Friday, June 03, 2016

Poetry Seven and Mary Pownall's Harpy

This month the poetry gang wrote poems to photos taken by Tanita of Mary Pownall's sculpture The Harpy Calaeno.
The Harpy Calaeno, 1902, by Mary Pownall, Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Artwork: The Harpy Calaeno, 1902, by Mary Pownall, Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Photograph by Stephencdickson, Wikimedia Commons

I wrote this first poem after learning that a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer. The news was not good, and after multiple opinions, the consensus is that there are no treatment options. So, the poem doesn't say much about cancer that hasn't already been said, but writing it sure made me feel a tiny bit better.

The word drops …
there is no steeling yourself
against it
the tumor
an oozing black tar
staining your insides
a writhing knot of snakes
expanding ever outward

Cancer, you bitch
you harpy
clawing your way
through a mortal temple
slowly stealing life
but not soul

In this case

Despite the news
spirit indomitable

For my second poem I wanted to actually write about the sculpture. Inspired by the poems written by my sisters in the form of pantoum and villanelle, I chose a form as well. In gearing up for next week's poetry stretch I decided to experiment with the Luc Bat, a Vietnamese form with a repeating rhyme scheme and lines of six and eight syllables.

No prize this beast with wings,
the roar of her voice sings, not sweet
but raw, a clawing beat.
Cover your ears, retreat … no run
before your end’s begun
before you are undone by scales,
beating wings, mournful wails,
those claws as sharp as nails. Beware!
Once fixed in her cold stare,
you will not have a prayer save one.
Recall she's marble spun,
this myth that made men run, now stone
and beauty, fearsome thing.

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2016. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. Andi's not sharing a poem today, but she's always with us in spirit.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jone of Check It Out. Happy poetry Friday friends!


  1. Oh, you've made me fall in love with a form I've never heard of! It truly sings with a "clawing beat" as you say so powerfully. Also, I'm not so sure you didn't write about the piece in the first just came at it slant. :)

  2. OVER ACHIEVER!!!! And that second one -- begging, just begging to be read aloud!! You outdid yourself, Tricia. These are magnificent.....

  3. (You could have used our Flickr pic, even though it's not in the Commons, silly! You have MY permission, since I took the picture! Ah, well.)

    The Luc Bat is definitely like a round. What an interesting - and hard! - form. I still like the first one best, though; despite the fact that there's not a lot new to be said about cancer, I think that our collective gnashing should be recorded. A burden shared isn't actually halved, but it helps all of us to share it. ♥

  4. Writing poetry to make yourself feel better is such an elemental reason I love poetry. It heals one little tiny word at a time. So sorry for the horrible news that inspired your first poem. And that Luc Bat--now I must go learn about that and try one. I love the tripping tumblingness of it. The clawing beat. The marble spun--lovely!

  5. Oh, wow. Thank you for that first one. So raw and so true. (I'm sorry to hear it's true for your friend...)

    And the second -- what a masterful choice of form!!

  6. I love the imagery in the "No Stone" poem. You apt description is amazing!

  7. I'm sorry to hear your friend's news. As Sara said, you came at the harpy slant in that first poem, but it's a masterful poem. And the luc bat is great - it's got an almost hip-hop feel to it.

  8. Both poems offer so much, but the first is especially poignant as cancer touches so many lives. Sending healing thoughts to your friend... =)