Grown from such a sweet small flower
Tiny toes, tiny fingers
Trapped in the hot light of an incubator
all three pounds fourteen ounces
of baby in your tiny hospital gown
so tiny and so frail
My little Thumbelina
Lying in your walnut shell cradle
Rocked by hands of hopeful love
the pain your tiny teardrops tore
into my heart and into yours
You were such a small newborn child
too soon from your mother’s womb
Too far from your father
But Christiana, Christina
you’ll always be my Thumbelina
Born from the earth
you unfurled like a flower
the stubborn seed still within you
You were such a stubborn one
You wandered with the wayward winds
Got captured by some demon toad
Who held you in his dungeon dark
Cold, weary, wanting more
After a summer of warm simple Sundays
when fall had drained their light to dusk
sultry winter made you bitter
and the ivy poisoned dew drops
suffocated your love torn leaves
When I was young, I was weak
But when I was weak I rose up strong
Though I was never the invincible oak
That cracks the unforgiving stone
I Was Much the Same as You:
Endless streets I walked alone
Waiting for buses that never would arrive
Glimpsing mirages of the warm, the safe and the dry
those people born to live life large and free
So happy in their busy bustle, soaring
in their red painted sleighs and holiday hustle
Did you dream of your faithful prince —
With his dozen white roses,
Red lip-Stick kisses?
Still you knew those dreams were mere candy
for other children, the children of another promise
so wholly complete and winter worn.
My life has always seemed to me a partial ellipses’
I wonder how many times you cried
how many times you died inside
who sent you into the winds of time
while the world was happy, doing fine.
The past is just a bubble now
Pursuing you, a relentless streaming dream
just one strained ticking of tensile time
we know giants existed then;
they fell upon us with their swords
So Christina, my Thumbelina
Lean forward and hold my arm
Together we will flee all those monsters
only the cold fog and darkness sees
we’ll put an end to all our despairs
all our miseries
And one day we will see our Lord
His wholly light, mystical mercies,
His wonderful worth
Look below us where his angels fly
a soft cushioned cloud to lift us up into
the ether as rear guard beings behind us fly
Flashing hope from angel’s eyes
Their solid swords stretched out to swing
and turn to dust all demon beings
at our Lord’s command.
He does all of this
My little Thumbelina
I saw you once, a pretty song
Faithful from your lips this song flew
No blue-bird, meadowlark or Robyn’s
Chirp rose higher or as true
Blessed, so blessed I was by you
I watched you put Christ’s words to memory
from some simple notes on a sheet
But then you switched to singing rock-n-roll
I had to watch that goodness go
My little Thumbelina
Soul so long searching
for your flower fellowshipping prince
Our Lord lifts high the humbled weak
Undrugs their mind from Satan’s sleep
He put you in my mother’s care
she shared with her a certain strength
The strength of God
I saw it in you
I saw the light of her brown eyes
Glow in yours, a holy blue
her smile found your fearful face
And while in His presence
you seemed whole again,
Romantic and renewed
Did her strength stay in your soul
when darkness drug your body low?
Did her prayers struggle in the dust
help you repel the heavy “MUST”?
That foreboding LAW
that deigned to dam you to an early grave
Held you heavy in unhallowed ground
where whispers swore out, “grace is dead”!
And pushed you
with its heavy
Was it my mother’s persistent prayers
that bore up your soul, lifted you
From Earthly fears?
As your enemies taunted
you lay below them bathed in tears,
so tight and strained
you were subdued
Oh, you could never ever be
this bride that stands in front of me
My little darling Thumbelina
Now your light glows with such peace
Aurora borealis’ magnetic grace
Your parents’ prayers, uncles, aunts
Grandparents, all those people past
Who watched a tiny darling girl
Fistfuls of fingers, wiggling toes
And sent a word or two to Heaven
More words probably than you know
Now how bright with peace you shine
A hallowed hail of hope divine
As one Christina and Shawn will share
In a vast eternal fairy tale
We know not where our futures go
they spread like colors in a stream
they cannot be fully finally fathomed
But will always soon be seen
Like Shawn, who now holds your hand
your prince who bears your flowers now
He’s prayed for you to be found
And you’ve received a pair of wings
to fly with him to where Christians sing
Maia, nurturer, Angel of Mercy:
Grab tight the wrists of all who need you now
Grip with all your stubborn might
go now, save all whom He sent you to save
Then together, Christina
You and Shawn will fly…
conceded, not everyone is a writer.
but one is always a reader, listener,viewer,often a participant or a narrator or a translator.
the writer uses certain LOCATIONS and SETTINGS to great advantage, to create the right effect.
shall we, in this introductory piece , talk about NIGHT AND RAINFALL as a very powerful setting.
no need to read on if you can simply close your eyes and revisit several scenes from an old Hindi film :
DHUND ( Danny, Manoj Kumar,Zeenat Aman )
see, the POWER of the setting is such that even today, after a lapse of some three decades, I am able to recall one out of many films I watched and also remember the cast.
Manoj Kumar coming in , to the huge residence of Danny, claiming a car breakdown for unannounced entry, his successful performance of a MURDER, his getaway…..all these have been bathed in all darkness and rainfall, with lightning creating special audio visual effects.
you may choose any more recent film, several horror stories, Agatha Cristie’s novels, murder mysteries, yet the IMAGERY of Dhund stays on with me and I might use it as an illustration.
Night produces the MYSTIQUE , so very needed in the plot. It makes recognition difficult, adding to the element of suspense and surprise.
all the attention of the film goer is riveted to the faint outlines,
there is no conversation, pin drop silence in the hall is almost
and, then, suddenly there would be a creepy and shadowed movement of figures,
the assault weapon is almost invisible, save for the occasional glint of the knife blade or the revolver barrel,
creaking open of doors adds to the EERINESS.
the attacker and the victim are deliberately BUFFED OUT .
It is only when the final strike comes that faces and figures are seen clearly.
the director has ensured all your attention, the silence makes screen sounds more pronounced and ominous, the sudden sound of a pistol shot is heavily underlined, the NATURAL DARKNESS OF THE NIGHT helps the director in ensuring all concentration, he may deliberately add more shadowy areas for further effect….
all in all, you are simply led down the garden path and you are happily eating off his palm !
The night sounds, cicadas and crickets playing their sonorous background music :
the ominous screech of an owl,wind blowing in the trees and the rustle of leaves and dry grass ;
distant sounds of wolves and jackals, if the location is near a FOREST or in the COUNTRYSIDE ;
all these add to the eeriness of the situation and the director’s PLOT of keeping you on tenterhooks is ensured and executed perfectly !
some NIGHT SOUNDS too come in to magnify the suspense.
screeching of an owl , eerie in itself, adds to the net outcome
distant howls of night animals like wolves,jackals,hyenas are also captured if the location is near a forest or in the countryside. These make the overall effect yet more acute.
LIGHTNING is a favourite of the scheming and plotting director.
he brings them in at exactly the moment when they would add to the DRAMA.
lightning or the passing by of a train are used to MASK or
HIGHLIGHT the sound of the weapon : a pistol shot,
or accidental tripping of the assailant or the victim over furniture.
masking is only natural when the crucial event is just about to happen
enhancement or highlighting occurs when the crucial sound is set away from the BACKDROP of regular sounds.
so, the next time you go to the movies, choose a NIGHT SHOW for a murder mystery….. suspense is in the air and the stage is all set to get you your buck’s worth !
buy popcorns or chips but most likely you will be biting your nails more than nibbling these short eats !
take a seat in a box so that your partner and you are all alone to wallow in SUSPENSE.
if you don’t sleep well on getting back home, the director has done his job perfectly !
all this subtle and manifest imagery is put to best use by accomplished script writers,for, most suspense films are based on a novel !
(c) dr a jindal md 11/11/2014
a j – ‘ the weaver ‘
PROCESS OF Being
You’re in the process of becoming
Forget all that “be nice, don’t be bad,
Keep a little sadness in you;”
Just hold my hand cousin and let God
Break you; ride this stream; I hope now
You can get serious before you die
There was a woman with an issue
You may say, “What’s that got to do with me?”
She had tried all the remedies
Her own body turned against her
Like your cancer of blood
When the flesh clamps down on you
With its strangling hug; think of this lady
With the issue of blood
All the way sick
She was all the way healed.
Makes me think of the chittum
We once peeled
For medicine in those woods
They weren’t our trees; they belonged
To a man that weighed five hundred pounds
We stole in the innocence of our youth
Still it’s in my mind, a scene that we shared
We peeled the chittum trees
To the cold skin, and that howl in the forest
Some big dog or beast
Haunted us like the spawn of Satan,
Don’t worry, though you may be
Awake in the cold tonight
Death’s bark is worse than its bite.
That deep deep forest
It had a stand of white trees, we claimed
Our youth in its whispering breeze
Would you scold the pale woman
With the issue of blood? Or like Peter wish
For the hem you once followed in love?
At the edge of the forest, white trees
Bared; tick-tock, tick-tock
It’s time for me to talk:
Cousin; where are your legal pals now
Frozen pews who think law is still king?
Those whitewashed tombs now ignore you
Whitewashed in layers
They could never be porous; so
Things have they done? Remember 59? 40?
Peel your cure in the cold and don’t fear
Death’s bark is worse than its bite.
Tai-i-thacu-mi, I just felt His spirit move right through me
Only Jesus can un-sick death, so rise
From your sickbed my cousin
And go go go; don’t take two coats, no!
Just walk and pray and walk and pray
Till your clothes are rent and this sickness has gone
breathe breathe, my heart’s
Brother, my friend; ignore those in tombs;
But be careful in who you believe, for
If it were John the Baptist who rose from his grave
How many would that have saved? As for death
Know how its bark is much worse than its bite.
The woods of our youth were sinful and harsh
But we felt His touch, soft pliable hands
Dry rough bark close to our soul
We had no idea that he was the God/Man
We worshipped in Sunday school,
As we sang to Jesus songs so sweet
In retrospect, those songs ring true in my mind
Like Hawthorne’s scarlet-ed woman, alone I gazed
At the tumbling creek and hoped in the bark
That seemed to go deep in the woods and the dark
To arise in the winters and fall into springs
The springs of our youth; you were always persistent,
My cousin, my cousin; be that again.
Remember the fairgrounds and rotting wood benches?
You introduced me
To all worldly things, for that
I forgive you, as our past was a growing place;
We trusted each other and thrived in the summer
Country times – only half of me accepted your world
The other half wanted to leave berries and bees
Chittum and fern, and creeks and dry beds
For the city
Why would He care for us wretched poor beings?
He starts the sky yellow, changes it to blue
We’re killed every winter; then He brings back the dew
This sweetest of life is ours once again
Remember, my cousin, life can be yours
Again, I tell you, so many mornings I spent
On my knees for my own health,
For yours too now,
As that small yellow sun felt cold
My faith hardened, but my gait grew old
Imagine, you cheating your cold dead fate
As your old gray head bows to pray
And your skin gets peeled away you’ll see
That death’s bark is worse than its bite
And you are no longer young
Each breath you take will feel
Like it’s a stolen one.
Don V Standeford
INTRODUCTION: As I said in a previous article, it’s easy for writers, especially the “Romantics,” to have their writing hijacked by their intense love for literature. Often fiction writers, dramatists, and poets try to write just like the great writers of the past. So why do their imitations so often backfire on them?
1. VULNERABILITIES: Alas, we literary romantics are too immersed in our lovely Elizabethan sonnets, the intense rhythms and characters and imagery in Shakespeare’s plays, the imaginative literature of Poe, Keats, Chekhov, Twain, Hemingway, Faulkner…An astute writer is vulnerable to being kidnapped by the past. I’m sorry, but as soon as you pile on all those free classics to your Kindle, Nook or I Pad you give yourself away as belonging to the twenty-first century. Your heart may still be in the past, but we see you here in real time very clearly.
2. DEAREST AUTHOR: Don’t be deceived into thinking the 21st century has nothing to offer you. There is Romance in our hectic, I Pad paced life; you just have to find it. If you find your modern voice and still decide to go back to the 18th century as many have, you can write with surety knowing what your 21st century readers are expecting even in that 18th century fantasy.
3. FACING MODERN READERS: To go from imitating Edgar Allen Poe to penning the next fiction or poetry masterpiece may seem a daunting task. It is, however, a task you any serious writer must at some point face. Even historical writers need to know how to speak to the modern audience (Face it, eighteenth century England isn’t coming back even to read your books; you must work with modern day readers). Without modernization, the writer’s skills are incomplete. Decades of progress in criticism will be lost to them.
4. USE IT ALL: So the newbie is astounded when you inform them that a poem doesn’t necessarily have to rhyme. Why not skip Free Verse and write highly structured poems. My opinion is free verse poetry at its best incorporates the fixed forms. When I write a Free Verse I don’t forsake traditional fixed forms. Rather I use all my knowledge of subject, technique, imagery, music, sustaining of lines to create tension, rolling, gurgling climaxes along the road to release tension, blank verse, changing end rhymes to inner rhymes or off rhymes, slant rhymes, close rhymes, blunt stopped lines, run on lines, long lines, short lines, manipulation of stanzas, repetition, echoing of patterns, all things poetic I have absorbed over the years. That is free, truly free verse.
5. MODERNIZATION MACHINE: Join the 21st century. That doesn’t mean abandon past successes. All art and literature you’ve experienced thus far are a part of you still. But there has to be a reorganizing of all you know, worked out in you by the machine of modernization. Then the parts and processes accumulated within you can join to create something new. The writing genres have seen incredible advancement in the last few hundred years. Early fiction had long character introductions. The protagonist would talk about preparations made for a journey, their morning bath, the donning of their clothes or other daily events. In Dracula, the main character talks of his trip to Dracula’s castle, the terrible journey through a haunted forest at night when one’s soul is most at risk. So the emotions built up by the images and information feed the story’s climax with fuel. Modern fiction wants us to define characters and provide drama and comedy relief in the same sentence. So today fiction demands more from a writer.
6. TODAY READERS DEMAND TO GET STRAIGHT TO THE HEART OF THE STORY: This can be seen in Greek Literature. In Oedipus Rex, all the action happens off stage, most of it before the Act begins. Greek tragedy was mostly sequel, not many action scenes. Oedipus killed his father and married his mother as the prophecy said he would. But we get in on the story after that’s all happened. In Oedipus, the story’s drama is revealed to us as Oedipus learns minute by tense minute where he has come from and the true full extent of what he has done. And then he turns to look at his new Queen wife and with horror discovers she’s his mother. It’s because the author starts at the end of the timeline of the story that tension is built.
7. WHAT ABOUT THE LAWN? The preparations for journeys, the characters bathing, eating breakfast, mowing the lawn, can all be neatly summed up in a few sentences after significant action is bled out. Now writers are expected to work characterization in while doing a hundred other tasks in the same paragraph. No longer are we allowed asides to go into depth about our characters special strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and the like. How do we do that? I suppose we can show Johnny to be brave, mechanical minded, hardworking and loyal by showing him mowing his lawn in a lightning storm with a mower he constructed from scraps of metal while a hot blond flashes her naked body at him and taped to the mower handle is a picture of his girlfriend he gazes at whenever tempted by the sexy blonde.
8. THE GODFATHER: Even in an old best seller called “The Godfather,” the writer communicates many things at once. Certain chapters begin at the end of the chapter, with the details, hows and whys filled in once action has intrigued you. In one scene a movie producer awakens to find the bloody head of his prize racehorse in bed with him. After this shocking scene the not so exciting details of the story are filled in to intrigue our curiosity as to how this happened.
Conclusion: Hook the reader with action. Then use the curiosity of the reader to sneak in detail, the why and how, and to delve into some interesting psychological studies. So get thee to the Greeks. Entice your readers by getting to the heart of the plot, and then stun them with rhetoric and imagination.
Don V. Standeford