hey, what about me: a poem

hey, what about me?

for once take time for yourself

full hour massage
spa pedicure
manicure
cosmetic application
botanical hair therapy with style

five and a half hours $230

(The “hey what about me” package is offered at a day spa here in my town.)

Free verse – also known as vers libre – is a term describing various styles of poetry that are written without using a strict rhyme scheme, but still recognizable as poetry by virtue of complex patterns of one sort or another that readers will perceive to be part of a coherent whole.

A Halloween play in five acts

Act I: The Exposition introduces the characters, establishes the setting and theme, and offers hint of the coming conflict.

Act II: Rising action. An increase in tension or uncertainty developing out of the conflict faced by the protagonist.

Act III: Dramatic climax. A crisis. A turning point which marks a change in the protagonist’s fortunes, for better (comedy) or worse (tragedy).

Act IV: Falling action. The conflict unravels. The protagonist is winning or losing against the antagonist. In a tragedy, the tragic hero realizes his tragic error. There may be a moment of final suspense when the outcome is in doubt.

Act V: Resolution. A comedy ends with a dénouement in which the protagonist is better off than at the story’s beginning. A tragedy ends with a catastrophe.

(Credits: Photography by Anna Kane. Acting by our golden retriever, Zeus, and a very small pumpkin. Play structure by Aristotle and Shakespeare, as described by Freytag, via Wikipedia: Dramatic structure.)

A tiny spark

Metallic green bee, genus Agapostemon, on a clover in our backyard.

A member of the Halictidae, or sweat bee family, they find our perspiration an inspiration. It’s the salt they seek. They nest in the ground and hibernate in winter; some species are solitary, others communal. They are beneficial pollinators, so don’t spray or squash them.

They have a mild sting – only a 1.0 on the delightfully descriptive Schmidt Sting Pain Index, scaled from 1 to 4+. The pain from a sweat bee is delineated thus:

Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.

Speaking from personal experience, I can’t believe a fire ant is only 1.2, “Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.” But maybe it was because 50 were biting me at the same time, and they don’t let go. File under: things I don’t miss about South Texas.

Who is this Schmidt? I like him. Here are some more…

1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.

2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.

2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.

3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.

3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.

4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.

I hate to think of the research part of this.

The season of stinging will soon be past, but I will miss the color, motion, and fascination of bees.

The murmur of a bee
A witchcraft yieldeth me.
– Emily Dickinson

Bound and unbound

“We lived and laughed and loved and left.” – James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

This is an example of polysyndeton, a sentence style that employs many conjunctions. From the Greek, “bound together.”

Hemingway used polysyndeton and repetition, breaking the rules of composition to give a sense of “experience as it was experienced, using simple denotative language purged of stylistic decoration,” according to David Lodge, in The Art of Fiction.

In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early. Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant along the streets looking in the windows. There was much game hanging outside the shops, and the snow powdered in the fur of the foxes and the wind blew their tails. The deer hung stiff and heavy and empty, and small birds blew in the wind and the wind turned their feathers. It was a cold fall and the wind came down from the mountains. – Ernest Hemingway, In Another Country

Asyndeton is the writing style that omits conjunctions. From the Greek, “unconnected.”

I have found the warm caves in the woods,

filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,

closets, silks, innumerable goods.

– Anne Sexton, “Her Kind”

This post is a style note to myself, a bookmark to save and think about.

I took these photos in the woods the other day. On the first especially, I was experimental with the iPhoto Adjust settings, sliding them around until my eye was pleased.

Yesterday was rainy, cool and dark-for-daytime. I was driving around on errands and past the ocean with gray swells and whitecaps, thinking about loneliness, as restless with irritability as the sea was with the storm. But the evening was only damp with mist, oddly warm, settled.

Today is a green and gold day with a rain-clean sky. The morning sun slants through the high yellow leaves and the shrubby understory that clings longest to life. On porches, there are pumpkins and chrysanthemums. Scarecrows and corn shocks are tied to lampposts. We hang a straw witch from our porch light every year.

I am going outside to clean up and cut back the flower beds.

Here is one more quote from a writer who likes to use polysyndeton:

It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was. – Joan Didion, Goodbye to All That

And one more unconnected, asyndetic quote:

He was a bag of bones, a floppy doll, a broken stick, a maniac.

– Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Wild and sharp

In the woods near the freshwater marsh, Wednesday morning.

This is a sheltered spot. High ground. Only one trail leads in and back out. Columns of pine tree trunks and stained glass oak leaves make my log cabin cathedral.

A good essay for those hungry for the flavor of autumn outdoors: Wild Apples, by Henry David Thoreau.

To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. The out-door air and exercise which the walker gets give a different tone to his palate, and he craves a fruit which the sedentary would call harsh and crabbed. They must be eaten in the fields, when your system is all aglow with exercise, when the frosty weather nips your fingers, the wind rattles the bare boughs or rustles the few remaining leaves, and the jay, is heard screaming around. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet. Some of these apples might be labelled, “To be eaten in the wind.”

House next to North Side Park and the beach, Plaice Cove, Hampton.

Partly sunny, high of 47 today. But south winds bring heavy rain tonight and tomorrow. Marine forecast includes a GALE WARNING Saturday, with gusts up to 40 knots and seas 7 to 10 feet. Stay inside; make toast.

Here are some local links I like:

Rye Reflections, a monthly webzine written by citizen journalists in neighboring Rye, NH.

Mike in NH: History, one Roadside Marker at a time.

Ron has been posting some great local beach area pics lately at his photoblog dujour.us.

Not a local site, but you can try this sport almost anywhere: Squirrel Fishing.