I Touch Beauty Daily

I Touch Beauty Daily

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Meaning of Poetry Is Hidden in the Ocean

“Getting the news” from poems means reading between the lines and noting every nuance, inflection, and sound. When reading a poem and when trying to determine what a poem conveys, it is very imperative to examine where and how words are situated. Every vowel has weight; every consonant carries a message as semi-vowels and mutes. Every semi-vowel (l, m, n, and r) performs its own role as if on stage and contributes to the fluency of sounds. Even the mutes (b, d, k, p, q, t, c, and g) are very important as they can “stop the breath” if they are at the end of the syllable (Oliver 22).


As a writer and as a reader of poetry, I hone in on connotations and “feel” what the words are working very hard to convey. Every lilt of the tongue and every sound that forces the tongue to touch the roof of the mouth (or not) conveys a special message, even if the message is packaged in an alliterative container, hidden in similar beginning consonant sounds or assonance—repeated vowel sounds. There is immense beauty in both.

Not necessarily in any order, and not necessarily conscious of the process, but after or before the tongue separates the vowels and the consonants, my voice pays tribute to all the efforts I put in by enlivening the performance: the reading of poetry. The eyes, the ears, and the lips work collaboratively for effortless flow so that I and/or readers of my poems will/can enunciate words correctly. This is the process of poetry reading for me. My heart quickens in anticipation of the joy in beauty or The Beauty in My Joy (the title of one of my books of poetry). Each word, syllable, letter (vowel and/or consonant) is not a quick study but a deliberate devotion to determine what a poem conveys to me about the human condition.

Sadness, happiness, elation, melancholy, achievement, deprivation, celebration, poverty, infidelity, and other emotions and conditions line up and vie for places in my poems marching in time and in tune with how I chose to arrange them. The gravity of the depth or the height of the ascension of my mood depends on how I choose to arrange poetic elements with craftiness, creativity, and surprises strewn all over the lines and in-between, unseen, but felt.

Mary Oliver says that the reason contemporary people write poems (whether they know it or not) is out of a desire to be liked (Oliver 11). I am split on this opinion. Most of the time, I write poetry for me and play with words and aim to surprise myself even with discordant words and/or incongruous words. I do this on purpose like throwing in this line, “To womb much is given, much is required,” not to bait any reader, but that is the type of surprise I insert as a stroke of ingenuity and craftiness. It has nothing to do with the reader.

Even when I am reading poetry for sheer pleasure, my mind cannot seem to take a break; it works for 24 hours. Therefore, I continually analyze poetry for style selecting words for the perfect sound and the perfect shade of meaning. This is a lesson I learned from Les Edgerton, to “fetch synonyms for sound” (20).  

I am continuously studying other poets and writers. I study style and emulate the greats. In my collection are poems that resonate with the distinct style and voices of Maya Angelou in “And Still I Rise,” Robert Frost in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and Langston Hughes in “Mother to Son,” to name a few.

I read extensively. When this course began, and I saw the list of books, I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw Mary Oliver’s name. I own at least one of these craft books and guidebooks from these renowned authors: Oliver, Edgerton, Laraine Herring, Henry James, Don Murray, Gregory Fraser, Jane Yolen, Heather Sellers, and others. After reading each seasoned author, I resolve to take away something that will alter my writing life as I know it.  

Every poet writes hope into the lines: hope that the reader will take away a valuable lesson, hope that the reader will experience some sort of a paradigm shift, and hope that the reader will cry or laugh while or after reading the poem. Although most of my poems are thematic poems, I am on a new path toward “tone” poetry that will cause some sort of mood change, a change like the traffic light, switching from emotion to emotion on cue as if programmed like the traffic light.

As boring as this topic sounds, I have been hooked on tea (the hot version and the culture) all my life and saw it as a passionate art with its tradition and class and etiquette and virtue (patience and practice). It took a while before I forced myself to move on to other subjects. The ocean seems to be a recurring theme because it holds my muse on its undulating surface.

I grew up about 30 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. If I can be near an ocean, I tend to write my heart out. My childhood does not have a whole lot to do with this muse-by-the-ocean phenomenon. I blame the fixation on the movie, “Something’s Gotta Give” and that laissez-faire writing lifestyle of the main character and the impressive oceanfront haven located in the Hamptons.

Maybe I will find my muse and a better tone in the oceanfront house. My tone used to be strident and preachy (two horrible mixtures). I aimed to let the world know that it and its teeming six billion people needed me to “fix and repair” their wayward ways. Again, like tea, I had to let it go and realize that preaching is the nail that will seal my poetry career permanently. My tone is softening, a work in progress.

Ultimately, I would like the readers of my poem to find themselves in the lines, to discover something relatable, something they need, a link to themselves. While they are on that self-discovery, I hope they will have fun and get lost in the creative surprises in the lines in my poems and remember some of those lines and quote them willy-nilly.


--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.
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Work Cited

Edgerton, Les. Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality in Your Writing. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2003. Print.

Oliver, Mary. A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 1994. Print.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

An Elegy to Eugy’s Wisdom



I was coming home to see you but the burdens
of growing a child alone turned me into a blur.
You must have remembered my arrival among
nine, all dotted behind you in the neat vegetable
garden of biannual rows our parents shouldered up.
They put eight impacted years between you and me.

You chose your wife who had my name and
brought daughters to walk in your kindness. I
carried the marks you fitted expertly like jigsaws,
leaned into the time you taught me, danced
recklessly to Elton John, the first music lesson
you pressed into my age.  How could I forget how

you shook confidence into suits, assured challenges
of your unwavering devotion when you held my hand 
through books bound with fabrics of unfamiliar flair?
You poured calligraphy and want into my ready hands
and legs, flung open our living room door and pushed 
me gently to grow my own wings to absorbing America.

You slashed through hesitation and bouts from stories
Wild, Wild West told of America’s penchant for guns.
Death fought us in ninety-seven in tenacious Aba where
it upturned your centering gift with stealth and brought
your circle full force from your arrival in Anua Hospital
in fifty-one. Your birth erased the end of what would

have ended a fertile dynasty and even made prophesy
smile. You set that unwavering footloose ritual of  
journeying from Aba to be born in the best, the custom
only the Civil War broke and spun us inward to know
the out world. You vanquished clouds, raised the bar
to none-to-compare. You, the gem, glow brightly in
death. From one whose head you deepened, I honor
your wisdom to fortify me during these arid years.


--Frances Ohanenye
Elegaic Poetry

--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Magenta Moment

The mirror stares back awaiting my next deception.
It knows me, a shammer, better than the angel it doesn’t.
Like Kenny Rogers' gambler, I know when to hold back,
when to fold, but I cannot not walk away, cannot run.
The mirror stares back admiring the grip in my eyes.
I have counted my money, saved it longer than forever.
I refuse to draw my last air in my sleep for the love
of that color in the confines of a borrowed room.
Dark on dark, we both shimmer on planned outing.
We are an exhibit in the High Museum of Art,
the artistic architect pouring curved stratus, imagined
he knew my held breath, how it would layer on me,
dark on dark. We both simmer in the mirror.
But the dress is having a moment here. 

--Frances Ohanenye
Cultural convergence


--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

His Money—an adaptation*

His nails are yellow and bitten back
yellow, unhappiness drooping
bitten back, his frightened hunger.
She doesn’t like him, and he could feel
suspicion pouring out of the lacquered odor
of hairspray. Neither war nor peace offers
the gust of self he needs.
The girl, her palate is dry like a potsherd
and eyes a bulging red air of intimidation
seem suddenly unsure of the power she grabbed.
The slap of misfortune reels him, bounces
on her authority and pounces.
Her irises burn him warning his pupils.
They retract, his frankness charge 
after the tiger she sent after him.
His frankness leaves her holding
an apple exposed to the core.

--Frances Ohanenye
--Cultural Collision
*Adapted from poem of the same title by Ted Kooser

--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sitting and Pitching

Desperate benches are lined and glued
hearts sit in empty river bowels
not fed by employment's beggars

we sit and pray with hope
we sit and wish for eternity
each side pulling justice's sleeves

the tug of war of success
crosses the border of heaven
we sit and pitch desperation

we sit and pitch tears
we sit and pitch cruelty
begging the law to lean back

to whisper hope, strings of loss
to make my heavy heart cleaner
to fill my sad heart with color

with music from hope catchers
tinkling, twinkling, sparkling
make my heavy heart flow

--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Full Speed Ahead

A tornado is she
With varying speed and force
The better the gift
The faster her speed
The more forceful her impact

The day she received her Mustang
A day of deep reckoning
Taking the stairs severally
Screaming her own siren
Louder than all three combined
The fire, the police, the ambulance

She took the stairs
Three at a perfect time
Full speed, full throttle
Coming at me forcefully
If I hadn’t braced myself
Against the impending storm
Would have been knocked down
Ever so joyfully
--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.

Monday, December 24, 2012

For Those Who Have No One



They say the holidays are the hardest
Solitude is pronounced, shouted
No one hears the cry of the lonely
Watching families thronging in, hugging
Singing, eating, laughing, kissing
No one sees the loneliness of the alone
Far away from loved ones who miss
The joy, the laughter, now a memory
The heart longs for what the heart misses
The silent cry of the lonely resonate
No tree to decorate, no turkey trimmings
No stockings stuffed, no embrace
Inner light's extinguished for now
The ache is so deep it cracks dry land
Take heart, you who are alone this season

Find a comedy show on that channel
Plug in a comedy movie to laugh-cry
But laugh, really laugh to alleviate the pain
Laugh, really laugh to gladden your heart
Laugh, really laugh; you have no choice
Bundle up, eat ice cream; fill your diary
I understand dinner for one; I've been there
See the flip side of that: all that's for you
Write songs, dream of the New Year
This, too, shall pass, I promise
Make your heart feel and see tomorrow
TRY to be happy, be merry, be joyful
This, too, shall pass, I promise     

--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gestures of Love



I talk too much for no cause
He writes, “Shush,”
With manliness on my lashes
Butterflies flutter nonstop
My breath evaporates on his face
My heart runs a cross-country race
Do not ever let my lips be free

Cover them with our future
Entwine my fingers with luck
Entwine my feet with haste
He carries me on his lap
Eyes talk when lips refuse
Permitting magic to infuse
Pour bumps on my receptive skin

Arm holds my back to his side
A way he found to make me helpless
My breath catches me unaware
Hold my hand for no reason
Let the electricity sizzle
Let sugary words drizzle
I am here to stay   

--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Motions of River

Vibrant river strong in faith
Motions of colorful nations
In prayer
In hymns
In adoration
Glorifying
Kneeling streams run as one
Standing in unified fluid motion
Coursing in one grateful chant
Sitting rivers ebb and flow
Moved by the tides of devotion
Without undue clues and prompts
Like breathing air, knowing when to glide
Unlike television audience’s cued applause
Genuflecting
Shaking hands
In prayers
In hymns
In adoration
Glorifying
Place that camera the world over
Capture motions of fluid rivers
My Catholic motions of river
Regardless of continent
Regardless of language
Countries glide simultaneously
Like abundant rivers of the world
Flowing gracefully at God’s command


--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.

Friday, November 23, 2012

See Through

Glasses said to see through them
Windex clean and causing head bangs
I spied what nature hid from me
Months of feelings of abandonment
When fall comes, leaves fall
Exposing see-through forests
When fall comes, trees undress
At the slightest, gentlest breath from air
Prance about in mild winds turning cold
When fall comes, shrubs and bushes cry
Exposure lays bare all guarded secrets

Newly arrived in this boisterous vicinity
Unaware of concealed activities
Famous cars zip up and down the hood
From unknown origins, sweeping streets
They had unwarranted, unfair advantage
My house of a corner lot laid me bare
Nothing to hide, no seasonal mystery
No running around of hide and seek

I spied what nature hid from me
Via see-through prescription glasses
By means of see-through windows
By way of see-through forests
I spied what nature hid from me


--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

In-between Thoughts



My mind slides to home base
Verdant roses and hydrangeas
Bud and bloom in happiness
Wasps of delicate vines entwine
Wrap around my fecund mind
In between rows of thriving verses
Barren land asks for seeding
That they may germinate with abandon
That they may bloom into prosaic wisps
In between thoughts, dryness stares
They cause doubts of ability
Cast burdens of writer’s block
They say I should sit and write
Unworthy thoughts not my best creations
Vacant lots welcome all travelers
The house of lackluster prose
The house of distressed property
My mind hits home runs
When silent cheers rebear energy
I prance around like Ali, the Greatest
Delivering uppercuts and jabs
To in-between thought vacancies
Swift moves away from ensnarement
Attempts to grab arms by in-between thoughts
When my mind refuses to bloom
These are any writer’s nightmares
 

--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.