Borrowed Poetry

Red Wolf Editions Fall 2019
Theme: Borrowed Poetry

Poems often are in dialogue with other artistic works. That makes us a collective. Things become interesting when there is a two-way street. As poets we read other poems, we consume movies, plays, music, various art forms. These things can be a springboard for our own thoughts and creativity. It’s something I do as well drawing inspiration from other experiential forms.

Just for instance riffing off lines from another poem.

We Are All Voyeurs

“The world is ugly/And the people are sad.”—Wallace Stevens

I read a couple of bleak poems that reeked of
cheap perfume. Mostly amorous crap.
Some guy who peeked through the wall saw
a woman take off her clothes, then kissed
her husband, then put her hand inside his
pants. They engaged in coitus, I think.

Me, I’m sitting by a bay window, looking at
the spreading branches–morning had broken
and the sunlight warmed my soles.
I’m slowly coming out of my shell
in the pine-scented air, portentous.
I combed out my voluminous hair.

The allure of woman, I think, lies in
some mystery–butt cheeks shifting under
maroon panties, for instance. She held up
a white blouse, like a veil. I thought about
God–where is he–nowhere here, not in
this seedy low-life, not this pageant.

Then I thought, tremulous, that search for
light must begin in darkness. Swirling
colors that begin to emerge into beauty.
Who held the brush but the artist
who is all body, and soul, when
in service of something so ineffable.

The lines in the first stanza references Mark Strand’s poem “The Way It Is.” The original Mark Strand poem reads:

My neighbor’s wife comes home.
She walks into the living room,
takes off her clothes, her hair falls down her back.
She seems to wade
through long flat rivers of shade.
The soles of her feet are black.
She kisses her husband’s neck
and puts her hands inside his pants.

In this issue we’re looking for these two-way streets. We borrow ideas and lines from another. No artistic work is a closed shell. You crack open the shell and the egg oozes out. What does your eggy consumption feel like? That’s what I’m interested in. Do you fry it sunny side up or poach it or turn it into a fancy omelette with mushrooms and so on? What is your experience of it?

In terms of borrowing ideas, you may also make your poem into some sort of response to another artistic source. This happens quite easily. For instance, after watching a movie, you may want to write about it. After listening to a piece of music, you may want to reference it. After viewing a piece of art or performance, you may want to tell the reader your perception of it in a poem. What are the things you’d highlight, that had struck you somehow?

In terms of referencing, you could do it in a deep essential way or you could do it quite casually–a quotation or whatever. We can be stretchy when it comes to definition. Make your poem an aesthetic response of sort. If life is about experience, your poem would be an aesthetic response to what happens in another aesthetic portrayal of it.

Anything can be borrowed. Borrowing isn’t copying. Please don’t be a skunk and plagiarize. You have to make the poem your own. Please clearly credit your source.

Read our submission guidelines here. Please check back on our site to see if your poem has been selected. We will not be sending out any rejection letters.

Submissions period: March to August 2019. Selected poems will be posted on this site and compiled into a PDF release in Fall 2019.

Irene Toh
Editor
Fall 2019

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The Electric Grandmother, by Debi Swim

The Electric Grandmother
by Debi Swim

She should have green eyes. No, blue. Why not brown?
And her nose a button nose. No, Greek. No, aquiline.
White hair caught in a bun. Salt and pepper! Mousy brown.
Grandmothers come in varieties
pick the one you want
and so we did
but eventually outgrew her
and her usefulness.
Then she sat alone with
other grandmothers
telling each other
about their grandkids.

Seems a bit of a waste
of grandmothers though
the real ones end up in a cemetery
and ours, oh, ours, came back
when we were old
and combed our hair
calmed our fusses
and took care of us until
we ended up in the cemetery.

Oh, I wish I could have
a forever grandmother, too.

Process notes: My favorite movie of all time is a sweet, nostalgic one called The Electric Grandmother, TV movie, 1982, based on Ray Bradbury’s “I Sing the Body Electric”. A trio of children and their father, get a very special robot grandmother to assist them.

Written in response to red wolf prompt 433.

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts.

Blue Sleeved Time, by Debi Swim

Blue Sleeved Time
by Debi Swim

Later I caught him, Time hurrying by, by
the blue sleeve, and I harangued him
For his impertinence of rushing me along
For letting me think there was a measure ahead
not noticing the bulk was behind

I berated his poor proffered gift
that he shoved in my face on a golden
platter. Memories of tender moments…
and what good are they? I ranted

Where is the touch, scent, substance?
Nothing to grasp, to cling to, dust,
it is all just fairy dust, all sparkle
no heft. I scolded his second rate
offering as cheap. A trinket. Carny trick.

Time jerked the blue sleeve from my grip
and whispered, what more do I owe you?
You took every second I gave and if you
didn’t understand the repercussions…
He smoothed his cuff, smirked and said,
well, do you want your money back?

Source Note:

Rhapsody, Mary Oliver
“Later I caught him, Time hurrying by, by
the blue sleeve, and I harangued him’

Written in response to prompt 426.

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts.

Mourning Song, by Martin Willitts Jr

Mourning Song
by Martin Willitts Jr
           An aubade is a song from a door or window to a sleeping woman

The night has such a sleepless longing.
The heart-shaped moon peers through your window
as tree branches tap on your window
with nervous fingers. I cannot get enough of you
and your dreams, the finality of church hour bells.

Wake. Come to me like ecstatic music.
My arms of absence need filling
with the shape of morning doves murmuring
their immense sadness,
endless ocean waves drowning me in loss.

Some say, the day is over,
but not when two lovers embrace and cannot let go.
Window shades should be opening.
Traffic should be stopping and beeping
as trumpets scattering the night
into a thousand awakening eyes of love.

But sleep has you calming lover,
cooing doves in your ear, hushing you
into a softness of music of silence.

All I can do is stand out here,
the wretchedness of stars exploding.

Here is a process note:

I am trying to capture the regretful language of Neruda and Lora. That overwhelming unfulfilled desire or extreme loss associated with seeing the end results of war. I am also thinking of Romeo and Juliet. An unrequited love staring at a window, A troubadour ready to sing to a woman in a room. To me, the best line of lamentation is from Lora’s play, Blood Wedding: “Ah! What glass splinters are on my tongue!”

Written in response to prompt 429.

Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including The Uncertain Lover (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and Coming Home Celebration (FutureCycle Press, 2019).

April Fool, by Debi Swim

April Fool
by Debi Swim

I have a vivid recollection of it
the night was comfortably cool
the exhibitionist moon a jewel,
the perfect setting, I admit.

The night was comfortably cool
as I recall, hand on fevered brow
spring breeze tickling a bough
and I, as I think of it, an April fool.

The exhibitionist moon, a jewel
mounted like a diamond solitaire
seemed to be offered to me, I swear
I never knew he could be that cruel.

The perfect setting, I admit
but I was just a naïve girl
my head in a love sick whirl
I couldn’t recognize counterfeit.

I have a vivid recollection of it
the night was comfortably cool
the exhibitionist moon a jewel,
the perfect setting, I admit.

Process notes:
Poem form: catena rondo
First line from “I Have A Vivid Recollection of It” by Jimmy Roberts found in the poetry anthology, The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, edited by Helen Klein Ross.

Written in response to prompt 432.

Debi Swim poems in West Virginia mostly to prompts from around the net. She blogs at https://poetrybydebi.wordpress.com/

Arrakis, by Christopher Hileman

Arrakis
by Christopher Hileman

My worm exhales spice
In a tumble of gold sand
And leaves me behind.
I slide down the slope
To the fold at the bottom,
The crease of two dunes.

I shall wait near here
For you to come and lift me
Off this hellish land,
Hoping my water
Recycles without hitches

And that my brothers
Will still lift my soul.

Arrakis is the planet also known as Dune and is the creation of Frank Herbert, a first-rate science fiction novelist. Dune is the first in a sequence of novels and stories that takes place primarily on Arrakis but also on several other planets in the universe of the Dune stories. Other authors took over the production of the series as time went by.

Dune was a work in a sociological vein, telling the story of a planet in jihad, or holy war, similar to the breakout of Islam after the rise of Mohammad in the middle of the first millennium AD. Other science fiction works created after the mid-nineteen sixties explored other religious traditions, such as the Christian, Hindu and Buddhist traditions but Dune and Islam was first and in the opinion of many, including me, the best of them. As Wikipedia notes: “1965’s Dune, is popularly considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, and it is sometimes cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history.”

Christopher Hileman moved to Oregon in 1973. He has retired for some years and lives on the north bank of the McKenzie River in Vida, Oregon. He moved recently from his basement digs in Oregon City, emerging into the riverine sunshine on the eastbound highway out of the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon.

Yeats’ Diggers, by Diane Jackman

Yeats’ Diggers
by Diane Jackman

At night they disappear,
starshine too weak
to show their contours
in the black envelope.

In daylight they work,
gouging out the ground,
spitting gravel down chutes
to clattering lorries
rattling in country lanes,
an orange assault
through the budding hedgerows.

But in the half-light,
arrayed along the ridge
like prehistoric beasts,
their grey bulk looms
menacing the landscape.
Then fantasy conjures
primeval shrieks and thunderings
bellows of pain as the monsters
turn their strength upon each other
in the re-fought twilight battle.

Source:
“Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by W B Yeats. You may read it here.

Process:
“Of night and light and the half-light”– These words referring to the cloths of heaven in the fourth line of Yeats’ poem, inspired me to write about a completely different subject, observed in the three phases of night and day.

Diane Jackman’s poetry has appeared in Rialto, Spillway, optimum, snakeskin, small press magazines and anthologies. Starting out as a children’s writer with seven books and 100 published stories, she now concentrates on poetry. She has just had a microchap, On the frayed rope of my imagination published by Origami Poems.

Grounded: Seventh Day, by Gabriella Brand

Grounded: Seventh Day
by Gabriella Brand

Complacencies of the sweatpants,
and a late latte, and those really good blood
oranges from Trader Joe’s.
Stretched out on the couch, pecking at the tablet
like a cockatoo, in the holy hush
of NPR, with the news shrunk and week-end withered,
and then, later, after the laundry’s done, a few
hours along the river, barely a jog,
the day like wide water
without sound, not even church bells or a call to prayer,
disinterested in sacrifice or sepulcher,
just grounded on the soft moist earth
holding the entire bickering planet in the Light.

Note: My source is “Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens. You can read it here.

Gabriella Brand’s writing has appeared in over fifty literary magazines. Her most recent work appears this spring in the Gyroscope Review and the Willawau Journal. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
Gabriella divides her time between Connecticut, where she teaches foreign languages and Quebec, where she volunteers with Middle Eastern refugees, runs writing groups, and paddles her own canoe.
Website: gabriellabrand.net

A Bedpan for Icarus, by Gabriella Brand

A Bedpan for Icarus
by Gabriella Brand

About suffering they were never wrong.
The Old Masters. How well they understood
its human position, how it takes place
when someone else is just scarfing down a burrito,
or adjusting their earbuds.

When my mother lay dying, her heart skipping beats,
her pulse losing rhythm,the nurses stood in the hallway,
outside her room, chatting normally,
taking bets on “Dancing With the Stars”,
ordering Mexican food for dinner.

Mother could have been Icarus, falling
from the sky, Icarus needing a bedpan.
I shook my fist at the nurses through the hospital curtain.
And yet, I should have known, we all turn away, quite leisurely,
from disaster, just as Breughel drew.

We run our eyes down the screen,
clicking even as the typhoon hits
the mosque is bombed, the small child drowns in the Rio Grande.
We hear the splash. We gulp and shake our heads, maybe
mutter a prayer, And then, quite calmly, we move on.

Note: My source is Musée des Beaux Arts by W.H.Auden.

XIR3675

Gabriella Brand’s writing has appeared in over fifty literary magazines. Her most recent work appears this spring in the Gyroscope Review and the Willawau Journal. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.
Gabriella divides her time between Connecticut, where she teaches foreign languages and Quebec, where she volunteers with Middle Eastern refugees, runs writing groups, and paddles her own canoe.
Website: gabriellabrand.net

Starry night over the Rhone, by Jonathan Beale

Starry night over the Rhone
by Jonathan Beale

The clock is now sleeping….
Time is absent here. That uninvited guest, is away.
Socrates sits in silence, on a distant bank
(Invisible to you and, I) unable to fathom.
What or why is going on.
his sophisticated words: now dumb.
He can reason not the need.
I paint in a joy from my window’s frame.
As they experience their human pleasure of
Touch, they feel each other mingled with the night.
The city distant city: blind and far enough away –
Those wedding guests who stay too long.
Encapsulating a beauty of its own (hopper never pasted this way)
As the light dances a demonic reel
The bluest blueness projects the mood
As only black can everywhere else.
The sodden waters edge’s
Handed over from the mornings
Silver woven tidal cloth
…of what, what are they doing, or have done.
A quiet dyad under the stars – becoming…something enchanting.
Momentarily awakening to this…
strange trinity of which I’m an invisible fraction.
the gentle ripple of the tide
cradling the delicate dinghies
time is absent there, but not here
a moment grabbed before, before, before…
they can feel, touch and be one, once more
can I capture that moment of joy?
time will awake again soon….

Starry_Night_Over_the_Rhone

By Vincent Van Gogh Sept 1st, 1888

Jonathan Beale is published in numerous journals around the globe he is most recently published in Bluepepper, mad swirl and ygrilsil. He has one volume of poetry the destinations of Raxiera published by Hammer and Anvil. He lives in Surrey U.K.

After Goya, by Jonathan Beale

After Goya
by Jonathan Beale

From still life: ‘Pieces of rib, loin, and a head of mutton.’
Francisco de Goya. Musée du Louvre.

The once learnt: now gone.
Deeds are done and form to dust –
That “when” – when youth is too young
Led easily by any anthems dream
Ringing out a hollow heartless tune.
Their always beating black hearts at work
They live between the lines.
Behind the actions dead weight:
Now this deadweight leaving life for the few –
Still steering freight for the butchers block.

They find this tripartite game
Impossible from field to abattoir to butcher
As the weighted cleavers chops the blood and bone –
The pure rain so easily washes this unholy mixture away.

still-life-of-sheeps-ribs-and-head-francisco-jose-de-goya-y-lucientes

Jonathan Beale is published in numerous journals around the globe he is most recently published in Bluepepper, mad swirl and ygrilsil. He has one volume of poetry the destinations of Raxiera published by Hammer and Anvil. He lives in Surrey U.K.