“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”
― Mark Twain
Hello Dear Poets and Welcome to Poetics-
Today I have a Jim Harrison challenge for you. For those of you not familiar with his work, here’s a little bit about him. (source: Wikipedia)
James Harrison (December 11, 1937 – March 26, 2016) was an American poet, novelist, and essayist. He was a prolific and versatile writer publishing over three dozen books in several genres including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, and memoir. He wrote screenplays, book reviews, literary criticism, and published essays on food, travel, and sport. Harrison indicated that, of all his writing, his poetry meant the most to him.He published 24 novellas during his lifetime and is considered “America’s foremost master” of that form. His first commercial success came with the 1979 publication of the trilogy of novellas, Legends of the Fall, two of which were made into movies. Harrison’s work has been translated into multiple languages including Spanish, French, Greek, Chinese, and Russian. He was the recipient of multiple awards and honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1969), the Mark Twain Award for distinguished contributions to Midwestern literature (1990), and induction into the American Academy of Arts & Letters (2007). Harrison wrote that “The dream that I could write a good poem, a good novel, or even a good movie for that matter, has devoured my life.”
When I find myself struggling for inspiration, my go to is Jim Harrison’s work. For whatever reason, his words always speak to me and inspire. So today I am sharing with you lines from eight different pieces in the book Songs of Unreason. The challenge is to pick one line and use it as an epigraph for a poem inspired by the line. You may write your poem in any form you wish.
Here are the eight lines I have chosen from Songs of Unreason:
“There is a human wildness held beneath the skin.”- Arts, Jim Harrison
“He went to sea in a thimble of poetry.”- Poet Warning, Jim Harrison
“In truth each day is a universe in which we are tangled in the light of stars.”- Horses, Jim Harrison
“I don’t know what happens after death but I’ll have to chance it.”- Desert Snow, Jim Harrison
“Yes, in the predawn black the slim slip of the waning moon.”- Remote Friends, Jim Harrison
“Some days in March are dark and some altogether glittery and loud with birds.”- March in Patagonia, AZ, Jim Harrison
“We’re doubtless as old as our mothers, thousands of generations waiting for the sunlight.”- Sunlight, Jim Harrison
“After last night’s storm the tulip petals are strewn across the patio where they mortally fluttered.”- Church, Jim Harrison
Sigh- that last line is so lovely so I will share the entire poem with you here.
Church, by Jim Harrison
After last night’s storm the tulip
petals are strewn across the patio
where they mortally fluttered. Only the gods
could reconnect them to their green stems
but they choose not to perform such banal
magic. Life bores deep holes in us
in hopes the nature of what we are
might sink into us without the blasphemy
of the prayer for parlor tricks. Ask the gods
to know them before you beg for favors.
The pack rat removes the petals one by one.
Now they are in a secret place, not swept away.
The death of flowers is unintentional. Who knows
if either of us will have a memory of ourselves?
If you stay up in the mountains it’s always cold
but if you come down to the world of men you suffocate
in the folds of the overripe ass of piety, the smell
of alms not flowers, the smiling beast of greed.
If you are new, here’s how to join in:
- Write a poem containing one or more of the words given in response to the challenge. You may choose any poetry form.
- You will find links to other poets and more will join, so check back later to read their poems.
- Read and comment on other poets’ work–we all come here to have our poems read.
- Please link back to dVerse from your site/blog.
- Have fun!