Goodbye My Love, Goodbye

‘Tis near the season for Halloween so why not post something a little chilling?

Working on the second book of short stories, I completed one about a young man, his high school sweetheart, and their less-than-desirable relationship. The story is actually humorous and ends well. However, in some dark corner of my mind, I wondered:  what if it hadn’t ended well? What if the man couldn’t handle the fact his one true love was unfaithful?  What might he do? That’s when this poem came to me.

FoggyCemeteryGoodbyMyLoveGoodbye

“Goodbye My Love, Goodbye” by Jack R. Cotner  Copyright 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Retreating inward from the pain,

I smell the sweetness of her hair

As we move along the path. I strain

Uphill, dragging muddied weight to where

Headstones squat like sacred peaks between

Mowed grass where walked mourning crones.

Stoic statues weathered, weeping, still serene,

Guarding lengthy rows of buried bones.

We halt. Crows pass, loud caws abating.

A portal beyond the pale awaits, silent.

The gaping hole lies open, waiting, waiting

For my dearest here quiet, broken, spent.

Farewell, sweet beauty, unfaithful miss.

I weep. Red lipstick on blue, icy lips

Beckons. Entranced, I take one final kiss

Before tossing splendor into the dark abyss.

Goodbye my love, goodbye

The Writing Is On The Wall

Poetry is a powerful medium especially when combined with music. Add visuals and it becomes exponentially more powerful, enveloping an array of human senses and emotions. Place all that in historical context, combine with current affairs, and it can become timeless.

In 1965 I became part of the United States military. The war in Vietnam was raging and people were dying by the thousands. Destruction, devastation, and despair abounded. I lost an uncle, a number of friends and high school classmates to that despicable endeavor. At home the race riots, peace demonstrations, and a less-than-honorable group of elected officials and military leaders laid bare the most vile elements of human nature.

The previous year, 1964, a nineteen-year-old songwriter named P. F. Sloan was inspired to compose and record a song as relevant today as it was then. That song is “Eve Of Destruction.” It has been covered by many artists, including Bob Dylan and The Turtles, but my favorite version was performed by Barry McGuire. I’ve included links to two video versions in this post—one covers current events, the second the Vietnam War Era.

One final thing. This post deviates in two ways from my normal presentations. First, it departs from my long-standing rule of not discussing politics; and two, you are welcome to comment as always but I may or may not respond and I may or may not allow your comments for this particular post. With those caveats, click here for Barry McGuire in the 2016 video version of “Eve Of Destruction.”

eveofdestruction-trump

2016

For historical context, click here to play the 1965 version.

 

eveofdestruction-barry

Barry McGuire 1965

 

 

Lovers Volcanic: A Poem

 

Ménage `A Trois Italia

Fiery lover Vesuvius

courted Pompeii and Herculaneum,

Sisters two

Laid out in sunny Italia

Centuries in warm embrace

Vesuvius and his consorts

Herculaneum and Pompeii,

Sisters two

Frolicked in bright Italia

Until the fiery passion of his love

erupted, ending in hot embrace of

Herculaneum and Pompeii,

Sisters two

Surrendered in heated Italia

Mighty Vesuvius covered them in

His passionate spew and

they repose there still

in sunlit Italia

Vesuvius and the Sisters two.

I Cannot Write Today

I awoke with enthusiasm, anxious for the previous two weeks of solid, constructive writing days to continue. They didn’t.

“Just write something, anything…” is the advice proclaimed to break out of what is referred to as writer’s block. I struggled to comply with said guidance, but soon realized I had jumbled words no one would want to read, a meandering story no one could follow, and characters flatter than…well, you get the idea.

In frustration, and with an eye on a hot cup of coffee and a long nap in my recliner, I typed the final line of a torturous page of useless prose:  I cannot write today.

That’s when this poem came to me, a quick bit of composition, but writing all the same. Irony, too, I suppose. Some may argue it merely confirms “I cannot write today” but I present it anyway.

“I Cannot Write Today” 

I cannot write today.

Procrastination’s forces have their way;

Deferment,

Postponement, and

Delay.

I cannot write today.

Creative abilities once held sway;

Influence,

Mastery, and

Command.

I cannot write today.

Progress corralled, kept at bay;

Captured,

Held, and

Caged.

I cannot write today.

It is with sadness, therefore, I must say:

I’m adjourning until another day.

Three Of Me

I was pounding out another chapter for my book 2 Celtic mystery wip when this popped into my head. Didn’t get the chapter finished but at least I have another entry for my poetry book wip. And before you ask:  No, this is not autobiographical.

 

Three Of Me  

There was a Beginning Me,

Small, plump

With the aroma of baby freshness

And mother’s soothing lullabies;

An opening refrain to appease young cries.

 

Then came the Middle Me,

Muscled, tested

Experienced in worldly awareness.

Sixties songs covered bleak war laments;

A chorus against fresh lives so brutally spent.

 

Here sits the Ending Me,

Frail, pale

Weary with life’s abject unfairness.

Reminisced tune a humming, teary-eyed;

Closing exhortations before the final goodbye.

Book Review: Gone to the Grave

GoneToTheGraveAbbyBurnett

The leaves cross over our graveyards

When the cold wind blows and raves

They whirl and scatter on the frozen ground

Then settle on the sunken graves

They put me to mind of the children of the earth

The mournful condition of us all

We are fresh and green in the spring of the year

And are blown in the grave in the fall.

–Florence Elizabeth Rutherford, 1873-1889

Rutherford Cemetery, Independence County, Arkansas

*

Abby Burnett’s Gone to the Grave: Burial Customs of the Arkansas Ozarks, 1850-1950 is an interesting, intriguing read exploring the traditions surrounding death, local customs and rituals concerning bereavement, and the burial practices in the Arkansas Ozarks. It is excellent in its research, narrative, and visual presentation. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in such subject matter.

I had the pleasure to meet author Abby Burnett, a former freelance newspaper reporter, at the Books In Bloom event in Eureka Springs, Arkansas May 2015 and again this past week during her presentation at the Fayetteville, Arkansas Public Library. Her speaking and presentation abilities are every bit as impressive as her knowledge and expertise on Arkansas burial history and customs.

*

 “This painstakingly researched and thoroughly engaging book is as much an anthropological and sociological study as it is a historical and folklorist account of death, dying, and burial in the Arkansas Ozarks…there is virtually no source of information that Burnett hasn’t explored—epitaphs, business ledgers, funeral home records, obituaries, WPA questionnaires, health department regulations, oral history interviews, ministers’ journals, censuses, mortality schedules, doctors’ notes, undertakers’ record books, historical photographs, museum collections, and newspaper accounts…”

–Allyn Lord, Director, Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Springdale, Arkansas

*

I hear a voice you cannot hear

Which says I must not stay,

I see a hand you cannot see

Which beckons me away.

–S. N. Lyle, 1875-1932

Lowes Creek Cemetery, Franklin County, Arkansas

Pow! Onomatopoeia

Ding, ding, ding!

Get ready as we blow the lid off this latest blog post. Boom!

Here it comes: onomatopoeia.

It’s no secret I enjoy history, humor, and writing. The cartoon below encompasses some of each of those interests.

Have you sprinkled onomatopoeia in your writing lately?

Onomano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onomatopoeia  [on-uh-mat-uhpeeuh]

noun

  1. the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.
  2. a word so formed.
  3. the use of imitative and naturally suggestive words for rhetorical, dramatic, or poetic effect.

Origin of onomatopoeia:  Late Latin/Greek

< Greek onomatopoiía making of words = onomato- (combining form of ónoma name ) + poi- (stem of poieîn to make; see poet ) + -ia –ia>    (source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/onomatopoeia)

Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Bells is an interesting example of the use of onomatopoeia.

 

Goodbye My Love, Goodbye

I recently wrote a short story about a young man, his high school sweetheart, and their less-than-desirable marriages (they tied the knot twice with each other before it all fell apart for good). The story, despite its description, is actually humorous and ends well. However, in some dark corner of my mind, I wondered: what if it hadn’t ended well? What if the man couldn’t handle the fact his one true love was unfaithful? That’s when this poem came to me.

Goodbye My Love, Goodbye

Retreating inward from the pain,

I smell the sweetness of her hair

As we move along the path. I strain

Uphill, dragging muddied weight to where

Headstones squat like sacred peaks between

Mowed grass where walked mourning crones.

Stoic statues weathered, weeping, still serene,

Guarding lengthy rows of buried bones.

 

We halt. Crows pass, loud caws abating.

A portal beyond the pale awaits, silent.

The gaping hole lies open, waiting, waiting

For my dearest here quiet, broken, spent.

Farewell, sweet beauty, unfaithful miss.

I weep. Red lipstick on blue, icy lips

Beckons. Entranced, I take one final kiss

Before tossing splendor into the dark abyss.

Goodbye my love, goodbye.

Quirkiness Traveled, A Poem

 

planeflyingaroundglobe

One of my many ongoing projects is compiling and sorting my poetry for publication. I came across this one recently in an old three-ring binder that also contained my homework from a writing course at McMurry University in Texas. Written (scribbled in pencil on faded, lined notebook paper, actually) in 1984, it is a rather tongue-in-cheek, simple doodle and not meant for anything but a smile, really. Prior to posting it on this blog, I made two changes. The original presentation was all text alignment left with no breaks between verses so I tweaked it a bit for visual interest to give it movement as you move from destination to destination as if actually traveling. Secondly, I changed the old city name of Bombay to the current Mumbai and altered the verse slightly to accommodate the name change. Without a great deal of editing and rewrite, this work will not (in all probability) make the final cut for inclusion in the poetry book so I thought I’d put it here in its current state. Why not? As someone before me so famously said, what’s life without a little whimsy?

 

Quirkiness Traveled

Does whimsy bounce at Wimbledon?

Shall we have that spot of tea?

No mad hatters haunting me.

What cold gremlins occupy the Kremlin?

Swig a shot of vodka down.

Laughter comes before a frown.

Do bells ring in old Belfast?

Can we hear them chime?

Their silence isn’t worth a dime.

How many rows to get to Cairo?

Paddle the blue Nile River.

Mummies make me shiver.

Do toucans fly high above Tucumcari?

Is there often pouring rain?

Praying for it’s all in vain.

How many girls named Lulu in Honolulu?

Grass skirts sway and wiggle.

Shaved ice makes me giggle.

How many tokes abound in Tokyo?

Crowded city’s sushi bars,

Anime and compact cars.

Is there good vanilla out in Manila?

John the Baptist, patron saint

Frequents bordellos do you think?

How many bays shimmer in Beijing?

Not many ‘round with poodles

Feasting on delicious noodles.

Is there mumbling in Mumbai?

Saffron colored serving stalls;

Hear the vendor’s barking calls.

Can we marry in Marrakesh?

Yes, certainly among the red halls

Just inside the ancient Ochre Walls.

How united is United Airlines?

Wonder if I will be fed?

Can’t wait to sleep in my own bed

And end my quirky travel.

NPR Poetry Reading

logoIn celebration of National Poetry Month, the University of Arkansas Press has organized a special series of poetry readings on KUAF radio. Do The Dead Call?, a poem from my book Mystery of the Death Hearth, has been selected as one of the readings by organizers and supporters of University of Arkansas Press and KUAF.

The presentation is scheduled for broadcast Saturday, April 4, 2015. Reading times and other KUAF events including an archive of all poetry selections can found here at KUAF Radio, Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

If you tweet about it, feel free to use the hashtag for National Poetry Month (#npm15) and include @uarkpress and @kuaf if you have space.

In the event you can’t hear it, or if you would like to read along during the readings, here is a copy of the poem.

Do the dead call?

If they did, could we hear?

Would the voice be from afar?

Or would it seem quite near?

Would we listen with our minds?

Or would we run in fear?

Would we open to the chance?

Or would we jump and swoon?

Would we think it summer breeze?

Or howling at the Moon?

Do the dead call?

You tell me.

I wonder if you know?

Do they call on summer days?

Or whisper in the snow?

You tell me.

I’d really like to know.