Masters and Captains

I came across this old book of poems on my father’s bookshelf today. It was one of his college texts, and I’d often leaf through it when I was a girl, paying close attention to the poems he marked up in pencil. My favorite back then was Trees by Joyce Kilmer (‘I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…’), but tonight this one stood out instead. Especially the final lines: ‘I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.’

For 2018, may we all become our own masters and captains.

Poetry on Water

The animated skies above Lake Windermere doubtless inspired lesser poets than Wordsworth, their prose just as romantic and picturesque. I imagine a young poet gazing up at billious clouds burdened with snowflakes and the words spring forth in his mind, a ready poem to share with the world. But like so many youth inspired by greatness, he questions the worth of the words he scrawls and their originality, too. Has he made something worthwhile, something to remember? He recites his favorite line aloud as a cold shadow passes over him,

“Hung o’er a cloud, above the steep that rears, its edge all aflame, the broadening sun appears; a long blue bar it’s aegis orb divides, and breaks the spreading of its golden tides; and now it touches on the purple steep, that flings his shadow on the pictured deep.”

and he lets his own lines float away on the gentle waves lapping against the shore. 

A new poem

Ruminations

The north wind blows through February trees

starlings take flight in the faded London sky

black shadows ebb and flow

murmurations mirroring my thoughts

Stop worrying it’ll drive you crazy

he likes to tell the future

it makes him feel divine

his words dig deep—roots that take hold

How will I know when it happens         

he doesn’t hear me above the wind

it whips against my cheeks

When it happens how will I know

he shakes his head

Panic! I want to grab his throat with clawed hands

a crooked branch twists round my legs

he catches me with a ruthless grip

jaundiced leaves lie unsettled

like a thousand broken hearts scattered at my feet

Does the silver birch mourn

I need to know

the answer hangs between us

he snaps the offending branch in two

I’m free

a fleeting thought

he pulls up my collar stiff against the wind

I can do it myself

rough wool scratches my neck

a banshee’s wail races the wind

invisible fingers that tangle my hair

How long is forever

starlings swarm in the winter sky

inkblot algorithms that endlessly transform

the swirling ciphers hold encrypted answers

Is it happening now

I chew the words over and over again like cud

Everything is happening now

his voice

a gentle push towards an idling van

(M. Bracht, 2015)

White Moon Above Parliament

Tourists in London

People whirl in a time lapsed blur

Below gilded spires and ancient brick

Along the banks of the blackened Thames

Faces framed in photographic light

A thousand selfies shine in the ether

But none as bright as the white moon

A pinhole pierced through the evening blue