stonepicnicking_okapi: painted stone inspired by "The Blank Page" (The Blank Page)
Title: A Very un-English Murder
Fandom: Inspector Grant [Josephine Tey, specifically Book 1: The Man in the Queue]
Warning: Spoilers for the solution to the murder, including the murderer
Form: Pantoum
Length: 462
100 Fandoms prompt: .099 Unless
Notes: Upon a re-listen of The Man in the Queue, I got a bit tired of Grant going on an on about how un-English the murder was, so I expressed my displeasure in verse!

It was a very un-English murder. )
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
The internet won't let me copy-and-paste, but today I'd like to mention The Duck Hunt by mrspencil. It's an epic of Holmes visiting Trevor and going duck hunting and it's brilliant. Whenever I sit down to write a poem about Sherlock Holmes, I ask myself if my friend has already written an epic on the subject I'm considering and in at least two cases, I've been correct.

And the most famous of Holmesian verse.

221B by Vincent Starrett

Here dwell together still two men of note
Who never lived and so can never die:
How very near they seem, yet how remote
That age before the world went all awry.
But still the game's afoot for those with ears
Attuned to catch the distant view-halloo:
England is England yet, for all our fears-
Only those things the heart believes are true.

A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
As night descends upon this fabled street:
A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five.
stonepicnicking_okapi: painted stone inspired by "The Blank Page" (The Blank Page)
Title: Piney
Rating: Gen
Form: Triolet
No. of lines: 8
Length: 45
Prompt: Piney

The piney tallow candle burns,
exhales a fragrance old as time.
The heart remembers sorrow, yearns.
The piney tallow candle burns.
The restless mind, once stilled, unlearns
regret and habit, seeks a peace sublime.
The piney tallow candle burns,
exhales a fragrance old as time.
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
For a first line and a turn of a phrase, you can't do better than Emily Dickinson.

A narrow Fellow in the Grass by Emily Dickinson

A narrow Fellow in the Grass
Occasionally rides -
You may have met him? Did you not
His notice instant is -

The Grass divides as with a Comb,
A spotted Shaft is seen,
And then it closes at your Feet
And opens further on -

He likes a Boggy Acre -
A Floor too cool for Corn -
But when a Boy and Barefoot
I more than once at Noon

Have passed I thought a Whip Lash
Unbraiding in the Sun
When stooping to secure it
It wrinkled And was gone -

Several of Nature’s People
I know, and they know me
I feel for them a transport
Of Cordiality

But never met this Fellow
Attended or alone
Without a tighter Breathing
And Zero at the Bone.
stonepicnicking_okapi: Heart (Squishyheart)
Title: The Yellow Bonnet
Fandom: Peter Rabbit [Beatrix Potter]
Length: 650
Rating: Gen
100 Fandoms Prompt: .035 spring
Characters: Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Mr. McGregor, Mrs. McGregor
Summary: One spring morning, Benjamin & Peter return to Mr. McGregor's garden.

One very fine spring morning )
stonepicnicking_okapi: Heart (Squishyheart)
It's Spring Break here, and while Minor's at soccer camp, Minisculus and I have been putting together this small greenhouse. It's foam and stickers from a $5 kit by Creatology, but the result is nicer than any of the kits we've tried before. I'm going to keep it through the spring.

Foam Greenhouse
stonepicnicking_okapi: Blue-and-white teacup (Teacup)
I stumbled upon the Sloan & Crosby series (also known as The Calleshire Chronicles) by Catherine Aird, and I really like it, not least of which is because in at least two books of the series (and I hope more!) the audiobook versions are narrated by Robin Bailey, who did a great job with Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Clocks. Bailey has a low, rumbly, very tired and world weary kind of voice, which is perfect. The stories are cosy, police procedural type of stories but what sets them apart is the dry humor. DI Sloan is helped by DC Crosby who is always making quips, and at regular intervals, Sloan communicates with his superior Superintendent Leeyes and summaries the case or succinctly relates off-stage incidents--and the banter between Sloan and Leeyes is all I could want and aspire to in my own dialogue, sharp and quick and witty and sarcastic and they are so well rendered in Bailey's voice. The first in the series is available A Religious Body on youtube. I had sort of despaired a bit for something to listen to [I'd fallen back on my fave Frederick Davidson reading The Hound of the Baskerville and had been strangely put-off a re-listen of Josephine Tey's The Man in the Queue and A Shilling for Candles] and so I am really thrilled to find an author who is new to me and whose style I really like.
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
This is the only poet I've actually met in person. She came to my undergraduate college and this poem was among the ones she recited. It sums up my undergraduate studies (Latin American politics and Spanish literature and language) rather nicely.

The Colonel by Carolyn Forché

WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English.
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As
for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them-
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
blustery April
rose-pink petals in the sky--
wish I'd brought a hat
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
Difficult to narrow it down with Borges. But here are two favorites.

Ars Poetica by Jorge Luis Borges. [trans. W. S. Merwin]

To look at the river made of time and water
And remember that time is another river,
To know that we are lost like the river
And that faces dissolve like water.

To be aware that waking dreams it is not asleep
While it is another dream, and that the death
That our flesh goes in fear of is that death
Which comes every night and is called sleep.

To see in the day or in the year a symbol
Of the days of man and of his years,
To transmute the outrage of the years
Into a music, a murmur of voices, and a symbol,

To see in death sleep, and in the sunset
A sad gold — such is poetry,
Which is immortal and poor. Poetry
Returns like the dawn and the sunset.

At times in the evenings a face
Looks at us out of the depths of a mirror;
Art should be like that mirror
Which reveals to us our own face.

They say that Ulysses, sated with marvels,
Wept tears of love at the sight of his Ithaca,
Green and humble. Art is that Ithaca
Of green eternity, not of marvels.

It is also like the river with no end
That flows and remains and is the mirror of one same
Inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
And is another, like the river with no end.

In Spanish )

In Praise of Darkness by Jorge Luis Borges [trans. Hoyt Rodgers]

Old age (the name that others give it)
can be the time of our greatest bliss.
The animal has died or almost died.
The man and his spirit remain.
I live among vague, luminous shapes
that are not darkness yet.
Buenos Aires,
whose edges disintegrated
into the endless plain,
has gone back to being the Recoleta, the Retiro,
the nondescript streets of the Once,
and the rickety old houses
we still call the South.
In my life there were always too many things.
Democritus of Abdera plucked out his eyes in order to think;
Time has been my Democritus.
This penumbra is slow and does not pain me;
it flows down a gentle slope,
resembling eternity.
My friends have no faces,
women are what they were so many years ago,
these corners could be other corners,
there are no letters on the pages of books.
All this should frighten me,
but it is a sweetness, a return.
Of the generations of texts on earth
I will have read only a few-
the ones that I keep reading in my memory,
reading and transforming.
From South, East, West, and North
the paths converge that have led me
to my secret center.
Those paths were echoes and footsteps,
women, men, death-throes, resurrections,
days and nights,
dreams and half-wakeful dreams,
every inmost moment of yesterday
and all the yesterdays of the world,
the Dane’s staunch sword and the Persan’s moon,
the acts of the dead,
shared love, and words,
Emerson and snow, so many things.
Now I can forget them. I reach my center
my algebra and my key,
my mirror.
Soon I will know who I am.

In Spanish )
stonepicnicking_okapi: painted stone inspired by "The Blank Page" (The Blank Page)
Title: The Glass Jar
Form: Ottava Rima
Rating: Gen
Length: 57
No. of lines: 8
Related: The Glass Jar, Sherlock Holmes (ACD).

A glass carafe of shells and stones and bits
—collected natural curiosities—
upon an old, familiar table sits.
Each trove’s a gift bestowed by kindly seas.
Each represents a bold display of wits.
Or anecdote. Or joke. Or country wheeze.
Alone, I claim them for my humble horde
to amuse you lest the quiet turn to bored.
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
I'm thinking of form today, so here's a pantoum and a villanelle.

Pantoum of the Great Depression by Donald Justice.

Our lives avoided tragedy
Simply by going on and on,
Without end and with little apparent meaning.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.

Simply by going on and on
We managed. No need for the heroic.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.
I don't remember all the particulars.

We managed. No need for the heroic.
There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
I don't remember all the particulars.
Across the fence, the neighbors were our chorus.

There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
Thank god no one said anything in verse.
The neighbors were our only chorus,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.

At no time did anyone say anything in verse.
It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.
No audience would ever know our story.

It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us.
We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
What audience would ever know our story?
Beyond our windows shone the actual world.

We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
Somewhere beyond our windows shone the world.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.

And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
We did not ourselves know what the end was.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.
We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues.

But we did not ourselves know what the end was.
People like us simply go on.
We have our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues,
But it is by blind chance only that we escape tragedy.

And there is no plot in that; it is devoid of poetry.

One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
stonepicnicking_okapi: Blue-and-white teacup (Teacup)
I've won 35 points in Yahtzee for my five 14-line poems. I asked for another roll of the dice, and this is what I got. I like 'Peppery' and the photo; the rest are sort of ho-hum, but serviceable. I shall be shooting for the Aces category (i.e., poems between 5-10 lines).

stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
A hodge-podge this morning.

A Married State by Katherine Philips

A married state affords but little ease
The best of husbands are so hard to please.
This in wives’ careful faces you may spell
Though they dissemble their misfortunes well.
A virgin state is crowned with much content;
It’s always happy as it’s innocent.
No blustering husbands to create your fears;
No pangs of childbirth to extort your tears;
No children’s cries for to offend your ears;
Few worldly crosses to distract your prayers:
Thus are you freed from all the cares that do
Attend on matrimony and a husband too.
Therefore Madam, be advised by me
Turn, turn apostate to love’s levity,
Suppress wild nature if she dare rebel.
There’s no such thing as leading apes in hell.

How Unpleasant to Meet Mr. Eliot by T. S. Eliot

How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot!
With his features of clerical cut,
And his brow so grim
And his mouth so prim
And his conversation, so nicely
Restricted to What Precisely
And If and Perhaps and But.
How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot!
With bobtail cur
In a coat of fur
And a porpentine cat
And a wopsicle hat:
How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot!
(Whether his mouth be open or shut).

fromThe Princess: Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font.
The firefly wakens; waken thou with me.

Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake.
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
Hope everyone is having a nice Sunday.

300 Goats by Naomi Shihab Nye

In icy fields.
Is water flowing in the tank?
Will they huddle together, warm bodies pressing?
(Is it the year of the goat or the sheep?
Scholars debating Chinese zodiac,
follower or leader.)
O lead them to a warm corner,
little ones toward bulkier bodies.
Lead them to the brush, which cuts the icy wind.
Another frigid night swooping down — 
Aren’t you worried about them? I ask my friend,
who lives by herself on the ranch of goats,
far from here near the town of Ozona.
She shrugs, “Not really,
they know what to do. They’re goats.”

Bees Were Better by Naomi Shihab Nye

In college, people were always breaking up.
We broke up in parking lots,
beside fountains.
Two people broke up
across a table from me
at the library.
I could not sit at that table again
though I did not know them.
I studied bees, who were able
to convey messages through dancing
and could find their ways
home to their hives
even if someone put up a blockade of sheets
and boards and wire.
Bees had radar in their wings and brains
that humans could barely understand.
I wrote a paper proclaiming
their brilliance and superiority
and revised it at a small café
featuring wooden hive-shaped honey-dippers
in silver honeypots
at every table.
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
I am currently working on a sestina, so here's a beautiful one.

Sestina by Algernon Charles Swinburne

I saw my soul at rest upon a day
As a bird sleeping in the nest of night,
Among soft leaves that give the starlight way
To touch its wings but not its eyes with light;
So that it knew as one in visions may,
And knew not as men waking, of delight.

the rest )
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
from Jubilate Agno by Christopher Smart

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider'd God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day's work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat.
the rest )
stonepicnicking_okapi: Blue-and-white teacup (Teacup)
Here's a fun question (since I'll never own a home).

[community profile] questionoftheday asks: What are five things you want to have in your dream home? Be creative.

My answer:

1. French doors from bedroom that lead to terrace (not balcony!) and ocean view!
2. Library with ladders and rugs suitable for depositing dead bodies and moving bookshelf that leads to secret passage which leads to crypt where the ghost lives!
3. Kitchen with robot to prepare tea and meals and do the washing up.
4. Self-tending walled garden with Many, Many Secrets and lots of little Beatrix Potter animals coming and going.
5. Boathouse (for Shenanigans! Also, possibly murders if the library is otherwise occupied!)
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
The Tuft of Flowers by Robert Frost

I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,

‘As all must be,’ I said within my heart,
‘Whether they work together or apart.’

the rest )
stonepicnicking_okapi: daffodils (daffodils)
Absence of a poem yesterday was brought to you by Misery of a Gastrointestinal nature. And since I've been half in love with easeful Death for the last thirty-six hours, have a bit of Keats.

Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

the rest )


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