yoke of the mother from 58 poems written at 29

Yoke of the Mother — from 58 poems written at 29

A Queen is a King who carries the weight
Of the world within her. Enwombing the younglings
And entombing their titles, taking their passings
On a pilgrimage or a parade. Powder she spreads —
The ashes of embers that echo the flames
Of memories marking men and their gains
And lovings or leavings. The leftovers abide
Within her insides. As if she’s an urn
Made of flesh and flight, flare as her throat
And incubating her nest of ashes for fires
To crack their creases in cognate eggshells
With phoenixes inside. Fertile, embracing,
The life light leaves and then backward
From manhood to Godhead and then childhood again
Nursing on the nectar newly replenished
By matriarch’s mam’ry. Making, when we die
Embattled, the bridge to the births of the sires
Taking twine and a twinge as they hoist
Their father’s firearm. The fumes lift
And stands the structure: see how Queens
Bridge we broken princes to our Kings?

.  .  .

:: 58 poems ::

• written at 29 years •

This year, for the 58 @ 29, I plan to focus on alliterative meter. It’s the meter used by Middle English and Old English poets as well as Latin and Greek poets. Basically all epic poets use some form of alliterative meter and it hasn’t been used in English for a thousand years. I will be pulling from the rules offered in Lewis’ article on The Alliterative Meter:

In the general reaction which has set in against the long reign of foreign, syllabic meters in English, it is a little remarkable that few have yet suggested a return to our own ancient system, the alliterative line…. Alliteration is no more the whole secret of this verse than rhyme is the whole secret of syllabic verse. It has, in addition, a metrical structure, which could stand alone, and which would then be to this system as blank verse is the syllabic….

A few successful specimens of alliterative meter would be an excellent answer to the type of critic (by no means extinct) who accuses the moderns of choosing vers libre because they are not men enough for meter. For if syllabic verse is like carving in wood and verse libre like working with a brush, alliterative meter is like carving in granite.

“Vers Libre” for those who don’t know is Latin for “free verse.” Lewis has, ultimately, offered for my poetry just the kind of reaction I prefer in all of my life: a reaction that is, deep down, orthodoxy. A reaction to dead leaves as radical as the radish itself: radical because it is the living root of the thing.

Here is the table of contents for my 58 attempts over the next year. After the monogram, I’m including a quote from Chesterton’s An Apology for Buffoons because it defends proper use of alliteration in English:

58 poems at 29 years old ::

  1. Greenwood
  2. The Brooklyn Film Festival at Windmill Studios
  3. Rio Sunset Park
  4. The Ballad of the Writer’s Morning
  5. To Jack Across the Sea
  6. To Della Beyond the Veil
  7. Guantanamera
  8. Mother of Exiles
  9. Pane
  10. Home
  11. Greenwood Cemetery Graves
  12. Upon Finding Your Old Prison Letter Prayers

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