Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Game: Nostalgia


Happy Halloween! I'm feeling a little nostalgic and for the past few months I've felt an undirected longing to create pure fantasy and poetry the way I used to before I became supremely self-conscious about my writing. (This happened c. sixth grade.) So guess what we're doing today? We're having fun.


I want to write something that the me of today wouldn't usually write. I want to write something that draws from the philosophy of the Romantics and medieval nostalgia instead of from Neoclassicism and the nostalgia for Rome. Witches. Dragons. Princesses. Towers. Knights. Brambles. Poetry that has not forgotten what it means to be "verse."

This game is going to be similar to the last game we played--it's another poem. But let's change the rules a little, just to keep it interesting. Last time we started with a character. This time, let's start with a situation. You can use a random word generator, but there's a scene that wants to get written for me, so here is my situation:

She had wandered a long way from home.

I want there to be an encounter of some kind between a supernatural being and a human. Out of nostalgia, I want to write about trick-or-treating. Also, I have a line of Lorde stuck in my head: "We're reeling through the midnight streets."


Usually I like these games to be a little more systematic, instead of just "write a Halloween poem." But I started writing my poem before my first class and then didn't stop, and it seems dishonest to impose structural rules when those emerged from the writing. So I suppose the rules of the game this time are simple:
  • give rein to your nostalgia
  • write something different
My results below.


Meeting the Witch

She wanders alone and far from home
Through midnight streets lit in revelry
Orange light spilling through windows
Strung about with industrial cobweb
"Be careful," say the parents to their brood.
"Use a flashlight. Above all, do not
Go off someplace on your own."
She hears, and smiles.

Superheroes and sports stars, celebrities
No less than wizards, vampires, ghosts
Promenade beneath the shuddering clouds
You can be anyone at all you want.
A princess, a devil, a spy, a raja
A washing machine, half a dragon
Tonight, you are exactly who you want to be.
How often can you say such a thing?

She wanders. One can tell nothing
About the ones dressed as witches.
A lack of imagination? Traditional parent?
Is there something more, in the eyes
Peering bashfully out from beneath
That conical black crepe hat?
A witch needs something more
She passes on by.

The fiery streets, bright and loud
Begin to tire her out. Past an arched
Gate of mossy iron--no great barrier--
Across a fast-running deep stream
(Stronger stuff, this), and now a blacktop
A map of the country done in paints
Red, blue, green, yellow--all washed out
Bright beneath autumn moon.

A school: still an unexpected find
The twisting metal grotesquerie
Of slides and climbing bars and swings
An alien sight, no less the library
In which books like dragons lay dreaming
But no surprise: a defiant one
There on the crow's nest, disobediently alone
Dress, hat, hair black as streaming night.

She pauses a moment to look and learn
The hat is store-bought and will break anon
The dress is homemade, clumsily sewn
Cinched about the waist with a belt
No makeup adorns that solemn small face
Ordinary sneakers tap against the metal poles
As the girl stares across empty field and dark
She looks, and she decides.

"Who are you?" she asks: a high, clear voice
Softer than the shouting in the streets beyond
Surer than an arrow loosed from expert bow
She says, "I am a witch," in a voice
Calm as the moonlight sifting the clouds
As they speed across the sky, full
If one has the eyes to see, with darkness
She replies, "So am I."

One witch looks at another, across
The space from crow's nest to blacktop
Across centuries and lifetimes and dreams
She lives two streets away, but she
Is far, far from home and she holds
A winter inside her, and she holds a storm
And a smile, and something more:
She is no longer alone.


Cut stanza:

She is a lonely girl, though smilingly so
She plays outside in sun, inside in winter
Vaster than one can fly in a year
Her house is on a hill; her home, a mountain
The stunning peaks, the guts within
Where giants less fearsome than her
May slumber on their beds of stone
As she paces her icy halls.

I realized that I had been blending the two witches too much in this stanza, which could be confusing; also, I like having an 8 x 8 poem.

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