Dreams of a Forlorn Prince (Excerpt)

Where was his Queen of Hearts? He imagined what she might be like – but most of the time she felt like a dream – unattainable – just out of reach. He dreamt anyway – of this woman who loved fearlessly and without fear of rejection… a partner not haunted or forlorn with insecurities of the past.

He longed for such companionship – a woman who would permeate his world like sunlight at dawn, peaking her head in – daybreak – to remind him that beauty is always present in this world for those that choose to see it. She would be there, day after day, to remind him to be grateful for the chance to rise again with the sun. The prince grew weary of rumination, and ended with his constant refrain:
In due time, all in due time…

The Ache That Would Not Leave/Longing For

Original: The Ache That Would Not Leave by John Mark Green

(Bracketed because of minor notations/changes, a sprinkling of my own interpretations)

“Behind the hum and routine of daily living, there lay a persistent longing for something she could not easily put into words. It felt like impulsive adventures and watching the sun rise over unfamiliar mountains, or coffee in a street café, set to the background music of a foreign language. It was the smell of the ocean, with dizzying seagulls whirling in a cobalt sky; exotic foods and strange faces, in a city where no one knew her name. She wanted jokes shared at midnight, and road trips without a map, but most of all, she wished for someone who desired to explore the mysteries of the the great big world outside [their] doorstep…” – John Mark Green

A Poem Begins…

“A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a home-sickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words.” – Robert Frost

Proverbs And Poetry

Miguel De Cervantes once described proverbs as ‘short sentences from long experiences.’ I’ve always imagined that the same could be said of poetry. Interesting parallel, no?

1) “The supreme excellence is not in being better than others, but in being better than your former self.” – Indian Proverb
2) “A habit is first a wanderer, then a guest, and finally the boss.” – Hungarian Proverb
3) “A few kind words can warm three winter months.” – Japanese Proverb
4) “If you wonder often, the gift of understanding will come.” – Arapaho Proverb
5) “Listen- or your tongue will keep you deaf.” – Cherokee Proverb
6) “Opportunities come, but do not linger.” – Nepalese Proverb
7) “Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.” – English Proverb
8) “Sailors get to know each other better when there is a storm.” – Corsican Proverb

A Long Time Waiting

Writing by Ted Boughter-Dornfeld Copyright © 2009

I.

A woman with thick, smoky gray hair and a sturdy, brown-haired young man sit down in a Chinese restaurant in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. A waiter takes their order.

Waiter: “Can I get you anything to drink?”

The woman, whose name is Mary, looks up at the ceiling.

Mary: “Do you have Shirley Temples? I love those.”
Waiter: “Yes m’am. And for you, sir?”
James: “I’ll take a sprite.”
Waiter: “And for your meal?”
James: “We’ll start with an order of steamed dumplings. Then we’ll have the Shrimp Lo Mein, and the Beef with Curry Sauce.”
Waiter: “Is that all, sir?”
James: “Yes, thank you.”

The waiter exits, leaving the two to sit and catch up. The silence eats into the room, leaving little available breathing space. Despite the suffocating atmosphere, James looks comfortable. He has been to the top of this mountain before. He knows he can’t slip. It’s a long way down.

Mary: “I love you, James.”

He sighs with resignation, and looks down at the ornate, red dragon carpeting that covers the floor.

James: “I know Mom.”
Mary: “I just wanted you to know.”
James: “I do.”
Mary: “Ok… just to make sure you did. So, how is everything?”
James: “It’s good, Mom. I’m working a lot.”
Mary: “I had a dream that someone beat you up at school. Did anyone try to hurt you?”
James: “Mom, could you please stop?”
Mary: “Stop what?”
James: “You don’t need to worry about me.”
Mary: “I’m sorry. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since Monday.”
James: “It’s Friday. Has it really been bothering you that long?”

The waiter enters with food. He places the food down, appears as though he is going to say something, and thinks better of it. He leaves them again.

The young man chews quickly, munching methodically as though he consumes to fight a mortal fatigue. As he dines, new energy surges to his face, transforming his tensed pink cheeks to a vivacious crimson. The scarlet-colored beef leaves a stain on his teeth and lips.

James: “Mom, are you going to eat anything, or is this food going to go to waste?”
Mary: “I’m not so hungry.”
James: “Why? Have you not been eating again?”
Mary: “No, I eat sometimes.”
James: “Mom, you know what the doctor said about eating.”
Mary: “But someone might have put something in the food.”
James: “No one put anything in your food.”

Feigning a smile, Mary forces, “Ok.”

James: “Do you want chopsticks?”
Mary: “No, I’d rather use a fork.”

A child squirms in a neighboring booth, and squeals. The youthful current of crying sends a chill down James’s back.

James: “So you’re 47 now, mom…do you feel any different?”
Mary: “Not really. Except maybe that my hair is more gray.”
James: “It looks good. Are they treating you ok?
Mary: “In Norristown? Yeah, just fine. We had some vanilla cupcakes for my birthday yesterday.”
James: “Good. I’m glad I could take you out for your birthday today.”
Mary: “How is your girlfriend?”
James: “Mom, me and Brianna broke up four months ago.”
Mary: “Oh…I’m sorry.”
James: “It’s ok. I guess things just weren’t meant to be.”
Mary: “That’s too bad, I liked her.”
James: “Yeah. So did I.”
Mary: “Do you love me?”
James: “Of course I do. Why would you ask that?”
Mary: “Because I haven’t given you many reasons to.”
James: “I love you with everything I have, ma.”
Mary: “Ok.”
James: “I have to get you back, it’s getting late.”
Mary: “I know.”

The man signals the waiter, who hands them the bill and sets down a pair of fortune cookies. Mary looks at hers briefly, gently depositing it into her sewn coat pocket. The young man pulls two bills from his wallet, and places them inside the black leather folder. He breaks the cookie in half, eats it, and throws out his fortune in the green receptacle by the door on the way out.

Poetry

Poetry” the word, is a concept of Greek origin. It comes from the greek root “poiesis,” meaning “to make,” or “create.” It is one of the most ancient forms of art and teaching, as numerous civilizations have used it to pass down stories, songs, and histories through both the written and oral tradition.

While it is difficult to trace poetry to a definite beginning, it is likely as old as the human spoken word. The oldest recorded poetry is contained in the cuneiform tablets of ancient Mesopotamia circa 3,000 B.C.

Classical Chinese poetry has its roots in the form of song lyrics dating to 1,000 B.C. Poetry appears in all the major religious canons, such as the Sanskrit Vedas, the Hebrew Tanakh and the Greek Bible.

In the West, poetry has evolved from such ancient Greek masterpieces as Homer’s “Odyssey” and “Iliad” circa 900 B.C., on into the Romantic poetry of Western Europe, and through the modern and postmodern periods to the present.

To give a more personal defintion, poetry is…

  • Mapping thoughts or feelings at the present, and thus becoming more aware of them.
  • Multiplicitous – because it represents different things to different people. Poetry is an artistic conversation which should always be open to interpretation.
  • An evocation of deep, powerful images, filled with the tensions of life.
  • Music – because writing poetry is organizing thoughts and words in a creative, lyrical manner; by collecting the layers and layers of stimulus that flow in and out of the body and mind.
  • Rhythmic and dynamic – just like any form of dialect or language, each poet forms a unique relationship to a syntax and sound; sometimes capturing colloquial linguistic patterns in cliche, while other times creating new ideas and vernacular through innovation of speech and imagery.
  • Animating – through the presence of fresh idiom. Language is shaped and posed in a form that not only expresses the matter at hand but adds to the possibilities of available reality.

Regardless of the amount of originality in language, images, or ideas present, poetry (and creative writing) serves an important function, as a condensed record-keeper of the progression of our language and culture.