Sunlight filters through tidal barriers of air and water where animals bloom from salty rocks with the permanence of plants, and gardens wear the guise of animals in this place where swimming is soaring from the edges of canyons, hiding in coral caverns of this wondrously alien world, secretive, and brimming with creatures, some tempered by timidness, others leaping and diving from blue to blue.
enter the sacred
domain of eels and turtles
world beneath our world
taught by schools of parrotfish
to touch a dolphin’s wild joy
Denise Finn chose the wonderful prompt for this Ekphrastic challenge (poetry based on a visual image). If you click on her name, you can read her entry. As a scuba diver, I’m entranced by the underwater world.
My poem is called a “tanka prose,” a bit of prose followed by a tanka with a syllable count of 5/7/5/7/7.
The weekly #TankaTuesday syllabic poetry challenge is the brainstorm of Colleen at Wordcraft Poetry. Think about joining in. It’s great fun.
The #TankaTuesday challenge this week explores Ekphrastic poetry inspired by visual art. The artwork was chosen by Colleen from WordCraft Poetry and poet and blogger Selma Martin. Their selection relies heavily on current events, however they wanted to be clear that their choice “is not a celebration of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” and they both “support Ukraine in its efforts to maintain its sovereignty.”
This poem is a syllabic form called a chōka with syllable counts of 5-7-7-5-7-5-7-7-7.
I chose to write about women as the bearers of hope, the guardians of children, and the protectors of joy and love during the dark days of war. (I know countless men share these qualities too).
Brandon donned his latest acquisition—a genuine silk suit. The industrious little silkworms bordered on extinct, and he finally ranked among the international elite who could afford their cocoons. His was new money, thanks to polished attorneys and creative accountants, both armed with tarnished ethics.
He’d given himself two hours to make the one-hour trip from his penthouse to the corporate highrise across the gorge—one of a host of towers. And not the tallest. But he was only thirty-five, and the world was his chessboard, the match a move away from mate. In a few hours, a significant portion of the conglomerate’s assets would fall under his control.
He slipped into the leather recliner of his midnight-blue slider and tossed his briefcase on the seat beside him. “Headquarters. Skip the traffic and take the flyover.”
The slider’s cyber-system hummed to life. “Flyover not recommended.”
“No traffic detected.”
Brandon mugged a face. “Then take the flyover.”
“Flyover not recommended.”
“Flyover not recommended.”
“Override.” Brandon detached the console and typed his passcode, pleased to finally use the feature. He liked the idea of control, driving the slider instead of the slider driving him. The upgrade had cost him a small fortune. It would pay for itself that morning.
As the vehicle glided forward, Brandon closed his eyes and relaxed his shoulders. The slider veered from the congested rails onto the flyover, cruising into the pre-dawn darkness.
At the peak over the gorge, the slider decelerated and stopped. Brandon glanced out the window at the black depths below. Sunrise would soon carve sharp shadows across the cliffs and turn the river into molten gold. “Proceed.”
“Overide.” He typed in the code.
“God damn it. Override.” He stabbed the console and received the same reply. After a quick check of his watch, he peered into the darkness ahead. “Is there a traffic problem?”
“No traffic detected.”
“What the hell? How long to back up and take the other route?”
“Estimated time three hours.”
Brandon barked a curse. He leaned forward and rubbed his hands together, changing tactics. “Override slider functions.”
“Override braking system.”
“Okay, how about override acceleration?”
Brandon’s fist slammed onto the console, and the glass screen cracked. He tossed the damaged hardware onto the passenger seat. There was no point. His fate was sealed. He’d lost out on the biggest deal of his life.
“Cyber system impaired, reverting to manual overrides.”
“Ha!” Brandon checked the time. He’d make it if he flew. With the brake released, he pressed forward on the throttle. The slider responded, accelerated. With a laugh, he opened her up, and the bitch roared like a beast with a taste for speed.
The machine screamed down the other side of the flyover, lurched sideways on a damaged span of rail, and leaped into the sky. The sunrise blinded him as the slider plummeted, its throttle clutched in his white-knuckled hands. The golden river smashed the windshield into his face, his life, in the end, beyond his control.
underlings deal and grasp
gold with white-knuckled fists
rapt in night’s deceptive dreams they fly
eyes blinded by a distant sunrise
snared by reckless desire
seconds gained and years lost
It’s been a long time since I shared a flash story. I hope you enjoyed it.
I combined it with a syllabic poem in response to Colleen Chesebro’s weekly #TankaTuesday Wordcraft Challenge. Her challenge was to make up our own syllabic form! Well, that was fun. The one above has syllables 3/3/6/6/9/9/6/6/3/3. I named it a Distillate because it’s a distillation of a larger story. My guess is that every story’s theme can be captured in a poem, no matter how large the book. What do you think?
(A short break in the TBR Challenge reblogs for a little poetry)
A Learned Girl
She is fortunate to read at all. Her slender fingers stray from the pages, unblemished but for a random papercut. Beyond her window, other women toil until their skin toughens into leather, and raw knuckles wear down to bones. Their spines crack beneath the weight of necessity, poor lots destined from the day they were born. She is privileged. This she knows. Granted by happenstance her wish to learn the arts of anatomy and history and politics. To peruse through pages of poetry and philosophy, to dip her quill and tally accounts. She will excel in the learned world of power. But she is still a girl.
lost in red velvet daydreams
murmurs of passion
love’s silk breath blushes her cheeks
wishes in a crystal ball
Thank you to Colleen over at Wordcraft Poetry for the lovely image to use as an prompt for this week’s Ekphrastic poetry. Ekphrastic poems respond to a piece of art. I went with a tanka prose poem. It has one paragraph and one tanka with 5/7/5/7/7 syllables.
Winter dawns, heralded by dreary skies and the sun’s retreat. Wind-whipped rain blusters, casting free the remnants of autumn’s crinkled leaves. Woodland creatures burrow into the roots of things, latent, enduring, and twinkling colors gleam in frost-rimmed windows, a warm false-light to see us through the darkness. Oh, do not despair during these days of dying, for the magic of this wise world welcomes the first day of winter with the return of light.
mornings by moonglow
shadows hushed in shades of blue
winter’s darkness shrouds the day
while solstice promises spring
This tanka prose is in response toColleen’s #TankaTuesday challenge. A “tanka prose” is a piece of prose followed by a tanka with syllable count 5/7/5/7/7. For inspiration, she prompted us to write about any festival or tradition we celebrate during the month of December. Happy Solstice!
Gabriela Marie Milton, poet and author of the best-selling book Woman: Splendor and Sorrow, hosted a poetry competition that concluded a few days ago. She challenged us to write a poem inspired by one from her book.
I chose her poem “The Moon and I” and wrote about the phases of a woman’s life: child, lover, wife, mother, and wise-woman/crone. The feminine connection to the moon is deep and abiding and threads through generations of time.
My poem, Eclipsed, won third place in the competition, and I couldn’t be more grateful or honored. A link to Gabriela’s book is below, as well as links to the winning poems. I hope you take a moment and enjoy some inspired poetry.
The moon and I trade glances beneath the light of ages reflections of our phases, we traverse boundaries of shadow the birth and death of stars adorns our voyage my course uncharted on a shoreless sea.
She is the sand-dollar storyteller of sirens and undertows hidden caves beneath blooms of coral, troves of stolen gold a moon-faced child unblemished by the salt of tears she weaves tales of faithfulness sung to the sea’s rhythmic strum.
A seductress, she trades in the caress of madness and liquid kisses when a timorous heart flares and passion burns by torchlight skin and wings consumed, I surrender to the mariner’s lure drown in the tide’s curling crush and gull’s lonesome cry.
She is the gibbous years, molding castles of compromise sand towers dripping through faults in cupped hands I comb the half-moon beach for luminous abalone craft a chime of common jingle shells, all that I find.
She is the windborne balloon of my daughter’s dream awakening a boy fishes upon the crescent of her smile sea-smoothed glass tumbles at their feet for sorting, for choosing for all my devotion, iron ships founder like paper-sailed toys.
She whispers a harmony of waxing and waning an old crone’s serenade in her waves’ refrain when sea thrift and violets yield petals to sheer bluffs she chants from the conch cupped to my ear:
You are the nautilus spinning outward eternal feminine on a string of pearls iridescent ’til the sun succumbs to midnight deep when a silken wind sweeps over lunar dunes erasing your footprints rolls you into darkness eclipsed.
#1 Bestselling New Poetry Collection by Gabriela Marie Milton
Brian Geiger, editor of Vita Brevis Press: “Woman: Splendor and Sorrow…is an arabesque of womanhood, depicting the broad strokes and finer details of love, identity, and femininity. With vibrant imagery and fresh ideas, Milton’s poetry and prose explore these topics with passion and sincerity. There’s something here for all readers.”