Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Personal Challenge #1 for 2014

fair use image
Welcome, Toads and Visitors, to the imaginary garden with real toads.

Kerry, aka HeadMistress Toad, has elected - in the spirit of the new year (2014 in the common, or Christian calendar, as opposed to, say, the Lunar or Chinese calendar where it will be 4712 on January 31st, or the Jewish calendar, where New Year’s Eve, 5775 isn’t until next September 24th) - to re-invigorate a Garden tradition:

The Personal Challenge, last seen in these parts way back in 2012 (4710/5773) (cue up the Victrola, let down the swing-arm to the vinyl... dunh dunh DUNH). That is, prior to my hopping into the garden.

Some of these challenges were quite deliciously wicked. (Pay a visit to the archives and you'll see - I highly recommend it!)

HeadMistress Toad must have been feeling benevolent, since her task to me is simply this (and so I quote) (not that I will be so benign, fellow to-be-victim Toad): 

"Here is my challenge for you: I have selected 3 of D.H. Lawrence's poems and created a small word pool from each one. I want you to select one of the choices I have given and use at least 9 (of 10) words in a poem of your own. Alternately, you can select three words from each list and slam them together in your poem. Up to you..."

Enough parentheses.

Frankenstein, as it were, cobbled by the mad doctor/poet from the flesh of Lawrence’s pens. Being stubborn and vain, I used all 30. Please see below the post to view the seed poems and selected words.

Thank you for coming this far; please visit the sidebar, where each Toad's own blog is featured, and hop over to read their pens.

The new year slipped
in, no stranger
to the chaos of clinked flutes and ambiguous hospitality
painted on the hollow
cheeks of somebody – everybody – who fled exile
from their usual blinked screens this speckled night
(like every other
but for the last
Keen-eyed, the year looked up
then winged a curving arc
between ottoman and chaise
to the carob-tree decked in borrowed hair-fine tinsel, a groomed
specimen of sober patience, presentable in her bark-chip skirt,
leaves plucked clean as brows
Unobserved together
they swayed as to Sinatra in a bygone day
until the never-subtle crowd
(a singular beast lapping bubbly with a two-forked tongue,
an undivided seething eddy of flesh-gouged-sequins
groaning and tramping the old its annual death-
throes, bones melting with the usual slackness
reserved for one liquidly cheering the red end)
suddenly fissured - a crack in the make-up -
a chiming perversity cleaving the collective shimmer
into suddenly self-aware units
and the year snapped
to, wedged itself (pierce as a tack)
into the numbed, personal grey
residue that always gathers
when the gathering convulses to solitude
As every w(ye)ar has its spoils,
every party has its villains to be avoided and beauties
to be pacified, often from the same perch.
The fellow who at first appeared sleek? turns
out has yellow teeth gating breath black as soil
- and that eye-glint was only a leer
so welcome, welcome, the new year


As you no doubt can tell, other than the singular words selected by Kerry from D.H. Lawrence’s poems (all from PoemHunter), this creature has nothing at all to do with his craft.

carob-tree, slackness, fissure, pacified, perversity, hospitality, convulsed, exile, curving, two-forked 

How Beastly the Bourgeois Is:
Presentable, Tramping, Specimen, Sleek, Bygone, Hollow, Upright, Seething, Soil, Groomed

The Song of a Man Who Came Through:
direction, wedge, chaos, winged, fine, spoil, borrowed, subtle, somebody, keen

~ M


LaTonya Baldwin said...

You are hilarious. This will take me at least a week. lol

Kerry O'Connor said...


Haha! This is fantastic, M. What a way to kick off the new year with this amazing piece of poetry.

On my first read through, I could not pick out the words - everything flowed so smoothly in your inimitable style. Then I checked the word lists and went back to see how you had used them. Very impressive.

Many thanks for taking up my challenge... now it remains to be seen whom you will tap on the shoulder with the next challenge.

hedgewitch said...

I agree with Kerry, fantastic(in all ways) seems to be just the right adjective here. Blogger just ate my very long and effusive comment, which I neglected to copy before hitting post as I am only on my first injection of caffeine, and I'm not going to try to duplicate it--it had lots and lots of additional adjectives, but all boiled down to the basic fact that this is an excellent bit of social commentary, a post-mortem on our fetish for turning things into important symbols and then desecrating them, and the seamless interweaving of the words from Lawrence being pleasing to me as a fan of his poetry. Fine work, M.--and know I will never say 'Happy New Year' in quite the same spirit again, despite my annual relief that it brings the end of the xmas excess.

Maude Lynn said...

And, blogger ate my comment, too!

This is truly fine writing, M.

Grace said...

This is beast of a challenge and you rose up to it in your usual witty underhanded style ~ I could not have guess that the post came from a slew of words ~ My favorite parts are the never subtle crowd/beast & snapping of the year ~

You have set a high bar M ~ Thanks for kicking off the personal challenge ~ Cheers ~

Anonymous said...

I adore challenges which give me words with which to make my own creation.

Also, I'm back! The ex is history, my future involves writing, writing and more writing, and I mean to be a more permanent fixture around here. I love the Imaginary Garden!

Unknown said...

You managed a seamless construction from seemingly disparate materials. Well done! As I read, the images popped boldly off the page. That gnarly-toothed fellow at the end really caught my attention.

Marian said...

wow, wow. i was gonna yell OVERACHIEVER, too!
but instead, i'll just admire, and note that this stanza just says it all, i mean, all of it, about the passing of a year, for me:

and the year snapped
to, wedged itself (pierce as a tack)
into the numbed, personal grey
residue that always gathers
when the gathering convulses to solitude

brilliant, M.

Fireblossom said...

First of all, I love the source poems. I first read "The Snake" in school, and remember it--and like it--immensely. All three poems seem to have in common a message of not taking one's self too seriously, not allowing one's approach to the world to be ruled by convention or common teaching. I love Lawrence in many ways; "Lady Chatterly's Lover" is one of a handful of books I can honestly say changed my thinking and my life. However, for all his fascination with women, he can be remarkably sexist, and "The Fox" and "Sons & Lovers" frustrated me in the reading of them.

Anyway, on to the challenge poem! I am no great fan of New Year's celebrations, and now am even less so! M's poem captures a certain over-ripe, sicky-sweet rot at the heart of it all. To have used ALL the words is incredible and ambitious, and I'm impressed with what he has done here. Kudos als to Kerry, for such a fine and interesting challenge!

I will now be changing my name to Natasha Mimms-MacFarquahar and shall be hiding in a small French village disguised as a simple washerwoman until such time as Michael selects someone else with his wicked challenge!

Ella said...

Blogger ate my words, too! Bravo Grape-your offering will inspire a smooth swaying tune! I can't wait to read what the Toads compose~
Happy New Year! Cheers
Off to cut these words into a wine glass and see what liquid legs speak to thee.
I love your poem!

Susie Clevenger said...

Goodness, you weaved all the words into a delightful bit of new year's mania. You have set the bar so high I am not sure I will have enough ladders to climb near it when it is my turn. Fantastic!!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh my God, you have set the bar so high, Sir Toad, especially for this old demented grandmother toad. This was so much fun - and so impressive - to read, I marveled my way through and now will go back for a more leisurely enjoyment of your skills.

This is a fantastic write, and you have thrown down the gauntlet for the coming year. I love this poem!!!!!

Jim said...

Blogger had better not eat this grandfather's comment!
I enjoyed doing this little ditty for you, "Sir Toad". It is a limerick of sorts (my sort, could be loose in spots):
Jim's poem for Personal Challenge # 1 for 2014

Kerry O'Connor said...

Although this was a once off, one-on-one challenge, Jim's spin-off has paved the way for any one else who would like to try their hand at using one or any combination of the words.

Provide a link to your blog in comments, and I will come over and read your response.

Real Toads is all about inspiration: wherever and when ever we find it, we are happy to share.

Grace said...

Hank has also weaved a story based on the words - its here:


Anonymous said...

shucks, thanks, all. :) I've got a couple ideas fermenting, and will be sending out the next challenge en francais, donc je parle la belle langue un petit peu, et puis, just enough to mangle it thoroughly. Not that I'm specifically eyeing Mam'zelle Mimms or anything, but to make it that much MORE wicked. Google translate is an amazing thing.

I actually spent time editing this bastard, which, if you knew how I work - that is, most of my blogged pens are nearly raw with only a modicum of censoring, maybe 10 to 30 minutes from conception to 'publish' - that I took over a week, is why I didn't compose anything for the other challenges put forth this week (my apologies, Marian and Kerry).

Kerry, thanks for picking me first... Now I get to sit back and watch the rest of the Toads squirm! ~

Herotomost said...

Certain I did not attain your lofty heights...but I did attempt a little something. Cool Challenge!!!

Kay L. Davies said...

Fabulous! I especially love "enough parentheses" followed by an extravagant use of them.
Now that you have survived (and thrived on) your first personal challenge, we can be sure you are willing to be a toad-for-life.
Congratulations on a personal challenge well done.
(PS: I beg to differ with you re your opinion of Google Translate. It is purely dreadful.)