Join us on The Bardo Group blog tomorrow for Writers’ Fourth Wednesday. This event is hosted by Victoria C. Slotto, novelist, poet and writing coach. We hope you’ll join us and link in your own work, which may be prose or poetry. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours, so you’ve plenty of time. Victoria and I will visit, read and comment and we hope you will make visits as well to lend one-another support and encouragement.
Prince Arthur and The Faerie Queen by Johann Heinrich Fussili c 1788
Just to give you a jump start on Victoria’s writing prompt for this month: it’s allegory …
I’ve been taking a peek at Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queene, so that came to mind immediately. I’m not conversant with Tudor England and Elizabeth I, hence I know that much of that work is lost on me. Clearly though … and famously … this epic poem is filled with allegorical device. Each knight in the story represents a virtue. Allegory is after all simply a metaphor with a broad scope. Think of Plato’s Cave as another example.
In the following prose poem, the protagonist’s journey home from work is implied and I used the plight of cattle, a real neighborhood and the sacrifice of the Mass to represent the crushing aspects of life … As a sort-of subtext, I also wanted to make a point about the suffering we cause by using animals for food.
From the Butcher’s Blade
Arriving at our stop, it would spit us out … so much cattle, regimented and ragtagged, tired and numb. Once dumped, the rail-car doors would close behind us and we were whirled in the windy wake of the train rushing to the next station. Then, a sudden silence, and we were free to plod our way home, a final few blocks in Gravesend, a new ‘s-Gravenzande*, if you will, but an old irony. I’d stop at the bakery first and go on to Paul the butcher and his merchant’s rictus. His beef, he told me, “is like butter,” perfect for my carnivore husband. Paul’s face seemed bloodless to me, as if in some moment of devotion he chose to infuse the dead. Still more child than woman, I would study the varied cuts waiting to be bought, waiting to be devoured. I’d fancy their missing eyes, bones, and very lives crying out. These offerings of body and blood from Paul’s steel blade to my tattered tin chalice fed me for two years on the futility of hope.
* Gravesend / ‘s Granvenzande – Gravesend is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. It was originally settled by the Dutch. The name is thought to come from ‘s-Gravenzande, a Dutch province in South Holland, Netherlands.
Thanks for bearing with me in this experiment with prose poems: “a piece of writing in prose having obvious poetic qualities, including intensity, compactness, prominent rhythms, and imagery.”
© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photo of the Faerie Queene painting is public domain; cattle photograph courtesy of morgueFile