Inquiry - a poem for the Writing Impact Challenge

in writingimpact •  last year  (edited)

This poem is my entry in @rensoul17's Writing Impact Challenge (https://steemit.com/writingimpact/@rensoul17/the-writing-impact-challenge). This is such a cool contest, amazing submissions so far, and still time to enter if you'd like to participate (the deadline is Feb 28). For this poem I used the following word prompts:

trees
remember
wind
whisper
language
fire


https://pixabay.com/en/coffee-drink-espresso-cappuccino-3171587/

Inquiry

Remember trees?
The wind in their branches a thousand-voiced whisper
An ancient alien language.
Remember
Campfire sparks
Tiny bioluminescent sea creatures
Swimming lazily upward
Into a fathomless sea of stars?
Remember the cat's eye
Round as a china plate
Then sharp as a paper cut
The shapes
Water makes over stone
Like living glass?

There was a time when magic
Wasn't such a dirty word.

Sometimes girls
Are just girls
Before you pull back the skin
Revealing machines
With unpredictable workings
Their functions and implications open to question
So that
In order to understand them
You think you need to take them apart
To break them down into their basic elements
To find chemicals
And electromagnetic processes
Whose interactions you can track a little more reliably
Like the movements of a well-trained horse
That still sometimes
(Too often for your comfort)
Surprises you
By doing whatever the fuck it wants.

But surprises won't fly.
They musn't be allowed to.
The whole point is to master the thing
To unpack its neatly folded secrets
And lay them out in plain view
So that anyone can see exactly how it works.
So you kill the horse
And take it apart to find
Atoms
Moving in their own intricate atomic world
But they don't always behave the way you expect them to either
And you're compelled to crack them
Like Christmas nuts
Or brightly colored Easter eggs
To reveal subatomic particles
And within these:
Quarks
Which are tricky little buggers.

By this time the closest thing we have to certainty
Is a particle
That is also a wave
And vice versa.

You should have stopped at Newton
But there's no going back now
So you soldier on
With screwdrivers
Wrenches
Crowbars
Pickaxes
Scalpels
Telescopes
Microscopes
Large Hadron Colliders
Disassembling everything
Expecting
Even as it falls apart
That it will somehow work out
It has to work out
Has to boil down
To something you can teach your kids
An equation in a textbook
That if you just keep going
You'll arrive at the kind of clarity
That provokes wonder
Instead of saturating
And precipitating out of solution
And you will.
Maybe not soon, but
Eventually
You'll work your way around
To trees
Wind
Whispers
Sparks
Sea creatures
Stars
Cat's eyes
China plates
Water
Stone
Girls
Magic.

©2018 Bennett Italia

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  ·  last year (edited)

Nicely done - I shy away from accepting any of these word list challenges, in most part because I am hopelessly afraid to fail.

I like the way your piece has gone full-circle from it's initial proposition to rest again with magic. I'm not certain it is what you were suggesting, but i am left with this: that 'not knowing, being unable to predict, train, determine everything' is not a dirty word.

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Yes! That's exactly what I'm saying @trumanity. I think there's a certain fatal hubris in the assumption that we should, or are even capable of, mastering the universe by dissecting it.

I'm glad that you enjoyed the piece, thanks for your comments and your insightful interpretation! :)

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I am glad I was not completely off the mark, @bennettitalia. Your response has enlightened me further to another nuance I had initially missed in your poem. I thank you for that. The dissection of things entails the killing of it's nature; it's composite (dead) parts may not necessarily lead us to an understanding of the totality of the living thing. One may miss, in it's dead form, an appreciation of the context of it's being. Sorry to probe once again, but your line referencing it's neatly folded secrets implies the thing itself has folded its secrets away, or another supreme hand has done so? I suppose either is potentially a viable answer and not knowing this is perhaps more valuable than knowing the secret.

I am glad to engage with your material and yourself. I continue to follow.

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No, you were spot on :) Difficult to know sometimes whether you've conveyed the thing you want to convey in a poem... thank you for reflecting to me.

Hmmm... I think, for the protagonist, there is no question of God. The "you" in the poem is on a different kind of search, one that seeks to simplify what refuses to be simple. God, magic, nature, biology, chemistry, physics, the opposite sex, ourselves... everything refuses to be straightforward enough for us to pin it down. And really, why would we want it to be? A live butterfly moving through the air is far more interesting than one mounted in a case. Acquisitiveness and inquisitiveness motivate in very different ways.

I'm enjoying the philosophical turn this conversation is taking. When poetry transitions into philosophy you know it's doing at least part of its job ;) Looking forward to checking out your work once I'm through my current crunch in a couple of days.

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It is very interesting to sound off ideas like this. We ought to connect on the isle of write some time. Thanks.

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That would be great :) Same name?

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I go by the name bushgrad over there.

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Magnificent! Where did you come from?....WOW!! @bennettitalia Thank for your entry.

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Thank you @rensoul17! I'm so glad you like it :)

I've been on here since late December, but my focus is scattered between songwriting/performance, poetry and prose writing, and visual arts, so it's taking me a little longer to get to know the different communities. I'm really enjoying relating to the writers!

It's a pleasure to meet you :D

I love this so much @bennettitalia. I snorted coffee out of my nose here:

That still sometimes
(Too often for your comfort)
Surprises you
By doing whatever the fuck it wants.

But then, you do that soulful thing you do that makes me feel wistful and nostalgic for simpler things, rendered through eyes that had seen more than any child should, trees, and wind and magic and china plates and the perpetual washing away of the stones by the sharp smelling waters of the sea.

You're an incredible story-teller, sir.

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Ooohh... coffee through the nose, ouch! This has got me grinning from ear to ear. I don't think I could have received higher praise for that line 😍

Thank you so much for loving it. And for telling me about "that soulful thing" I do, and that I have a way with words. You're one to talk, miss "wind and magic and china plates and the perpetual washing away of the stones by the sharp smelling waters of the sea"!

lovely imagery! reminds me a bit of my own writing :-)

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Thanks! Me too :)

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I love the consistent allusions to horses that seem to make it into your work, I’m an equiphile myself.

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Ha you noticed that! I'm not sure why that seems to be the case right now... it'll be interesting to see if it continues. Horse is my "secret personality" in Chinese astrology, so maybe there's some connection that's wanting to come forward right now. They are amazing animals, so wild if left to their own devices. Even when tamed they are a bit wild, but gentle.

Wow. Just wow.

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Thanks @mdbrantingham :) Really glad you liked it!

A couple of these metaphors crushed me, Bennett;

love the imagery here, vibrant and dreaming:

Remember
Campfire sparks
Tiny bioluminescent sea creatures
Swimming lazily upward
Into a fathomless sea of stars?

the humor laced deep with meaning:

Whose interactions you can track a little more reliably
Like the movements of a well-trained horse
That still sometimes
(Too often for your comfort)
Surprises you
By doing whatever the fuck it wants.

I like how the poem is created with the message in mind, the slow breakdown of more complex lines and thoughts at the beginning, to the core 'atoms and quirks' at the end, the short punchy elements of what this poem is.

The unraveling of all that was once not a dirty word, magic. It is telling that the last word you end on is magic. This is, to me at least, the juxtaposition of science and magic.

We can see the elements, chart the pieces, follow the rules, but in the end - just as the horse, the atom, all things - there is always something you can't account for.

There is magic in us all.

Thank you for sharing this in the magic of your words, @bennettitalia, cheers. z_thank_you.png

You hit me over the head with
Before you pull back the skin
Revealing machines
With unpredictable workings

And then you trounced me when i should have stopped at Newton

Damn, you covered everything: life, the universe, and even girls, in this one.

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Joe
@joe.nobel
I have a new chapter of the novel Andromeda posted
stop by and check it out

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heh thank you @joe.nobel :) Sorry about the mauling.

Looking forward to checking out your novel!