Today’s response to MURI’S 2020 CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like the 2019 challenge, this consists of 13 prompts, one for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April. They can be completed in any order.  If you are interested in participating, click on the above link for the prompts and posting guidelines.

Prompt #6 is “Write a quatern about new leaves.”

Quaterns are my poetic nemesis.  The first line wends its way through the poem, making an appearance in every stanza.  Hasn’t it heard it’s supposed to stay in its own stanza throughout quarantine and “social distance” from neighboring ones?  When a quatern is done well, the repeating line doesn’t call attention to itself; it blends unobtrusively into the scenery and gobsmacks the reader when he gets to the end.  Like a perp suddenly realizing that an unmarked car has been tailing
him for blocks…  How did he not see it coming?


The speed at which new leaves unfurl
captivates like a magic trick
Sun-warmed branches thin and thick
adorn themselves with nubby pearls

Who else but Nature could predict
the speed at which new leaves unfurl,
caressing careworn bark and burl?
Or grasp their shady arithmetic?

Where yesterday were pregnant sticks
today green hands sport veins and whorls
The speed at which new leaves unfurl!
They wave to the wind like lunatics

In frenzied breeze, they dip and twirl
A fresher place one could not pick
to read or nap or just reflect
on the speed at which new leaves unfurl

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    • Just Joan April 13, 2020 / 8:53 am

      Thanks, Judy. I think the title is just as important as the poem itself. One of my writing teachers said the title should add another layer to the poem, not merely echo words already in it. My limited outings include walking the dog every afternoon. I observe the trees, he pees on them. 🙂


  1. murisopsis April 13, 2020 / 12:24 am

    Beautifully accomplished! I have trouble with sestinas… They usually make me stutter! It is so nice to know that other people have issues with some forms (though to read this I would have never guessed since it is so smooth)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 13, 2020 / 8:47 am

      Thanks, Muri. I spent a lot of time on this one. Rhyme isn’t required in a quatern, but it’s a fun addition. Sestinas are easier if you choose end words that are both nouns and verbs, so you can use it either way. This genius sestina (not mine) won a prize in the Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest last year: 🙂


  2. Carol April 13, 2020 / 2:33 am

    Hi Joan,

    A masterful unfurl in your quatern!
    I was just thinking about how pear petals unpetal…all over my dining room table…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 13, 2020 / 9:01 am

      Thanks, Carol. Always nice to hear from you. I’m guessing Tower Group has stopped meeting? A shame that when we need poetry the most, we can’t gather and share it. Your pear tree has already blossomed and is “snowing” on the table? LOL. My indoor tree is a lime–very leafy and thorny but no blossoms or fruit in all the years I’ve had it. 🙂


  3. Vanessa Valeros Calapano April 13, 2020 / 3:43 am

    By the way, this is my first time to visit your blog. I am a new blogger and I hope you can support me. Just recently, I made a challenge to myself to visit at least 10 blogs in a day and during my visit, I will leave comments. At the same time, I will have you link posted on my blog. Hope you can visit and check it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 13, 2020 / 9:13 am

      Your blog is pretty and well put-together. Thanks for the link. I blog-hopped a lot at first. It’s fun but kind of hit and miss. Hope you find a “core” of bloggers that you connect with. 🙂


  4. Tippy Gnu April 13, 2020 / 9:42 am

    This poem helps get me into a spring fever mood. It really is amazing how fast the world comes alive, from the dead branches of winter to the greenery of spring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 13, 2020 / 10:14 am

      Thanks, Tippy. Spring has sprung around here, leafy green, grassy green, every shade of green. The color of hope and renewal, just what we need right now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lyart April 13, 2020 / 12:24 pm

    That was nice. And nicely done with the, what was it called, quatern? Ha, learned something new!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 13, 2020 / 2:38 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, Lyart. Quaterns are pretty rule-free, except for the repeated line having to occupy a particular position in the subsequent stanzas. I thought I couldn’t write poetry at first. It required stretching some new muscles, but now I do it quite a lot. Maybe your creative outlet is gardening or photography or appreciating the art in museums and nature–you’re good at all of them. You’d probably be good at poetry too, if you tried. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • lyart April 14, 2020 / 6:05 am

        maybe some time. Nowadays one can’t really say “when I have more time”, as we have loads of it. But right now I retreated to knitting socks. Poetry might come…

        Liked by 1 person

      • circumstance227 April 17, 2020 / 2:36 pm

        Don’t let Ly’s modesty fool you, 42. She is an excellent creative writer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan April 17, 2020 / 4:51 pm

        I always enjoy reading her adventures, whether they involve breaking a spade or knitting socks. 🙂


    • Just Joan April 17, 2020 / 4:52 pm

      Of all the poems I’ve done so far for the NPM Challenge, this is the one I was most pleased with. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Chevvy April 21, 2020 / 11:09 am

    Beautiful showcase of how spring literally springs upon us and you’ve painted that picture very well. Interestingly, I can see is similar unravelling in the way our current global situation is unravelling

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 21, 2020 / 12:50 pm

      Thanks. This poem is my favorite so far. With the need to get out of the house and limited places to go, the outdoors has become a second home. Spring is leafing out, making everything green. Flowers are blooming. Grass is growing. There is hope. The COVID and economic situation around the globe is dismal. We can’t hunker in our bunkers forever, but I think it’s still too soon to stop self-isolating. We need to slow this virus down. When we get going again, it will need to be done slowly, and we’ll have to run things differently than before. Change is good, and finally, people are open to it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chevvy April 21, 2020 / 4:13 pm

        Indeed, a sensible approach. In the meanwhile, enjoy the freedom you have to pay homage to nature’s bounty!


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