SHAD HAPPENS

My WordPress buddy Murisopsis has issued another CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like last year’s, it 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 rules for posting.

Prompt #1 is “Use the following words in a poem – fish, hands, lips.”  Luckily for me, I had a Haiku-sized fish story.  We moved in October to a house near Lake Erie, a short jaunt from Nickel Plate Beach.  We often walk our dogs down there.  A few weeks ago, we were met by an eerie sight, one that got me to wondering, in light of the current plague, if the signs from Revelation might be in progress.  Folks who have lived here their whole lives and are intimately familiar with the life cycle and behavior of shad, enjoyed a hearty guffaw at my expense.  I met the prompt’s requirements by slipping in a homophone.  Listen; it’s there.

NOT THE END

Thousands of beached fish!
Apocalypse?  Old hands laugh,
happens every spring

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THEY REAL UN-COOL

Gwendolyn Brooks classic We Real Cool has been sitting in my “to be parodied” file for ages.  I love the cleverness of her poem–the clipped rhymes, the unusual line breaks, the repetition of the pronoun–but it defies satirization.  Is that even a word?  At last, a reasonable facsimile has coalesced.  The “they” falls off the map at the end, but somehow,
it seems fitting… poetically just.  Initially, I was drawn to this colorful COVID-19 map.  Looking at it today, however, I feel compelled to do a thorough Tupperware check before I put out the trash.

STABLE GENIUS & CO

They real tools.  They
damn fools.  They

cried hoax.  They
duped folks.  They

ignored docs.  They
spread pox.  Now

too late.  Up
to Fate.

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NOTHING BETTER TO DO

Hello out there!  I’ve been in a bubble since we put our house on the market last summer.  It sold and we moved.  To northern Ohio, to be closer to our families.  (A bit ironic considering the current situation, huh?)  We survived the “unpacking cardboard boxes” stage and were just starting to venture out–meet the neighbors, join the gym, find my niche in the local poetry scene–and BOOM!  Now, like people all over the country, we are ‘social distancing.’  Rather than spending my days obsessing over Coronavirus graphs in the NY Times or watching idiots on Facebook lick shopping cart handles, I summoned the Muses and wrote a poem.

NEW NORMAL

No cure, no vaccine
means self-quarantine
Awkward new routines
Like elbow bump – ing
Six feet in between
Coughing into your sleeve
Doing good “hand hygiene”
Home-brewed caffeine
Home-cooked cuisine
School on a screen
Sermons live-streamed
More masks than Halloween
Morons hoarding TP
while others use leaves
or old magazines
Meanwhile, on TV
Trump pours gasoline
on the fire, more worried
‘bout the damned economy
than keeping you and me
safe from COVID-19

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ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS

This week, a flawless organic California avocado is $2.89 at our local grocery.  They are out of season now, so prices will get worse before they get better.  I buy an avocado every week, regardless of the cost; they are essential to my happiness.  Last year, when Kroger put them
on sale for $1.00 each, I raced over to get some, visions of guacamole dancing in my head:

AVOCADO
a parody of Edgar Allan Poe’s Eldorado

I browse a while
In the produce aisles
Wheeling up and down rows
Hot on the trail
Of a massive sale
On my favorite, avocados

Where fleshy fruits
In dark green suits
Should have lain in neat rows
To my chagrin
Is an empty bin:
SOLD OUT of avocados

A stockboy’s near
So I bend his ear
Will there be more tomorrow?
He hurries back,
His handcart stacked
With crates of avocados

Over the mountain,
Over the moon,
I feel like I’ve won the Lotto!
At a buck apiece,
I’ll feast all week
On my stash of avocados

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ONE LOVE POEM, MANY FORMS

In honor of Valentine’s Day, my poetry group did a writing exercise wherein each person contributed a phrase about the source of love.
A few days after the meeting, our fearless leader Steve arranged
the phrases (verbatim) into a poem which he sent to us via email:

They say that love is never lost, so why can’t I find it?
Love comes from love
Innate, hard-wired unless over-written by Fortune or Fate
a cookie pan
Love–divine–like birds, always there, even in winter
When in the midst of pouring rain, a smile warms the day

He challenged us to re-work it if we wished.  Woo-hoo!  A batch of free verse phrases crying out for structure, a form…  This sounds like a job for JustJoan!  But what form would I use?  Which one would do justice to this wide variety of ideas and images?  Naturally occurring rhymes were scarce, so I began with syllabic forms: eintou, cinquain, haiku, and diminished hexaverse.  I figured I’d hit on the right one sooner or later.
I got lucky on my first try, but kept on going.  Perhaps one of the other forms would work better.  What I found, to my surprise, is that they all worked.  Emboldened, I decided to try a couple forms with rhyme and refrain:  lai and rondelet.  With a few synonyms and a touch of creative license, these also worked.  I added an acrostic for good measure.  You guessed it, it worked.  I’d always believed that words suggested their own poetic form, but maybe verse in search of an outlet finds one in whatever form it is offered.  Without further ado, poems about love:

Eintou Septet
7 lines
Syllables 2 / 4 / 6 / 8 / 6 / 4 / 2

LOVE IS
constant
like winter birds
warm smiles on rainy days
divine, innate, subject to Fate
never lost, hard to find
on cookie pans
from love

 

Cinquain
5 lines,
Syllables 2 / 4 / 6 / 8 / 2

LOVE
Warm smiles
Birds in winter
Never lost, hard to find
Divine, Innate, on cookie pans
From Love

 

Haiku
3 lines
Syllables 5 / 7 / 5

HAIKU
Love is never lost
Found in smiles, birds, gods, the self
and on cookie pans

 

Diminished Hexaverse
5 stanzas, first stanza has 5 lines, each 5 syllables, second has 4 lines, each 4 syllables, third has 3 lines, each 3 syllables, fourth has 2 lines, each 2 syllables, fifth has 1 line, 1 syllable

LOVE

Around and within
Like birds, always there
even in winter
A smile that warms us
on a rainy day

Innate, and yet
subject to Fate
The divine yield
of cookie pans

Never lost
but sometimes
hard to find

Love is
born of

Love

 

Lai
9 lines with rhyme scheme a / a / b / a / a / b / a / a / b.
a lines have 5 syllables, b lines have 2 syllables

LOVE IS
The Divine revealed
Within us concealed
Innate
A cookie pan’s yield
A pouring-rain-shield
Smile-shaped
A Lost-Found ordeal
A spin of the wheel
of Fate

 

Rondelet
7 lines with rhyme/refrain scheme A / b / A / a / b / b / A.
Refrain (A) is 4 syllables, all other lines are 8 syllables, all lines written in dimeter

SOURCE OF LOVE
Love comes from love
and warming smiles on rainy days
Love comes from love
and cookie pans, and God above
Within us all, subject to Fate
It’s never lost but just misplaced
Love comes from love

 

Acrostic
The first letters of each line spell something related to the poem

LOVE
They say that love is never lost so
How come I can’t find it?
Even in winter it is there, like birds
Smiles that warm us in the midst
Of pouring rain. Divine. Innate.
Unless overwritten by Fortune or Fate
Really, it is borne on cookie pans
Chocolate Chip Love, Oatmeal Love
Ephemeral and yet, everlasting

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RUNNING ON EMPTY

Did you ever have one of those days when everything runs out at the same time?  It starts small, say, squeezing the final splurt of shampoo from the upside-down bottle.  (The conditioner will be fine; Universal Law dictates that the conditioner will never run out on the same day
as the shampoo.)  You lather up using a sliver of soap.  Grab the last Q-tip.  Force the final unwilling blob of toothpaste from the anorexic tube.  The depressurized remains of the styling mousse comes out in
a puddle instead of a lump.  You whisk the last kleenex from the box, dump the crummy, bottom-of-the-barrel kibbles into the dog’s dish, and resort to scraping the mayo jar with a spatula.  The spotty brown banana you were saving for lunch has gone missing.  The kitchen light bulb blows out.  You pour your coffee directly into the cream carton and swish it around to get the last little bit.  Your prescription needs
to be refilled.  You have two bills to mail and only one stamp.  As you update your to-do list, your pen runs out of ink…

I’ve condensed this phenomenon into a LIRA.  As you may recall, a Lira is a five-line poem with syllabic rules (7-11-7-7-11) as well as a scheme of rhyme and refrain (a-B-a-b-B).

WHAT’S IT GONNA BE?

Empty toilet paper core
A running-out day is what it’s gonna be
No clean socks in my top drawer
Two-crust sandwich, car on “E”
A running-out day is what it’s gonna be

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BEHIND THE CLOSET DOORS

Welcome to the Land of Unfinished Projects!  Partially strung beads, half-baked Christmas ornaments, mostly empty sketchbooks, scrap books and photo albums.  Two tattered duvet covers waiting to be patchworked into one usable one, a file box of semi-sorted medical papers, the “One-Year Bible” I got five years ago, its bookmark still wedged somewhere in Genesis.  I suspect the Road to Hell passes through this closet, albeit an unpaved section, flanked by stacks of perfectly good intentions the construction workers haven’t gotten around to laying yet.

Years ago, I started crocheting an afghan with “found” skeins of yarn from a failed sweater project.  When the “afghan” reached the size of
a super-long, super-fat scarf, I realized I’d need more yarn in order to finish it.  JoAnn’s had long since discontinued that brand and carried nothing with a similar blend of wool and acrylic.  Not to worry, folks, I found it on E-Bay:  36 brand new skeins at a price I couldn’t pass up.  The package arrived and I dived in with gusto, diligently adding a few rows every night.  Until summer came and it got too hot to work on it.
I bought an XL Tote at Dollar General, put the afghan and remaining yarn in it, and shoved it in the closet.  I unearthed it during my recent decluttering spree.  It was below zero, perfect weather to snuggle up under the wooly beast and get my crochet hook moving again.

The poem below is a LIRA.

STALLED PROJECT

Thirty skeins of bargain yarn
tucked away in a box on a closet shelf
for an afghan, thick and warm
one that won’t crochet itself
tucked away in a box on a closet shelf

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POEMS FOR WINTER SOLSTICE

LANTURNE seems the right form for this week; lantern-shaped verse to feed our longing for light as the days grow ever shorter.  A Lanturne has five lines, with a syllable count of 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 1.  Line 1 is a noun; line 5 is a synonym or metaphor of the noun.  According to some sources, the middle lines should describe the noun; others allow more carefree use of the syllables.

 

 

PICK ONE

Dime
smaller
than nickel
in Grandpa’s hand
Trick

 

THERAPY

Dog
Nosey
Attentive
Empathetic
Shrink

 

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TYGERS AND BOOGERS, OH MY!

I was cleaning out my Word files this week and I found a booger.  Well, not a literal one, but a poem about one I started and never finished.  It was back in the winter when my obsession with a particularly stubborn nasal stowaway apparently crisscrossed with my parody-writing phase.  With my sincerest apologies to William Blake for (again!*) desecrating his masterpiece, Tyger Tyger, I present:

BOOGER, BOOGER

Booger, Booger, hanging tight,
whistling in my nose all night
What mere mortal strategy
could challenge thy tenacity?

Beneath what distant septal shelf
dare thee to affix thyself,
clinging like a stalactite
although I blow with all my might?

In what winding turbinate
dost thou manage to evade
random gusts of high-speed breeze
generated when I sneeze?

In what cranny, high and dry
liest thou in smug safety
above the wet and wild onslaught
of saline from my Neti pot?

When the gauntlet I threw down
and probed my finger all around
How didst thou wriggle or retreat
and deftly outmaneuver it?

Booger, Booger, hanging tight,
to thee I shall concede the fight
for what mere mortal strategy
could challenge thy tenacity?

*My first parody was entitled LEGOS, LEGOS

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LOOPHOLE IN DARWIN’S THEORY

My husband calls these little guys primordial bugs because they look ancient, but how such daft, clumsy creatures could have survived for eons is a mystery to me.  They sneak into the house with the single-mindedness of a deprived dieter attacking a frozen cheesecake, but once inside, they completely lose sight of their agenda, so I’ve never been able to figure out what their end game is.  Far as I can tell, they bumble around aimlessly and crash into things, or plant themselves directly in harm’s way and wait for disaster to strike.  Their mortality rate is 100%, minus the ones I capture and deport back to the Great Outdoors.  (Unless they make it back inside, which they’re probably trying to do at this very moment…)  Survival of the Dim-witted-est?

INVASION OF THE STINK BUGS
(Ghazal)

On autumn’s cusp descend the hated stink bugs
Google calls them brown marmorated stink bugs

Keen to enter, they slink around screens and wait
for windows to be opened, motivated stink bugs

Others breach the threshold in my laundry basket
affixed to socks and towels, calculating stink bugs

and fall victim to heat-finishing; discovered in the
dryer lint screen, corpses of dessicated stink bugs

Most zoom around aimlessly, surviving headfirst
collisions… bumbling, uncoordinated stink bugs

only to perish in the toilet bowl, beneath a shoe,
at the paw of a torturous cat, ill-fated stink bugs

One daring fellow lands on my toast, legs mired in
citrus flypaper, an orange marmaladed stink bug

The lucky ones succumb to old age, lying on their
backs on the tile, pathetic, leg-waving stink bugs

What is the purpose of these pungent Kamikazes?
Explain to me, please, why God created stink bugs

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