April 12, 2016

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Poetry Friday: Lunar Eclipse

Wednesday morning, 5:15 am. My son groans when I turn on the light in the hall. My daughter begs for five more minutes of sleep. Hubby is already in the shower.

I have five minutes. Five minutes is not enough time to finish that chapter of my book (SKIN HUNGER, by Kathleen Duey) or go back to sleep. It is the perfect amount of time for checking Facebook.

Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
is too busy rounding up
Poetry Friday links to check Facebook.
When you have five minutes, stop by her blog.

Facebook is where how I found out about the lunar eclipse. Friends across the country were waking their children up early and heading outside to view the Earth's shadow pass across the moon. At our house, it was just another early school day.

But I put the kettle on, got out my star-gazing binoculars, and slipped outside while everyone else went about their morning. This is what I saw...

This week's eclipse was a Blood Moon,
named for its coppery color.
Photo: EarthSky.Org 
Before everyone left for school and work, a thin line of moon -- wearing its coppery cloak -- was setting, just above the dark tree line.

Later that day, I was reading the "Poetic Asides" column in Writer's Digest. Poet Terrance Hayes -- a recent MacArthur genius award winner -- has invented a new poetic from. Using a line or lines from a favorite poem, use each word (in the correct order) as an end word in your poem. It's called a golden shovel, named for Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "We Real Cool" -- the basis for a golden shovel poem written by Hayes.

Writing Prompt: Write a golden shovel of your own.
Post your poem in the comments (making note of the poet/title of the original) and I will round up all of our golden shovels next week.

I like what Writer's Digest columnist Robert Lee Brewer says about this form. He calls it "a fun mix of found poetry and pure invention."

To capture the slow eclipse in the midst of my family's busy morning, I used Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Moon," from A Child's Garden of Verses.

Here is my golden shovel, followed by Stevenson's poem. (The words of Stevenson's poem are in gray.)

Eclipse, 5 am
by Laura Shovan

After Robert Louis Stevenson

Dark October morning, the
Earth’s shadow sweeps the Moon,
dissolves its round cheeks until the Moon has
only an icy smile. Next, it is the sliver of a
snowy owl, mostly hidden, its white face
shrunk to one silver eyebrow. Cuplike,
it holds the Sun’s reflection in its feathers. The
owl swoops down when my kitchen clock
strikes six, finds its roost below the horizon. In
moments, sleepers will tumble down the
stairs, their school shoes clicking in the still-dark hall.

The Moon
by Robert Louis Stevenson

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.


Donna Smith said...

What an interesting form. Loved that you were able to interweave your morning with your poem and Stevensons!

Doraine said...

I like the combination of the old and the new in this form. Nice job with yours.

jama said...

Wonderful job, Laura! I missed the eclipse and your poem makes up for it :). Love that snowy owl with the silver eyebrow . . .

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Wow that is cool. I love your poem!! One question: five minutes is enough time to check facebook? In what universe? LOL

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

What a great new form and what a fantastic poem born from it! Beautiful job, Laura. Though I must agree with Andromeda-- five minutes on Facebook is pure lunacy! I'm going to give this form a try.

Tabatha said...

I like the moon as an owl with the sun's reflection in its feathers. Very cool, Laura! Neat form.

Linda B said...

It's a great challenge, Laura, love what you did with the end words, & love "shrunk to one silver eyebrow". That's gorgeous! Guess there's lots of love in this post for me because I love the Stevenson poem, too. He just makes it right so much of the time. Thanks, will try to find time!

Linda B said...

So, I found a favorite poem, & one line seemed to fit trying this out, Laura. Here goes:

The poem is Loss, by Carl Adamshick

The first line must be about the wind,
in October, I feel the lifting
of the trees, lighter now without the leaves,
slipping like babies turning from
the breast, into sleep, nestled in mother’s branches.

Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

I did have each 'end' word bolded, but obviously didn't work.

Bridget Magee said...

Wow, Laura, I've never heard of this form. Your poem captured this celestial event perfectly. I love the line: "holds the Sun’s reflection in its feathers". We had a boatload of rain/clouds during this eclipse - your poem helps me "see" what I missed. = )

Joy said...

I enjoyed the "idea" of the golden shovel. It will be something fun to play with and to add to the bag of tricks. I like your use of "cuplike," but I think the golden shovel form encourages weird line breaks and does a disservice to the basic unit of a poem, the line. Maybe something like a noun rich haiku line would work better.
I liked Linda Baie's example except for that line ending in from--but that is just me.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Oh. what. fun! First, I'm sure I would take less to this if it had another name than "golden shovel," a poem and an image that I adore. Second, I love how your poem takes not only words but images from the RLS poem and transforms them. I think that's what would make these work best--not just a mechanical kind of borrowing but a thematic, modernizing homage.

Amok as usual, with panache!

Joyce Ray said...

Love your poem, Laura. The images are lovely - silver eyebrow and an owl's feathers turning, russet, was it? I do want to try a golden shovel poem! Maybe I'll choose a short first line to start!

Margaret Simon said...

You did a fabulous poem with the challenging form. Nikki Grimes had a contest with this poem form. I still haven't tried it myself or with my students. WE should take the plunge. I was surprised by the eclipse. I didn't know it was happening until I let my dog out that morning. I watched it as I drove to the gym. I texted a naturalist friend to see if I was imagining it. He said he'd been up since 4. It was a serendipitous morning.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

My first attempt at a golden shovel failed miserably. I'm glad I gave it another go.

I used the third line of Adelaide Crapsey's "November Night."


Soft, mottled leaves, like
Grandma's hands, pause on the steps
at the threshold of
memory. A subtle passing,
in, then out, like distant ghosts.

© 2014 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.