Sometimes I wonder if I am someone else’s nightmare. The Night Mare I have spoken about here is changing, now that she is a bit of a known quantity. The verses have been telling of a man who is searching for his Other–his soul, his soulmate, his twin, his goddess? Any and all and none of them, but always someone who haunts him. He catches glimpses; some glimpses are almost direct. But who and where is she, really, and what will happen if he finds her?

Verse measures tend to shift when the content they cover shifts, as different rhythms suit different dances. Today’s work reflects that. It contains rhyming couplets; some of the rhymes are imperfect. This is intentional–I am trying to be satisfied with similar-enough sounds. Perfect rhymes set in as a habit a long time ago, and a bad one perhaps. They don’t work at all in some languages, and in others, they are so abundant as to sound undignified. And as deeply involved with English as I am, I never forget that it is not the only mother tongue. Together, the various English-speakers of the world are evolving new forms of the language, and I want to take part. My part will probably involve reminding others of the beautiful, strange, arcane traditional vocabulary and usages and the sum total of all the word-lore passed down by earlier poets.

Being a person who sits around thinking these thoughts can feel quite lonely. It’s reassuring to be reminded by others themselves that they are out there. Two of the three keywords used most often to find this blog are ‘formal verse’ and ‘prosody.’ Either times among literary folks have changed, or being able to reach beyond the establishment has made their limiting opinions irrelevant. Prosody, like grammar itself, was not considered worthy of attention when I was in school. And why not? The ostensible reasons have to do with trends in education and politics–we don’t study grammar because it’s all correct, everything everybody says, and we don’t want to make anyone feel wrong. I don’t disagree! But grammar isn’t just a matter of knowing the rules and following them–it’s one of the places where real power hides out. Being aware of, and skilled in, the uses of prosody is similarly potent. Of course those who don’t understand are never going to like it, and are going to tend to shut it down in others. that is why I have been also using ‘poetic mysteries’ as a tag on most of my recent posts. That should be a sign to anyone out there that this is a place for word-lore thoughts to be shared, as well as to make it easy to find again. If anyone else who thinks along these lines should happen to adopt that tag specifically, we will surely find you.

As a blogger–and overall, as an older woman who is looking at the last active portion of her earthly years–I am trying to work out what I can offer that no one else can. Some people have the energy to be many different things; I only have what I need to care about one thing very, very deeply.

What is my life going to look like when I narrow down the field and recognize my future course? I’m hoping to find out soon, but sometimes the journey is the story, and if I wait to find out where it’s going, I might not live to tell it. If I have to leave it up to others, I’d like them to know what it was like from the inside as best I can; it’s all written down. I know my Myth, and I know my Star, but what are we to others when we are old and can offer to share what we have brought home?

A picture is slowly forming…she’s resilvering the glass….

26 February 2021


The Ride Out and Back

You’re bound to ride out on the back of a horse

with the rain pouring harder than ever off-course

for the next thousand miles riding harder than rain

on the neck of the mare who can spare you much pain

if she’s changing her temper it’s never the same

rider anyway she’s got a face for a name

and it glows in the darkness enshrouding you now

as you stare far ahead by the light of her brow

in the infinite distance there used to be signs

that have since washed away leaving watery lines

like invisible ink when a flame is applied

but the flame here is rain as it falls far and wide

ride no further it’s found you the rain works for her

what you thought you had mounted had mounted you first

in the world of an earlier spring in the wood

of a haunting that more than one ghost understood

to be reckoned her lover forever and known

to a populace no faery light’s ever shone

on directly and yet to drift further from shore

while the light lags alongside a ghost-hungry door

faery-essence reality gasps when it sees

in an ocean a forest of tear-sodden trees

and the weepers arrayed on their branches and twigs

staring down at the horse and the rider who digs

a furrow between the two worlds he still feels

like a crack in the skin of an apple he steals

a little reminder of roses the air

hovered over unhorselike her soft human hair

in waves with his hands plunged within them he’s caught

rider the reins on your neck are too taut

change where you’re bound if the burden’s too much

but you can’t throw him down if your ghost wants his touch

she’s silvering over the back of the glass

that he see what he means to the stars as they pass

and the one higher over them all–the one he

will find on reflection–stares past him to me.

If you’ve made it this far–the recent, very sparing use of punctuation is also deliberate. We remember the oral tradition, where everything means what it sounds like, without extra devices to limit which words go together. The story-line through should still be clear enough to follow. If it isn’t, we’ll keep working.


About J

formal verse poetry and commentary at
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