Still Going

It may appear that I’ve run out of chances,
No more to rise from absolute defeat,
Victim of most hostile circumstances—
I laugh, and drag myself back to my feet.
Never assume you’ve seen the last of me;
Can’t crush my spirit, can’t snuff out my light.
I may be leveled by adversity,
Bowed down and broken—still I’m in the fight.
Life yet may lay me low times without end:
Each time you’ll find me bouncing back, my friend.

 

 

Brainstream

Remote in the recesses of the mind,
Emerging from the stillness, one by one
Vignettes and Possibilities unwind,
Ephemeral as dew drops in the sun;
Reason and Fantasy herein unite;
Imaginings and Plans are interwrought,
Escaping here the rigid realm of Sight,
Secure within the snug cocoon of Thought.

 

 

And Goodnight

Lavender and chamomile
Union sweetly soporific;
Lids are drooping; sleepy smile;
Lying down feels so terrific.
After just the shortest while
Brought thus nigh to slumber’s shores
Yawns give way to gentle snores.

 

 

Anna J. Arredondo grew up in Pennsylvania, where she fell in love with poetry from a young age. After living in Mexico for six years, during which time she met and married her husband, she returned to Pennsylvania for one more decade. An engineer by education, home educator by choice, and poet by preference, she relocated in 2017 and currently resides in Westminster, CO with her husband and three school-age children. Anna has recently had poems published in The Lyric and Time of Singing.


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15 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    Wow — these three poems are great! Acrostic pieces are hard to do well, but Mrs. Arredondo has scored a solid hit with these ones. I think “Still Going” is the best, but “Lullaby” is delightful, especially those first two lines:

    Lavender and chamomile–
    Union sweetly soporific…

    Notice that she omits the verb of being here, which has the effect of sharpening descriptive force while keeping the meter very tight.

    The only suggestion I would make is for “Brainstream,” where the internal capitalization of “Possibility,” “Fantasy,” “Plans,” “Sight,’ and “Thought” are unnecessary. They give an unwanted eighteenth-century feel to the poem.
    The capitalization of all nouns was something that English writers toyed with in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (Dr. Johnson approved of the practice), but ultimately we discarded the idea. In German, it has survived.

    Reply
    • Anna J. Arredondo

      Thank you, Dr. Salemi, for your feedback. I was quite pleased with myself for those same two lines from “And Goodnight.”

      It’s interesting that you find the unnecessary capitalizations give the poem an eighteenth-century feel. I suspect I am subject to a lingering influence from a time (not too many years ago) when I read aloud a couple of children’s books by A.A.Milne to my children. After enjoying “Winnie-the-Pooh” (published in 1926) and “The House at Pooh Corner” (published in 1928) a couple of times, I found such capitalization of words (Milne was fond of capitalizing not only nouns, but also certain adjectives and verbs for emphasis) creeping into my own correspondence and note-taking. The phase wore off after a short time, and I am not in the habit of using this practice in my poetry, in general. I must have had some reason for doing so here, but I respect your opinion that it doesn’t lend any value to the piece.

      Incidentally, I am glad that the idea of capitalizing all nouns was discarded (being replaced by the simple and easy-to-grasp lesson on proper nouns vs. common nouns) from the English language. If nothing else, I think it makes any given chunk of text more aesthetically pleasing.

      Reply
  2. Amy Foreman

    Very clever and well executed, Anna. I enjoyed each of these and am personally in favor of your capitalizations in “Brainstream,” which, I believe, add to the reader’s sense that in your floating reverie, certain capitalized “Possibilities,” “Imaginings,” and “Plans” emerge from the somewhat foggy and shapeless mist of the recesses of your mind. Nicely done!

    Reply
    • Anna J. Arredondo

      Thank you, Amy. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have that exact visual effect in mind when I wrote “Brainstream”, but I like it! I’m glad it presented itself to you in that way (and I might just explain it that way in the future if anyone asks).

      I was trying to convey how, in the nebulous and responsibility-free realm of a daydream, many things/ideas that would normally conflict with one another (on the drawing board in the “real world”) can coexist peacefully side by side in the world of (casual) thought. The capitalizations, some of which begin a line and are thus not apparent, are of contrasting pairs of words: Vignettes (which to me has a past-tense kind of feel) and Possibilities (a future feel); Reason and Fantasy; Imaginings (abstract and fanciful) and Plans (concrete and practical); Sight and Thought.

      I hope attempting to explain it doesn’t ruin it (as it often does!), but at any rate, I believe that was my thought process…

      Reply
  3. Sally Cook

    these acrostic poems are fresh and graceful; well-versed and literate.
    What a pleasure to read work from someone who respects meter.

    Reply
    • Anna J. Arredondo

      Thank you, Sally. I am pleased with your feedback that my work demonstrates my respect for meter! Since discovering SCP several months ago, both the works posted and the commentary on them have driven me to take even more care to review and re-review the structure and meter of my poems before deciding I am satisfied with them. I’m thankful for such an opportunity.

      Reply
  4. Paul Oratofsky

    I agree these are delightful and well-crafted. Good job, Anna.

    Those internal capitalizations don’t bother me at all, especially since you don’t always use them. They (appropriately) slow the poem down at those points, and make those words more prominent – effectively, I feel. They of course remind me of Emily Dickinson’s work, whose capitalizations I take as being not arbitrary or automatic at all, but carefully measured, decided upon. As I view them in your poem.

    My only disappointment is the last two words of your first poem. I feel you could have ended it more interestingly than “my friend.”

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Paul, I can’t think of a better phrase to end it with that maintains the rhyme. You are asking her to rewrite the entire line. As it stands, it gives the reader a clue as to whom the poem is addressed: perhaps someone close to her who is worried about recent setbacks the narrator has suffered. All in all, I am happy to welcome such a facile and accurate writer into the fold of publications I myself inhabit. I was unlikely ever to attempt an acrostic poem, because it’s a gimmick with which I didn’t care to engage. But now that I have seen some well executed, I might be tempted to change my mind.

      Reply
      • Paul Oratofsky

        CB, here’s an easy example, but I’m sure more interesting ones can be found:

        Life yet may lay me low times without end:
        Each time you’ll find me bouncing back to mend.

        Not only is “my friend” not interesting enough, or too easy, but you don’t address someone directly like that until the very end. So it’s a little inconsistent with the rest of the poem. Your rhythms are sophisticated and quite musical for me.

        And I also wanted to voice my agreement with Mr. Salemi. Those two lines:
        Lavender and chamomile–
        Union sweetly soporific…

        …are indeed quite beautiful to me too – and extremely musical. Their music is enhanced by that slight change in rhythm. Not sure how to describe it clearly, but it reminds me of Thomas’ poem that begins “This bread I break was once the oat…” From line to line, his rhythms similarly shift slightly, strengthening the music of the whole poem.

      • Anna J. Arredondo

        C.B.,

        Since discovering this site, I have been impressed again and again not only with the technical skills of some of the writers, but with the vast and varied scope of the content of their work (your works included, on both counts). I would like to get away from writing mostly first-person-narrative poetry, and learn to tell someone else’s story, for example, or write some valuable commentary or pithy observation wrapped up snugly and succinctly within the bounds of a sonnet.
        This brings me round to the acrostic poem. Though I admit it is very likely that my first foray into acrostic territory took the shape of sappy love poems (with the admired boy’s name spelled down the left side), many many years ago, it is different today. Now it is something I occasionally fall back on when I feel the poetic itch, but find I have “nothing to say.” I enjoy the challenge of choosing a word to ‘define’ (more or less) in a short poem, and fitting it all into the restriction of the acrostic form. The result may often be another narrative poem like “Still Going”, but the nature of the form does help me get away from that, as is the case with “And Goodnight” and “Brainstream.”

        If you do change your mind and give it a try, I hope we’ll get to enjoy the result…

    • Anna J. Arredondo

      Thank you for your feedback, Paul. I appreciate your assessment of my use of capitalization in “Brainstream” as not being arbitrary. An attempted explanation of my rationale can be found in my reply to Amy Foreman, above.

      I will address your final point below…

      Reply
      • Anna J. Arredondo

        Hi Paul,
        It seems (as I have seen happen to other commenters as well) that my first reply did not appear where I desired (below your initial comment), and so my “I will address your final point below…” is out of place and I could have just tackled it all in one lengthy comment. Oh well.

        My choice to end the poem with the phrase “my friend” was quite intentional. The fact that it is an “easy” rhyme is simply a felicitous coincidence. In principle, if there is an easy, comfortable rhyme that fits, I don’t think it prudent to scrap it and look for something more obscure or clever.

        Your suggested replacement line works just fine metrically, but doesn’t fit with the overall tone of the piece (as I intended it). This is not the voice of a person taking time off in the hospital to heal, but of a battered individual, determined not to be “benched” or “sidelined” no matter what kind of condition they are in. Which brings me to my choice of the words, “my friend”:

        As C.B. pointed out, such a narrative might in all likelihood be addressed to a concerned friend, as an assurance that the speaker is okay; on the flip side, the phrase “my friend” is often used facetiously to mean just its opposite. According to the urban dictionary (please be assured that this is not my first choice in dictionaries; it is helpful, however, with slang usages), “my friend” is “1. A phrase that people use when they’re not actually your friend.” So the narrator of the poem, perhaps surrounded by not-so-friendly people who would rather relish seeing him/her crash and burn, addresses this somewhat defiant, almost combative, me-against-the-world declaration to a singular, generic adversary: “my friend.”

        I like the duality of the expression, and how it allows the interpretation to be determined by whether a reader happens to consider himself friend or foe.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    The two lines are trochaic, but the first ends masculine while the second ends feminine.

    That’s why both lines function as tetrameters, but one has seven syllables while the other has eight. Thank God Mrs. Arredondo isn’t a syllable-counter.

    Reply
  6. David Watt

    Thank you Anna for these highly polished acrostic poems. They are technically excellent and delightful to read.

    Reply
  7. James Sale

    Really, really enjoyable poetry and I especially loved Lullaby: the acrostic itself was extremely gratifying, but also on a personal level I am a bit of an essential oil fanatic, and Lavender and Chamomile are two favourites I use for just this purpose! Wonderful to see it expressed like this. Thank you.

    Reply

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