How to Read a Poem

as a new poet
I once asked
an old poet
a tenured poet
a published poet
an experienced poet

how should I read your poems?

one answer in common
every way you can


What Remains

brought back from oblivion’s brink by your
attention, by your passion, that furtive
motion of your lips, tongue, kissing these words,
reciting lines of what was long ago
written preparatory to the poet’s
fall from life into some mystery deeper,
more unfathomable than our best minds
have yet elucidated  .  .  .  perhaps,

unless death for us is what it seems, just
the passing of life forever into
oblivion’s cold reach, only these lines
and some recycled energies, carbon
compounds and water spilt back into earth
remains by the first law of thermodynamics . . .

David M Pitchford
8 Nov 2011

New Ambitions

1000 Poems

So yesterday I was out walking
around town thinking of whatever
came to mind. It took a while for me
to get out of a highly (deeply?) negative
headspace, me being in the redzone
on self-esteem. I tried to convince myself
of several things, but eventually it just
turned into a pondering of how many poems
I’ve written. I have lost or destroyed many.
So, instead of trying to count my poems, which
seemed a dry and tedious task of little reward,
I decided instead to begin on a journey
of a thousand poems and see whence it takes me.

Slow start so far – only a few verses today so far.
The rules are pretty simple:

  1. write 1000 poems
  2. blog one a day – whichever, doesn’t matter
  3. quality is not a consideration IN THE LEAST!
  4. this is strictly about production (like in NaNoWriMo)
  5. stay focused!!!!!!!!
  6. save EVERYTHING
  7. plan a reward/celebration

start writing . . . GO

these childish scrawls that blacken
these pages’ white purity
what’s more, in ink, they seem
errant strokes: chisel ‘gainst stone
scripture defiled by error

and I feed you all unwilling, Titivillus!
surely by now these words
have sealed for eternity
my condo in Tartarus . . .

David M Pitchford
11 Sept 2011


Caution to Readers

My heart knows of despair,
my mind keenly perceives tragedy.
Lines I write speak of these many
black moments, these desolations.
And yet the light in my eyes remains,
for they recognize as well each silver
lining, each lesson to learn of failure,
each hope concealed in shadow:

it is the heart’s purpose to pump blood
out into the world, to bleed into life,
and it is also the heart’s purpose to pump
blood from the world into the flesh
that the flesh might recover, might heal,
might retain its ruddy resilience.

David M Pitchford
17 April 2009

Lamia’s Tale

Herbert James Draper, \"Lamia\", 1909

Courtesan’s Confession

You brought me here a slave, though I was

a noblewoman in my own land, a fairer land

crowned with mountains and without that stench,

constant reek of fish and brine. Whore for a king—

but far too wise, thus sold as courtesan, no common

whore, but whore nonetheless. And you wonder

at my audacity to despise both king and man? Fools

have no use for a woman of intelligence, a learnéd

whore who can carry conversation as well as water

and the faint heart of a political pedant.

Your physician with his golden needle

pierced the soft mechanism of my fertile

womb, and made me a eunuch whore . . . What then

did you think I would do? Robbed of my self,

robbed of immortality, I cried out

to my goddess, supplicating for life

and vengeance. She heard, oh yes, and cried loud

and long within me even as my own

tears stained the satin settee you thought might

please me. I was never pleased! Your wine-stench

and olive-slick skin repulsed me always!

I learned of your wife, mother of your child,

and listened at Symposium for fear

in your strange tales; naming myself Lamia,

I took the serpent’s way into your wife’s

rooms with poisons of my own. She suffered

little for your transgression—I took mercy

on other victims—but your infant son

shed his flesh for the dish I serve you this

night to celebrate your final birthday!

David M Pitchford
9 June 2008

Picture: “The Lamia” by Herbert James Draper, 1909

This is sort of a mishmash of Greek mythology. It is based on the tales of Lamia, and mixed with similar tales of vengeance and such. Apparently, there were multiple archetypes of prostitutes in ancient Greece—one for pleasure only (pornae) both freelance and pimped, and one for pleasure and companionship (hetaera) more comparable to courtesans and often educated. Hope you enjoy the poem.

Red Love

Modigliani\'s \"Red Nude\"

Today I Love You Best in Red

Once lover to the moon alone, younger,

I wrote poems to golden shades and longed

to be Endymion. We danced in youth

and beauty as though life, time, and hunger

held no sway. We drank and sang, and we wronged

neither each other nor others, and Truth

was our gospel, covenant in verse—rhyme

ticked, clicked, licked our wounds over life and time.


Now youth grudgingly leaves us to wiser

age—as though wisdom were consolation—

and what once was firm, now time’s gravity

pulls from flight to ground. And now we miser

moments between, horde our burning passion

as though it might burn out. Naïveté

was such comfort . . . Jaded love seems sallow

contrasted to young love—though it’s shallow.


Today is all. Today, I love you best in red

and blue, in front or back, on the couch or in bed!

Forever have we loved. This moment, all is said

and done; in this moment, you seduce and we wed.

David M Pitchford
30 May 2008

Picture: “Red Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani, 1917

This is kind of an experiment. I’m working with Ottava Rima with a quatrain chaser. Does it work? What works best? Does the rhythm break down anywhere? Where?

Ardently seeking feedback. Thanks 😉

Weary on a mind quest « Poetmeister …on the road to Parnassus

Weary on a mind quest « Poetmeister …on the road to Parnassus

Another of my surf-by sonnets.

God’s Bitter Angel Answers


You who rose from dust to life, breath of God

in skin-prison bottled, do you question

His supreme plan? Does your veneration

fall so short of glory, that you would nod

your head and pray mere words? Would He be God

could He not answer? Yet your hymn’s less sung

in worship than in dark desperation—

dissonant in choral dread of the Rod.


Is He not Love? Does Love punish only?

Take heart, little wren, grasp faith in your heart

and know that Love is you, that you are love—

His breath and heartbeat are yours; these lonely

hours are but reflection upon His Art

as it grows within each, to bless thereof!