Thursday, April 30, 2020

sunday swaggers challenge: epistolary poems


It's awfully nice that just as National Poetry Month ends, May swoops in with a fresh new Poetry Friday! (Because Poetry Month is every month, right? which is good news for those of us who MAY have fallen behind in our National Poetry Month projects...)

Today our critique partner Molly Hogan has asked us to turn our hand to epistolary poems, pretty straightforwardly defined at poets.org as "poems that read as letters. As poems of direct address, they can be intimate and colloquial or formal and measured."

After a period at the start of The Quarantine of "no dreams," I've been having lengthy, vivid dreams that lurk and leap out at me bit by bit all day--how 'bout you?  I've also restarted a book called The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall. One sentence in the introduction caught my attention. I set it as the striking line for a Golden Shovel, and here's how it came out.


“Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”
                    Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal  

Dear Dreamer,

The heart waits to get even,
but not for long. It takes over when
your eyes close, takes the
reins of your brain, your body.
It beats, fibrillates, goes
haywire, commanding your mind to
sends its signals while you sleep.
It won’t rest; the
heart will have its way. Your mind
thinks it’s in charge, that it stays
a step ahead, tidying everything up.
The heart knows better, releases all
its bleeding secrets, pumps your night
full of bitter gorgeous truth, telling
its technicolor lies, baring itself
in sleepless stories.

draft ©Heidi Mordhorst 2020

Not sure how to sign that letter, but there you have it. It's addressed to all of you.

Visit each of the other Swaggers to see whom--or what--they've addressed, and visit Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass, who's hosting our exhausted Poetry Friday with aplomb and a video!


13 comments:

  1. Jonathan Gottschall's book is fascinating, and you've made me want to read it again. Your poem is brilliant, Heidi! I especially love the final lines, the heart's "bitter gorgeous truth" tangled up with it's "technicolor lies...in sleepless stories." Sigh.

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  2. It reminds of the possibility that everyone really does have an alter-ego. The only difference is that it is when one sleeps & sadly, will never know, except the hint from dreams. I like that first line, so commanding to the reader to take a look, this is important! Happy May, Heidi!

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  3. Heidi, this is gorgeous. "its bleeding secrets" and the word fibrilates...the taking over with peace and lies and stories. What an incredible strike line to work with. Beautiful writing for this challenge.

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  4. Hmmmm...I sense a bit of sarcasm in that first line! lol May 1st definitely snuck up on me, too. I'm intrigued by the book you mentioned as that strike line is fabulous. Your poem raises it to an even higher level. Wow! Masterful word choice and imagery here! Also, I'm noticing that you seem to have a bit of a dream theme going on lately....another project perhaps?

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  5. This is wonderful Heidi. I like the idea of the heart and brain fighting through dreams. I've definitely been having crazy vivid dreams. I suppose my heart is winning. Good question at the end about how to sign the letter...I'm pondering that.

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  6. Great poem, Heidi! I like your shovel line from Gottschall you started with and your lines: "bitter gorgeous truth, telling its technicolor lies". I've been having crazy dreams and corona-cranium headaches when I first wake up. My brain is exhausted by morning. :)

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  7. I love this! "its bleeding secrets, pumps your night
    full of bitter gorgeous truth, telling
    its technicolor lies, baring itself
    in sleepless stories."
    You are a master at writing in different voice as well as some awesome word choices.

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  8. Oh, Heidi--those last five lines--wow! Also, I've been reading The Best of Today's Little Ditty, and I love your golden shovel poem there, too, which I read this morning. It made me think of Mayim Bialik's video: https://youtu.be/IBv6uFB-lOI Have you seen it? It's 4-1/2 minutes long and totally resonates with me.

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  9. I love that heart has its way over head in this poem. It's refreshingly counter-intuitive. You also have such a confident command over the language in this poem. If you hadn't told me, I sure wouldn't realize it was a golden shovel—it flows so effortlessly. I have NOT been having vivid anxiety dreams (for a change), but I chalk that up to taking melatonin every night to help me manage my demons.

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  10. My brain, too, has been telling crazy stories all night. Mostly stress dreams of forgetting, losing, being ineffective...

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  11. I like others is awed by your thought and word choice, Heidi.
    pumps your night
    full of bitter gorgeous truth, telling
    its technicolor lies, baring itself
    in sleepless stories.

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  12. Oooh clever to use that line to blend two forms - epistolary and golden shove. I love the result, especially the depth of "bitter gorgeous truth, telling
    its technicolor lies"
    thank you.

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  13. Keep dreaming, Heidi. What a wonderful GS that is. The heart will have its way. Peace! -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/

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Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!