A Meeting of Five Strangers

8개월 전

A Meeting of Five Strangers

a scene in mixed verse

by @d-pend


A Meeting of Five Strangers


       What stilted assembly is this
       in dark locale obscured from sense?
       New-sent forth upon the haunches
       of that skittish nether muse-steed
       who into pregnant mire launches
       mortals sick with apprehension
       to the bitter moor-stalk's sap
       that curl'd affect, anguished tension
       might unfurl and soft disperse.

       With harsh alkalinic remedy,
       ferment-swirlèd bee-lush symphony—
       what brings this midnight sentinel
       with camphorous touch
       to this dun niche of strangers met?

       O unseen Guide, may my pen glide
       as high as pinions mine may soar
       to view from vantage such companions
       motley-crewed in stygian moor.

       Humbly do I beckon, calm reposed,
       judgement eschewed—
       aloft the air in matters bare
       though knowing not the name, what care?

       The five that speak and share unnamed
       within this verse, though unproclaimed
       take up parade-tail, trotting still, fear not.

       For life full kens its own sweet mare,
       though all our quillings lack its title:
       still we take, O my dear reader,
       up the seat and up the bridle!

       Now speak Sage, so I no more
       with clumsy speech will bore
       your precious eyes that read on page
       or ears that hear this joy and rage.

Five Strangers sit in a half-circle;
all around is total darkness
save an iron lantern between them.


The Sage:

       "I shall give an invocation brief
       in rambling words, a minute's thief
       while ponder we this place we sit.
       So for a space, fears may unknit.

       If I eschew the rules of grammar,
       orderly verse, mense-silk-sick hammer—
       forgive my stiff, decrepit age
       for I am naught but a humble sage."


Sage's Invocation:

       "Living is but a leapfrog turnstile
       to turn the while:
       the bane of fair trajectory,
       to beguile fate's face
       with conversant murmurings not heard
       but seen to play upon ill humor's strings
       in the guise of quick-redd'ning or pallidified favors
       that throw eldritch tones upon the breeze
       with each respective grimace rung
       in registers too rare for ear to seize upon
       who's long-attuned to earthsong sung.

       An ill-assembled smattering of wits
       dashed abstract in daubs of dye,
       the all expansive whims of preference
       which ever revolve celestial houses
       in the castled firmament:
       switch harsh locales for more propitious skies
       to build their starry armament.

       May diamond wit and webbèd heart
       bejewel mind-net and seize the toad:
       Insight your shield, discernment's sword
       will usher you 'long winding road.

       Not the measuring of one specific ray
       but their compounding whole, prolific day
       whose body breath to ours must give:
       and so, just so, in truth we ever live."

With darkened countenance
and a scowl the Dismal replies.

The Dismal:

       "These may be sage, bewitching words
       or folly cursed, or pure absurd;
       but tell me, what's the import
       of this chaos all-entangled?

       Have I not through contemplation, noise,
       peace, strife, sport, and ploys,
       unabashed epicury in rounds extemporaneous
       shown that same nature-ennobling deference
       as ocelous stem of glade to fiery hounds
       of wildfire bares its nape that they may seize upon
       its tender neck to turn all life to ashen urn?

       Have I not considered, rejected, recovered, renounced
       in the smithing of a soul-circlet drawn from awareness-ore
       the weight and levity of the moment's grasping
       to be further smelted by each successive pawstep?
       Was I not a proper meek doe to the slaughterous intent
       of the world's leonine maw? Even, lo,
       as lion communes with inverted pyre
       of cobra of emerald Thoth,
       who with mesmerizing eye
       strikes rainbow batrachian of whim
       in grisly embrace, she with him,
       both torn, unto their cosmic cradles fly
       and thus bereft of vigor—die."

Swayed not by this morbidity,
speaks the Celebrant with a smile.

The Celebrant:

       "In merriment and song repose,
       unroll a bed of lushest rose!
       And for our weary here
       bring mead, and meat, and meal in rows!

       Dwell not on such vexation,
       life has abundance enough to sate.
       Stronger souls than yours have fall'n
       To the mendicant—false ingrate!

       See the loft of midday cloud,
       whispering morning that precedes her,
       decked with dew, ambrosial shroud
       keep all that would impede her.

       Gaze upon fair creatures
       who against all odds arise,
       and raise their shining countenance
       with mistborn fiery eyes.

       Feel the silent music
       of the temperate and the cold,
       each sun its beauty hums
       for willing spirits to behold!"

At the mention of winter
the Griever starts, forlorn.

The Griever:

       "Yet every note intoned by fire is alone,
       the heart is rent in twain
       by privacy of thought and feeling thrown:
       all love is in vain.

       And if ten thousand years could I
       be with my dearest friend—
       what of the million more, apart,
       which we must needs append?"

The Sage's knowing grin
suddenly widens.

The Sage:

       "Ha! But what is this?
       A gathering passing dull.
       Unstop the flask, resound the chime,
       that half-filled may be full!

       Time to speak and space to think
       and womb in which to sleep:
       simple charms upon the blink
       pass life through cumbrous deep.

       Such a clump of strangers met
       in this eclectic hall
       methinks occasion rare enough
       to throw some sort of ball!"

With flitting eyes
the Fearul replies.

The Fearful:

       "What sort of dance? For seems I sense
       a pall descending 'pon me.
       All this speech of sundry sort
       inscribes de'il-trace along me."

The Dismal interjects.

The Dismal:

       "Of some of you I'd sure expect
       a nobler urge than this.
       To revel? Sure, the Celebrant,
       but Sage, too, rambling thus?

       For seven decades have I strode
       o'er plied and rocky turf,
       to view primordial stone erode
       by cruel, insistent surf.

       What balm's in song, and rhyme, and fare
       befitting kings and queens,
       that seals the skin to deathly wave
       which ever-harsh, demeans?

       More fools are they that hope
       upon mere trinkets and delights
       than this sad Fearful here
       that every turn of chance indicts."

The Celebrant speaks,
with fond-sad look.

The Celebrant:

       "Ah Sage, sweet friend, ah Dismal too!
       I pity naught but all you
       who refuse to widen warm orb-path
       before your pulsing step
       and sink into such aging wrath
       as hellish reaper yearly brings
       with keenest blade before all springs
       unleash their glow on slumberous Earth.

       Shall you, upon a Saturn-bended knee
       with grave affect and hunchèd posture yield
       to brief, impassive chill of hoary field?
       Nay, but hold! With your ecstatic soul
       that March may find you whole.

       No fear is there, nor deep despair
       can sink the warmèd shoal
       of joy full-wed—
       fed by sun
       for wading arms to live life well
       afloat the seas bright-dun
       from morning-bell to twilit knell
       yea still hold! With your ecstatic soul
       that Spring the next, and next e'er new
       with light unrued may find you whole."


The Narrator:

       And saying their parts, the party all fell mute
       and glanced from each to each, forsooth,
       I've never heard such silence deep:
       a vacuum, soul to steep.

       And after one thought-lush eternity
       from Sage's throat erupted such
       a mirthly sound as none could match
       and ere they all knew, caught such laughter
       in their auric spheres that even Dismal Fear
       could not resist.

       Captured in sweet glee
       the place lit up, revealing golden beams
       and cherubim with ruby goblets,
       sapphire rounds, and plenteous host
       to share their joys and join with them
       at bounteous feast.

       And looking round, astonished found
       their comrades not unknown,
       but friends long-lost to sultry cost
       of sorrow's taxing moan.

       Then who could speak what tenderness,
       what tears of understanding,
       what sunbeamed smile followed
       that clear gaze of apprehending?

       Perhaps a defter pen than mine
       could all these joys expound,
       held not in throes of brightest chime
       with which these halls resound.


moreblurred-dandelion 2.jpeg

. . . . .
Writing and images
By @d-pend
March 24, 2019
. . . . .



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What a joyous piece @d-pend,

Of all the 5 Celebrant speaks last and announces the obvious.

Silence to them all. Listen to the grass.

I enjoy the role of the apologetic role of the narrator and each of the five friends in rhyme.

They are all twitterpated .



Dan ... an Epic in every sense of the word.

I will have to re-read it a dozen times.


How long did this take? It is absolutely brilliant.

As soon as I hit post on this comment, I'm going to drop the link in the Power House Creatives Discord Channel. Then, I'm going to drop the link in a bunch of people's DM's, especially the ones who are connected to Curation groups. Then, I'm going to link it on Twitter.

People Who Are Not Poets ... I know this poem is a little dense to read the first time through, but that's the Art Form. I am a poet and I'm telling you, this was BRILLIANT. There are VERY FEW poets who could have pulled this off.

WHALES ... turn this in to a $1,000 Post.

Everyone ... upvote it at 100%.


@jaynie @bluemist @theycallmedan @nathanmars @mariusfebruary



My friend... if this were rap, you'd be my hype-man. I'm so appreciative of you passing this piece along... and as always humbled that you think it's good enough to do so. This is my first stab at the "epic poem" tradition so beautifully preserved by countless poets... it is rather short in comparison with many of the great works that inspired it, such as Keats' Endymion, Shakespeare's plays, Chaucer's works, etc. But, one must start somewhere!

It took about a week to work on, though the bulk was written in a couple of hours. I spent a LONG time revising, especially in the first third of the piece where the rhythm is quite jarring... sort of akin to the awkwardness of conversation among strangers before they get into a flow.

I appreciate your #peoplewhoarenotpoets disclaimer—in fact, I think poetry is somewhat taxing to read even for poets! A language perpendicular to the ordinary: of the same world, but viewed in such a way that things appear alien. Whether writing or reading it, poetry demands something of the attention that prose does not.

Again, I can't think you enough for the support, and I hope you've been well since I've been away from Steemit!




Massively impressed.


Greetings, @d-pend
After such a long absence, it was only befitting that you came up with something this long and deep.
I have to comment on the images first. I like your photographic experiments. The first two I love. I think the first one fuzzily illustrates what I felt about the poem and all these incarnations. The second one produces a juxtaposing sense of simplicity and complexity that epitomizes the extremes in tension here, we find ourselves somewhere in the middle.

I must confess the first reference or image that came to my mind was a rather tricial one: Sheldon Cooper in that episode of the Big Bang Theory where he faces at least 5 personalities and session to decide whether to grant admission to a 6th Sheldon (layback Sheldon).

I think that there is a connection there, but I don't have much time left to elaborate on that.
The second reference or image is a more classic one :)
Chaucer's Cantembury Tales
In the same way Chaucer's characters represent parts of the same society with all its corruption and virtues (although the virtues are hard to find in Chaucer's sharp satire), I see these 5 strangers as part of a whole that got fragmented along the way

friends long-lost to sultry cost
of sorrow's taxing moan.

More challenging than your poetry it must be for every one of us to get all our fragments together in such merry and healing conversation.



Chaucer's Cantembury Tales
In the same way Chaucer's characters represent parts of the same society with all its corruption and virtues (although the virtues are hard to find in Chaucer's sharp satire), I see these 5 strangers as part of a whole that got fragmented along the way ...

Canterbury Tales ... That was my thought too.



That is just b-r-i-l-l-i-a-n-t. I am not fond of poetry, I confess. I only read it if I'm compelled to, like I did when I studied literature. As far as possible, I eschewed it in favour of fiction, largely because I love the worlds of fiction but in the main because my response to poetry was not that which my teachers wanted. Except, I hasten to add, The Bard's Sonnets and a bit of Chaucer and Spencer; I did also enjoy Homer - but that was as a translation. So, I find my self again compelled to read poetry our mutual friend @quillfire. Whom, of course, none dare defy, let alone reject.

I digress.

I love the ebb and flow of emotion through each character. Each so identifiable in our lives and in ourselves. Makes me think I should spend more time reading poetry.



I am not fond of poetry, I confess. I only read it if I'm compelled to ... Except, I hasten to add, The Bard's Sonnets and a bit of Chaucer and Spencer; I did also enjoy Homer ...

You bring up a point that Dan and I have frequently discussed. Many people say something similar: "I don't like poetry ... but I love THAT poem."

My contention is that what people are really saying is, "I like good poetry, but I dislike the bad stuff ... which seems to be most of it."

Think about it. You're a writer of prose. And, you LOVE great prose. But, you are also well aware that there's a LOT of terrible prose out there. But, because we live in a sea of prose, you had no choice but to learn a fundamental lesson: There's bad prose, good prose and great prose. The existence of one does not negate the other.

With prose writing, there is a multi-billion dollar industry dedicated to curation, the separation of the good from the bad. But if you didn't know about this process, and simply read every book on the Best Seller's List, you be inclined to say, "All writing is good ... I LOVE writing." But, in reality, you actually dislike "most writing" ... but you know if you dig deep enough, you'll uncover the gems. And so you dig.

As children, we all LOVE poetry (nursery rhymes) and there's a reason why. All the poetry to which we are exposed to as children is "Verse:" Patterned meter; rhythm; and rhyme. And this matters. Upon detection of a pattern, our brains secrete dopamine which is, amongst others things, the neurochemical responsible for the Anticipation of Reward. The reason we "Like" certain patterns is because our brains also secreted the actual rewards: Opioids and endocannibinoids ... the active ingredients in morphine and marijuana. Yaba-daba-doo.

In the early 1900's, Art changed ... including poetry. The "powers that be" moved away from "form" (patterns) to "formlessness" (patternlessness). Abstract and surreal visual paintings and, in poetry, the introduction of "Free Verse:" No meter, rhythm and rhyme. The "patterns of poetry" disappeared and so did the dopamine, opioids and endocannibinoids that came with it.

These "poets" became professors and started teaching subseuent generations of poets that form not only didn't matter, it was actually something to be frowned upon: "Form is a prison of your expression." And, of course, given the ever-self-centric nature of the "Post-Modern" ideology (the ideology was not just artistic, it was also political, cultural and economic), the only thing that mattered was the artist's freedom to express.

Screw the audience.

Predictably, the advent of Free Verse as the dominant style of poetry perfectly correlates with the plummeting in the number of people who say they "like poetry."

"Never-mind," the Left Wing professors argued, "poetry is only for the 'intellectually elite' amongst us ... those of us, for example, who can grasp why having green hair is a good idea."

The situation has become so bad that the type of poetry I write has been demoted to a sub-category referred to as "New Formalism." But I write like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Shelley, Coleridge and Byron. How the Hell can you call that "New?" And, they've reduced "Formal" (form) to a "style peculiarity" as opposed the foundation upon which the entire f#&!ing Art Form, called poetry, was constructed over a period of millennia!

To be fair, good Free Verse (a very small percentage of the swill that utilizes that moniker) DOES create a neurologically-based "Artistic Effect," something that Dan and I have discussed on numerous occasions (Dan writes all types of poetry, including Free Verse).

Here's my theory about what's going on:

In Verse, the basic "Artistic Effect" is created when the aforementioned neurochemicals force-multiply an idea, ideal or insight, figuratively creating a "silk purse out of a sow's ear" and turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Moreover, well-crafted Verse triggers "insight" which, given the neurology involved, makes it feel self-personal. We'll call this game between poet and audience, "Five Card Stud."

Good Free Verse achieves an Artistic Effect entirely different that Verse ... because it's entirely a different game, one we'll call "Texas Hold 'Em." This game is more akin to deciphering a riddle ... like solving a crossword puzzle. The obscurity so prevalent in Free Verse has to be decoded by the reader and when they are successful ... Eureka ... an insight, and all the dopamine, opioids and endocannibinoids that comes with it.

Both are games that achieve a distinctive neurological effect that we call 'Art." But, just like Five Card Stud and Texas Hold 'Em, they are very different games ... despite the fact that both are forms of poker, played with 52 card decks. The games of "Verse" and "Free Verse" both use non-prosaic word construction to communicate metaphorical messages.

Over the past couple of months, Dan has been experimenting combining the "best of both worlds." It required dialing back a bit on the obscurity of Free Verse, as Verse does constrain what and how a thing can be said, but in exchange for the neurological potency that comes from the increased patterning of language (Verse).

This poem, an epic in length, and plot-wise reminiscent of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, manage to combine both styles masterfully. And hence, my peeing-in-my-pants-like reaction.

I KNOW how hard this was to write.




There I am thinking that I have too much to say...

if you ... simply read every book on the Best Seller's List, you be inclined to say, "All writing is good ... I LOVE writing."

Nope. I have read some bestsellers that are appallingly written. Why? Well it has to do with my love of the "worlds" (not words as I mistakenly typed), and where the storyline or plot is enough. Especially when I need something to take my mind off things. I also find myself enjoying and then giving up authors who write series or lots of similar books. One example is Gerald Seymour who writes political thrillers. I love thrillers. His books are generally well researched (one was set here) but his characters are flat. It's only the plot that develops and after a few novels, predictable, so they are boring and only good as work-travel companions. IMHO. Not so with South African author, Deon Meyer who writes crime thrillers. He has a central character who has feet of clay and demons. Interwoven with the plot, this makes for not just riveting reading, but so much so, that I will reread them. Oh, and another thing: he writes in Afrikaans. The translations are excellent and neither lose the idiom of that language nor have the klunk so often associated with translations.

On patterns: exactly. That is also what characterises religious language, which when first "invented" was mostly poetry. Especially liturgies and songs (hymns). The rhythm and cadence don't just have mnemonic functions. I am sure I don't need to elaborate.

Your allusion to poets (and also some "literary" authors being (now) professors reminds me of (a) previous conversation(s) we have had about how academe seems to have become a new "normal" or "standard" and that it is neither, with eccentric intellectualism bordering on lunacy. I think that academe is less, now (and particularly in the liberal arts), about the genuine pursuit of knowledge than it is about ego and self-aggrandisement. The more obscure, the more profound. Not.

I am reminded of that old cliché: those who can't, teach.

And generally don't have a pedagogical bone in their bodies.

I KNOW how hard this was to write.

I know you do. All writing, when its message is carefully considered, is hard. Poetry more so, especially if it's formal verse like this and which you write.




Dan ... as you can see, Fiona is a phenomenal writer as well. Smart cookie too. And PHC.




As I keep on saying, flattery gets you everywhere....

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That is just b-r-i-l-l-i-a-n-t. I am not fond of poetry, I confess. I only read it if I'm compelled to, like I did when I studied literature. As far as possible, I eschewed it in favour of fiction, largely because I love the words of fiction but in the main because my response to poetry was not that which my teachers wanted.

You know, I was never overly fond of poetry either, at least until college. It only became meaningful to me when I began to write it myself. Even now, if I want to read something for pleasure, I prefer reading prose. When I have extra energy and am feeling gung-ho—that's when I pull out the poets. I probably enjoy poetry written in dramatic form the most: Chaucer, Shakespeare, etc. I am still not that widely read on the acclaimed poets, which I look forward to rectifying, gradually.

I love the ebb and flow of emotion through each character. Each so identifiable in our lives and in ourselves. Makes me think I should spend more time reading poetry.

This is the first time I've written from explicitly varied viewpoints. I quite enjoyed it and think it made the piece a bit more digestible than when I try to compress myriad views into a few short lines, which can come off a bit schizophrenic. Definitely filing this approach away under "worthy of further exploration!"

I appreciate your candid comments and readership!



Definitely filing this approach away under "worthy of further exploration!"

Good. I look forward to the results of such exploration.

I appreciate your candid comments and readership!

You are welcome and I hope to be welcome in future.


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Thank you @quillfire for alerting me to this masterpiece!! I'm with him ... HOLY COW!! this is amazing @d-pend!! I'm going to re-read it several more times tonight because I know I missed plenty on my first go through. Kind of at a loss for words too ...

Gladly resteemed, and I'm passing this on to c-squared as well. Truly outstanding :)


Hi @lynncoyle1! Thank you so much for reading this piece! This is the first poem of this length/type that I've written and I'm humbled that you find it good enough to re-read :-) I appreciate you passing it along too!

In gratitude,


The pleasure was all mine @d-pend :)


Ha! I started reading it and immediately thought of @quillfire!


Right?!?! :)

I love this:

If I eschew the rules of grammar,
orderly verse, mense-silk-sick hammer—
forgive my stiff, decrepit age
for I am naught but a humble sage."

The entire poem is worthy of praise. I tip my hat. Awesome verses, and worthy of the blockchain's attention.


Thanks for dropping a part that you liked. It helps a lot with a piece of such length... not quite knowing where I may have struck out, or struck gold. I'm so happy that you enjoyed it and took the time to read through.



Block, me too. Gorgeousness.

Dan, Block's a poet too. And PHC.



I am totally, irrevocably wowed beyond wows.

And saying their parts, the party all fell mute
and glanced from each to each, forsooth,
I've never heard such silence deep:
a vacuum, soul to steep.

Yes! Yes! I am speechless and delighted and overwhelmed with this!! How, when and where did you write this?

Upped and Steemed




Denise, Dan's literary talents are astonishing. He is truly a poet's poet. This is an Epic ... worthy of being studied by all aspirants of the Art.

Dan, Denise too is a poet. And PHC.



I took it home with me. Because I had to. This is truly Epic and I am stunned by it. Oh, Quill yours always stun me, don't be shy!

This was so brilliant, I almost wished he hadn't shared it here, but, sent it in somewhere... It is that inspiring.

Oh, he is a poet and PHC, which I recognized. so I resteemed him so others could enjoy him and left his on the top of my page, so it would be first to be seen. I hope it does.

And Wow.

Very few post work such as this here on the chain. Brilliantly thought out and expressed. I will have to read this a few times in order to fully immerse my self in it. The true appreciation will come when all that was there for me to see is realized. I hope there is more to come!!?? My mind is hungry for it :-D

Magnificent, grandiloquent and so truthful. There is so much joy in sharing and so much heaven to see and yet most of the time we wallow on the floor of wailing.

A hug infinite, @d-pend!

This is beautiful, and as much as I hate to admit it, I didn't actually read the whole thing. The beginning, however is so awesome that I will spend the next several hours lamenting the fact that I no longer have leisure time to read as I once did.

Please continue writing epic poetry. I WILL get back to this and read it in its entirety.


Wow, I must say it's been a really long time by all means, I'd like to ask, are this written separately like in epistles or is it like stanzas, because they're long for a regular stanza?


Hey @josediccus! Good to hear from you. Hope things are going well. Actually, this piece started with the The Sage's Invocation, The Dismal's rebuttal, and the Celebrant's first reply. The next day, I decided to expand it by adding a Narrator at the beginning, and it gradually became what you see here.

It is quite long compared to what I normally write. I think my biggest inspiration writing this piece was Keats' "Endymion" and Shakespeare's many plays. Of course, "Paradise Lost" is always in the back of my mind with regards to epic poetry, as well. Thanks for stopping by!


Love your poetry!
It pulled me right in and left me with the feelings of rejoicing of long lost friends!
Thanks for sharing!

@d-pend this literally blew me away.

And how I love this line from the Celebrant, especially after playing the part of the Dismal in my life today:

Dwell not on such vexation,
life has abundance enough to sate.



Thanks much @joeylim! We play so many roles... isn't it surreal how quick the mood of life can shift? I appreciate the support!


I never expected to see this when coming over to visit. @d-pend when did you first write this piece? Enjoyed
@steenitbloggers #powerhousecreatives


Hi @rebeccabe! I started working on it 9 days ago, or so. The bulk of it was written in a couple of hours, but the editing/amending process took quite a bit more. Thank you for reading it :-)

This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.
@c-squared runs a community witness. Please consider using one of your witness votes on us here


@quillfire called me over. I started reading and realised that at 6am, I shan't do it justice. Coming back to do what I already sense is excellent, when my brain has engaged...

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That's really good...


Thank you very much!!

Beautiful work, I'll need to read it a few times over the weekend. 🙏 Bless you.

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The imagery you chose really speaks and paints the picture. Thanks @d-pend


I appreciate that you think so @enjoywithtroy! Have a great one.

I'll be honest...my English is by far too bad/limited to fully appreciate your writing... but I do really love the abstract pictures!


Hey, no problem. I always try to add a little eye candy along with the cumbrous verses :-D

Thanks for checking it out.

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