"Gun Ship in a Storm" by Thomas Buttersworth‘Ill Wind’ and Other Poetry by C.B. Anderson The Society June 28, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 20 Comments . Ill Wind The wind, no friend, assaults us so unkindly And suffers nothing to abate its force, Though boys who fly their kites adore it blindly, As if it were a deity from Norse Mythology. For those of us who plow The earth, its presence is a daunting nuisance We’d like to put an end to, here and now. The same rough men who tell us that contusions Are foreplay tokens laud the wind’s caress— A cherished openhanded friendly buffet— And, smirking at our obvious distress, Assure us that in time we’ll come to love it. The truth has often been misunderstood: It is a healthy wind that blows no good. . . All the Wrong Places He searched for messages in tea leaves, racked his brain Attempting to discern within the steamy steep Of China green a glint of cosmic order. Deep Inside his cup he spotted hints of tannic stain. He looked for noble purposes in books the wise Had handed down, but surpluses of wordy prose Benumbed his struggling mind until he banished those Who rose to punish him and closed his bleary eyes. He sought enlightenment inside a bottle of Expensive whiskey, thought a lot about the grain Distilled to spirit, and, while feeling little pain, Found naught that would endear it to the God above. He trolled for absolution on the ocean swell, Performing his ablutions in the rolling wave, Yet some intrusive notion from beyond the grave Foretold a long vacation near the sinks of hell. He cast about in mountain air for clarity Of vision, never doubting something there would soon Uncloud his past decisions, but the path he’d hewn Was crowded with omitted deeds of charity. . . Reclamation Project I never thought I’d live to see the day When men and women feared to speak their mind, Nor did I think that what they had to say Would pique the general ire of humankind. But I was wrong—it happens all the time, And I have lately learned to keep my mouth Shut. Nowadays, the most egregious crime Is speaking truth; the world is going south Into a netherland where nothing’s what It really is: what’s false is true; what’s true Is false; discernment has no value. But, If I may make a point, the sky is blue When we wake up, and all the birds still sing The Sun into its place up in the sky. The clocks still work, and almost everything Is just the way it was in days gone by. This Earth, though not my friend, is yet my mentor; Although we’ve disagreements now and then, It’s still no place I’d hesitate to enter, Despite the irritating ways of Men. . . C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India. His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 20 Responses Paul Freeman June 28, 2021 Thank you for three fine reads. I particularly enjoyed Reclamation Project. The final stanza is pretty amazing. And by the way, the sky is salmon pink …. on Mars. Reply C.B. Anderson June 29, 2021 You are very welcome, Paul. Yes, though I have my doubts sometimes (today, for instance, it’s 95 degrees with 70% humidity), I do like it here. Sometimes even here the sky is pink, though mostly at sunrise or sunset. Reply Joseph S. Salemi June 28, 2021 I like the hexameters in the poem “All the Wrong Places.” You don’t see too much of the alexandrine line in English poetry. The first four quatrains present a picture of where the character is searching: tea leaves, books, whiskey, and finally the ocean (this last might be by sailing a boat, or perhaps just by splashing in the surf at a beach). The unspoken question is this: What exactly is he searching for? Wisdom? Occult knowledge? Salvation? Self-understanding? The fifth quatrain suggests that he is climbing a mountain — iconology which immediately calls to mind a religious search, either for God or God’s Truth. And the last line suggests that the character has banished charity from his life, and this has been the real reason for his hopeless search. The line “Foretold a long vacation near the sinks of hell” is to my mind a clear reference to Purgatory, which is temporally limited (“a long vacation” suggests this, while also being a kind of grisly black humor), and similar to hell in its pain (“near the sinks of hell”). Reply C.B. Anderson June 29, 2021 Your surmises about “All the Wrong Places” are pretty much on point, Joseph. As a matter of fact, I wrote the poem fifteen years ago, or something like that. There are times when I feel like I am already in Purgatory — as I continue to go downhill, everything seems like an uphill battle. Reply Margaret Coats June 29, 2021 Joseph, this is such a good close reading that you deserve an appreciative response here, in addition to the longer one I’ll post for C. B. below. Thanks! Reply Allegra Silberstein June 28, 2021 Your use of rhyme is great. I especially enjoyed Reclamation Project. Reply C.B. Anderson June 29, 2021 The best thing about rhyme, Allegra, is that it’s free for the taking. Reply Julian D. Woodruff June 29, 2021 CB, your use of assonance, interior rhyme, and enjambment could not be more purposeful, especially in “Places.” The end of the 1st 4train in that one really sets the tone for me. But please, let’s have more rain and less heat, even if it means more wind and gray skies. Reply C.B. Anderson June 29, 2021 That poem, Julian, was actually written quite some time ago, when I was trying to find my way in this business, and I agree with you completely when it comes to the weather. Reply Margaret Coats June 29, 2021 “Reclamation Project” is an excellent title, even though it sounds a bit environmentalist. It can mean claiming the earth again for oneself, or looking at human society as a project whose reclamation is in doubt. Having expressed admiration for Joseph Salemi’s reading of “All the Wrong Places,” I’ll just say that when I read it, I thought you should have repeated “clarity” as the final word. I understand why omitting charity leads to looking in wrong places for clarity, but aren’t there deeds of clarity? And hasn’t the speaker, in conducting his search, failed to perform them? In any case, great use of nearly identical words. I’ve read “Ill Wind” several times without arriving at a satisfactory interpretation. Does a healthy wind blow no good in the same way that a healthy meal doesn’t taste good? That doesn’t sound like the vegetable gardener poet. And you mention kite flyers, for whom wind is always good, until a hurricane rips their kites away from them. Evan found a superb picture for “Ill Wind”–but has he solved my proverb meaning problem? Author, please! Reply C.B. Anderson July 1, 2021 Your points, Margaret, one at a time. In “Reclamation Project” it’s myself I’d like to reclaim, along with the world as it once was. I am an environmentalist in the sense that I like to behold good things in my environment. Preservation of “Nature” is a secondary concern — human nature and Mother Nature preserve themselves. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Joseph Salemi understands my poetry better than I understand it. I don’t quite know what “deeds of clarity” are, but I’m quite sure that they are deeds of charity. The speaker (or the narrator, or, better yet, the hypothetical third person character) has no shortcomings that are not directly attributable to me, but made-up persons have their own problems, don’t they? Regarding “Ill Wind” I can only say that no interpretation is necessary. Wind is an impediment to the process of fine-tuned gardening, especially when one is attempting to install row cover fabric, which acts like a sail in any kind of wind. You have heard the expression: It’s an ill wind that blows no good. But it’s a healthy (i.e. strong and hale) wind that is up to no good. That’s all there is to the joke. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant June 29, 2021 C.B., I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Ill Wind’ for its clever subversion of an age old adage, and ‘All the Wrong Places’ for harsh lessons in life… BUT, I adore ‘Reclamation Project’ for its sentiment and wonder! Thank you! Reply C.B. Anderson July 1, 2021 Your enjoyment is all that matters, Susan. Let me add: O tempora! O mores! Reply James A. Tweedie June 29, 2021 Reclamation Project is (sadly) spot on. A friend of my recently proudly identified himself as a “proud progressive” as part of his bio byline in a local magazine. I asked him if the publisher would have accepted his bio if he had described himself as a “proud conservative” or a “proud Trump supporter.” He didn’t have an answer. Some speech is indeed more acceptable than other these days. And, personally, I loved the reference to “charity.” That is, after all, the “second greatest commandment” as well as the way we are given to fulfill the commandment described as the “first and greatest.” You are, of course, the master of enjambment but I always hesitate a bit when I attempt to stretch one across a break between two stanzas. Not that it’s a rule, but because (to my ear) it seems to break the flow of both rhythm and thought more than when it is occurs within. I also like “buffet/love it” and “mentor/enter” At my initial reading I breezed past them without even noticing–which proves they did the job admirably! Reply Joseph S. Salemi June 29, 2021 Mr. Tweedie, enjambment across the boundary of a stanza was considered bad form (or rather, to be avoided) in the past. But one of the achievements of New Formalism was the realization that the ABAB quatrain was a perfect medium for extended narration, and enjambing from the end of one quatrain to the start of the next was discovered to be a useful tool. Notice that Kip Anderson does not use it, however, in the poem “All the Wrong Places,” where he has an ABBA rhyme pattern. Enjambment just doesn’t click quite the same way as it does with the ABAB scheme. Reply James A. Tweedie July 3, 2021 My reply is late but I want to thank you for making the helpful distinction between a rhyme pattern where enjambment works and one where it doesn’t work as well. C.B. Anderson July 1, 2021 To enjamb or not to enjamb is a matter of taste. There have been those who would advocate against it, probably due to some principle regarding the “integrity of the line,” but I find it very convenient as a way to insert rhymes without the hard-edged practice of end-stopping. Reply James A. Tweedie July 3, 2021 C.B. Personally, I am with you so far as enjambment is concerned and for much the same reason. I also find that it often breaks up otherwise tedious “tick=tocky” metrical beat-per-line regularity and stretches poetic phrasing into something similar to ordinary speech while keeping the rhyme/rhythmic pattern unbroken. In this way formal poetry can often be written out on a page as good prose with the casual reader never suspecting that he/she is reading a sonnet, etc. Like I said, “you are the master of enjambment!” David Watt June 30, 2021 I particularly enjoyed the conversational ease of ‘Reclamation Project’. For example, preceding the final two stanzas with ‘But, If I may make a point’ is, for me at least, a great way to connect with the reader (not that the reader would consider missing out on the point of truth which follows). Reply C.B. Anderson July 1, 2021 Sometimes, David, such phrases (“There are those who say” & “And we have heard” are other examples) are needed to fill space in order to get to the rhyme and get it in the right place. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.