POETS ONLINE ARCHIVE - Manmade



There I am surfing the Net for romance and I find the (perhaps ironic, perhaps oxymoronic) site titled Romanticism on the Net. Of course, as Net fate would have it, it is a very proper British site on Romanticism in Literature. I scroll a ways down and actually find something of interest on William Wordsworth. Some spark of high school English fires a synapse and I am trying to recall that poem of his that I actually enjoyed in that dreadful anthology we had to use. The poem, "COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE, SEPT. 3, 1802"  (which the poet said was "Written on the roof of a coach, on my way to France.") is somewhat of a departure for him. Known as a "nature poet", the object of beauty here is the highly unnatural city of London as seen while crossing the Thames. In the early morning while the "mighty heart is lying still" it actually looks quite beautiful. The opening octave is the description and then that turn at the sestet to the wonder of it. It almost feels like William surprised himself by appreciating this manmade landscape. By the way, you can surf ALL of Wordsworth's poetry at the Complete Poetical Works .

Now it's your turn - write about the wonder and beauty of something manmade*, and perhaps, like use that language we tend to reserve for the natural world.

*sorry, we don't have a more politically correct term at hand.


 

YELLOW

I spend an hour watching
Martha Stewart make an envelope
out of heavy yellow paper.
First she cuts the template,
then she scores it.
Martha presses the seams with a ruler,
she scallops the flaps.
She turns it over and over until it is singing.
On the card she has made to go inside
all the planets are moving,
and a palace dog barks.

She does not dare to address it.

Instead, she impregnates herself
and retires to an antique Scottish hen coop.
The resultant child is trained
by samurai calligraphers,
his hands bound into the shapes of doves.
When he reaches the age of manhood,
his hands are unwound and allowed
to fly across the page to address the light
his mother has caught, and pressed
into the folds.

O yellow, yellow day, he cries,
and who can blame him?

MARY DeBOW


A see-through mirror is unfair
To the mirror-sided man
Preening, primping, strutting there.

Cutting to the side where fun is
Made at the expense of who(m)
Ever-stands behind that glass
(Sure that he's alone to view
Attributes he owns to pass
Muster in the world),  you'll find
Judges, clowns, self-righteous folk,
And even God.   If Truth were kind,
Law would have such mirrors broke(n).

CATHERINE M. LEGAULT



THE OLD MAN

He is no longer plumb
But he is a real peach
The old wooden teacher's cabinet
I call him the old man
Left he has a full length door
In former days probably named
Coat Cubby or some such
It has one coat hook and
Three stains where other hooks did their job
His side wall is broken by two mesh squares
To promote the free flow of knowledge or truth
Or just fresh air to avoid the musty
His right side is three sticking drawers
Surmounted by a half door
Shielding two adjustable shelves
Which lie at the bottom
Bracket holes long reamed and splintered
They can no longer bear weighty ideas
The interior wood gleams with craftsmanship
Rich with color and not at all shabby deal
The door harbors souvenirs
A yellow rippled bell schedule 40 years too late
Directions for evacuation before the new wing
Half a thank you note in fountain pen
In then commonplace calligraphy
Enameled tacks and brass screws
Pieces of curling cellophane tape
Each with the white triangle of an ancient mimeo
A giant wire U (Mystery for my first years
Research says a hat rack) no proper teacher
Could be seen without his fedora

Someone thought the old man
Needed a face lift
The poor guy was painted
Industrial beige
But industrial blue
Bleeds through
And through that
Industrial mint
An ugly hasp crosses
His pitted face

His inside glows
His outside glowers
With the residue
Of nearly a century

Next year when the change happens
He won't be put out to pasture
Or restored or recycled
When they raze the school
I’ll raise my invisible fedora
To the dust and glory
Of the old man
 

MICHAEL Z. MURPHY



NATURE 3000, a prose poem

Prologue: Since the time of Wordsworth, nature's been paved over and polluted with syntax inverted and rhymes perverted...

The boy on the back of his mother's bike asks what that strange metal post is up ahead.

A lamppost, his mother responds, stopping by the streetlight on a summer's evening.

Pretty, the boy coos, pointing.

It's sad though, mother explains. No one really appreciates the lamppost. They are torn down and discarded, halogen Port-A-Potties erected in their place. This particular model streetlight is endangered. Just look at how the bulb flickers in the waning night...

     The streetlight hovers over them, where once there was a tree, and soon will stand a majestic glowing toilet-space. One day the boy will tell his grandchildren about streetlights, saying how beautiful was the nature of the incandescent metal pillars before their cruel extinction. The children will laugh, mocking the old man-boy. You see, to speak of streetlights will become as absurd as saying that once there were things called trees roaming wildly over the earth...

RICH RUSSELL



LIGHTHOUSE

For over two hundred years it has guided
from a hundred feet above the sea.
Sandstone walls six feet thick at the base
tapering to half of that at the top.
I climb the iron spiral of stairs
that keepers once used to reach
the Fresnel bivalve lens.
I like that it says bivalve on the plaque,

grounding this golden eye
to some oyster or clam below.
Two and a half million candlepower now
in its automated form sweeps the sea
as my eye tries to see whaling ships,
submarines, steamers, clipper ships,
fishing boats enter its field of view.
The fog horn marks my descent

and at the base I enter
the keeper's parlor and bedroom.
He and his wife made love here
beneath the active lighthouse,
while the horn counted time,
the light guided the sea,
and waves slapped gently
at her shores.

KEN RONKOWITZ


from below on the earth
where I lay in fields of green
I see a streak of white
a flash of silver and a distant rumble
like heat thunder
low and rumbling
and I wonder where
these birds of flight are going
where they have been
what they have seen
and are they bringing my love to me
as I lay alone in my field
they pass me by
as if I were not there
so I scream and jump
to no avail
for these birds of flight
always move on
going home to their nests
and the warmth
of a lovers embrace

MATTHEW BRADY


Home:

It is the type of place that lets you back
without taking note of your mistakes
and it may not be much but,
you can forgive that...
you can look and see a palace even
if it's your one bedroom apartment,
a cubicle in a sea of brick
it's the type of place that lets you leave
and misses you while you are not around
it's loving and, best of all, forgiving
and it is temporary in the scheme of things
but it is sanctuary
and it is perfect even if it's only made of straw

BRANDI SEMLER


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