In the heart of rolling dark
recall the comfort of hands,
the pulse in another’s neck,
the flagrance of sea breeze salting dusty land.
How Did It Go?
I found this short form quite difficult. The last line, being longer, is therefore freighted with meaning, and involved many rewrites. I think this form requires skills of brevity and punch I have not developed.
Those who are gone
I can hear you in the wind
in the way the fox-bells chime,
the keening of survivors
the harrowing, dearth and the sorrowing time.
You were all around me once,
in the warm breath of the spring,
In the flight of birds, too high
to see their bright plumage, hear their voices sing.
You were young and old, lovely,
rainbows, storm-light in your eyes,
you sang the words, I listened,
to the ever-changing torrent, always wise.
Now there’s snow in the meadow,
no bird-sound, but all around,
the touch of dead hands wringing,
lips that murmur in the dark of holy ground.
When will I see you again?
In the greening of the year
or at its turning? When snow
lies cold, unforgiving, and I wait, yearning?
For the years will keep turning,
russet red then green again,
and the road remains empty,
though my wishes throng the trees, leaf-stars aging.
To have wings
Black these cold and lightless days,
dirt-grey the clouds, sun rayless,
white the frost that furs the dead
leaf litter, that lies deer-scraped,
brown and rotting.
I wish a bird would lend me
the magic of feathered dance
night or day uncaring, I’d
toss these sorrows in the sea,
watch them drowning.
How did it go?
I got a bit carried away with this one, because I enjoyed the form. The endecha (usually plural endechas) is a poem of Medieval Spanish Jewish origin, a lament intended to be sung. The stanzas are quatrains, of 7 7 7 and 11 syllables, rhyme scheme xaxa where x is unrhymed. It can be a full rhyme but is more usually consonance. I wrote one of each, a full rhyme endecha, and one using consonance instead. Since the poem is intended to be sung, it matters that the lines follow a rhythm which led me to write a fourth endecha with the stresses placed so that the final eleven syllable line can break naturally after seven syllables, leaving the final four syllables as a sort of plaintive echo. Given the origins of the poem, this seems like a reasonable interpretation.
Sunset through a window
You place your soul on a shelf
Tired and fraught you sit
On the floor is an empty shadow of yourself
How Did It Go?
This was my first time attempting to write an endecha poem and it was rather difficult but fun to try. While the rhyming pattern was similar to today’s poetry, I don’t believe my verse could be sung like a traditional endecha. Hopefully I captured a moment of lament.
after Miguel Hernandez – “Adiós, hermanos, camaradas y amigos.
Despedidme del sol y de los trigos”
Final breaths rattle; chains tie
more skin than flesh, you have lost
your battle as war rages
far away, where others also bear the cost.
As you scrawl your final words
on prison walls, death trains roll.
In fascist plays, roles are cast,
innocents despatched, and Europe pays the toll.
Goodbye, brothers, comrades, friends:
my own fate is surely sealed;
I tried, I failed, now it’s time
to let me take my leave of sun and fields.
Breath has gone, cold lungs at rest;
eastward iron wheels still spin.
Leaders play their games of chess
but with fortitude, a righteous heart will win.
How Did It Go?
As this is a Spanish form, and a lament, I used the Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez as inspiration. He died of neglected tuberculosis in a Spanish jail in 1942, effectively murdered by Franco’s fascist regime. Elsewhere the Nazis were rounding up and murdering Jews (and others) and this also tied in to Holocaust Memorial Day. The form itself was surprisingly straightforward, albeit a little unbalanced.
Lament in the Time of Rain
Without hope, we struggle to
animate courage, waken
the heart’s grey beat in our chests,
everything we thought we knew had been taken
You stood at the door, in tears,
all was forgotten in mirrors,
memories spun through a loom,
tolling bells, life ending in complex powders
You were so young, so young, so
vibrant in Brussel’s Stomach
the grey wheel of rain falling
your restaurant plate filled with prawns and geddock
Stand forgotten, young, taken,
forgotten in time, so young,
the heart’s grey rain, uncertain,
inclement shadows pluck instruments, unstrung
How Did It Go?
Spent time (no pun intended) getting this poem to insinuate a café music; as soon as I read that it was a Spanish lament, the 15th century Endecha, (3 lines of 7 syllables, 4 line a/b/c/b rhyme stanza, line 4, 11 syllables) my goal / hope was to write something not too maudlin, and also linked armed stanzas, extended. It took time – successfully or not — to pull out tropes over-used, and move towards a diagonal, oblong precis on the loss of some variant of an urban high-life, of wine, song, stimulants, and old-school meter taxis, chased down in the rain. (After completing my work on this piece, I discovered, on further reading, the Endecha was a song form associated mostly with Sephardic Jews prior to and after their expulsion from Spain, at century’s end, which being my long-ago ancestor’s heritage, makes even more sense, an aha moment.)
Robert Frede Kenter
Bios and Links
Robert Frede Kenter
is a writer and visual artist. A Pushcart Nominee, published widely & internationally, based now in Canada, publisher of http://www.icefloepress.net. Tweets: @frede_kenter, IG:@r.f.k.vispocityshuffle
is a broadcaster, poet and sailor living within sight of Plymouth Sound. Her poems have been published by Nine Pens, Arachne Press, Broken Sleep and GreenInk, and later this yea
lives and works in southwest France. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, the Ekphrastic Review, Black Bough Poetry, ink sweat and tears, Gleam, Nightingale & Sparrow, Green Ink and Brilliant Flash Fiction. She blogs at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/ Her poetry chapbooks, thicker than water and birds and other feathers were published in October and November 2020.
is a writer from Chesterfield in Derbyshire whose ideas are heavily influenced by his background in the local coalfields, where industry and nature lived side by side. His first pamphlet “Heritage” was published in 2019. His poetic influences range from Blake to Owen, Causley to Cooper-Clarke and more recently the idea of imagistic poetry and the work of Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez.