Andrew Hudgins, Dylan Thomas, Gary Lemons, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Scruton, Marge Piercy, Sylvia Plath
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
from “A Psalm of Life”
Hello to All who are gathered here today in the dVerse Universe, a site of pubtalk and poetry. This Monday is where you and your muse are prompted to write a Quadrille. The name for the quadrille form is taken from an 18th Century dance, but as you may know, is also dVerse’ poetic form of just 44 words (not counting the title) and includes one word the host provides to you. Today it’s me, Lisa, also ready to serve drinks and snacks from the magic cupboard.
In the United States, we honor laborers today, which made it easy to choose the word we will write to: work. I boldly claim that each person reading this is intimately acquainted with work, starting with (by proxy) when our mothers gave birth to us.
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
–Sylvia Plath, from Morning Song
As infants, we traveled through our developmental stages, learning to hold our heads up, roll over, sit up, crawl, pull ourselves up to standing, and to take those first tottering steps. As we grew we set ourselves to tasks. Work to a child takes on thrilling forms that teach all sorts of lessons.
I worked the river’s slick banks, grabbling
in mud holes underneath tree roots.
You’d think it would be dangerous,
but I never came up with a cooter
or cottonmouth hung on my fingertips.
Occasionally, though, I leapt upright,
my fingers hooked through the red gills
of a mudcat. And then I thrilled
–Andrew Hudgins, from Child on the Marsh
Each person reading also worked as a child as they learned to speak, read, and write, and to navigate the social and cultural context they found themselves in. The work of practice continues.
Crossing the Days, by James Scruton
My son’s been learning time: big hand
and little, powers of sixty
and of twenty-four, the slow semaphore
of days. He’s brought home paper plates
from kindergarten, arrows pointing
at his favorite hours. So far
the face of every clock has smiled.
And before we read to sleep each night
he crosses off another square
on the calendar above his bed,
counting down to Christmas or to nothing
in particular, sometimes just a line
he draws uphill or down, check marks
like the ones his teacher leaves
on sheets he’s filled with capitals
and lower cases, other times a pair
of thick lines like the crossed bones
on a pirate’s flag, an X
as if to mark the treasure buried
in some ordinary week,
no day yet a cross to bear.
As we became more proficient and our coordination grew we were given chores to do and if we were lucky we got an allowance. This was practice for the world of adult work. Our tasks and our compensations are as varied as zip codes across the globe. For those in the labor trafficking realm, the experience of work takes on a whole other dimension.
As adults who decided to write poetry, I also feel certain each of us has labored over finding just the right words to make the concepts, emotions, spirits dancing around in our heads manifest on the page.
By Gary Lemons
The veiled shape is a grandmother
To the young boys working beside
Her—packing stones from the field
On the journey toward subsistence.
Above them the Hindu Kush
Disappears behind storm clouds the color of
Milk in a metal pail.
The grandfather is grinding
Blades the way time sharpens
Distrust—the stones fall
From the mountains all winter—
Almost always at night—
The sound of them ganging up
On starlight leaves a musical note
Like jostled skewers.
There’s nothing militant
Here unless the noise of a shovel
Is the voice of heresy—
The missile enters the poem
The way a horse defecates on an ant colony
Simply because everything is
Where it is when shit happens—
If I were writing this poem
I’d ignore the falcon hunting
What small life escapes the heat signature
Because it’s pushed by million-year-
Old imperatives and unlike
Us it has no off switch.
This is where the poem
Fails—where all literature fails—
To thirst sufficiently to drink the last drip
From the cold faucet attached
To the executioner’s heart.
Sometimes it takes a lot of work to keep hope alive. I do look at poets as keepers of the flame.
The seder’s order
By Marge Piercy
The songs we join in
are beeswax candles
burning with no smoke
a clean fire licking at the evening
our voices small flames quivering.
The songs string us like beads
on the hour. The ritual is
its own melody that leads us
where we have gone before
and hope to go again, the comfort
of year after year. Order:
we must touch each base
of the haggadah as we pass,
dipping this and that. Voices
half harmonize on the brukhahs.
Dear faces like a multitude
of moons hang over the table
and the truest brief blessing:
affection and peace that we make.
Once again, we come to the place where you put your proverbial pen to paper and work out your poetic spirit’s will in words.
• Pen us a poem of precisely 44 words (not counting the title), including some form of the word work.
• Post your Quadrille piece on your blog and link back to this post.
• Place the link to your actual post (not your blog url) on the Mister Linky page.
• Please visit other blogs and comment on their posts!
• Have fun (only if you want to!)
Top image: Women at the Riverside by Paul Gauguin
A Psalm of Life
Child on the Marsh
Image: Classroom Scene by William H. Johnson
Crossing the Days
The seder’s order
Image: A good poem by Dylan Thomas
Happy Monday! Welcome!
Happy Labour Day to my American friends, good evening all and thank you Lisa for hosting this evening. It’s going to be post and run for me, but I will be back in the morning to read and comment.
So happy you’re here, Kim. Have a good evening and see you in the morning.
Cheers Lisa! I’ve just fired up my laptop and am about to read and comment.
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Hello, this is the first day of a fun week. I will be out of action most of the week, so it might be hard for me to visit you all this time.
Welcome, Bjorn. Hoping your real life action is fun and gives you poeming fodder, as I know it will. Care for a drink or snack?
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
I will have alcohol both tomorrow and on Wednesday so I will need to settle for something lighter… do you have any herbal tea
I sure do, Bjorn. How about a mug of rooibos, peppermint, a bit of lemongrass, with a chip of cinnamon stick.
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Laura Bloomsbury said:
I enjoyed your choice of poems Lisa – you put a lot of work into preparing this 😉 I’d like a Kahlua coffee rum nightcap please
Thank you very much, and I’m glad it worked out 😉 One pre-warmed mug of Kahlua coffee rum. Cheers!
Ah…..you have indeed put a lot of “work” into this prompt 🙂
I decided to take you all to visit a wonderful place we saw during our cruise last week. Hope you enjoy the pics and videos.
I must also say, we were absolutely delighted to spend a day with Bjorn and Lotta in Stockholm!!! Just posted and will come back in a bit this evening to read….and again in the AM.
Nothing for me to drink right now….Thank you for hosting!
Happy to see you, Lillian, and geeked about seeing your photos and videos. Much appreciate that you worked at putting a multi-media experience together for us. I am envious you got to spend time with Bjorn and Lotta in Stockholm! Cannot imagine how awesome that was. My pleasure on hosting, Lillian.
Gillena Cox said:
A Happy Monday to all
Happy you’re here, Gillena. Would you care for a drink or a snack?
Thank you for the spur to work on a Monday evening, Lisa! Loved the dVersity of the works you quoted. Off to read some of others’ labours now… I do love a quadrille!
You’re very welcome and glad you approve ❤
oops nearly forgot to leave a comment here. got caught up in the first few poems posted.
will carry on reading later.
have fun here for the rest of the week.
I have two open mics and two spoken words events to fit around work this week.
So awesome that the post-covid world is opening up again. You’re poeming live. How exciting 🙂
four times in one week is unheard of for me. A record for me.
That is approaching “work” level 😉 I know you will have a blast.
Rob Kistner said:
Thank you for hosting Lisa. I have taken this piece, where else, into the wild. 🦌✌🏼❤️
Glad you’re here, Rob. Can I get you something to drink or a snack? My pleasure on hosting. Heading to the poetry trail now…
Love your detail in this prompt Lisa, the poem and the pics! I’m working hard being a tourist so no time to contribute, sorry 🙂
Kate happy you’re able to get out and about again. Can I ask where you are traveling to?? Thanks and glad you like the post.
I am currently in WA, the opposite side of the country to where I live. Drove 4,500km to get here and about to drive 5,000km home … calling in to see a few friends on the return trip.
Oh my, that’s quite a road trip, Kate! Did you decide to go on walkabout or did you travel there with a purpose? What’s the coolest thing that’s happened on your trip???
whales and wildflowers, fulfilling a teen dream! Coolest thing was actually meeting Paul of Parallax 🙂
Oh WOW!!!!!!! How cool is that, Kate. I’m envious!
second WP blogger I’ve met and should meet another in a week’s time in Adelaide!
So nice when you can meet people you’ve only known in pictures and words.
yes, they seem to understand that I’m not really a sunflower 😉
A Very apt prompt for us who are retired! As you say something we know very well is a day’s work and often more. I love the Dylan Thomas Quote! You can fix me a big strawberry milkshake!
Dwight, so glad you appreciate the prompt. It would be fun sometime to have each of us list what types of work we’ve each done. Ron did in his quadrille and it was fascinating to see the range of one worker laid out like that. Happy you like the Dylan Thomas quote, I think poets have a special work that we do. Kim’s quadrille speaks so well to it. And a big strawberry milkshake sounds so tasty right now, I’m making two, one for me and one for you 🙂 Cheers!
Ha ha… enjoy your shake! Sometimes we get glimpses into the past life of our poet friends.
Wow, I’m #24! It’s only 4:20 here in California. Good time for afternoon tea 🙂 Here’s mine: https://cognacproject.wordpress.com/2022/09/05/ruins-and-confession-quadrilles/
MY XM GLOBAL said:
Thank you for hosting, Lisa, and for the excellent prompt! I couldn’t get my act together yesterday, but I’ve posted one this morning. Like others, I have a busy week, so I will be catching up with reading over the next few days.
Good morning and glad you made it. 🙂 My pleasure on hosting and looking forward to visiting the poetry trail in few to read.
Thanks for a wonderful prompt, Li. 🙂
Good to see you, Kitty. Happy you connected with the prompt ❤
Happy Labor Day to the workers of America, thank you for an opportunity to reflect on work Lisa. A double whiskey to celebrate 🙂
Happy to see you, Paul. I had a strawberry shake with Dwight yesterday, but today is a new day. Setting up 2 double whiskey’s, one for each of us. Cheers!
What an exceptional group of illustrative work poems you have collected. You certainly did your work in composing this prompt…Thanks for that and the joyful read.
Welcome, Judy, and appreciate your kind words, thank you.
You went to so much work with the prompt that I wanted you to know it was appreciated. And you have wonderful taste in poetry.
Much appreciated, glad my poetic selections resonate with you. I enjoy putting the prompts together; a labor of love.
Hi Li. Happy Labor Day. I really enjoyed your post. As I go blog hopping while travelling, may I please have a refreshing drink!
Happy Tuesday, Punam, glad you are here and that the prompt resonates for you. Of course you may have a refreshing drink. What would you like??
A lemonade will do, thanks. It is very humid and hot.
You got it: One tall lemonade in a frosted glass with ice and a slice of orange on the side. Cheers!
Ali Grimshaw said:
A day late but I still wanted to join the party. Thanks for hosting. I really enjoyed the poems and artwork you shared here. Much to ponder.
Ali, glad you could join the party. Happy you connected with the prompt. Just read your lovely poem and commented.
Ali Grimshaw said:
Thank you for your time.
Late to the party and only drive-by poeming for now. Great word, Lisa!
Howdy! Nice to see you and yes did get to read what you left on your drive-by 🙂 Thank you.
Thanks for the translation of the poem “Yolanda,” Lisa. I’ve now added it to my blog post. xoox
Very cool, Judy. I’m sure Yolanda will be pleased ❤