dVerse Poetics – My Inspiration

T S Eliot photographed by his friend and correspondent Ottoline Morrell. public domain image

T S Eliot photographed by his friend and correspondent Ottoline Morrell. public domain image

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”  T.S.Eliot

Today, I have the happy task of being bartender at dVerse Poetics Pub. This means I get to talk with all the folk in the community who make comments. I also get to choose a prompt. We often speak of someone who inspired us to write. I am asking our community to write about the poet and their poem that inspired them to begin writing. I am also asking them to take the prompt farther and if possible, write the poem in the style of the inspiring poet. My inspiration is T.S. Eliot. I took this poem from one of my few surviving notebooks wherein I wrote my poems years ago. This is from January 1965. It is full of all the angst and alientation of a teenager at odds with the world around her. And it is a bland imitation of several of Eliot’s poems.

January – the dark month
The month of moonless nights
And stars hidden by clouds.

Smoke tasting fog – piles of grey ash
In cans on the sidewalk
And the ash men come –
Reaping what the fire has tasted and left behind –
Ash days
Grey and dry – trees cremated to warm
Those flower folk hidden behind lace curtains
And wide porches sipping tea and eating cakes
Made by those below –
Silent in their movements
And almost as invisible
As the skeleton of an oak leaf –
But visible if the flower people gaze hard enough
But who only sip their tea and eat their cakes
who only look away.

A little dog trots on the sidewalk –
He alone has someplace to go.

Two men in black coats walk
Towards him and he shies away from them.
He jumps on the steps leading up
The grey walk to the big house
And whines as the men pass by.
Black hats black coats
Twins of darkness on this empty street
The flower folks entombed behind
Long panes of glass.

In a country graveyard by a long deserted church
With dirt as red as blood
I saw neglected graves and on one was set in a stone
A photograph behind smashed glass.
I assume it was the person buried in the blood red dirt.

Buried behind a pane of glass
In the blood red dirt of January
I sit by a dead fire and sip tea and eat cake.


59 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. smilecalm
    May 05, 2015 @ 00:18:54

    at least there was
    something yummy
    to distract thoughts 🙂


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    May 05, 2015 @ 00:20:49

    What a treasure to have poetry you wrote as a teenager. I was enjoying poetry too much to real admit it, but never thought I would write. Still it bit into my mind and stayed there. I really like the different scenes you have painted and how they all come together in your last lines.


    • kanzensakura
      May 05, 2015 @ 07:11:39

      It was a very long time ago! I was a very “serious” teen. I loved poetry but for some reason, was secretive about it. My family certainly would have encouraged me but teens are strange creatures. I was all of 14 when I wrote this.


  3. rythaephua
    May 05, 2015 @ 04:06:02

    Love your lines.


  4. Gabriella
    May 05, 2015 @ 08:44:51

    I wish I had kept my teenage writings, mostly journals as I did not write poetry then. Great choice for a poem ‘in the style of’ I like T.S. Eliot even though I do not always understand him. but find that some of his lines are the greatest in English literature.


    • kanzensakura
      May 05, 2015 @ 10:12:51

      I do not always understand him either but I always like his tone. Photos of his poems in the works often show very humorous and witty cartoons and scratchings alongside. I only kept two notebooks. One is mainly journal and then after that, poems – most of them awful! I get embarrassed sometimes when I read – grin.


  5. Mary
    May 05, 2015 @ 08:48:30

    This is a wonderful poem from your teen years. I didn’t have such high aspirations as T. S. Eliot in my teen years. I was thinking more along the lines of Rod McKuen or perhaps Emily Dickinson or Don Marquis (Archy and Mehitabel). I do think your poem shows well the teen angst in an artistic sort of way. The last line is priceless –sitting by a fire, sipping tea, and eating cake seems a good way to deal with angst. Smiles.


    • kanzensakura
      May 05, 2015 @ 10:02:17

      Nothng wrong with Rod McKuen! And Emily Dickinson is my tied “second” favorite with Eliot. I love her simply style that says things in so many ways: clever, poignant, wistful, biting….She is a good friend of mine, I can tell you! My grandmother was a wonderful baker and we always had something sweet to eat with our tea or coffee.


  6. claudia
    May 05, 2015 @ 10:38:38

    heck… that gave me goosebumps a bit.. great work on capturing the atmosphere with a vivid description of the scene… i felt like in a slow developing painting…


    • kanzensakura
      May 05, 2015 @ 12:34:54

      Thank you. Thank you so much for you write such amazing words and paint truly unique scenes. I don’t know if you know it, but Eliot frequently doodled and cartooned on his “scribblings” of poems. Some of the doodles are rather droll. But again, thank you so very much for your comment.


  7. Bryan Ens
    May 05, 2015 @ 12:06:14

    Oh…now I don’t know what I’ll write today. Honestly, I can’t be sure who inspired me to start writing poetry…I wrote some as a teen/early 20 something, but then stopped for a long time. Then I started writing short stories for a prompt site called “Trifecta” (now defunct) where I met another writer by the name of Bjorn Rudberg, who sometimes answered the trifecta prompts with poetry, which I found cool. I noticed that he was also writing at this site called dVerse…so perhaps Bjorn inspired me to write, but really, it was the whole dVerse community that kept me writing! (how’s that for a long answer to a short question?)


    • kanzensakura
      May 05, 2015 @ 12:32:51

      I think it is a wonderful answer! Certain Bjorn led me to this diverse dVerse community. I think it is way cool that you can point to a living breathing now person and say, this person inspired me. Bravo!


  8. Let's CUT the Crap!
    May 05, 2015 @ 12:16:31

    Fourteen? I’d say this is outstanding for a ‘serious’ teen. I like the scenarios you’ve painted, Kanzen.
    ❤ ❤ ❤


  9. Glenn Buttkus
    May 05, 2015 @ 15:14:49

    I think that is the finest poem I’ve ever read that was written by a teenager; my high school poems pale in comparison to this masterpiece. Love so much of it–/black hats black coats/twins of darkness on that empty street/. Terrific prompt; thanks. Brian Miller brought me to dVerse.


    • kanzensakura
      May 05, 2015 @ 15:41:49

      I really like how so many people point to him as inspiration. That is to me, what poetry is about – being inspired by someone you know and who is real and alive and touchable. I am glad you enjoyed the prompt. I am having fun reading the poems of the community. Thank you about my poem. I made no changes to its form from the original – but it already had a couple of pages of revisions done those years ago.


  10. MarinaSofia
    May 05, 2015 @ 15:21:21

    Fourteen? That is impressive! And so good at digesting the elements of style that are so recognisably Eliot – the ashes, the funereal grey, the months and passing of time, the apparently random everyday observation (that cake at the end is brilliant – whether intentionally funny or not).


  11. Misky
    May 05, 2015 @ 17:01:22

    This is an extraordinary poem, and as for the cake at the end, I see it as punctuation, just as dessert is the final punctuation of meal. I enjoyed your poem very much.


  12. Myrna Rosa
    May 05, 2015 @ 17:12:51

    I think it’s amazing you could write like this as a teenager. Your poem captured the angst and uncertainty, the fear of growing up. I enjoyed this so much.


  13. peggygoetz
    May 05, 2015 @ 17:23:34

    Impressive writing for a teen! I enjoyed reading you prompt instructions. At first I was a bit stuck as I could not think of a poet who inspired me exactly. I ended up realizing that it was slow accumulation of poets and poems that finally got me writing poetry.


  14. wolfsrosebud
    May 05, 2015 @ 17:34:10

    it read like a story… lovely lines… your eyes saw much


  15. C.C.
    May 05, 2015 @ 19:17:17

    This is stunning! Cannot believe you were only 14 when you wrote this! WOW! Very impressive 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      May 05, 2015 @ 19:46:20

      If I had gotten better, it would be a wow! I stopped writing for several years and took it back up a few years ago and I think I really found my voice at that time. I was a serious little wookie.


  16. Desmond, Anthony (@iamEPanthony)
    May 05, 2015 @ 19:48:31

    Oh gosh – this is great… and “In a country graveyard by a long deserted church
    With dirt as red as blood
    I saw neglected graves and on one was set in a stone” is ACE

    my early teen writings were raps and they were HORRIBLE.


    • kanzensakura
      May 05, 2015 @ 19:53:09

      LOL….I tried to do that and a friend looked at me and said, Miss Girl, you know you need to stop with that mess. And I did. Oh, but thankfully those other notebooks with all the oh woe, oh gloom, oh calamity are forever lost. But isn’t it fun (if embarrassing) to look back on earlier writings? But I think what was more horrible, were the years I stopped writing. Just sealed myself up, y’know? And how wonderful it is we have found our voices. your latest poem was so good I wished I could just hug you and pat your cheek and tell you, well done!


  17. Grace
    May 05, 2015 @ 19:51:18

    I too am very impressed Toni ~ You are gifted as a teen & now, smiles ~ I specially like this part:

    And the ash men come –
    Reaping what the fire has tasted and left behind –
    Ash days


  18. 5h2o
    May 05, 2015 @ 20:06:04

    Very beautiful and haunting.


  19. Suzanne
    May 06, 2015 @ 03:21:57

    T.S. Eliot was a great favourite of mine when I was a teenager too. I like your tribute, particularly the way you resolve all that angst in the end by eating a piece of cake.


  20. Forest Tinker
    May 06, 2015 @ 05:16:53

    This really bites, doesn’t it – I received an education here….!


  21. L Weaves Words
    May 06, 2015 @ 06:41:15

    Loved your poem. And to discover later you wrote it at 14… you must have been a mature teen 🙂
    (Unfortunately for me I was not exposed to all the classic writers of the world…).


    • kanzensakura
      May 06, 2015 @ 07:08:02

      Don’t know if I was mature so much as thoughtful and observant. A lot of people are not exposed to things and come by it when adults. I didn’t read Dr. Seuss until I was an adult! And even now, and especially because of this prompt, I have become aware of different poets. I have a lot of reading ahead of me this summer!


  22. sharplittlepencil
    May 06, 2015 @ 13:48:22

    I have to say, this was a great start to your life as a poet! And yes, being creative at an early age (I was, too) is an interesting state of being. Looking about more than speaking; watching the world from around a corner, as you peek and recount. This poem is good, very good. Your mind has “good bones”! Thanks for stopping by and commenting at my blog. Peace, Amy


    • kanzensakura
      May 06, 2015 @ 15:55:16

      Always a good visit at your place. About that watching the world, at one time, my family called me Miss Peepers after an ancient TV show, Mr. Peepers. Any writer I think, is going to be observant. It’s how they write down their perceptions that makes the difference.


  23. SirenaTales
    May 06, 2015 @ 18:03:00

    Kanzen, Thank you for sharing some of your writing evolution. What an impressive work, especially for a teenager. Especially love: “…And the ash men come –
    Reaping what the fire has tasted and left behind….”

    Whoa. Let me repeat: LOVE THAT. xxo


  24. Hannah Gosselin
    May 06, 2015 @ 22:22:58

    What a great challenge to bring and I think it’s wonderful that you have writing from your teen years…a treasure indeed. The portion about the oak leaf skeleton and the dog really captured me…I can’t believe you were 14! It’s really good and I wouldn’t have guessed you were so young. thank you for sharing this!


    • kanzensakura
      May 06, 2015 @ 22:47:38

      And you are the only one that noticed that very important oak leaf! The little dog lived a couple of houses down and he was always on a mission. A black Scottie. I can’t believe I was ever that young.


      • Hannah Gosselin
        May 07, 2015 @ 21:14:20

        Wow! I kind of like that I’m the only one that noticed that! I remember one of my teen poems spoke to the kind of leaves that creep across the tar like dried-out crabs! What a vivid life you have I’m grateful for the chance to be a part through your poetry! 🙂


        • kanzensakura
          May 07, 2015 @ 22:35:29

          That is an incredible image – Eliot speaks of crabs scuttling across an ocean floor. Interesting critters and likening leaves to them is amazing. I thank you that you share your life through your poetry as well.   That is what makes those of us who write poetry part of a unique community.

          Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®|PRO


          • Hannah Gosselin
            May 08, 2015 @ 16:37:02

            Well, thank you! I might bring that image to life again someday…it’s definitely a thought that stuck with me all of these years. Indeed…unique and generous with life. 🙂


  25. rosross
    May 06, 2015 @ 23:14:09

    You have some wonderful images here.


  26. mishunderstood
    May 07, 2015 @ 20:55:26

    This is impressive work for a fourteen year old. Bravo to the younger you!!
    I have one journal tucked away of writings when I was a teen. You have inspired me to dig it out.
    This was a wonderful prompt and a fun way to discover poets we may not have otherwise. 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      May 07, 2015 @ 22:46:17

      I am glad you liked the prompt. I have a list of new poets to read which is fun. Yes, pull out that notebook! It will be like going on a treasure hunt – old ideas made new, sometbing to recycle, rework, old lines made new….it is exciting.

      Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®|PRO


Thank you for reading! I try to reciprocate all comments. If you want me to visit a particular post, please direct me directly to that post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: