alskuefhaih
asoiefh

Saturday, November 19, 2011

concrete poem, and alternate traditional form: family tree

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family tree


while   traveling
at the speed of a car   a particle hovers in the
passenger seat next to me      a neutrino of time and
space travel that I do not need to prove to anyone   or apologize
to the standing cows    for talking to myself like a mad scientist
who is to say he isn’t my self    a particle miracle      I go on
about my dead brother and gasp because he is not old enough
yet to hear about death    not even arrived here in this hubbled air
not having swum the arc through his mother’s arch    that opens
to the courtyard wherein the    family tree spreads limbs
on which my brother,   my father,     my mother have already
ripened and fallen in earth’s gravity    and I tell him
we don’t even know what they are
gravity    or death     or falling
but     soon    he    will
drop    and      be
caught     in
his
mother’s
ivory
hands
then
perched
and
nestled
in the
fork
of her
armpit
and
breast
his head
a plum
the crease
of his mouth open
for the galaxy of milk and I point
to the calf in the farmer’s field holding on to his mother for dear life
from the twig of her teat between the branches of her legs and say see life falls like that


Added note, from wiki: Concrete poetry or Size poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on. 

 *   *   *
11/20/11 7:22am I am reposting the poem without the shape, which may be a distraction this time. Fun to experiment (as Brendan says in his comment), but maybe this poem is better served in a traditional shape. 

family tree


while traveling at the speed of a car
a particle hovers in the passenger seat next to me
a neutrino of time and space travel
that I do not need to prove to anyone
or apologize to the standing cows
for talking to myself like a mad scientist

who is to say he isn’t my self
a particle miracle

I go on about my dead brother and gasp
because he is not old enough yet to hear about death
not even arrived here in this hubbled air
not having swum the arc through his mother’s arch
that opens to the courtyard
wherein the family tree spreads limbs
on which my brother, my father, my mother
have already ripened and fallen in earth’s gravity
and I tell him we don’t even know what they are
gravity or death or falling
but soon he will drop
and be caught in his mother’s ivory hands
then perched and nestled in the fork
of her armpit and breast
his head a plum
the crease of his mouth open
for the galaxy of milk
and I point to the calf in the farmer’s field
holding on to his mother for dear life
from the twig of her teat between the branches
of her legs and say see life falls like that

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41 comments:

George said...

With all of the ripening and falling — and what else is there in life? — it's good to remember that everything in this well-designed tree is interconnected and interdependent. You must enlighten me, however: I don't understand the "concrete" reference.

Ruth said...

Hi, George, thank you for reading my tree. Concrete poem is the term for a poem with shape, like this tree. Here is wiki's definition:

Concrete poetry or Size poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on.

I'll add a note to the post, thank you. Enjoy your own ripening this weekend!

erin said...

jesusgod, you have pointed and i have seen. there is nothing else to say, is there?

(you sing life!)

love))

xo
erin

erin said...

and of course, to sing life, we must hum death)))

ds said...

Oh--everything! (( ))

hedgewitch said...

Commonality indeed. Your vision is as concrete as your shape poem is well-adapted to its theme. May your apples never fall far from the tree, and be a windfall for you.

Jeanie said...

This is so beautiful and I love the tree. NOW I know what a shape poem is! It's lovely -- in words and in appearance.

Grandmother said...

Before I read it was a tree I thought it was the womb and birth canal what with ripening and falling theme. Either way it's a lovely paean to the welcome of new life into a family. He's a fortunate baby.

Old 333 said...

Well that was lovely. I particularly liked 'galaxy of milk' - fine words, fitting.

Nancy said...

Visually and emotionally stunning, Ruth. I haven't had coffee yet and words fail me, but this is beautiful as are you.

missing moments said...

Always joy to come here ... your words make me pause and take them into myself.

Vagabonde said...

You are so creative – words and shapes – wow! The words are the shapes – and the words have beautiful meanings. I wish I had your talent – with 3 grandsons I could have written much more interesting posts than the ones I write. But then, as you may know, I also have a reason; but still wish I could draw a tree with beautiful English words.

Ruth said...

Thanks, erin. It is interesting to gather the thoughts from this year, from Rilke and you and others, about death, and also contemplate a new boy. There is always new life when there is death, for one thing. But also to help him accept death as part of our life is something to ponder.

Ruth said...

Thank you, ds.

Ruth said...

Hedge, thanks a lot for your sweet blessing.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Jeanie. There are some fascinating concrete poems out there. Just Google for images, and you'll see a bunch.

Ruth said...

Mary, thank you for reading my tree, and seeing a womb and birth canal. I did not intend it, but I can see it too!

Ruth said...

Peter, thank you for reading the tree and for your kindness.

Ruth said...

Hi and welcome, Nancy! Thank you for reading, for your enthusiasm and your kind words.

Ruth said...

Reena, that's lovely, thank you.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, thank you for such kind things said. Of course we do different things in our blogs, and thankfully so. What you do with your travels and research is inspiring to me; I talk about you all the time, to Don and others. In fact I was thinking of you just at lunch with my boss this week, because he is now single and wants to travel abroad more. I told him it will be an adventure! And I almost said "like it is for my friend Vagabonde . . . "

Brendan said...

I'm sure the shape experiment was fun to try out but I didn't see it add much to the excellence of the poem, which stood so well on its own (so why do we always add pictures to posts with poetry, when they never would appear in a book of poems?) You know where my sympathies flow in this poem. Isn't it Rilke who spoke of Eurydice being so new in death that she found existence there so strange, even though the touch of her rescuing lover Orpheus was even more hurtful? I think of neutrinos passing through the earth, through us, all time when I see that mote hanging ghostly in the air next to you, the brother of self and fate and history. And when I read of "invisible galaxies" comprised of dark matter ever weaving through our own galaxy, weaving through our own hearts, those ghostly voices and presence have a concrete shape, sort of, as if the pre-Christian idea of the Otherworld being a widdershins turn of perspective to our own, then our dead are always with us. All of the associations ring so true here. - Brendan

Ruth said...

Brendan, I appreciate your honesty about the shape, and it reflects my own feeling too. It might even be a distraction from what was a profound experience for me in the car with baby boy, and my brother. So I am grateful for your deeper look into what is here, very grateful.

I love science, especially physics, even though I am not versed in it. I took one class in college, which was enough to fall in love with its history, from the ether (can't you see us joining those early speculators about the nature of the cosmos?) to present-day neutrinos. I don't have to understand the mysteries, none of us does (as Moore said, the soul likes to be surprised). It is enough, for me, to look, observe and express what I see about the ways these particulars of life touch the bigger mysteries, though I'm happy that scientists are doing their work.

Abundant thanks.

Ruth said...

Brendan, et al, I've added a traditional form of the poem, and I like it better. I welcome any feedback.

The Solitary Walker said...

Oh, I do so much prefer your amended version, Ruth - without the formal wine-glass distraction. I agree with Brendan. It didn't need that shapely conceit. For it stands just as it is: a marvellous poem. Love that 'hubbled'! And the bookended cows/calves. Well, I like the whole thing. Very much.

Ruth said...

So glad, Robert! Thank you for "workshopping" with me, along with Brendan, and for your enthusiasms. (I like that hubbled myself, which was a result of watching "Tree of Life" and what I assume were Hubble images of the cosmos.)

Miss Jane said...

Wow.
The way this ended floored me.
You were able to effortlessly sustain the running commentary of your thoughts with the construct of the family tree without it ever feeling forced.
Losing the shape was a good thing, I must agree. The concrete form here only served as a distraction to what your words formed on their own.
Awesome poem, Ruth.

Pat said...

I love the visual image the typed words portray and the image the written words evoke. What beautiful words, Ruth. What a gift you have!

Oliag said...

I love this poem in both of its forms...The new life coming your way is certainly your muse...

Marcie said...

Love the concrete format. It really adds to the poetry..tells more and more of the story. And - what powerful poetry it is!

Ginnie said...

Mom, Dad, Bennett...and Poppy Seed. In this Concrete format, Sister, I can't imagine a better telling of the Family Tree.

Ruth said...

MJ, oh thanks so much. Funny how I feel relieved after releasing the poem from the tree form. I'm glad you agree.

Ruth said...

Pat, thank you for your enthusiasm, you're so kind!

Ruth said...

Oliag, yes, he is really some force of nature. Thank you, my friend.

Ruth said...

Marcie, thank you for reading my tree, and for your very kind feedback.

Ruth said...

Boots, you've been through this, and you know the power of the cycle of family. Thank you.

Brendan said...

Fun to try the tree shape, I know, but how your words grow up and down and out when they're free to flow in lines like breath. The lack of punctuation and capitalization (except for the "I" makes the reading an instantaneous thing. Wonderful. - Brendan

Ruth said...

Brendan, I thank you for your feedback after the fact, and once again for encouraging me to drop the "goblet" shape and break it. :-)

C.M. Jackson said...

it is a wonderful poem regardless of shape--I did find the tree shape very cool and felt it added to the imagery..

Brendan said...

As pal Rilke said in his Sonnets: "Be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rung." You did here ... B

amy@ Souldipper said...

What would it be like to read such a loving poem from a grandmother? This child will be able to see love beyond a mother's fork - the grand crook of the maternal crook.