Spool Five

Graveyard Glosa

The prompt for today was to write a “glosa”:

This one is a bit complex, so I saved it for a Sunday. It’s a Spanish form called a “glosa” – literally a poem that glosses, or explains, or in some way responds to another poem. The idea is to take a quatrain from a poem that you like, and then write a four-stanza poem that explains or responds to each line of the quatrain, with each of the quatrain’s four lines in turn forming the last line of each stanza. Traditionally, each stanza has ten lines, but don’t feel obligated to hold yourself to that!

I decided to try to write a glosa using the following four lines from the Wallace Stevens poem “Pieces”.

There is a sense in sounds beyond their meaning.
The tinsel of August falling was like a flame
That breathed on ground, more blue than red,
    more red

I don’t know why exactly, but these lines reminded me of a recent trip to a graveyard. Wallace Stevens’ poems always do amazing things with colour. Perhaps it was the contrast between blue and red, and the notion of ‘breath’ on the ground. In general, his poems are the opposite of morbid for me, they always seem to me to be about capturing movement and process - features of ’life’. Or, perhaps it is better to say that in Wallace Stevens’ poems, death becomes a part of a larger process. That’s what I tried to go for here, some kind of graveyard scene where life is still happening.

I didn’t manage to make too much of this poem. In fact, it’s hard to call it a ‘poem’. My main goal was just to write something, to get into the writing process. It’ll be interesting to see if I manage to write a poem a day, and if I do to compare later ones with this first, ill-formed attempt at poetry.

    Graveyard Glosa - April 3 2020

    Waves that drove her forward,
    wordless and symphonic,
    emanating from tinny
    laptop speakers on the kitchen stovetop.
    The music was not of this century,
    it was his music, reminding her again
    it was time to go and see him.
    Not him, exactly, but the place where he is.
    Invisible waves that made her pick up car keys.
    There is a sense in sounds beyond their meaning.

    Willow branches for curtains
    Avenues warped by hillside
    Scent of flowers
    and freshly cut grass
    even in death,
    someone else keeps his home for him.
    He didn't even bother
    to take down the Christmas decorations
    after the maid left, fed up with him.
    The tinsel of August falling was like a flame.

    Here, the late evening, midsummer flame
    Left her cold.
    A band playing in the distance
    Summer music festivals
    The waves radiating again
    Pushing her that last step
    and then to her knees
    The red and green left outside
    the graveyard walls
    That breathed on ground, more blue than red,

    The sun sets and the voices
    From where?
    She lays blue flowers on his grave
    And a green tinsel on the headstone
    And the voices cry only:
      more red.

Sun Apr 3, 2022 - 525 Words