Poetry Readings from 2020 SCP Symposium – ‘A Celebration of Meter and Rhyme’ (Session I) The Society June 17, 2020 From the Society, Poetry, Readings, Symposium, Video All of the below poems were read on May 31, 2020 at The Society of Classical Poets Symposium, which was held online due to the pandemic. Below are poems from Session I. Session II readings are forthcoming. What’s love got to do with it? (With apologies to Tina Turner) by Ed Ahern A little word that carries heavy loads, Of caring, lusting feelings, coarse and fine, Of heavy meanings, shaped by hints and codes, Of godly wants and heathen needs enshrined. A sanguine word so often misapplied If used too loudly it’s a toast or boast If used too softly it’s a lover’s lie If used with malice it’s an evil ghost A word whose phrasing shifts with time and age Into a silver black with use and care Into a band of gold with worn off gauge Into a skin with looks no longer fair. This little word with meanings lank and loose Is what we use to help us self-seduce. An Elderly Patient by Richard Lackman She hardly thought the visit was worthwhile And just as I was opening her file She said that she was too old to be treated A statement that she several times repeated I reassured her that I understood Her situation but perhaps we could Review her treatment options just for now To understand the why and what and how She was a happy person all her life A loving mother, grand-mother and wife She understood how blessed her life had been Yet knew this was a fight she might not win She said that she had not the energy To pursue a treatment course with me She said that she felt quite prepared to die Then fear welled up and she began to cry I consoled her, did the best I could To describe some treatments that she should Consider in the context of her age Ideas that she could comprehend and gauge She trusted me enough to move ahead As we worked to dispel her fear and dread And so her quality of life remained As each day she saw happiness sustained I treated her for two years from that day Then was informed that she had passed away But this had been a clear cut victory A gift to her and certainly to me The Art Professor Pygmalion knew these women all too well; his instincts told him he’d better sleep alone. He took to art. —Ovid, The Metamorphoses, Book X by Sheila Mulrooney His wife will say no living soul should trust that skinny man. He reads too much and falls asleep at 10pm. He only lusts for crumbling effigies. In dreams he’s called to bed by Hellenistic Artemis through drapes of Grecian white. A labyrinth’s walls protect him as he steals the virgin’s kiss, then lays his hand upon the goddess mould and sees her cobwebbed eyes alight with bliss: her bliss, his living art. Her ivory folds would shield him from banalities of strife and age. He longs for stones to shed their cold— Must only sculptors bring their work to life? Professors, too, can carve a perfect wife. Lactose Intolerance Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.—G.K. Chesterton by C.B. Anderson That arbiter of prudence, Milton, Refused to write an ode to Stilton, And even rakish Baudelaire Composed no sonnets on Gruyère. Although Bob Frost was fond of Cheddar, He thought Gjetost was somewhat better, But he was disinclined to write Of food he nibbled late at night. Neruda never earned a peso From writing verse extolling queso, And any thoughts he had on Gouda Are secrets buried with Neruda. Though Dante left unturned no stone, He wrote no lines on Provolone, His favorite pairing with bruschetta. Cavafy never mentioned Feta. Good taste is timeless, and of course It’s wise to hearken to the source Of what’s now called the Common Era. While cheese goes well with primavera, The banishment of curds and whey From poetry is here to stay: No parable of moldy cheeses Has been attributed to Jesus. (First published in Light) The State of the Art by David Galef Literature, that romantic old bastard, Is sick again, aslant on his chair Like a spread-eagled book, already plastered By noon and mumbling life’s unfair. He speaks these days, ventriloquizing In a voice long ruined by social disease, His brilliant spasms slowed to writhing And minute gestures that nobody sees. What can we do for the drunken degenerate? Tear up his license, make sure he’s not read, Submit him to lectures, make him aware that We don’t want him living, we don’t want him dead. (First published in Pivot) Old-Growth Cedar Grove Long Island, Willapa Bay, Washington by James A. Tweedie In whispered silence, nature weaves The forest canopy above, As sunlight filters through the leaves And needles of the old-growth grove. While on the shadowed floor below, Amidst the ferns in which we stand, The Salal and the Salmonberry grow— An island in a saw-cut land. We enter through a timeless door Where earth and spirit intertwine, And ancient, bark-scarred cedars soar Like pillars in a templed shrine. A nearby, spring-fed streamlet sings Of wind and rain, of ocean’s roar, Of pristine, God-created things, And those who’ve passed this way before. For Hongyu This poem is inspired by young Falun Gong practitioner Zhang Hongyu’s moving true story, which can be found here by Yuan Xi / Translated by Damian Robin and Jennifer Zeng 少經離亂度年華 辭鄉一去成天涯 遠志如鴻任高蹈 冰心似玉自無瑕 悲懷神州陸沉久 共匪不滅難為家 踐約屠龍當此日 風雨江山又荻花 塵劫茫茫終有渡 崢嶸歸去紫雲霞 Chaos, turmoil, longing, broken youth, Goodbye to birthplace, then the world is gone. You yearn to fly off like your namesake swan; Your jade heart flawless as the day you’re born But weighed with grief as China falls so long; No home while communism spreads its wrong. Your vow will shine when dragon’s soul is torn; You’ll cross stormed mountains into silver grass, Be saved, the endless trials at last will pass And lift, in rose clouds’ shine, returning truth. The Rise of Fall by Theresa Rodriguez There were such pretty flowers in the spring: The fragrant colors of a verdant time; Such fresh potentiality, sublime In all the loveliness that they did bring. Then summer issued forth a deep wellspring, Maturely ripening, where vines would climb And trees begin to bulge. This is the prime Of life when growth will dance, and sway, and sing. But autumn is the time of now. I stand Amid the harvests and the fruit. The change Between the then and now, it leaves me jaded; I barely have the bearings to withstand This person of today. Indeed, how strange, How much the beauty of the past has faded. Zoom Etiquette by Susan Jarvis Bryant When attending a conference at home in your room on the boon of that technical app they call Zoom, to emerge in your undies and pitch from your bed is a frightful faux pas that is simply ill-bred. Never greet at a meeting in anything less than a brushed and flossed smile and sartorial finesse. Do not slouch on the couch, it’s unseemly and rude, and don’t ever appear drinking beer in the nude. Please relinquish all fancies to fidget or fart; remain pert and alert and as sharp as a dart. Any brash, cyber crassness is at your expense if you make others wince with an online offense. You will slay the Zoom forum with polish and class when you’re minding your manners and covering your ass! (Originally published in Light) NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments. 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