The Tectonics of Grief

The first time I encountered a duplex was in an Ethical ELA challenge back in May. They linked to a Poetry Foundation post that described the process of writing a duplex as: “Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines.” What?! I immediately cried “Uncle.”

Then, this month Margaret Simon suggested that for our monthly challenge we should write duplex poems. I maybe groaned out loud. I was decidedly daunted. But now, I had to at least try.

So, I puzzled out the basics. Seven couplets, each with 9-11 syllables was doable. I could also echo my initial line in my final line. But then there’s an expectation that the meaning or impression shifts from certain lines to others. (If you’re interested in the specifics of that, you can go here.) I’ll admit that that was the part I was still fiddling with when the deadline arrived.

The Tectonics of Grief

Grief–a seismic change, colossal shift
familiar landscape ever altered.

Altered landscape becomes familiar.
Under my feet, fractured terrain settles. 

I settle for this fractured terrain with
slivers of  beauty ‘midst ravaged crevasses.

Ravaged crevasses etched in my reflection–
a puzzle of tracks and foundational cracks. 

I puzzle over cracks and artifacts,
looking for edges, connecting jagged pieces.

Pieces connect unexpectedly. I edge
forward, stumble with aftershocks,

recreating my past, stumbling forward until…
grief–a seismic change, colossal shift.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. She’s sharing a wonderful interview with Carole Boston Weatherford about her new YA novel in verse about Marilyn Monroe, entitled “Beauty Mark.” What an enticing sneak peek!

To see what the other Swaggers did with this duplex challenge, check out their sites:
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

(Note:I’m unable to figure out to how to format the duplex with the new wordpress editor–Please use your imagination and pretend the 2nd, 4th, and 6th stanzas are indented!)

28 thoughts on “The Tectonics of Grief

  1. Linda Mitchell says:

    Morning, Molly. I really like how your duplex circles back at the end to finish with that beautiful first line. I too was a bit stumped on the duplex idea. It’s tough! But, the concept of grief being part of our tectonics…what a great way “in.” I really like the puzzle of tacks couplet….it is such a puzzle to figure out how to walk through grief.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. margaretsmn says:

    Grief is something we all carry in different ways. You’ve captured the seismic shift of it in your poem. I’m moved and awed. Thanks for taking the challenge and using your whole heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s so much craft in this, the internal rhymes that are magnified by the repetition, and yet you maintain the puzzling, unexpected, unsettling shifts that grief makes in daily life. The emotion is all there. I feel like our two Duplexes (Duplices?) are siblings…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fran Haley says:

    It seems an extraordinary challenge, Molly – but how beautifully you capture the essence and effects of grief. To link it to tectonics – so powerful, so true. I love the echo, the flow, the slide from stanza to stanza. So many lines are exquisite – like these:

    I settle for this fractured terrain with
    slivers of beauty ‘midst ravaged crevasses.

    Ravaged crevasses etched in my reflection–
    a puzzle of tracks and foundational cracks.

    -but I think my favorite line is this simple one: “Pieces connect unexpectedly.” We so want them to, for the relief and sense-making this provide – yet sometimes it’s more jarring, still.

    Thank you for this incredible offering,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, Molly, you definitely were successful with this duplex form and with expressing the overwhelming emotion of grief in such a moving (on multiple levels) way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love your pandemic poetry! Another volume to be published in 2021! “slivers of beauty ‘midst ravaged crevasses” Without those slivers of hope, what chance do we have?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lindabaie says:

    Well, it seems to me that you nailed it, Molly. Everyone certainly will connect with personal grief, yet I read this with a universal reflection. It is 2020 we grieve over. “I puzzle over cracks and artifacts,/looking for edges, connecting jagged pieces.” (I don’t have WordPress, but if you place the cursor at the beginning of the line, then press enter, THEN try to indent, it should work. It does with other platforms for me.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Unfortunately, there are way too many opportunities for grief these days—on a universal and personal level. Also, thanks for the tip about indenting. I’ll try that next time. Formatting can be so frustrating!

      Like

  8. Tabatha says:

    I like how the movement of your poem makes me feel as though I, as a reader, am standing on shaky ground. You picked a good topic to make the most of this form!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. […] Hogan at Nix the Comfort ZoneLinda Mitchell at A Word EdgewiseHeidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little UniverseMargaret Simon at […]

    Like

  10. cvarsalona says:

    A daunting task, indeed. I am still trying to wrap my head around all of the regulations to follow but you seemed to grasp the structure well. Molly, this is a wonderful poem that matches science to literary writing and hitting upon serious points in the process of grief.
    Pieces connect unexpectedly. I edge
    forward, stumble with aftershocks,
    I can relate to this couplet.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hooray for even attempting this challenge! Your subject matter called to me and I felt your insights …. thank you for writing and sharing a most difficult poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. maryleehahn says:

    Your offerings are all so varied! I’ve looked at this form and cried Uncle, so I’m super impressed that you stuck with it and made it work. Your poem is filled with truths about grieving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Mary Lee. I definitely wouldn’t have tried this without Margaret’s challenge. It’s a doozy of a form and it feels like it’s particularly tough to pick a topic that works well within its frame.

      Like

  13. macrush53 says:

    These lines: Ravaged crevasses etched in my reflection–
    a puzzle of tracks and foundational cracks.

    I must try this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. laurashovan222 says:

    The first and last stanzas jumped out at me, Molly. We had a significant loss in the family this summer and are still “stumbling forward.” Thank you for this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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