “Whatever are you thinking?”

KIRA

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KIRA

Kingsbrae International Residence for the Arts has appointed five artists who will work in residence at Kingsbrae and Kingsbrae Gardens (St. Andrews, New Brunswick), from June 1 to June 28, 2017. The artists who will work in Kingsbrae in June are Carlos Carty (Lima, Peru, musician), Anne Wright (Ottawa, multi-media), and Elise Muller (Muskoka sculptor). They will be joined by two New Brunswick artists, Ruby Allan (Fredericton, painter), and Roger Moore (Island View, poet). Note that KIRA is making a special effort to encourage New Brunswick artists. Full details are in the link above.

The selected artists met face to face on a video conference call and discussed some of the work that they could do in common: more about this later. Suffice to say for now that joint workshops on different forms of creativity are being planned. While the residency will be an excellent time for individual work, each participant has a specific project to be undertaken during our time at St. Andrews, there will also be time for the interchange of creative ideas and for readings and workshops within the local artistic community.

My own project will be to establish a Bakhtinian poetic dialog with my time (June) and my place (Kingsbrae, St. Andrews).  This follows the ideal of the Bakhtinian chronotopos, as outlined in my earlier post Alebrijes or Inspiration, and I plan to use my time to reflect upon and write about both St. Andrews and the Kingsbrae Gardens. I intend blogging regularly throughout the month of June and I look forward to posting photos and cartoons to accompany my poems and the journal that I will maintain throughout my stay. My blog is located at rogermoorepoet.com.

Further to this project, I hope to establish a rapport, much along the lines of my poems on Monet at Giverny, between myself as poet and Kingsbrae Gardens as a subject for poetry. Giverny and Monet at Giverny 1-4/16, Monet at Giverny 5-8/16, Monet at Giverny 9-12/16, and Monet at Giverny 13-16/16 offer a model for some of the art work I would like to accomplish.

Each artist will have studio space. Should you visit St. Andrews in June, please consider not only visiting Kingsbrae and its beautiful gardens but also dropping by to meet us as we work to accomplish our artistic tasks. I, personally, will be very happy to meet and talk with visitors to the residency who are interested in the daily workings of my art.

 

Le mot juste

 

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Le mot juste

Searching for what exactly?
For the exact word, le mot juste,
the word that sums it all up,
catches the essence of the thing
and holds it in the mind forever.

Le mot juste? Think color.
Think color blind. Think blind.
Think of the world we see
reduced to grey scale.
Think of the seven colors
that stripe the rainbow sky,
each with a unique name:
it seems so easy, so simple.

But the world has changed.
Think now of the computer,
its screen more accurate
than the human eye and color
coordinated by a million or more
tiny little pixels that multiply
the seven rainbow colors
by a million or two and every
color numbered beyond
the recognition point
of the human eye: le mot juste
reduced to precision of number.

Think flowers. Think scent.
Think of the limited ways
we describe the smell of things.

I look across the breakfast table
and see my wife of fifty years,
a teenager reborn, walking into
the café where we first met.
I search my memory and my mind
for the words to describe that beauty,
that surge of excitement,
but I cannot find les mots justes.

May Day

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May Day

March 1, St. David’s Day:
the daffodils grow free
around Cardiff Castle keep;
they cluster in Roath Park,
while Blackweir Gardens
flourish with their flowering.

March 17, St. Patrick’s Day:
it’s the traditional first practice,
out of doors, for the Toronto Irish
Rugby Club and the players stand
round and shiver in weak sunlight
as shadows lengthen over the grass.

April 23, St. George’s Day:
International Book Day
and we celebrate the lives
of earlier writers … Shakespeare,
Miguel de Cervantes, El Inca
Garcilaso de la Vega, great,
but so little known outside Peru.

May 1, May Day, May Day:
the Morse Code call goes out,
Save our Souls, for we have sinned.
We have left so many days and lives
behind us now, as we move into spring.

I recall so many familiar faces,
now gone for ever. Today, I’ll gift them
virtual flowers, a bouquet of May bought
from the wise old women who know its secret
hiding places in the wet spring woods
and bring its early sunny scents,
wrapped in foil, to my breakfast table.

Comment: Raw poem. I wrote it this morning with our winter geraniums sitting on the back porch, in the rain, glistening and damp. Every fall, we bring the best plants into the house and they survive the winter warmed by the fire. Then in the spring, we release them to the outdoors once again. So many things released this spring, friends departed over the winter, their exit so sudden. Wrapped in the scents of early May, I dream of salvation for them and for me and for all who survive.

April Ducks

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April Ducks … in Spanish … Patos de abril. Patos … because the double two of 22 look like two little ducks … and April … that’s the month we’re in … so Patos de abril … the twenty-second of April, or 22 abril … aka todaythough you wouldn’t think so from the phototaken today … just a few minutes ago …

Nice weather for ducks we say when it’s raining. But what do we say when late snow falls and we have between 4 and 6 inches of fresh snow down on the ground … on April 22nd … and it’s meant to be spring … and yesterday everything was green … and this is meant to be a color photograph … would you believe it? … and yesterday that Mountain Ash was full of birds … a downy woodpecker, creepers, purple finches, American Goldfinches, chickadees … robins were patrolling up and down the garden and juncos gathered with the early morning mourning doves beneath the feeders to pick up fallen seeds …

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Patos de abril … and winter has returned … we know the snow can’t last too long … we hope the sun will emerge and take it all away … I was late changing my snow tires this year … was that an omen? … I go in on Monday and get them done … we haven’t changed the garage around yet … the snow-blower sits by the garage door … a lion in winter in waiting and ready to roar … soon we will banish him to the back of the garage and bring out the mowers … soon … but not just yet … and certainly not today …

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Patos de abril … our indoor geraniums have survived the winter and defy the snow … they are sure the sun will return and the snow will emigrate somewhere … we don’t care where … if only we could build a wall … a great, big, expensive wall to keep winter away … an enormous, gigantic wall … a beautiful wall that unwanted snow storms wouldn’t cross … a wonderful wall … for which, of course, someone else will pay …

Yellow

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Yellow

Sunshine and daffodils
and my grand-daughter
paddling in the kitchen sink
as her mother washes
the breakfast dishes.

“Sit,” the child says and “stand,”
following the words with actions.

Yellow, she says, yellow,
as daffodils fill the screen
to shine in that far-off kitchen
a thousand clicks away by road
but instantaneous as the child
reaches out to hug the I-Pad.

Yellow, she repeats, yellow.

Soon she will see the daffodils
dancing their spring dance,
snow gone,
beside the lake,
beneath the trees,
yellow, yes, yellow,
tossing their heads
dancing
yellow in the yellow
breeze.

Comment: Another raw poem, straight from the journal, with only minor revisions. We Skyped yesterday and discovered that our grand-daughter had added another word to her vocabulary: yellow. She repeated it again and again, with great joy and energy, as she paddled in the kitchen sink.