DRAFT: Ode to A

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I’m attending a Tupelo Press Writing Conference this weekend, and thought it would be fun to share the piece I’ve written in response to an assignment. Participants will be exploring Pablo Neruda’s work, and have been charged with producing an ode in the style of Neruda.

Ode to A

I praise your curves
and angles, your
history,
the lift and heft,
those borrowed traces
sprouting from
an ox head
in fetid Egypt,
the dung trails
alive with beetles
rolling their wares
across rutted paths,
under the hooves
of the blind
mouthless cow in
Sinai, morphing
to the early
Phoenician aleph,
its horns
lowered sideways
in a pasture
far from the docks,
as if asking
what next,
where to,
and not in anger
or fear
or sheer bullness,
but with purpose,
like a harrowed field
or cool drink
at the end
of a hot afternoon.

And centuries
later, the horns
lifted again,
but only halfway,
as if in greeting
the man with the
goods-laden cart,
saying welcome,
traveler,
welcome to my
humble home,
please share
my bread
and soft cheese,
these grapes,
this wine, too.

But how alone
my tongue feels
in singing your name,
never touching lip
or roof of mouth,
worshipping
the apex of your rich
furrow, forever
plowing forward,
yet failing,
fallow at every turn.

And I have
not yet mentioned
your lower
case,
kneeling and
well rounded,
a bud, a tender
shoot bridging
two stones
in a dry
plot: oh, to be
that tongue
and palate,
those lips
surrounding you,
to be your
consonant
in a field of vowels.

Hungarian cattle, Lajosmizse, Hungary

40 thoughts on “DRAFT: Ode to A

      • I think this is an extremely clever write. And reminiscent of Pablo Neruda’s form. Having said that, here are a few humble comments that I hope will improve the overall quality of the verse.

        I praise your curves
        and angles,
        (Would you consider replacing curves with “arch”. The meaning does not change much, but would allow for some alliteration.)

        the lift and heft,
        (I like the repetition of the “ft” sound here.)

        an ox head
        (Would you consider ox’s head? It makes it grammatically correct, and the repetition of the “s” sound right after “sprouting” would give a feeling of rapid sprouting)

        rolling their wares
        across rutted paths,
        (Would you consider “rutted roads”? Alliteration is an ornamental feature, especially in free verse)

        morphing
        to the early
        Phoenician aleph,
        (Excellent! I love this)

        goods-laden cart,
        saying welcome,
        traveler,
        welcome to my
        humble home,
        please share
        my bread
        and soft cheese,
        these grapes,
        this wine, too.
        (Would you consider rewriting the above in the following fashion:
        goods-laden cart,
        saying:
        welcome, traveler,
        welcome to my humble home,
        please share my bread
        and soft cheese,
        these grapes,
        this wine too.)

        But how alone
        (Would you consider replacing alone with “lonely”? It also allows for slant rhyme with “feels” in the next line. I love the alliteration at the end of the stanza)

        I really enjoyed reading the poem. Keep the goodness coming. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Qanit, here are my replies:
        I praise your curves
        and angles,
        (Would you consider replacing curves with “arch”. The meaning does not change much, but would allow for some alliteration.)

        I wouldn’t change “curves” here, as this particular word resonates with a later portion of the poem (the lower case section).

        an ox head
        (Would you consider ox’s head? It makes it grammatically correct, and the repetition of the “s” sound right after “sprouting” would give a feeling of rapid sprouting)

        I’d likely retain ox head here, as the poem refers to a depiction rather than the actual head of an ox. But I did try it in an earlier version. 🙂

        rolling their wares
        across rutted paths,
        (Would you consider “rutted roads”? Alliteration is an ornamental feature, especially in free verse) Roads might work. I was hoping to evoke something more rustic and primitive, hence the word path.

        goods-laden cart,
        saying welcome,
        traveler,
        welcome to my
        humble home,
        please share
        my bread
        and soft cheese,
        these grapes,
        this wine, too.
        (Would you consider rewriting the above in the following fashion:
        goods-laden cart,
        saying:
        welcome, traveler,
        welcome to my humble home,
        please share my bread
        and soft cheese,
        these grapes,
        this wine too.)

        Your version certainly works, too.

        But how alone
        (Would you consider replacing alone with “lonely”? It also allows for slant rhyme with “feels” in the next line. I love the alliteration at the end of the stanza)

        I like your idea, but think “lonely” takes it to a different place.

        Thanks very much for your thoughtful comments.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I started writing an ode about the alphabet, but realized that no one would want to read a hundred-page ode, so I stopped with “A.” I don’t know that I’ll write about this particular conference, but may eventually write about my experiences at conferences. I’m so glad you posted a reply. I was thinking about you just the other day!

      Like

  1. Oh My Goodness, what brilliant and exquisite poetry!

    It is a lovely story and all seemed one coherent piece..except…. Only one change i would make is to add a d for past tense to praise in first line. this would then jive with the second verse which transitions to centuries later….

    have fun at your workshop. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: SHOWCASE–O at the Edges | The Rattling Bones

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