Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sun Assault, Creative Incubation, Formal Verse Series #2

June in Seattle usually mopes around in a cloud of sullen, chilly rain, but this June sashayed in bursting with sunny good cheer and warm temps. And I, for one, feel completely assaulted by it. Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time has probably surmised by now that I’m sun-averse, and I resent having an entire extra month of it to deal with. I have to put sunscreen on before I leave for work, and before I leave work for home, because even a 20-minute walk to or from downtown leaves my skin lobster-red. I detest the slimy feel of sunscreen, but if I don’t use it, I end up with a perma-burn. My sinuses are chronically infected because of allergic irritation due to the lack of rain, and I have the added burden of having to keep track of sunglasses. Bleh. I want the drizzle and overcast skies back.  

Right now, I’m in a period of creative incubation. The novel is effectively complete, and I don’t have any new poems or short stories on the horizon. I have plenty of ideas, but nothing that I feel compelled to plunge into just yet. I feel intuitively that I need a creative rest break right now. It doesn’t feel like a block—I haven’t been blocked in some time—I just feel like I need time to let the soil regenerate and allow space for something new to form. It’s like being on creative vacation, or perhaps hiatus is a better word. In the meantime, I have a few things pending: I’ll be reading next Saturday at Anderson Park for the Poets inthe Park celebration. I’ll be doing two spots, one for David Horowitz of Rose Alley Press, and for Lost Horse Press’s “Raising Lilly Ledbetter” Anthology, which published one of my poems from “The Acme Employee Handbook”.  And speaking of “Acme”, I have re-submitted it to several publishers, and got one bite so far…I’m being very careful this time, so we’ll see how it goes.

Continuing with the formal verse series, below is a sestina that was included in my first chapbook, “The Goatfish Alphabet”:

A Sestina for St. Clare of Assisi

At twelve, I confirm my devotion.
Priests announce they have confirmed
my devotion. I am free to unbuckle
and walk about the aisle. Saint Francis
was devoted to Clare and Clare to poverty,
to St. Francis and to God.

My sash says St. Clare in yellow felt. God
is pleased with my dress and my devotion.
All us Yeses line up nice, in Godly poverty.
The 9:00 a.m. flight from my heart was confirmed
and scheduled for departure. St. Francis
cherished Clare; Clare cherished God; God unbuckled

Clare's heart and let her walk about the earth, unbuckled.
Poor Clare, devoted to prayer, to poverty, to God.
Hair, clothes, beauty, father,  mother, house: St. Francis
let you give it all up in devotion.
Clare said the royal Yes; Clare confirmed
her vow of Godliness and poverty.

Dear Clare, I am shrunken with God-poverty.
I come to you undone; unbuckled.
I regret that I have been unable to confirm
my devotion to St. Francis, to poverty,  to God.
Poor Clare: such heart to spare! Devoted;
praying and singing the prayers of St. Francis.

I, too, have sung prayers to St. Francis
and staked my claim on a kind of poverty,
my cheekbones sunken with my devotion
to elaborate self-denial--enough in fact to unbuckle
body, brain; but it never got me all the way to God.
Priests regret to inform me they were unable to confirm

My devotion, though I stood at Confirmation,
gazing through my tears at the sculpture of St. Francis
who was devoted to Clare, to poverty, to God.
God unbuckled Clare, and Clare undid her hair and married poverty.
I wish for God to do the same for me: to unbuckle
my heart and gasp at light of my devotion.

But God has been unable to confirm
my devotion, though I kneel before St. Francis,
in savage poverty, my soul unbuckled.

 --Kristen McHenry

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