Monday, July 25, 2011

The last conversation

Back here in Portland, it was different.
Everything I knew was here, alive.
What I’d left behind seemed a dream,
good dream, yes, but an escape, not real,
only a dream, nothing more than that,
memory, fondness, no regret, silence.

What I heard was not a silence.
It was not what I knew before, but different,
a memory, I agree, a song, and more than that,
bursting with life, living, breathing, alive,
etched in my mind, my heart, a real
life, a first life, more than only a dream.

How can it be more than a dream,
you there, me here, subsiding into silence,
here where it lessens its hold on the real,
fading to a fleeting moment, different
than what is before me now, when I’m alive
when I’ve become more than that.

We spoke of a future, nothing less than that,
I did not invent our words in a dream;
we moved in time, the first time feeling alive,
touching our hearts especially in the silence
we both knew was profoundly different,
even from what we didn’t before we were real.

It is my life here, not there, that’s real.
It is my life here, my reality here, that
is what I want, always, nothing different.
What we had was good but it was a dream;
the dream is gone, leaving behind it the silence,
and it is our silence that must remain alive.

What we had was dead then, is not now alive;
I believed it as a love that was real.
You’re leaving me with an empty silence,
a scarred nothing, a bleeding hole that
has sucked emptiness from a dream, our dream,
a hope that this time we would be different.

I will only look back at that
now and see the end of a dream
that was only a cliché, nothing different.

Over at The High Calling, there is a photo play prompt for capturing a conversation, using background, angle or distance to establish the context of the image, convert it to black and white (no one said this was simple), post it on the High Calling Flickr group page, and then tag it.

I did not take the photograph above, but I did find it online and figured out how to convert a color photo to black and white; that’s as far as some photographically challenged person like myself could go (but I was very proud of myself for figuring out the conversion). But the photo prompt also said that if you were poetically inclined, you could join L.L. Barkat and Dave Wheeler and write a sestina poem about a conversation. Since I was also sestina-poetry challenged, I almost gave it up. But even I could follow the step-by-step instructions found here and here. And also here. (Nobody said this was going to be easy, and they were absolutely right. This took some research!)

So that’s what the above poem is, sort of (I hope I got it right but I’m too exhausted to care at this point): a sestina, a poem that uses the last words of the lines in the first stanza in a specifically structured repetition. A sestina has six stanzas of six lines each, and then a final stanza of three lines.



JofIndia said...

The fiendishly rigorous discipline of sestina form heightens the emotional power of your poem, Glynn. I'm not at all sure how that happens, but it does.
It invokes the feeling that you're witnessing a rigid, but only precariously controlled, stream of consciousness.
The expression of tightly reined emotions is often more moving than watching the release of untrammelled passion. The appeal of classical versus romantic arts, perhaps..
Anyway, congratulations on completing your difficult assignment with such skill!

Louise Gallagher said...

I'm impressed!

I like how you captured the conversation and took it all the way back to facing reality -- that 'sucked emptiness from a dream, our dream/ a hope that this time we would be different.

Nice. very nice!

Sue Miley said...

Very nice....I had never heard of a sestina before....but, as I read I particularly liked how you followed up with each previous stanza when you started a new one. It drew me into the conversation. Then you explained it was part of the structure. It definitely serves a purpose.

I also like how you left some mystery to the conversation, an opening for some interpretation of their story.

Unknown said...

Glynn, something about your ability to capture the past in a way that creates nostalgia but also a definite desire for the now, is incredible!

I see this thread running through many of your words.

Well done on both these accomplishments!

Maureen said...

I was hoping you would try the sestina.

You selected a great image for your poem, which I think carries one of the many possible meanings of the photograph. It's a one-sided conversation, although we know she's hearing what he has to say; she just won't face him. Her body language belies the poem's talk of future.

I really like how you open your open with that undefined "it". The form, which I've come to like a lot, allows for story-telling and you found a way into a story, sad though it is.

Megan Willome said...

Painful, but beautiful. Well done!

Anonymous said...

i am impressed

L.L. Barkat said...

Exhausted. :) You make me smile.

I loved the poignancy of this one. Especially here... "What we had was good but it was a dream;
the dream is gone, leaving behind it the silence,"

And I'm so pleased you tried out the conversation!

S. Etole said...

Extremely impressive!

Unknown said...

Glynn, I've enjoyed reading these submissions. I tried to explain the form to my ten-year-old daughter and she said, "Sounds complicated!"

This makes me appreciate them all the more.

Anonymous said...

Glynn -- Having written my first sestina for this prompt, too, I feel like we are some kind of club now. Sestina Writers of America, maybe? I loved your conversation, here. I actually kind of forgot the part about conversation when I was writing, but it kind of came anyway. It seems this form was made for it.

Congratulations on a job well done!