Archive for the ‘Katherine’s Writing’ Category:

Game of Poems

Young woman dancing

Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

You speak in riddles because

You ache to speak.

You ache for space

To expand and contract.

You cast your words into the chasm,

To be caught by one

Whose breathing holds your breath.

 

When your foot finds the brink

You ask the air

Questions.

© 2013 Katherine Grace Bond

Poetry is dangerous. The instructor urges extreme caution. Bring paper, pens and words (caged if necessary). Hear the work of young poets, published and unpublished and then let your own words out. Cut through the steel bars and let loose what you really want to say.

Teen Poets is part of the Bellevue College Summer Teen Program’s writing classes. I’d love to see you there!

Register for Teen Poets

Okay! Let’s play a game!

This is what poet Shane Guthrie calls an “infection set” of poems.

If you are the first commenter, write a poem that begins with the first line of the poem above: “You speak in riddles because”
If you are the second commenter, write a poem that begins with the second line: “You ache to speak”
…and so on.

Don’t worry if you finish your poem and someone has already commented ahead of you before you can post it. Life is made of such happy accidents. Ready, set, write!

Image by © Blue Jean Images/Corbis

Can We Talk?

I have not shared any of my work-in-progress here because it has felt too close to the bone. It’s a YA. It’s about art. And it’s about time-travel. It’s about a girl who feels responsible for keeping someone else alive, and how she goes back in time and thinks she wants to stay there. It’s a verse-novel, so it’s made up entirely of poems.

But it’s time for some mutual sharing. I’m looking for a small group of young people (high school/college) and some art. We’d all need pens and notebooks and maybe sketchpads. I’m going to share part of the book with you and then we’ll talk about the girl in the book and maybe about ourselves, too. Then we’ll need the art, because art has this amazing capacity for healing. We’re going to each choose a piece of art–on a gallery wall, maybe, and sit with it for a while, and write. The fancy term for this is “ekphrastic poetry” (a term I like very much).

That’s about it.  The workshop would be free (I got a 4Culture grant for it), so all I need is the people and the art. I could take a max of maybe a dozen. If you know someone who doesn’t usually get to do this kind of thing because of money, let me know. We’ll figure out the dates when we’ve got the people, but I’d like to do it in the summer. The only constraint is it has to happen in King County. Who’s in? Who can find us some art?

Here’s an excerpt from the book. In this poem, Alice, the main character, is staring at a Jackson Pollack painting at the Seattle Art Museum.

Jackson Pollack--Sea ChangeSea Change

I could get lost here

In the tarry black of the Pollack.

It spiders me in,

Webbing faces, flames,

The sails of ships.

 

When I’m here,

I’m not there,

Not home,

Alert to every change

In his cadence.

 

If I climbed into this painting,

Tumbled

Into the starry depths

I would land somewhere

Quiet.

 

What would it be

To stop the ringing fear

Inside my head?

To lose my footing

And fall, no way

for anyone to reach me?

 

I would land in a hall of mirrors,

Each self beckoning me

To follow in and in

Until all I could hear

Was my own abandoned voice.

©2014 Katherine Grace Bond, from Looking-Glass Girl, manuscript in progress

 

I Held Poems

Those most beautiful

I couldn’t read for a crowd.

When Sexton, blind with love,

Saw her daughter’s life stretch out,

When Thomas sang in his chains like the sea,

And refused to mourn–

 

Once I was in that cold embrace

They carried me along and up and down the peaks of waves.

I was in thrall.

They made me pull in my breath.

My throat ached its resistance.

 

And sometimes in my search for words

I felt my face draw shut

When an image opened,

Tender as a wound in my mouth.

 

Sometimes I wrote about my father,

Discovering, even after fifty years

The fresh mark of his inscrutable rage,

And reading it as loss,

Even though I knew he was across town

Nursing the clock on his wall.

“Don’t be an absentee,” he’d said the last time,

As if I must remember to vote

Before the polls closed.

 

Once I took him out

And brought a book of poems.

He complained

About the slowness of the coffee,

Barked at the waiter for not knowing

That Belgian waffles have strawberries,

Not peaches, goddamnit.

 

I read him a poem by Shelley,

One that wouldn’t bring me to shame,

And another by Hopkins that almost did.

 

“Now you,” I told him, sliding the book across.

He turned the pages and began,

Stopped,

Began again,

Then, in midsentence, closed the book.

“Can’t,” he said, and looked away,

My father,

Bearing my unshed tears.

 

©2014 Katherine Grace Bond

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

This is a course description for a poetry class I hope to offer this summer at Bellevue College.

Teen Poet: Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

Poetry is dangerous. The instructor urges extreme caution. Bring paper, pens and words (caged if necessary). Hear the work of young poets, published and unpublished and then let your own words out. Cut through the steel bars and let loose what you really want to say.

You speak in riddles because

You ache to speak.

You ache for space

To expand and contract.

You cast your words into the chasm,

To be caught by one

Whose breathing holds your breath.

 

When your foot finds the brink

You ask the air

Questions.

 

©2013 Katherine Grace Bond

Postcard Poetry Project: Drones

This one goes out to Michelle Castleberry, and is best understood as a response to her fabulous poem, “The Gift.”

Drones

The night you stole the hives,

We had gone out—

A thousand of us guys—

One last rollick on the town

Before sampling the delights of our virgin queen.

 

The girls had fed us ambrosia for days

As they gazed into our compound eyes

And exclaimed at the size of our mandibles.

 

The queen could hardly wait, they sighed,

Assuring us that every man would have his turn

At ecstasy.

 

That night, mustered just beyond the apiary,

We boasted how we’d dive like comets

Over her—each one of us was sure

He’d be the first and best to rock her world.

 

But flying home, a little drunk,

We found the bee house carted off,

The homestead vanished,

Our drowsy queen

An adolescent dream.

 

And now there’s not a wing

To prove we’ve not imagined our own race—

No buzz in rhododendrons, no

Dancing grace notes on the wind,

Not one sweet treasure left on earth.

 

Unless it’s true the night you

Spanned the globe and made off

With a million honeyed palaces

You found some best-forgotten mercy

And left a scent the drones could follow.

 

It’s said that a year’s walk from the horizon

Where lone and level sands stretch far away

A solitary storehouse thrums with bees.

 

And so we wander,

Stingerless and hungry

For the sight of her—

A thousand consorts, who sweep the barren land

And mourn the kings we might have been.

 

© Katherine Grace Bond

drone-bee

 

Postcard Poetry Project: “Frogging”

This month I join a slew of poets who will send a postcard a day with an original poem written on it. This one goes to Lenora Good. The card had a frog on it, so here’s what emerged:

Frogging

Torpor is another

of the frog’s proficiencies—

that pond-bottom state where

respiration slows and the heart calms.

 

The work is not yet complete.

Best to dream of a bow pulled

frog to tip and back in two long notes,

so that the frog is both the finish and the start.

 

Or dream of greatcoats

with knotted rows of fasteners.

Or rue the months of knitting tugged apart,

so that “frogging” is both

attachment and unraveling.

 

The frog knows this as she burrows deeper—

quiet, so quiet she can hear minnows

gliding above her,

so still she can feel the thrum

of her own story—

a yarn, worthy of beginning again.

 

© Katherine Grace Bond

 

In a Writing Rut? Steal from Another Author (but not really.)

I don’t know about you, but after years of writing, I notice that I get into a stylistic rut. As I have mentioned before on this blog, the solution is theft. Today I’m going to steal from author Janet Lee Carey, creator of Dragon’s Keep, The Beast of Noor, Dragonswood and many other books. This particular bit of larceny is from The Beast of Noor.

I’ve broken part of a scene down into its elements: dialogue, setting detail, internal monologue, etc. In this scene, Hanna, who is a dreamwalker, confronts her brother Miles, who used his secret shapeshifting ability to save her from the supernatural beast known as the Shriker.

Hanna lunged forward and pushed him on the chest. (character action) “Don’t!” she cried. “Don’t lie about it anymore! I saw you leap from the high branch, so I thought you’d die, but you didn’t. You…flew.” (dialogue)

Miles sucked in a startled breath and held it. (character action)

“You changed. Your body changed. I saw it happen. And you saved me from the Shriker.” (dialogue) Hanna looked up at him not so much with anger now as wonder. (character action.) He’d seen that look before when she’d knelt before the altar in the kirk. (internal monologue) It gave him a strange, tingling feeling to be so admired. (sensory detail) But he saw fear in her eyes as well (character detail), and he didn’t like that so much. (internal monologue)

High above a golden blade of sunlight pierced the clouds. (setting detail) Hanna was still looking at him, waiting for a word. (character action) “It’s true,” she insisted. “All of what I saw in the deeps. Isn’t it?” (dialogue)

A drop of sweat slid down Mile’s forehead. (sensory detail) He wiped it away with his sleeve. (character action) He couldn’t go on fooling her. What now? (internal monologue)

 

Now, taking these elements in the same order, I have created an entirely new (and rather silly) scene for an entirely different book.

DSC_0076 (334x400)

Kweeg H-41 jumped from the mossy wall, landing on her side and rolling. “Bleezbat!” she huffed. “Lexar didn’t tell me this required vanquishing primitive ecosystems.”  She examined her torn tunic.

“You were expecting a space pod with a driver?” Ilik-J16 smirked and offered his hand.

She would eat quantum rats before she’d accept any help from Ilik. Her bum smarted where it had hit a root. Ilik’s silver tunic was spotless, as usual. Kweeg suspected he’d spent his bonus on nano-cleaners for it, just to irritate her.

The ground was freezing as well as rooty. Kweeg hauled herself to her feet, glaring. She ignored Ilik’s proffered hand. “Lexar wants us there tomorrow,” she snarled. “The least he could do is provide transport.” Her left foot was beginning to throb and some kind of murderous plant was poking her. She jerked her arm away from the foliage and gave it a rub. When she got home—if she ever got home—she would fill Lexar’s sleeping compartment with Plutonian Slugs.

Not only is this a lot of fun to do, it’s not a way you would normally write. You can break the scene down into even more detailed elements if you like. While it would drive me crazy to do long passages using this method, I find that short bits help me to analyze my usual style and see whether there is something in the rhythm and pacing of another author’s prose that I could use to change up my own.

If you know a teen writer interested in gathering with other teens who write, check out our TEENWrite summer classes at Uppercase Books in Snohomish.

 

Ekphrastic Poem–“Mountain (Relievo)” after Cris Brodahl

“Relievo” by Cris Brodahl, 2010. Oil on Linen.

 

Mountain (Relievo)

 

And when you climb,

Anticipate the weight

Of the journey—

Rope, pick,

Pack, piton—

Consider

The deceptiveness of glaciers,

The hut you never reach, the gorge

That takes you, without warning,

To the bosom of the earth.

 

Don’t ask yourself

Why you are here—

You know.

 

You are encumbered

Even standing still, even

If you never had begun the climb.

 

Wet snow, waterfall, shock

Of edelweiss—

This is your native land,

Beautiful Yeti—

The eye that stares out from the stone

Is yours—

Fear of steepness,

Wariness of ice,

Your birthright.

 

Feel

The pull of your calves,

Your hands’

Grasp

On each crevice,

And, arriving at the peak,

The sway of your own heart.

 

Let yourself be slight

And the mountain immeasurable.

The rock

Cradles your bones inside:

Foot,

Shoulder,

The raised contours of the face—

You see yourself

In relief.

 

©2010 by Katherine Grace Bond. Written as part of the Seattle Art Museum’s SAM Word Program, in response to Cris Brodahl‘s “Mountain” exhibit.

 

Question For My Father, Who Lives Alone

table

 

Dad had a birthday today. “I never thought I’d live to 82,” he said.

“Dad,” I told him, “You’re 85.”

“Oh! So I am!” he said.

We took him for a hamburger. In a couple of weeks there’s some live music we’ll take him to. It’s a stretched-out birthday.

Visits are quiet. After two strokes, Dad doesn’t hold forth like he used to in conversation. He used to have a very long silence-filling “ahhhhhhh.” He used it if he was searching for a word, so that no one could interrupt until he found it. Now if I ask him the right questions, he’ll answer. Then I need to think of another question, and another. Some do not merit answers. Often, it just feels like me prattling. Sometimes I read or sing to him. I’m not sure whether he likes it or not. But when I take him back to the nursing home, kiss the top of his head and tell him I’ll be back next week, he always seems glad I’ve come.

I read this article on Dementia Friends, a movement started in England, and I’m still crying. The tears caught me by surprise.

“When we first started going to the BB we would have to stand and wait until a seat came open. That didn’t last for long. Over time, Dotty’s dementia friends started saving her a seat. As we approached the bar area they would start waving and smiling. Some would yell Dotty, and a few yelled Mom. Dotty’s list of direct dementia friends had grown to more than ten. They were waiting for her.”

I don’t know if Dad would even like having friends. I know he used to like it. Here’s a poem I wrote probably fifteen years ago. It came back to me as I was thinking about this. Despite the ending, it is not really about death, but about life.

Question For My Father, Who Lives Alone

 

What if you and I were walking one day

and you said,

“Can you smell the sap?”

And I did?

 

What if you said,

“The wind is brisk. It has a bite.”

And I said,

“Let’s go inside?”

 

What if you said,

“Sit at this table.

Here are my friends,

Here and here and here.”

And I touched each hand?

 

What if you said,

“I will die now.”

And I said,

“Yes.”

And you closed your eyes?

–from Considering Flight (2006, Brassweight Press)

 

The Sweetness in Fearless Writing

Dad 2004

“Some days I feel the ground shifting beneath me, the revelations bursting like fireworks over my head,” I wrote a few days into inviting the bogeyman of Dad’s mental illness onto my blog.

“I’ve thought that too much introspection was keeping me from my work. But I’m noticing that I’m suddenly finishing things and embarking on new ones: I graded all my papers yesterday, wrote to an editor about some work, took an assignment from another one, nailed down dates for my spring classes, got my open mic poets lined up. It’s as if sending this locked-up part of me into the illusory world of cyberspace has opened me. It’s still terrifying as hell.”

The rest of the post was about a night out with my dad. It’s a favorite of mine because it’s not about mental illness, it’s about us–our yelling, singing, hillbilly, opera-going father-daughter selves. And now that he’s had two strokes and is so much quieter, I miss the sweetness of that.

Read “Opera Night”…