Unpunctuated (reworked)

dark light
frogs sing
in the night of me
tigers stroll in the crowns of trees

my words slid
from the strings of me
lose softness
in your strong square hands

the hour is late
tigers hunt
frogs sing
in the whispering trees

The speaker tells the truth to herself only at night. Her night-mind is like a fantasy forest. She starts the night like a timid frog. As the night wears on she becomes like magical tigers roaming the treetops. She thinks of a man who sees her – her words, thoughts, feelings, intent, actions – through the rough lens of his masculine self. The lens doesn’t let him see the softness that’s part of everything she shares with him. She gives him soft pearls on strings. The strings are a music that plays when she feels connected to him. Strings like sacred threads – promises and prayers, too – they are her faithfulness, the continuity of everything she does and intends for him. He breaks the strings and slides the pearls off – plays with them as if they are disconnected from her.The night fantasy forest belongs to him, too. He is the tigers that walk in treetops and hunt in fields, and frogs that sing, just as she is.

The darkness of night is a place where their tensions can be dispersed or hidden. As day approaches, the magical tigers come down the treetops to hunt in the fields, their natural place to be. The frogs sing more softly. Morning breezes rustle the trees. It’s still a magical forest, though, so now the frogs sing in the trees, like birds. They have changed from ground to air, as the tigers have changed from air to ground.

This is the shifting energy that makes a long-term relationship between a man and woman possible. It’s about hunter / hunted, hunter / huntress, powerful / humble, man / woman, misunderstanding / clarity, tension / peace, and how with time, these opposing things resolve their oppositions by mutual change.

I don’t consider myself a writer – much less a poet. I tell the truth too little in my writing. I pull my punches – get stuck in image and metre (which I usually do badly) to hide my what my mind is saying to me when I write. The result is – a few hours or days later – a poem loses its meaning for me.

The best thing I’ve done to date was done while listening to a UK bhangra band, DSC. The disruption to metre that the band’s music caused me was beneficial – it broke the sing-song metre I usually get stuck in and opened up my thought – and the white space to the right of the line endings looks vaguely like a whirling Sufi dancer. Otherwise, I get pretentious and caught up in emotions when writing.

The three writers who’ve been teaching me the most about openness are S, M, and G. Not only open writing, as seekstill calls it, but also quietly audacious writing. When I was a kid, the best poet I knew continually told me to be more audacious. Now I’m starting to see what he meant. I’ve begun to see what I’m doing wrong with rhythm and metre and being boxed in, from Som, whose draft novel Guleil I’m now reading.

In this rework, I tried to stop paying attention to form – I was only partly successful. I can interpret the poem better than I can write it.

Fantasy forest references:
The fantasy forest with frogs and tigers comes from a series of references, starting with my favorite Kashmiri papier mache box when I was a kid, to art history, to the poets of Apollinaire’s generation in France.

  • Kashmiri papier-mache – eggs, decorative balls, boxes
  • Henri Rousseau’s dream paintings – Tiger Attacking a Bull, The Dream
  • Apollinaire – on Wikipedia (the page has a portrait of Apollinaire and wife painted by Henri Rousseau) – and poems – I think Stanley was thinking of Apollinaire’s natural and magical elements when he made this comment

What I’m learning on the forum breaks down the constraints of my childish writing. The artistic and emotional honesty of many writers here is inspiring and instructive – I’m awed by everyone’s creativity, insights, accomplishments and knowledge.

Special thanks:
to seekstill, Mukesh, Gopika, S. Nandivada, David Israel, RC, Seekersought, ahsan-ji, and Kavisamrat, for teaching me about openness, honesty, audacity, patience, humility, penetration, depth and knowledge, relative to writing poetry, and for challenging me at every step. It is refreshing. This is the proof of Rajendra’s guidelines.

Note to Som:
I just caught your response to RC. I think he is right, and that’s why I took to time to write the commentaries under this reworked version. If it didn’t work for him, it didn’t work. In your words, which I just read, but essentially echoed above:

“And it could well be that on occasion we try to reach into poignant depths but end up in pompous or pretentious or any other such bogs. But hey, at least we tried.”

That’s me! I caught your Why create? and lived with it for a while before I started this. It fed my creative process and honesty. Thank you, sir.

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