Rictameters

IMG_0363

Dusk

The day
Grows weary now,
Decides to call it quits
So draws the clouds across the sun
And shuffles into twilight. Blackbirds call
From treetops but it does not turn;
Just fades away and leaves
A lonely world
To night.

 

Hounded

Your race
Is not against
The clock; no pack or prize
Impels you. All you have to beat
Is deep pain, your own doubt, the wasted days.
Recharge the lightning in your limbs,
Relight your inner fire:
I long to see
You win.

 

Revisiting rictameter. The second poem is for my beloved but somewhat banged-up whippet, who’s three weeks into a month-long convalescence from surgery to secure his left shoulder, which he dislocated in a fall at the beginning of April. He should make a full recovery given rest and time, but it’s going to be a long, slow job. Thank goodness for pet insurance…N.

Advertisements

A quintet of cinquains

Night falls;
And one by one
The lights still left to us
Are doused. How long will we await
The dawn?

The birds
Have read the signs
In wind and earth and tree.
One day, we will wake up to find
They’re gone.

I walk
The flowered fields
And through the clean-clothed woods.
But where in all this life may I
Find hope?

The fire
Burns low, its light
Too faint to read, the flame
Too weak to warm my back; and soon
Goes out.

The herd
Moves slowly west
Into a great unknown
And who can tell us if they will
Return?

 
 

Today’s prosodic experiment is the cinquain. It’s quite similar to yesterday’s rictameter, in that it’s syllabic; the differences being that it’s five lines, not nine, made up of (respectively) one, two, three, four and one iambic feet. The final cinquain is inspired by the wonderful ‘slow TV’ documentary Reinflytting – minutt for minutt (literally ‘Reindeer migration – minute by minute’) currently showing live on Norwegian channel NRK. I shall try to write some more cheerful cinquains in due course, I promise. Just been one of those weeks. N.

Solo

Perfect
In every note,
Bow arm strong and supple;
Eyes closed, lost in concentration,
You own this space, command our attention;
The music and moment are yours.
Wild applause. My heart swells.
Everything is
Perfect.

 
 

This is my first crack at rictameter, which I’d never heard of until today. Nine lines; start with two syllables, then four, then six, eight and finally 10, before counting down again to the same two syllables you first thought of. My subject, once again, is my wonderful daughter, who played a magical violin solo at her school concert last night. N.

Raptor

He rides high over the wood,
A black cross carved
On a flat, cold sky:

The wind and all the world
Turn with a twist
Of his curved flight feather;

His weapons ready –
Beak, eye, wing and talon
Sharp and clean.

What I would give
For his lone completeness,
Such unweighted, spare perfection;

While I am bound and grounded
By this jealous, grasping earth
And all its superfluities.

Lifesaver

Two dozen miles
Of knowing self-immolation:
Burning all the matches

Then digging deep
And burying myself
In the road.

A quick way out
That ends my pain
And helps keep me alive.

 
 

It’s been a stressful week, so I went out and left it all on the road yesterday. It hurt like hell, but that was exactly what I wanted and needed. Best part was holding off two guys on fancy carbon road bikes, who tried (and failed) to catch me in a five-mile, all-out drag race. Just like old times. And boy, it felt great. N.

Hellish

I do not need to stand with them
In la grande place in Compiègne

Like men before a firing squad
Waiting for the flag to drop:

I know what lies in wait for me
Out on that sunny, flower-fringed road;

The broken pavé of my mind
Holds fears and traps and falls enough;

An endless Arenberg of fears
And sickly doubts; each secteur strewn

With loose, uneven thoughts, all poised
To rip my wheels from under me;

My every bone and muscle braced
For the sudden twist that smashes me

Face-first into the cobblestones
Dry-drowning in the drifting dust.

Yet I’ll go on. This is the course
That life has set for me to ride.

And I will conquer, live to tell
My story from the road through hell.

 
 

A poem for the day of Paris-Roubaix, the most infamous of the one-day Spring Classics in northern France and Belgium. Known as l’Enfer du Nord (‘The Hell of the North’) for its fearsome cobblestones, it was immortalised in the compelling 1976 documentary A Sunday In Hell by Danish director Jørgen Leth. Although my ride yesterday was as benign as Paris-Roubaix is brutal, life as it is at the moment ensured I had plenty to think about. N.