Tunes for a Monday Morning
Winter Poetry Challenge: Day 2

Winter Poetry Challenge: Day 1

Bear Dance by Susan Seddon Boulet

It's the Winter Poetry Challenge, which will run each day from now through Saturday. Here's how it works:

I challenge all you poets out there to share a poem (or poems) on a mythic theme posted each day. There are no rules beyond adhering to each day's theme: brand new poems are encouraged, but your older poems are welcome too. You  don't have to be a published poet to contribute; you don't have to be a regular reader of this blog; and you don't even have to be an adult (but if you're a child, please let us know your age). I'll start the ball rolling each morning by posting a poem on the theme from the Journal of Mythic Arts archives, along with related imagery.

There are two ways to participate in the Poetry Challenge, both equally important: One is by posting your poem(s) in the Comments thread under each post. The other is by leaving feedback for the poets, which I highly encourage everyone to do. Please help us out by joining in the conversation.

(And if you're still not sure about how this works, have a look at the Autumn Poetry Challenge. Just follow this link and scroll down.)

Since we've been discussing bears and hibernation on this blog recently, today's theme is: Bears in Myth, Fairy Tales, and Fantasy. Some examples: the white bear in East of the Sun, West of the Moon; the bear husbands in Bearskin, Snow White and Rose Red, and various Native American tales; and the numerous bear gods, goddesses, shamans, and sacred spirits of Finland, Japan, Mongolia, Canada and other places the world over. For inspiration, have a look at the comments under last week's bear posts, full of links to bear poetry and tales.   

To kick off the week, here are three bear poems from the JoMA archives, approaching the theme from three different directions. The first poem is rooted in fairy tale motifs, the second in the myths of the Arctic north, and the third in Robert Southey's classic nursery tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Bear Child by Susan Seddon Boulet

The Bear's Daughter
by Theodora Goss

She dreams of the south. Wandering through the silent castle,
Where snow has covered the parapets, and the windows
White Bear by Kay NielsenAre covered with frost, like panes of isinglass,
She dreams of pomegranates and olive trees.

But to be the bear's daughter is to be a daughter, as well,
Of the north. To have forgotten a time before
The tips of her fingers were blue, before her veins
Were blue like rivers flowing through fields of ice.

To have forgotten a time before her boots
Were elk-leather lined with ermine.
Somewhere in the silent castle, her mother is sleeping
In the bear's embrace, and breathing pomegranates
Into his fur. She is a daughter of the south,
With hair like honey and skin like orange-flowers.

She is a nightingale's song in the olive groves.

And her daughter, wandering through the empty garden,
Where the branches of yew trees rubbing against each other
Sound like broken violins,

Dreams of the south while a cold wind sways the privet,
Takes off her gloves, which are lined with ermine, and places
Her hands on the rim of the fountain, in which the sun
Has scattered its colors, like roses trapped in ice.


Playing with the North Wind by Susan Seddon BouletArktos
by Ari Berk

Rouse with hunger or indifference
to a morning darker than the night
Shake the season from your fur and rise
to stand inseperable from the snow

Below the ice swim seals thick with blood
So shaking somnolence from your brow
you crawl like a man across the drift
smelling for prey, intentions sharp as stone

Wind of knives and fury born of stars
May not deter a giant built of ice and claws
Unless the sleep of solstices be on him
He, Son of Sedna and the Northern Waste


Locks
by Neil Gaiman

We owe it to each other to tell stories,
A detail from Arthur Rackham's Goldilocks illustrationsas people simply, not as father and daughter.
I tell it to you for the hundredth time:

"There was a little girl, called Goldilocks,
for her hair was long and golden,
and she was walking in the Wood and she saw — "

"— cows." You say it with certainty,
remembering the strayed heifers we saw in the woods

behind the house, last month.

"Well, yes, perhaps she saw cows,
but also she saw a house."

"— a great big house," you tell me.

"No, a little house, all painted, neat and tidy."

"A great big house."

You have the conviction of all two-year-olds.
I wish I had such certitude.

"Ah. Yes. A great big house.
A detail from Arthur Rackham's Goldilocks illustrationsAnd she went in . . ."

I remember, as I tell it, that the locks
Of Southey's heroine had silvered with age.
The Old Woman and the Three Bears . . .
Perhaps they had been golden once, when she was a child.

And now, we are already up to the porridge,
"And it was too— "
"— hot!"
"And it was too— "
— cold!"
And then it was, we chorus, "just right."

The porridge is eaten, the baby's chair is shattered,
Goldilocks goes upstairs, examines beds, and sleeps,
unwisely.

But then the bears return.
Remembering Southey still, I do the voices:
Father Bear's gruff boom scares you, and you delight in it.

When I was a small child and heard the tale,
A detail from Arthur Rackham's Goldilocks illustrationsif I was anyone I was Baby Bear,
my porridge eaten, and my chair destroyed,
my bed inhabited by some strange girl.

You giggle when I do the baby's wail,
"Someone's been eating my prridge, and they've eaten it —"
"All up," you say. A response it is,
Or an amen.

The bears go upstairs hesitantly,
their house now feels desecrated. They realize
what locks are for. They reach the bedroom.

"Someone's been sleeping in my bed."
And here I hesitate, echoes of old jokes,
soft-core cartoons, crude headlines, in my head.

One day your mouth will curl at that line.
A loss of interest, later, innocence.
Innocence; as if it were a commodity.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Katherine Pyle"And if I could," my father wrote to me,
huge as a bear himself, when I was younger,
"I would dower you with experience, without experience."
and I, in my turn, would pass that on to you.
But we make our own mistakes. We sleep
unwisely.
It is our right. It is our madness and our glory.
The repetition echoes down the years.
When your children grow; when your dark locks begin to silver,
when you are an old woman, alone with your three bears,
what will you see? What stories will you tell?

"And then Goldilicks jumped out of the window and she ran —
Goldilocks and Baby Bear by Margaret TarrantTogether, now: "All the way home."

And then you say, "Again. Again. Again."

We owe it to each other to tell stories.
These days my sympathy's with Father Bear.
Before I leave my house I lock the door,
and check each bed and chair on my return.

Again.

Again.

Again.

 

The Snow Princess by Ruth Sanderson

The art above is: "Bear Dance" and "Bear Child" by Susan Seddon Boulet (1941-1997), "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" by Kay Nielsen (1886-1957), "Playing With the North Wind" by Susan Seddon Boutlet, three illustrations for Robert Southey's "Goldilock and the Three Bears" by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), "Goldilocks" illustrations by Katherine Pyle (1863-1938) and Margaret Tarrant (1888-1958), and "The Snow Princess" by Ruth Sanderson.

Publication information: "The Bear's Daughter"  first appeared in the Journal of Mythic Arts and is copyright c 2004 by Theodora Goss, who reserves all rights. "Arktos" first appeared in the Journal of Mythic Arts and is copyright c 2004 by Ari Berk, who reserves all rights. "Locks" first appeared in Silver Birch, Blood Moon (Datlow & Windling, eds.), and was reprinted in the Journal of Mythic Arts; it is copyright c 1999 by Neil Gaiman, who reserves all rights. All poems posted in the Comments thread are the property of their authors, who likewise reserve all rights to them.

Please note:  There are so many responses to this post that Typepad has broken them into two pages. Be sure to click on the "Show More Comments" link at the end of the first page (which is easy to miss) in order to see the lastest poetry additions.

Comments

Not really sure about this one. I've been wrestling with it for a while now, but I thought I'd post it anyway and see what people think.

His Breath stank of seal blood
And blubber.
And caught in his claws
Were clots of torn hair
And nameless gobbets of flesh.

His fur too was discoloured,
More urine than white,
And around his tail
Was a redolent trail
Of amber.

But then he rose up
As wide as the plates
On which continents ride,
And his avalanche roar
Told of those times
When deep sheets of ice,
(kilometres thick),
Carved valleys through rock,
And mountains
Were chiseled to points,
Like fingers
That grasped at the sky.

Sorry didn't leave enough of a gap between my explanation and the poem! Hope it's clear.

This is old, and if I was writing it now it would probably be quite different, but I thought I would leave it here in it's original form.


Covering my Tracks


A moth on my shoulder, golden dust giver,

Doeskin boots leave whispering signatures

that quickly fill with snowflakes,

leaving no trace of my direction.

That's the way it has to be tonight.

Cold solitude, the stars unusual in the sky,

Did you look up?

Did you see something?

Or just stars?


In this place, in snow time,

the shadow dancers come.

I go to dance with them,

swirling up an icestorm that will freeze your eyelashes

and steal your breath,

Their rhythm throbs within my heart,

I am blue blooded,

And vital,

And cold.

I haven't been commenting here lately - time being short these days due to a small child - but I loved the last poetry challenge and will try to support this new one by popping in when I can.

Stuart, this one is vivid and visceral. I like it very much. Very much indeed.

The ending took me by surprise, and grounded the poem for me. That was nicely done.

Bears My Mother Brought With Her

The bears that haunted
Nights and sleep,
The bears that spread
Their skins for warmth
In covered-wagon dreams,
The bears
That kept the dark
Soft-furred and deep,
That left their mark
On trackless dust,
The bears that must
Have haunted trees
And granite hills,
Have spilled
From northern lips
And filled
The bare and bearless
Eucalypts,
And fallen on this thin divide,
Have ranged like cattle in the dusk,
Left stories like a trace of musk,
Carried the frost off like a bride
On broad translucent labouring shoulders,
Lichened like boulders -

And we, who never saw a bear,
We never doubted they were there.

Loved these poems and the ones in the opening.Very strong, especially these lines: "broad translucent labouring shoulders/lichened like boulders"' I am blue blooded/and vital/and cold"; "he rose up/
As wide as the plates/On which continents ride. . ."

My bear poem is in the comment section of January 10 for any who care to scroll back. I may write another bear poem, but no promises.

Jane

The image of tectonic breadth is marvellous!

The poems you included, Terri, and all the others in the comments, compelled me to write a poem this morning, which is something I have not done in a long time.

The Bear Girl

I wonder what it would be like
to be a bear.
All musky fur
and fierce, fumbling paws
with a roar to scrape the stars from the sky.

If I were a bear,
I would run across the snow beneath the moon.
I would not fear the hunter,
That faceless man in heavy boots
who lusts after anything that is small and swift

If I were a bear,
I would be huge and terrible
I would be as black as the sky
And I would run across the snow beneath the moon
singing songs to myself in a voice that cracks ice
and frightens the small things
and the men in their boots.

And when I could run no more
And when the moon had dipped beneath the distant mountains,
Then I would sleep
safe in the musky dark
dreaming of a time when I was a girl who could not run beneath the moon
a girl who was scared and small and silent.

And in that dream-dark den
I would roar with laughter.

Then on the other side of the mountains,
where the snow has melted and the stars are dim
the ground beneath your feet would tremble
and you would not know why.

Pulled me in and rolled me round. Beautiful.

I will add one, since I actually wrote a bear poem last year (it earned me a bit of blue bear art from a friend for my birthday).


I will wear my moon hat
And dance in the shower
And hope someone sends me a forest
Lonely ever after

I will wear my moon hat
And dance with a blue bear
Singing warm and moody songs to one another
We’ll pretend to be without a care

My moon hat shines so softly
White flowers grow on vines twining up my arms and legs
Drinking salt water and turning it sweet
And all the animals dreaming, like to crack my heart

January Seems So Long.

Were I a bear, I would sleep these winters away.
Hide my face beneath a great paw and bury my strength
in gentle fur clad slumbers.
It would be a kind of gladness, this forgetting.
Only I would know the dreams there,
and no weight of world would be on my shoulders.
Bearhood would be a great release.
No need to temper my exuberance at the rain,
or my rages at the wind.
My nightly slumbers seem so short.
A thousand thoughts,
like gnats in spring.
I hurry awake each morning and start swatting.
January seems so long.

Thank you Terri. I needed that.

My father served in the military in Alaska. He told me a story of seeing child killed by a polar bear. Unsure if it was true or not, (He was full of tales) but the image is was imprinted on me very young. Not a bad thing. They should be feared and respected and loved more for it. Thank you.

Loved this one. It spoke to me particularly for some reason. I love the gentle rhyme of it, the fairy tale quality and of course the final two lines feel perfect.

I love the image of someone sending you a forest! What a fantastic thought.

Kathleen, I must add that I followed the link to your blog and have now discovered your beautiful artwork. I'm in love with these foxes and must acquire them for myself: http://www.redbubble.com/people/tanaudel/works/10823364-floral-foxes?p=sticker&SSAID=314743

Terri, thank you for constantly connecting me with all that is lovely in the world.

I really do wish someone would send me a forest.

Great imagery, Shane. And I love the line "No need to temper my Exuberance at the rain,". As an adult I resent the fact that I'm no longer allowed child-like expressions of enthusiasm or, as you say, rages!

I also deeply approve of the idea of being able to hibernate; me and my partner, Clare, often say we'd love to sleep away the winter, only waking for the important celebrations like Solstice and Yule and then sleeping again until Spring.

Here's an old bear poem, "Rose Red and Snow White," also from the Journal of Mythic Arts. I'll paste it in. I may write a new one today, too, but here is this one for today. (http://endicottstudio.typepad.com/poetrylist/rose-red-and-snow-white-by-kim-antieau.html)

Rose Red and Snow White

Skin as white as Virgin snow.

Ice crystals grown from dust motes,

Specks of Earth thrown skyward:

Snow White

Lips as red as pricked blood, first blood,

Unfolding like the Virgin Rose,

Whole in and of herself:

Rose Red

Colors of the Goddess,

Clues this tale is more than it seems.

Aren't they all?

When Le Bête knocks on their door

Mid-winter, matted ice and snow giving him

A Rasti look, the twin goddesses invite

The Wild in,

Serve him tea and comb his fur.

No sign of gold at first blush.

Then what? Did they watch Jack Frost

Breathe on their windows and listen to

Ice crack into wintry art?

Their version of cable.

Today, would they gulp beer, eat chips,

And watch television, the three of them?

Would Le Bête complain about the

Commercialization of all things sacred

As he clutched the remote?

"Let's live off the grid," he'd murmur

While Snow White and Rose Red painted

Their fingernails black as pitch and their lips

Red as a whore's candied tongue.

Goth or harlot?

Or, perhaps before the Bear enters their domain

The sisters are hippie-girls, wandering, modern-like,

Looking for some thing. Hitching rides.

Living off the land. Eating huckleberries plucked

From their core, the juice staining their lips and teeth

Deep purple. Watching the bloody salmon leap,

They wonder why their mouths water, wonder

What it is they have lost.

Why does it ache so much?

So when a man in gold knocks on their door

Mid-winter, they pull him inside, shining him on.

Until they spot the fur beneath the gold.

Le Bête!

They speak in tongues as they

Rip the clothes from him.

He is only a symbol, after all.

The sisters bury their faces in his fur.

When they look down at their own bodies,

They see they have grown Grizzly claws.

They laugh and embrace each other.

The man, speechless, tries to piece his

Gold suit back together. Alone

In the empty cottage, he closes the door.

Outside, the night is wild with beasts.

A wonderful dream of power, Jennifer! Oh for a voice to "...scrape the stars from the sky." Superb!

I didn't think I'd written a bear poem until I read Jessica's poem above and realized we had had the same visitant...


Back Yard

I think it must have been raccoons
that tipped over the jack-o-lantern
the day after I set it out back where I could see its smile
while washing dishes.
They rolled it face down in the grass.
Good-bye, smile.

I thought they would gnaw it to bits
over the next few days,
but nothing happened.

One day, snow topped its orange curve.
The next day, it was mashed flat as a pancake.
I looked at it and thought, “A bear sat on it.”

So now we have a bear in our back yard.
It is invisible,
but it has blue fur.

How, you ask, can I know
that an invisible bear
has blue fur?
Well.
It is, after all, my kitchen window
and my back yard.

Winter Bear slumbers
in a cold white moonlit womb
to birth the summer

My first time posting anything here, Loving reading through all these wonderful poems...Here's my contribution, first draft, just written, probably too soon to show but here goes!


Threshold

When the bear comes to you door,
knocking three times,
with an armoury of oversized, clawed paws,
the stale water from well traversed rivers
dripping from his yellowed fur.
When you see the dark, towering shadow
staring in through the frosted panes,
searching for you with deep wild eyes,
and a howl that disarms you,
a wild cry from your deepest pains and longings.
You know the moment is here.

Instinct tells you to run, nothing you want is here you cry,
leave me, all that I have is delicately placed,
a life of precision. Of things and people
well liked.
And yet some dark speck of curiosity makes you look over your shoulder
a dormant place with you begins to stir,
an ache of a bell tolling at the base of your spine,
an unfurling from the pit of your stomach,
some distant, wary, recognition awaking.

The Bear is swaying now, giant paws in the air
landing with great thumps on your splintered wood door,
enveloped in billows of steam from his own foul breath in the cold night air .
And right there, in the birthplace of your Fear,
bone slivers away from death,
you open the door.

You tell people now, that you felt a warm breeze wash over you,
a soft tugging of the threads that had tied you in,
as you stood in your doorway, trembling legs beneath you,
Bear fur in your outstretched hands
now damp from your own tears.
The Bear had beckoned, as gently as his Beastly ways allowed,
and the embrace was surprising, kind and generous beyond measure.
Sore wounds opened, letting in light,
you travelled to every pole, on every wind.
You could not look upon your life again in the same way,
not after that winter's evening,
any more than you could look at the Bear
all rage, fury and noise
the way you once did.
What seemed so unlovable, so threatening, dark and raw,
was actually Love itself.
Roses and thorns.
Love need not be tamed any more than our true lives.

So when the Bear comes to your door,
knocking three times,
let Love in.


*your* not you, Oh no!

Jane, your poem is haunting me, in the best way possible. Deeply stunning.

So alive Stuart, I could feel this, Love it.

Hi Shane, 'No need to temper my exuberance at the rain', Gosh, wildness incarnate, Love this poem.

This one is based on "East Sun West Moon", as it so resembles a tale my grandmother used to tell.

"Bear-Dreams"

He still sleeps like a bear,
curled and
hot to the touch,
the occasional
shuddering snore
that sounds like
winter trees,
bent down in long bows
under singing ice-rains.

He should like to think
he's dropped that
cedar-spiced bear-skin
along with the bear-tongue,
bear-paws,
and the grumbly bear-sighs,
but this isn't so at all;
as he sleeps so bearishly,
he even dreams bear-dreams.

Sometimes I can still smell
the cedar-spice,
and it always makes me warm.

Wow, Toni, this is beautiful! The imagery is stunning.

So visceral, I can see a painting: Winter bear curled up, warm summer in her stomach, surrounded by soft snow. Gorgeous!

Charming, Margaret! I've never had a bear visit me before, but I have happened upon a mama and her cub while hiking in Virginia... it gave me quite a fright. I love the blue fur.

I love the sense of the mythology of 'bearness' conjured by this.

Thank you Raquel!
I think my poetry for the challenge will probably be a lot of haiku...

wintery dreams

all the world around
smothered in soft silence
dreaming towards the sun
remembering his warmth
a patient memory slowly pulsing
in life's myriad drowsing veins

snow flakes bedew my disshevelled hair
a soft net of glimmering pearls
and the wind
breathes ice ferns
over my restlessness

thus I sleep
until sun's lightly stroking fingers
rouse me again

Banished to heavens
For misdeeds of the mother
There I bear, my soul.
by
Michele Samuels

This shivers true in me - thank you for it.

I love the ending! I love it love it! So important to remember the things *there* one cannot see.

Bears gestate during winter, I think. I love that thought: the bear gestating while herself a gestation.

Yes, they do, Virginia. In the cycle of seasons, we are always birthing and re-birthing our selves.

mmm. lovely.

This is quite the challenge, to write new poems on short order and then to share them without a 'hibernation' period of their own... frightening and exciting, like these bears! Today my Muse latched onto "Snow White, Rose Red",and the relationship of bride to her bear.


The Bear Bridegroom

Oak-dark, he was
Tufted fur sweeping the rafters
Wild breath stirring the flames
Mossy, musty
Claws like river stones
Eyes like pools

Taller than snowdrifts against midwinter woodpiles
And quiet as their shadows
He bore me away
Broad back a rocking cradle
Warm as hearthstones

Now, when we lay together
I do not miss the muzzle
Kissed by rowan-red lips
But long, ever still
To touch, to feel
That impossible softness
Of his vanished pelt
Against my snow-white skin

So many wonderful poems. I am enchanted, inspired.

Tundra Song

I

A candle left burning,
a glass of wine half consumed
and this fur shawl draped

over the mantle,
as she runs out hearing
footsteps, but they're not his --

the lean trapper,
who loved and lavished her skin
with sweet oil before rubbing

his pelts of black seal and elk.
It’s just the shoreline
melting degree by degree,

the pine boughs trampled
by wind hauling its breath.
Everything shimmers.

Ice seeps through the girl
chilling her white bones and throat.
Water swallows hard

and she drowns praying
to the celestial huntress,
the air stark as her plea --

"Come, take my place
and let me take yours,
let me take yours!"

II

Large bodies of snow
sprawl over the mountain's rock --
Winter craves a black sky;

and the long shadow
of moonlight wanders between
untangling her hair

still wet from the sea
as she moves inland to find
kinship with the bears.

Her voice echoes low
dissolving their spell of sleep
and she sings to them --

"Your heart braves all things,
and so will mine
so will mine."
____________________________________
This is an older poem but was originally inspired by Edmund Du Lac's beautiful illustration of a scene from The classic tale, East of The Sun, West of The Moon.
http://leighgillam.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/dulac.jpg ; and also from Slavic folktales,
the haunting spectre of the Ruskla.

Spelling correction, the Slavic mythological figure I am referring to in my end note should be spelled as Rusalka Sorry for the mistake.

Wendy

not really a poet, but thought I'd give it a go!

Callisto.

Shamed by His lust
Changed by Her jealousy
Sent shambling and shaggy into the forest
beyond the olive groves

Rootling amongst sweet onions
I heard a voice I knew.
My lifting heart sang in tune
with the bowstring.

Suddenly spinning,
Cast hard and high into the void
Forever pivoting on the point
of my child's tail

And the star dust sifts
From the thickness of my coat
As I point the way
for the lost ones in the forest.

Kath

These poems are lovely. Okay here is mine:


The Other Mother

I saw that movie
where the girl gets angry at her mother
and finds a witch in the woods
who casts a spell and turns the girl’s mother into a bear
and the little girl has to protect her mother from being killed by hunters.
And I thought, this is the way the world is:
we wish for witches to turn our mothers into monsters
instantly regretting our selfish magics.
In moments of frustration or folly
unable to harness our humanity
we seek to cast animals and Others as enemies,
forgetting
that the things we revile are our best allies,
the people who make us act foolishly are our best teachers,
and those beings that make our hearts quake with terror
are teaching us how to be brave.


Peg Aloi
January 4, 2013

Connie Walkley Shade: this is spur of the moment, but sometimes that works:

Beneath the waxing, January moon
I climb up the branches of my golden apple tree,
lean against the comforting arms,
blink and drink in
the molten moonbeams.
As I fold one hand
over nose and mouth,
feel my snout grow beneath clawed, padded paw,
furry skin replaces smooth.
I follow the rivers of blood
deep down to the center
to where the forest grows
thick and green,
flanking the river.
Here I swipe a paw
at the iridescent flash,
submerge my muzzle
and snatch the rainbow salmon
for my dinner.
I scour the river's edge
for berries, ripe and red and purple,
feast upon these gifts
of wisdom and sweetness,
borrow the honey from the bees' hive,
giving thanks for the bounty I receive.
I return the way I came
following the river upwards
through the heart
of the forest and up again
to where once again
I am sitting in my tree
human once more -
but never the same.

Connie Shade - one more shortie:

"Bear with me," she pleaded.
But he misunderstood.

So succinct , beautiful, and perfect, Conni!

This is a published poem but I think it is the best I can do with bears.
There are other animals but the bears are the most important.

The Bears

I need the bears.
I need the bears with
Weedy thick coats and yellow
Curved claws and long teeth.
I need bears
To circle around my house;
Need them to rear
And roar and leave large prints
Of bear anger and bear heart
Around my house.

I need the deer.
I need their yellow eyes;
Their careful hoof prints
Which could be music on a staff
In snow - the only music
They leave behind, being
Dancers, not singers.

I need the bears and deer.
Jackrabbits, porcupines, coyotes.
I need them around my house
A terrible fight
Comes to my house this winter.
I need some-one to talk to.

Yes! It has all the scent, sound, movement and aura of a bear. Wow!

Oh a lovely dreamlike thing. I hear string music, violins, harps, whispers in the trees.

All about learning to be brave. Bears are good teachers if we follow their lessons.

One can almost smell the cave and hear the snore, and imagine such deep slumber.
Beautiful.

I have always loved Rose Red and Snow White and I thought it wasn't fair only one of
them could marry the bear-prince. This ending is sadder than that. At least for the
prince.

Charming.

What I did on my holidays.

One very sunny day
Mum and Dad and I
went for a walk
and had lots of fun.

When we got home
the back door was open.
Have we been burgled?
Said Dad.

The kitchen was a mess.
Food on the floor and
Food on the wall.
Mum was really upset.

Has anything gone?
Said Dad.
Oh no - my chair is broken!
I said

Quiet as mice
We sneaked up the stairs
and found the burglar
asleep in my bed.

So we ate her.

Me too. I can imagine a Northwestern carving, which I wish I could sketch here. A
curled up smiling bear...

So when the Bear comes to your door,
knocking three time
let Love in.

I shall remember what this means.

I too breath that in...

Beautiful!

Love this! Very sensual.

I've always wondered why this did't happen.

Under the Rose

Our vines twine together still,
roses white as snow and red as blood,
meeting at the top of the door
where the blooms guard hearth and home
from noble princes and wild beasts.
We did not know they are one and the same.

We had safety in silence
until you came knocking at our door
on that cold winter night.
We were secure from both man and beast,
so we let you in
not knowing you were both.

Before that night,
the white rose bloomed,
unmarred by the outside world:
a hot house flower,
innocent petals charmed,
ripe for the picking.

On the dark side of the house,
the red rose grew untrammeled
with prickly thorns and damaged leaves,
but graced with the pungent scent
of remote lands
inhabited by wild bears.

After that night, we shared a secret
under the bramble and bloom.
the decision to liberate you,
remove the beast within,
and free you from the gloaming.

She took you, my golden prince
to live in the summer lands
where the brightness seared away memories
of that wild red rose
snagging deep into the matted coat
for the freedom to prowl dark forests.

“You are an absolute beast” she pipes, playfully swatting me.
And like all beasts, I crave the touch
of a gentle hand, of a soft voice.
She dances and twirls out of my grasp
like a salmon in a cold mountain stream.
Sometimes I think her heart is as cold as winter
and I yearn to bellow and growl in my frustration.
But I know that I will instead recede into the shadows
cast by her smile, bright as winter stars.
I will hibernate there until Spring thaws her heart.

I had originally posted this in the comments of the wrong day!

I loved the final lines. Well done!

I loved the whimsy of this one.

Agreed, it was a very visual image!

Nicely done Toni!

Sabine, I swear I could feel the shivery, sparkly cold when I read this.

Ooh, I love shapeshifter tales! Nicely written!

This one is my favorite so far!

As a Snow Princess, that walks with the Polar Bear.

Feeling the whispers of winter swirls across her cheeks.
Hearing the peace of the land so still.
Knowing her path of Winter Solstice.
For her Inner Peace speaks to her.

As a Snow Princess,that walks with the Polar Bear.

For the Polar Bear walks with Bigness and Strength
With the Fierceness on Old Man Winter.
Along with the Playfulness of a Bear Cub.

As a Snow Princess, that walks with the Polar Bear.

Together they walk on this Earth in the Beauty of Winter.
Allowing for Nature's peace to be with them.
The Princess brings the Wisdom of Nature to Others.
The Wisdom of the Oneness of this World.
The Inner Peace that we are all Connect.

As a Snow Princess,that walks with the Polar Bear.

Written January 14,2014 by Susan Angelo

Beyond gorgeous!

It's a bit late in the day, but it's still a few hours before midnight here in Maryland. Forgive the roughness as this was written just now with no time to let it stew.
___________________________________


Bearskin

Tonight, darkness swells like the tide
as she shrugs on her bearskin,
tugging it close with one rough, ragged claw.
It is dank with disuse and hangs loosely in folds.
Absence has diminished her.
Her steps, once strong strides, stumble
in staccato, for she cannot bear the weight
of long-neglected, potent power.
She voices her frustration
in snuffling snorts and growls.
She has forgotten how to roar.

Rolling in from the Far West, old California, where it is not long past sunset... what a wonderful gathering of bear songs here, a great tribute to that old wild beast! Here's mine, a poem from a story I am working on currently, a Gray Fox Epistle retelling of Snow White and the Orpheus and Eurydice tales combined, with a grizzly thrown in. It seems to work best here as a sort of bear-rambling prose-poem.... and apologies for line break roughness!

The only way into the mountain is by bearlight
the light of a mother grizzly with a baby, tiny as a lupine pod
in her belly, a lantern, a candlestub, just enough light, that spark of a baby,
bear-made, to see your feet, one in front of the next.

A mother bear with a cub just made leads a mother human with a baby just made,
though hers is too small to know yet, and the body will keep its mysteries,
the baby drifting, a coiled light inside his mother, a coiled light that a bear
can see, glowing there just above the pelvis, through all that wool and a blue coat
torn with chamise thorns, a glow in the belly of the woman
who is laying on her back in the manzanita scrub which is the bear's home,
and screaming. She is a widow newly made, a woman with a hollowness and a
piercing grief just sown inside her ribs, a mine shaft and coal hauled out
where a husband, that morning, lay.

The woman, that speckle glowing at her womb, pounds and claws
at the dry ground under the manzanitas, between the stalks of black sage,
begging to be let in, down there where the coal is, where her Edward is buried,
let me see him, dear god, let me see him once more.

The only way into the heart past the coal mines of Mount Diablo
is by bearlight. A grizzly in 1871 in California knows the sound and the taste of grief
and of losing husbands and she, unlike he human people, has pity for beings not her kind.
She takes the woman by the scruff as gently as she would a cub and the woman
already screaming, goes silent, goes soft, looks back at the bear big
as a bed big as a horsecart, golden gray and clawed and lustrous, broader
than even human grief. For one second they are sisters, two glows at their bellies
two hollows in their ribs where mates should be—gunshot, skinned; mine shaft collapse,
coal-dusted. For a second, they are the same.

The only way into the mountain is by bearlight. A woman follows a grizzly bear
paws big and silent through chamise and coulter pine into a crack in the
sandstone. The bear does not tell the woman, cannot, they do not speak the same tongue,
though the candlestub lights in their two bellies know it and hum like sister-stars—
I will lead you to him, but whatever
happens, do not look back.

A grizzly-wife does not ever look back.
A human-wife, she almost always does.

nice poems, i love them...

This is delightful.

Well, I'm a tiny bit late and will have to come back tomorrow to savor all these amazing poems. This was written yesterday, then life got in the way of posting.

The Three Bears

once this had been woods
but now it was paved
the cottage turned to
mini-mart where truckers
and I could buy coffee and
string cheese and too many
candy bars

I had gone in to the use
the bathroom
one of the things that becomes
a problem for those of us
who are all of a sudden
homeless

months or years or lifetimes
ago I had been confused
by the homeless peeing
in the street
it seemed a small thing
to walk in to a fast food joint
use the bathroom
walk out again

now I knew better
and due to the luck
of not having a misfiring mind
I could always find a bathroom

tonight
I curled in the front seat
of the car
bladder empty
decaf leftovers
in the cup holder
my dinner done
the empty candy wrapper
beside me

just behind me
a stream and the
smallest of waterfalls
falling melodically
throughout the night
as I shifted and moved

the driver's seat
as usual too hard
pillows pushed
beneath me
were too soft
until finally
I'd moved just the right way
and fallen asleep

in the dream
three bears stood around me
watching my slumber
while I watched them and
myself in that way that
sometimes happens
when you dream

they looked at one another
and grumbled and murmured
and I understood the male
to say they should make me move
and the smallest was frightened of me
and the female said not to be afraid
they should let me sleep
I was so tired
and had so much farther to go

she had looked at the two others
her mate and her child
and said slowly
her voice a question
we could help her

and they'd been quiet for a moment
and the male shook his head
and the smallest said bravely
papa, can't we at least give her
something
and the female smiled down at her child
and at me

when I woke
with a start to
the man from the minimart
banging on my window
I found a bit of courage
I hadn't known I held

I piled the blankets
on the passenger seat
and turned the key
and starting looking
for the next place
to sleep and dream

I wrote this one last night but before I could post it my eyes gave up!

When I Was A Bear

Before my energies
Wove a human skin
The cover they chose was Fur
Claws, not fingers,
Were appendages of choice
Teeth and jaws
Could rend and savage,
And rip - no niceties or napkins.
Pure clear air...snout to the wind
And raging, roaring freedom

Love this, Kathleen.

Beautiful, Sylvia.

Thank you!

I love that "Lonely ever after" line.

THE BEAR'S DAUGHTER
She walks on two legs, but her feet have claws
Not nails, enough to gut the man who tries
to harm her. She is fair but has dark eyes
whose stare can drown you. In her sleeps she roars

sometimes, her sleeps are long and last whole weeks.
She gluts on food before and wakes up thin.
Awkward for wardrobe. Furs against the skin
draped and not grown there. Loves the thin high shrieks

of small beasts as she flays them. She will eat
them later raw and whole. And pick her teeth.
She wears her father's head; but underneath
is beautiful, men say. In wind and sleet

she dances solitary and alone.
Don't love her – she will chew you to the bone.

I love this -- the longing, the fear, the frustration. I know this feeling. Wonderfully done.

The simpler version...

Rose-red

I left the prince to Snow-white.
She’s always been better at household affairs.
But the bear suit is mine,
And when winter comes,
With its cold
I will finally be able to sleep.

Hah! That blue bear gets around a bit.

It was an odd season.

The wild geese threaded the sky through
the equinox's needle
the sugar maples burned upon the hill.

The bear came walking down the road
through the middle of town.
My neighbor saw him,
said he looked like he was going somewhere
not quite in a hurry.

Everybody stopped to watch.
Couldn't get out of the way fast enough
and then there wasn't any need
because the bear kept walking
didn't look right or left.
Somebody grabbed a gun from their truck
and somebody else told him to put it away and not be a damn fool.

He left holes in the road
shaped like bear tracks.
In another place they should have filled with turquoise
but here they were red clay and an inch of clear gray water.

The tracks ran past my neighbor's garden.
She planted wild lupine around them
which never does too well on clay.
These grew all right. Maybe that was the miracle.

For the rest of us
we didn't talk about it much
it was one more odd thing
in a season already filled with them.

Well, I had other things to write today but the first line hit me in the grocery store and demanded that I finish it once I got home. Normally I let things I write sit and simmer, but you are getting this one raw. Thank you for the inspiration (and permission) to break out of my routine on a cold winter's day.

-----------------------------------
You would not know, to look at him
But my Daddy is a bear!
He gets grouchy in the winter times
And his chin sprouts lots of hair.

And when he finally snuggles down,
Beneath the covers in his lair,
I hear him growl and snort and snarl.
I dare not venture near.

You would not know, to look at him
But my Daddy is a bear!
His big, and strong, and hairy,
And he’s got a wicked glare.

And when he gets real mad at me,
Oh! Everyone beware!
He will roar to shake the treetops.
And it gives me quite a scare.

No, you would not know, to look at him
But my Daddy is a bear.
He soft and squishy in the middle,
Like a comfy worn out chair.

His hugs are the best thing ever,
When they lift me in the air.
And nobody will mess with me,
Cause my Daddy is a bear.

Kallisto

Could I have known?
You never looked at me like that
Not quite like that
Your eyes could burn too
I thought you were teasing
Remember
When first I followed you
Deep into the wildwood
Your eyes burned
When you touched me
I flared like a blazing star
When you touched me
And called me most beautiful
I would have kept my promise
Contained in a god's love
But he took your likeness
Before he took me
His fire left me ashes
And he laughed at my shame

Grief-laden, shaggy, slow
I was already in exile
Before you banished me
If ever you cared for me
Save us
From the curse of your father's wife
My cub is your brother
He has your love of the wildwood
Shares your joy in the hunt
But he forgets his mother
Sees only the lumbering prey
In his desire to slay
The great beast of the forest
Though never again will I be yours
Let me keep the name you gave me
Kallisto, most beautiful

I love the pictures, and the poems (and some great ones in the comments too) shook the creative bit of me awake, so here is a quick, and unpolished go.


Ice Bear

When you imagine me, don't make me soft
Try hardened by hard life
Try immense and muscled and hungry
Try claws to skin you, teeth to rip and tear


When you imagine me, don't make me white
Try ebony skin and a trick of the light
Try translucent and glowing and sleek with the ice
Try yellowed and gritted and desperate with the thaw


When you imagine me, don't make me friendly
Try scheming and plotting and calculating
Try blood-lusting, crushing
Try killing to survive


And when you imagine me, don't make me love you
Oh, I may hunger for you, but it's not love.

BEAR BUDDHISM

That sentence "I am afraid of nothing"
has double meaning. May the bear appear
again, his brown slow searching on our lawn.
... But, maybe, NO!. Let there be all grass and trees
here in this world's middle
where Nothing's something is a welcome bear.

BEAR BUDDHISM

That sentence "I am afraid of nothing"
has double meaning. May the bear appear
again, his brown slow searching on our lawn.
... But, maybe, NO!. Let there be all grass and trees
here in this world's middle
where Nothing's something is a welcome bear.

I love these, so many wonderful images are wrought by these beautiful words. Here is a very quick one just written ( I'm catching up, our internet is a bit flighty here!), an answer to Shane's lovely "January is too Long", from an Aussie who doesn't get much of a winter (though I think that may have changed with our house move!)


If I were a bear, I would sleep the SUMMERS away,
A contrary bear, unlike my kin
Who find a place to hide from snow and ice.
I would be a blue-furred bear, glacier-wise,
Not made for summer heat,
The long oppressive days that sap my strength and keep me half asleep.
If I were a bear, I would wake as the first chill tickled my nose, and
Turned my breath to cloud.
I would forget summer.
I would forget summer, and
Live always with snow beneath my feet.

It's a painting and a story and a whisper of memory from deep within our psyches - beautiful, Kathleen!

oh dear, I am late to the party, blank bears in my hibernating mind - but here's a silly tickle that rolled out:

I knew a burly bear, barely there, barley bear
biding by his barrel fair, cozy in the brewing

smiling at his sleepy bees, golden keys, buzzing zzzs
sipping amber balm in teas, licking up the dewing

outside wind a jousting lance, snowflake dance, icy trance
bearly-lidded eyes, askance, waiting for the trueing

wrapped in furs, with pipe and bowl,
smoke-rings fragrant leap from coal
honey aired in barmy cream,
silent drowse in winter dream

Lovely.
The musical references make me think of the beautiful Cavalli opera "La Calisto." I took 'bowstring' in both meanings. : )

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