This is day 11 of NaPoWriMo. Today’s prompts are like heaven and hell, heaven being the Writer’s Digest prompt for a seasonal poem and hell being NaPoWriMo’s prompt for a Sapphic poem. A seasonal poem could have been knocked out in no time with a haiku, or a three liner, or something similar, but i’m all about economy when it comes to writing and prefer to say much with little, even if the word choice is simplistic so I tend to combine my prompts.
There are different forms of Sapphic poems and I chose a loose Sapphic form in which the first three lines must be 11 syllables while the last is 5. This challenge bent my brain and forced me into the easy way out in going with the more relaxed form of Sapphic. I’m going to take this as a personal challenge and will explore it a little more on my own time when there is no expectation of a daily offering of poems.
So, here’s my seasonal Sapphic:
my form, a coral reef to your ocean bed
above us, the waves snap the silence apart
another summer approaches in morsels
warmer by the day
Julio Cortázar was a novelist, short story writer, and essayist who was a great influence to an entire generation of Spanish readers and writers in the Americas and Europe. He wrote numerous short stories and four novels in his lifetime. He also published several works of poetry and non-fiction. His work was notably influenced by Sureallism and the novel writing type, Nouveu Roman. His poetry was not well known and is largely untranslated:
You Begin With Magic, You Are Its Furthest Nighttime Operation
The nation of the palm of your hand,
how I’ve hounded its rivers and been lost in its dunes
in search of the reddest fountain of mercury
that would summon with its ancient gong,
there above the moon of your lips, your rising smile.
Peloponnesus of ivory and bronze
your hand’s minute map,
a puddle for these lips that pursue
I smell the sand, I hear its jackals,
there are moorings and bonfires in your hand,
there are traps, lonely
midnight bars with exhausted pianists
and you, yourself, pulled close to your voice that tears through the darkness
a vague column of milk and vanilla.
Everything is born in your hand, saffron planisphere and aged rum,
and then it moves forth, climbs, deceives, and tempests,
pinkish navel, lips withdrawn, feeling,
suddenly it’s Sergio and his guitar, it is that wounded summer girl
that gave us that flower on a street corner with an aloof “I must.”
I’ll tell you of the trip, you, half awake,
I’ll lift up the Portolan chart, stealthily,
I’ll tell you in the fog that coos in your throat
of the games of chance that dragged us through backrooms
to drunken sailors, to girls just passing through,
who form the alphabet of this language, the gesture
with which you surrender, bending, murmuring a fountain among bell towers.
There, where at last I drink.