Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Apples and Thorns

Green Apple

Apples and Thorns
A Pantoum

Love’s not an apple, plucked and discarded,
uneaten, Kallisti, some greed gloating prize.
Love’s a thorned angel, not a triumph awarded,
escaping from every trap that's devised.     

Uneaten, a  judgment, discord, greed's prize;
love is worth nothing, unless something tender
is running from every trap we devise
seeking that second of promised surrender.

Love is worth nothing without something tender.     
She knows that she comes to you only to go
seeking her moment of phantom surrender.
My love’s a burned angel colder than snow.

Knowing she comes to you only to go,
attainment’s a ballad for lunatic sailors
serenading burned angels lost in the snow
in pied tattered garments, since Harlequin tailors

attainments in ballads for lunatic sailors.
A song's not an apple, a swing and a miss
by fools in pied garments from harlequin tailors.              
Love’s a thorned angel with ghosts in her kiss.

A song not an apple, her swing and my miss,
for love’s a thorned angel not a triumph awarded.
Love smiles, my burned angel, a ghost in her kiss,
and I 'm the green apple that's plucked and discarded.

August, 2011

Posted for     OpenLinkNight   at  dVerse Poets Pub

Joe Hesch of A Thing for Words has donned the pubkeeper's apron tonight 
to host our fourth Open Link Night. Thanks to all the poets whose participation has made this event so successful and so much fun, and look forward to seeing you there tonight. Doors open at 3:00 PM EST

Process Notes: Kallisti means 'for the most beautiful one." It was inscribed on the Apple of Discord that forced the 'judgement of Paris' between three goddesses, and began the Trojan War.
Harlequin is the comic servant from the Italian Commedia del Arte,  lustful and florid, agile but foolish, dressed always in a motley patchwork of rags. Uncapitalized the word refers to anything dramatically varied in color, or a comic or jester.
This is my first pantoum and I'm sure I haven't done the form justice, but I enjoyed working in it very much.The  pantoum comes to us from Malaysia via France, where Baudelaire and Victor Hugo first popularized it. It's been adapted quite a bit from the original Malay version, and I've found varying rulesets for it. It can be unrhymed, or rhymed abab, or abba, but it's always written in quatrains, and the line repetition is characteristic, with the second and fourth lines of each stanza  repeated as the first and third lines of the next. This pattern continues for any number of stanzas, except for the final stanza,which reuses the third line of  the first stanza as it's second line and the beginning line as the last line of the poem.

Image: Green Apple, by Image editor, on flick'r 
Image Editor's photostream  
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License


  1. I much enjoy the pantoum form, and so I say--as I usually do when I think of you--nice form!

  2. Thanks much Tim. I'm off your way soon.

  3. Oh my tongue is so tickled with your lunatic sailors, Harlequin tailors and the lot. You've really done a beauty here, though I wasn't familiar with the form. I'm partial to repeated line forms, and the vocab you echoed in this one is superb. This would be a marvy real open mic, hearing you recite it aloud. And we could have a copy and read along for fun.

    When I got to the line . . . serenading burned angels lost in the snow . . . everything in me leapt.

  4. Very lovely form; thanks for your notes.

    I usually imagine red apples with love so your poem is very creative. I also like the way you tied your first and last lines..

    Amazing share as always Joy ~

  5. I would not have thought this your first in this form. The poem has a lovely cadence, heightened by the repetition and rhyming, as well as the words whose consonants explode. I like the unexpectedness of an image like "thorned angel".

  6. Thanks Heaven. Glad you took a bit of the apple.

    @Maureen: I appreciate the complement much.It was easier I think doing this after all the villanelles, roundels, and so on. Glad you enjoyed.

    @Ruth: I hope someday to be doing some readings, and I think you're right, there could be potential fun there. I also like the repeating forms and have seen this one but never tried it. It kept me busy all day. ;_) I'm glad you liked the sailors/tailors, as I felt the most unsure about that construction. Thanks so much for reading--always a pleasure when you have time to stop by.

  7. never heard about the pantoum form...only about the pantheon in rome...ugh.... the green apple, plucked and discarded made me sad..this poem gives food for thought and think i have to read it once more...love only comes to go..love is something that needs freedom and room to breathe for sure...now off to read once more..

  8. a balad of lunatic sailors...smiles. a thorned angel, a burned angel, that is some kinda love you got there...no discarded apples here...too many rotting from that already....

  9. A lovely poem ~ 'Love smiles, my burned angel, a ghost in her kiss' ~ scrumptious as that apple...beautiful..

  10. A lovely poem. I enjoyed it and I will read it again :)

  11. You very well worked the various meanings from your lines. I've always feared the Pantoum for that and now I have a sestina on the horizon where that need is redoubled. I loved the play and the imagery. I'm glad you gave us notes, as well. Wondrous and tantalizing as always, dear friend.

  12. Thanks all. Claudia, you are still more than half in Rome. ;-)

    @Gay: This was more of an experiment than anything--and a lot less work than a sestina. Glad you thought it worked.

  13. Some fabulous lines here. I loved 'a ghost in her kiss'

  14. What a gorgeous carousel of a form.. love what you have done with it

  15. What a wild form! I found myself reading faster and faster as I got pulled into the piece and lost in the cascade of images. This is really something.

  16. Nicely done - the flow and repetition work really well

  17. Hi Hedge,
    Boy o boy this one really hit me. Im not overly sentimental but this really managed to dig into me and deliver the words and feeling direct to my rickety nervous system - its that good that i dont know what it is specifically - Its that "Je ne sais quoi" we all look for i think - you cracked it for me with this one. Fantastic

  18. @MZ: yes-it really is a crazy form--it seems rigid but its more like delirium, I found.

    @Aaron: Thanks for reading--this started out as a rather treacly ramble in iambic tetrameter--blending it up in the pantoum really changed it and brought things into it I'm not too sure I don't have a 'je ne sais quoi' about myself. I appreciate the compliment much.

  19. Well, not sure how you'll take this, but the Leonard Cohen tune I have playing in the background fit this piece perfectly! One of those moments of divine intervention, I dare say. The form is new to me, which sets me off on a whole new mission (glutton for punishment? You bet!) But the masterful word weaving simply reeks of your magic! I have just been given the gift of a perfectly poetic moment! Thank you! :)

  20. Thank you, my dear Tash, and being included in a Leonard Cohen experience can only be a compliment. So glad you enjoyed it.

  21. ..i never heard nor read anything 'bout this form... and though it has a usual rhyming scheme i still find it really difficult to execute like the sestina and roundels... i am very much pleased by how you handle this one as if you've done it several times before - very much at ease. when i first saw the image i think of a flame forming apples.. and this is the first time i read 'Kallisti' used in a more justifiable way... great piece!

  22. The "ghost in her kiss" is just marvelous stuff.

    Sometimes I feel exactly this way, that Love is a Halloween apple rife with razor blades, but when She comes close, well then, I forgive her all her sharpness and bite.

    As for pantoum, who could forget Kitchener of Pantoum? Oh wait. That was Kitchener of Khartoum. Or Cartoon. Or something. Never mind.

  23. Such a delightful use of the form; love the lyrical flow, the recurring images carrying me away.

  24. @FB : Much the same for me--and I've had years more to get smarter. Your poetic genius at unearthing a word that rhymes with pantoum both amazes and appalls.

  25. I think you did a pretty good job on the form. This is a hard form to do well.
    My fav line:
    " Love is worth nothing without something tender."

  26. I love the lift and lilt of this pantoum, which you have written beautifully. So many wonderfully crafted and perfect lines, and I love the way the repetition moves and circles through the poem. Just a glorious read. I so wish I could write one, but I fear the gray matter is no longer up to it. I especially took note of "my love's a burned angel, colder than snow." Wow.

  27. My love’s a burned angel colder than snow.

    Great line and fine poem. You craft your poems so much!

  28. Food for thought. I have missed your words! A sadness in its tone, but a boldness in its presnetation. I hope you know you're not plucked and discarded. I rather enjoy your angle of view. I like new trails. Great piece.

  29. This form is lovely (new to me), and I think you have done a very nice job with it. I love the lines "My love’s a burned angel colder than snow" and "Love's a thorned angel".

  30. My husband often jokes that he loves to watch me think because he can exactly visualize how it happens. I feel a great comfort in the working of your mind. I imagine a bellipotent General strategizing over a giant war map. If we attack the form from this approach, while deploying wit and wisdom simultaneously, then we'll take over the world in the next twenty minutes. Or write a cracking poem. March on!

  31. Whether surrealism or Pantoum, you show astonishing mastery with unfamiliar forms. The title of this poem drew me in right away, and the brilliant images ("Love’s a thorned angel with ghosts in her kiss") set in a delightfully cascading, nuanced rhythm kept me there all the way. Wonderful!


  32. I can see why you enjoy engineering verse into form; meaning is such a duple, complex revelation that it takes a mean hurly-burly to speak it adequately. What the hell is love, dubious paradise, anyway? Yes: a thorned angel, a burned angel, a perfect green apple to bitter to eat. In the precise watchworks of this poem, we get to turn over the duple taste of that apple -- Eve's temptation, the damnation of beauty writ on the apple of Paris, the stuff of Harlequin lunacy on pop radio, understandable only at a safe distance where it cuts and burns the least, Nessus' shirt of fire, damning the very heart that embraces it. And still we go back to the well, like Charlie Brown approaching that football held by Lucy, sure our luck will be different this time -- same night, diff'rent Eve, snake with cap and bells one night, bowler the next, backwards Yankee ballcap the third -- who's to say which love is Love? Great work ... Brendan

  33. a like the repetition of lines, a nice form and a rich poem to do so,
    the repetition acts as a constant reminder of the love, easy to hold on to the message.

  34. Well Hedge you did an excellent job ...the rhyme gives it a feeling of movement and change..and you pull the reader through and then back again to the apple ...thank you for the process notes too..bkm

  35. I do love a pantoum, especially one in which the repeating lines have been subtly altered. Great development of the theme.

  36. Thanks all, We had a hellacious storm here last night-- our roof is screwed, large hunks of the giant silver maple in the front yard are down, the whole area was without power til afternoon, and some fried electronics had to be dealt with before I could get online today, so apologies for a late response. Nothing major though, in terms of the things that count. We needed a new roof anyway, and all the four-legs and two-legs are fine.

    @ Barbara, Kerry, David: glad you enjoyed and got something from the piece. Thanks for the kind words.

    @Anna: You got a laugh out of me with your comment--I've been a turn-based strategy gamer for years, and writing in form *always* is like mapping out a campaign. I generally take some free verse and spreadsheet it, all extremely as you said,with great deliberation. I'm glad you can appreciate my generalship of words. ;-)

    @B You've told me things about the poem I didn't know myself, but that I feel and know are true. Thanks for reading, as always, and thanks for the insight.Hope things are well with your dad and your family.

  37. I love the "taste" of this apple when read aloud. The form is enchanting and you managed it beautifully. Someday, perhaps, I'll give it a try. Someday...

  38. An amazing poem, Joy! Wow, I dig the use of "burned angel" esp:
    "My love’s a burned angel colder than snow" Dig dig that line. Must check out this form sometime ~

  39. Skilfully rhymed. This scans perfectly and demonstrates a true understanding of the rhythmic possibilities of the English language A very accomplished write, full of perception and intelligence. Definitely a keeper for me.

  40. Good Good Good I love patterned poetry and you have a touch of elegy here about love.

    "Love is worth nothing without something tender!" You just have to have that spark.

    I still say bending a little for modern language, look how the haiku went 3 or 4 forms in modern age.

  41. Joy, you did the form wonderful justice. A beautiful poem rich with imagery.


  42. Beautiful poem! I love the cadence, the flow and rhyme. I felt myself galloping through the words with a catch in my breath.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats