Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

The ode originated in Greek drama when the chorus divided into two groups and danced across the stage singing a hymn of praise for a god or a king. Centuries later, two Roman poets, Pindar and Horace, gave it different stylistic twists: the Horatian ode maintained the Greek emphasis on structure and rhythm, but the Pindaric ode was less formal, and in some ways anticipated the modern free verse ode. Today, the ode is typically a three or four part, fairly long poem written in praise or criticism, concluding with a moral.  It may be rhymed and metrical, or it may be in free verse as in “Ode to my Socks” which was written by Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), the Chilean Nobel Prize winner,

Uncomfortably tucked away
in the land of milk and honey,
with a temperate Mediterranean climate
just south of Lebanon’s troubled Cedars
and north of the Bedouin’s desolate Negev desert,
remaining cut across various human fault lines.
But safe from the chaotic monsoons that it’s distant cousins:
the Indian subcontinental mango and jackfruit must face.
Yet left unsafe from the upheavals,
driven by zealousness in it’s own land.

A seemingly ubiquitous citrus fruit
leaving it’s mark on medieval and colonial supply chains,
starting from Levantine orchards,
and criss-crossing throughout the Old World,
Once a  prideful symbolic reference to days past,
now a symbol of  seemingly eternal contention,
standing in direct contrast to the olive branch,
in the middle of an orphaned and elusive peace.

The result of a fateful genetic mutation,
with probability as destiny.
The Jaffa Orange, an almost seedless variety of fruit,
sharing autumn’s color and luminous contrast.
It’s sweet flesh loaded with Vitamin C and citric acid.
Spherical oval shaped fruits,
almost like they fell from a distant galaxy
many light-years away…
When cut in half
their pale hemispheres
forming an obvious symmetry,
covered by a thick skin that peels right off.

The bustling commercial streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem,
but also those of Beirut and Istanbul,
filled with oranges
on a bright sunny midday in spring,
picked with the back-breaking labor of rural peasants
situated in kibbutzims and rocky hamlets.
Some to be eaten locally,
but many ready to export, probably to Europe
where they give their name to Jaffa cakes,
and also now grown elsewhere.
A reminder to never let your treasures go.

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Shakespearean Sonnet

While he was writing his plays, William Shakespeare was also writing 154 sonnets, some of them directed to a “dark lady,” others addressed to an unknown male. Although he maintained its basic iambic pentameter, Shakespeare reshaped the end rhyme pattern of the Italian sonnet into three quatrains rhymed abab, cdcd, efef, and a closing couplet gg. In the following sonnet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, who wrote more than two hundred sonnets, uses the Shakespearean pattern rather than the Italian to write ironically about the casualness of modern relationships.

The main motivation for this poem was to take a humorous jab at what I called the “networking culture” that I encountered when I was in college. It didn’t really fit me, but alas, I learned to fit in and adapted.

Nervously dreading the email invite,
to a night not worth looking forward to.
The bland decor was quite the sight,
admiration at first but everybody knew.
Ridiculous networking and debate
along with shallow social climbing,
trying really hard to ignore the bait.
Rather be slaving away and working.
Key industry buzz-words all abound,
the opinions seem increasingly contrived
my career’s decision-maker outbound.
An emptiness causing me to feel deprived
As someone mentions going out for crepes,
Sensing the start of a great many escapes.

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Untitled Italian Sonnet

In the fourteenth century, the poems addressed to “Laura” by the Italian poet Petrarch became so popular they helped spread the chivalric code across Europe and introduced the world to the sonnet, a fourteen line poem with a very specific metrical and rhyme pattern. The Italian or Petrarchan sonnet is written in iambic pentameter and has two sections: an octave that is rhymed abba, abba, and a sestet that has three rhymes which may vary in their sequence, e.g. cde, cde; or cdd, cee; or cdc, ede, etc. 

This sonnet, again, like one of my previous poems is about a difficult time in my life that engulfed my life for several months. Poetry is an interesting means of “letting it out” so to speak.

The chaotic house is falling apart
It changed beyond our basic recognition
It was an emotional admission
Once upon a time we thought you were smart
Everybody wanted a clean fresh start
Destroyed potential, wasted ambition
We all wanted an easy transition
Once more we were left with a broken heart
We all crave a blissful conclusion
A blind hope that you could one day be good
It is likely to be an allusion
Now a chance that you’ll end up in the hood
With now haunting black holes of confusion
Your desires for freedom, understood

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Lost At Sea in Fresno

Lost At Sea in Fresno by Jim Geddes

The rusty old white van pulled into our drivway
The cult emerged with my sister
They could have been from Mars
For all I knew

My sister opened our house door
I’m leaving for Fresno
Little did I know she was leaving for good
I watched from our driveway

Watched our family torn apart
on that smooth concrete in 1970
my sister swallowed up in the van
that backed out and went north

My sister who backed out
of each of our lives
hoping to land in a better place
was lost at sea in Fresno

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This poem is about a difficult time of my life nearly 8 years ago when I had a rocky and troubled ending of a relationship. I wrote this with references to many songs that I listen to. Also the poem has metaphors that reference actual experiences. I left it untitled at the time, but I have decided upon a title, Fade.

From a literary point of view, this ballad stanza is one of the most traditional in English language poetry. End rhyme either alternates in an, (abab), fashion or the second and fourth lines rhyme (abxb).

Under the bright summer moon
Wanted to be with you
Once loving deep and falling fast
But now feelin’ blue

Once locked in a tight embrace
Now memories forgotten
Feeling ever-more lost within
My life ever-so rotten

One fateful morning things changed
Going from comfort to turmoil
The black holes that now surround us
Proving to be life’s ultimate foil

Oh it’s been a long, long time
Since you’ve been on my mind
In the end, I must forget about us
And not be on rewind

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La Jolla

Free verse poetry, that lacks rhyme and -meter begins in the United States with Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and becomes important in the 20th century.  The typically end-stopped lines run across the page, is usually written in first person, relies heavily on repetition, and is quite vivid in its description. Usually this style of poem is around 15 lines minimum.

I largely chose to write about Southern California and specifically La Jolla (near the UC San Diego campus) because I could easily imagine vivid scenes from the area. Furthermore content-wise I felt obligated to cover a place in the United States because of the American focus of Whitman’s poems.  My original, didn’t feature the location-name because I’m stylistically a bit cryptic.

  1. An early coastal Southern California morning with it’s reflective sunrise cut by the horizon;
  2. Beyond this vast ocean and across several thousand miles lay the lands of the East.
  3. As I begin venturing past the eucalyptus trees and Castilian-style architecture;
  4. Just a few feet, across the street from school;
  5. Just a few feet beyond the glider port;
  6. Just a few feet over looking over the rocky cliff at what seems like nearly several hundred feet below until one reaches the mysterious depths of the Pacific Ocean.
  7. There on the cliff looking downward as the water transitions from bright sky blue to a shade almost near pitch black;
  8. There along with the myriad of uneven waves crashing against the seaweed laden coast;
  9. There they cause whistling winds to come inland;
  10. There curve’s mathematical expression beautiful enough to be noted by any scientist and put in a multivariable calculus text.
  11. From up above the rough and unpredictable currents prove enough to jolt any naive swimmer or risk-loving surfer;
  12. From the vantage point one can see the colorful sails of a plethora of surfers, boats and cargo ships;
  13. From all corners and edges of the globe frenetic tourists running amok and causing disturbance;
  14. From a distance children near the cove watch the sea lions rest in the sand and sea gulls flying all about.
  15. Affluence running deep along the coast and into the hills, a mix of spacious and cramped.
  16. Running from the tiny Taco Bell to the flashy Lamborghini dealership.
  17. This beautiful earthly abode at risk of excess human presence
  18. All the way along from the chic stores and galleries to the custom designed multi-million dollar ocean-view mansions.
  19. Their attitude and spirit laying somewhere in between Norman Rockwell and cosmopolitan California.

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