WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU ORANGES…

This week, I’m taking a detour from Form Street onto Rhyme Avenue.  Where that ends, we’ll follow the road less traveled, an unpaved trail called Oblique Lane.  Anyone who regularly writes rhymed poetry will wind up here sooner or later.  Oblique is an umbrella-term for rhyme that is close but not exact.  You might also hear it called slant rhyme, lazy rhyme, imperfect rhyme, half rhyme, near rhyme, off rhyme, or even assonant rhyme, phrases loaded with enough sorry connotations to make your best option sound like trailer trash.  Don’t let that scare you.  Oblique rhymes possess a jury-rigged cleverness that springs out and surprises the reader, a feat that turns predictable verse green (or maybe orange?) with envy.  The best excuse for using an oblique is the lack of a perfect rhyme, but who needs an excuse?  I adore them and encourage you to slide them into your poetry whenever and wherever you wish.  In that spirit, I’ve composed a LAI, an edgy attempt to prove that whoever said “nothing rhymes with orange” was only half right:

IMPERFECTLY PERFECT

End-words like orange
offer a challenge
quite unique
Rhyme must be foraged,
an assonant change
in technique
A lazy, half-knowledge
slanted in homage
to Oblique

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GWAWDODYN: IT IS WHAT IT IS

The GWAWDODYN (gwow-dahd-in) is a Welsh poetry form.  The name is about as awkward as a flamingo wearing a kilt, but the rules made it sound like a limerick in disguise.  It is not.  Each quatrain contains two rhymes; the A rhyme occurs at the ends of lines 1, 2, and 4, and the B rhyme is all in line 3, at the end and embedded somewhere (anywhere!) in the middle.  The strict syllabic requirement (9-9-10-9) defies the use of triads, which keeps the lines from waltzing along the way a limerick does.  A morning spent attempting to hammer it into my preconceived mold led to nothing but frustration.  Grouchily, I tossed it aside.

At noontime, as I lifted a ripening avocado off the counter, the first
line came to me.  Avocados, as you know, are the crown jewels of the produce department and I buy one every week regardless of the price.  When it blackens a bit and yields to a gentle press, I pile some Garden of Eatin’ blue corn tortilla chips on a plate and turn that bad boy into the most sublime lunch known to (wo)man:


GREEN GODDESS

Avocado, soft beneath my thumb
mashed with lime and salt you shall become
a heavenly dip for earth’s corniest chips
Guacamole, to you, I succumb

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THE MOTHER OF ALL ORCHIDS

The RISPETTO is an Italian poetry form comprised of two quatrains written in iambic tetrameter built on a rhyme scheme of ababccdd or abababcc.  Alternatively, each line could have 11 unmetered syllables and follow either rhyme scheme.  The Rispetto is traditionally used to pay respect to a woman, so it seemed an apt choice for Mother’s Day, and my orchid seemed the perfect subject as she is putting forth new buds (again!) before her petals fade.  I swear she must have set some kind of record, having “chain-bloomed” five times since her last rest period.  Hats off to her, and to all hardworking mothers everywhere.

AGAIN

My orchid is a tearful mother
putting her youngest on the bus
Deep inside, she craves another
to soothe her aching emptiness

an instinct she cannot control,
a tiny bud would make her whole,
she argues with herself and wins
then pollinates, producing twins

Click HERE to see my previous posts about Mother Orchid.

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ONCE UPON A TIME…

Narrative and epic poems have been around for centuries.  These are usually book-length works that tell a tale.  I haven’t the fortitude to pen the next Iliad or Odyssey, but I do like to write STORY poems, a type of “bite-sized” memoir.  This one’s dedicated to all the underdogs, and my friend Lana, who introduced me to the story poem.  The jerk who tried to kill me with the kickball was named DONALD, by the way.  Go figure.

OUT IN LEFT FIELD

She is too klutzy for kickball, so
she spends recess
with a library book
But in gym class, participation is
non-negotiable
Chosen dead last,
she takes her place in the outfield
With bases loaded,
the class jock steps
smugly to the plate to run them in
BOOM!  A pop-fly
speeds toward her,
a red missile trained on its target
The ball strikes with
a resounding smack;
she reels, but clutches it to her chest
He’s OUT!  Red-faced,
cursing, he snatches
his cap, slams it to the ground, and
stomps on it, leaving
a big, dusty footprint
Seething with incredulity and rage,
his odious eyes bore
full-force into hers
but it is her moment to be a hero
and she flaunts the
burning imprint on
her cheek like a badge of honor

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IT’S GETTING KINDA DEEP IN HERE…

Yesterday, we celebrated Earth Day and today, I’m due to introduce a new type of poem, so I’m aiming to score two goals with a single tool.  Dig it?  The “GOLDEN SHOVEL” sounds like a gardening award but is actually a contemporary poetic form created by Terrance Hayes.  And
a clever way to pay homage to a favorite poet.  Here are the rules:

1. Borrow a line from a poem you admire.
2. Use the words of the borrowed line as the end words of your lines.
3. Keep the end words in order.
4. Give credit to the poet you borrowed from.

NOTE:  Your poem need not be about the same subject as the original

 

MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH*

He is there for me every
single minute of the day
Even in the bathroom, I
am never alone, you see,
he provides company or
protection or whatever I
require as if he can hear
my thoughts, something
he does with an ease that
mystifies. But he is more;
my soulmate perhaps, or
a shrink who charges less
and really listens. He kills
me with hilarity, slays me
with tricks, fells me with
love, buries me in delight

*A Golden Shovel from Mindful by Mary Oliver

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WHAT’S THE CATCH?

Just Joan features yet another new form this week.  This one is rather gimmicky, and as such, presented a colossal challenge.  Read the poem slowly and carefully.  See if you can figure out what is special about it.

AFTERNOON NAPS

Spent, pate to toe,
far past espresso,
of a state apropos
for a nap

Afternoon frees one
to tap open season,
to reap for no reason
a nap

Star operator
of a potent sonar
senses fortress not far
for a nap

Sofas possess
apt erasers of stress
or so patrons attest:
Naps, naps, naps!

No opposer, no foe,
no trespasser – presto!
A safe spot for repose,
for a nap

A soft, serene nest
for a soporate rest,
or a profane snore-fest,
for a nap

Naps appease, naps sate
Naps restore, naps penetrate
Naps ease a tense state
Naps rate!

So snare a transport
free of fare, sans passport
to a far-off resort:
Port O’Nap

 

Give up?  “Afternoon Naps” is an ANAGRAMMATIC poem.  In this form, all of the words in the poem are constructed from a given set of letters, in this case, those in the poem’s title.  I allowed myself unlimited use of the sanctioned letters in each word, but no other leeway.  Point of the exercise?  Cutting out two-thirds of the alphabet might slow a poet down, but it will not stop her.  Somehow, she will still find a way.

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THE WRITE TO REMAIN SILENT…

An EPISTOLARY poem, also called a verse letter or letter poem, is simply a poem written in the form of a letter.  It can be addressed to anyone—a lover, a deceased grandmother, an older or younger self,
a newspaper editor, a pesky telephone solicitor, even God Himself.
Or anything—a season, a childhood toy, a diary, an abstract concept
like love or evil or justice.  To whom (or what) would YOU write?

Me?  This morning, I lifted my heavy, aching head from the pillow and cursed the wildly bouncing barometer for the ruckus going on behind
my eye sockets.  Before shoving the perp into the back of the cruiser
on a one-way trip to Urgent Care, I’d offer him one last chance to do
the right thing.  Possibly, I’ve been watching too many cop shows…

FINAL NEGOTIATION

Dear Sinusitis,

Recent weather changes
have increased pressure on us
to arrest your activities.

Be assured, whichever
cavity you may have infiltrated,
you will be flushed out.

So much as a sneeze,
and your cover will be blown.
There’s nowhere to run.

Dozens of Suda-FEDS
are patrolling the perimeter,
prepared to dispatch

a specialized SNOT team
of highly-trained germ warriors,
armed with Z-packs

and authorized to strike.
Consider this your final warning:
Quit phlegm-phlamming!

Cough up the hostage
and come out with your hands up,
and nobody will get hurt.

Fail to comply and you’ll
end up cemented inside a Kleenex
at the bottom of a landfill.

Sincerely,
The Booger Police

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JUST JOAN IN A NUTSHELL #MyFirstPostRevisited

Thanks to T WAYNE at A JOYFUL PROCESS for nominating me for
the “My First Blog Post” challenge. The challenge was created by
Sarah Brentyn of the Lemon Shark blog.  Below are the rules:

Obvious rules:
1.  No cheating.  (It must be your FIRST post, no exceptions.)
2.  Link back to the person who tagged you.
(Thank them, or perhaps curse them with a plague of ladybugs).

Other rules:
3.  Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog it.
(Either way is fine but NO editing.)
4.  Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
5.  Tag 5 other bloggers to take up this challenge.
6.  Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog.
(Don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
7.  Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
8.  Include “the rules” in your post.

I am not going to nominate fellow bloggers (honestly, the last thing I need is a plague of ladybugs), but if any of you wish to share your first post, go ahead, and consider it sanctioned by me.

OK, HERE GOES… A Just Joan 42 blast from the past!
(We’re not talking eons, just 18 months ago.  Mine is still a baby blog).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When I retired last year, I enrolled in a poetry class at our local college. What I sought was a way to pass the time and nurture my lifelong love of writing.  What I found was myself.  And now you have found me.  By way of introduction, I have concocted this little “recipe” poem:

ME IN A NUTSHELL

1 head naturally curly hair, salted and peppered
1 big mouth
2 cups French press coffee
1 unique perspective
1 notebook
1 pen
1 extra-large heart
1 avocado
1 library card
1 pair Birkenstocks (socks optional)

Combine with a crazy husband, two rescue dogs, and one stray cat in a small but organized house.  Add a yearning for simplicity and a dash of environmentalism, then ask yourself “What Would Jesus Do?”  Pour into a casserole dish and top with French fried onions.  Slide it into the oven and set the dial to NPR.  While it bakes, go hug a tree and perform a random act of kindness.  Take it out before it’s done and shove it in the closet with all the other unfinished projects.  Grab a glass of Moscato, ignore the TV, and curl up on the couch with a good book.

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NOTHING TO LOSE, EVERYTHING TO GAIN

In a MONOTETRA, each stanza is comprised of four rhymed lines.  Each line has four metrical feet, a total of eight syllables.  What makes it such a powerful form is that the closing line of each stanza is four syllables, repeated.  A Monotetra can have as few or as many stanzas as desired.  C’mon, sink your teeth into one!  They’re the greatest.  You’ll love ’em.

donut-4

TEMPTATION

On Sunday mornings, I escape
to wait in line with jaws agape
and scope the sugary landscape
of rounded shapes, of rounded shapes

From the case, glazed bodies gleam
filled with jelly, filled with cream
and twisted cinnamon daydreams
Their silent screams, their silent screams

penetrate my helpless brain
and though resistance I might feign
my diet’s headed down the drain
‘cause donuts reign, ‘cause donuts reign

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MORE AAACKS THAN BILL THE CAT!

A great place to utilize poetry is in writing SONG LYRICS, our Tower Group assignment for the next meeting.  My answer to the challenge is a simple limerick series (like last week) with a refrain.  More Trump bashing?  You betcha.  If “the Donald” wants us to quit roasting him,
he needs to stop pouring gasoline on the fire.  “When you put it that way, it sounds like a pack of blatant, stupid lies,” someone remarked.  Umm, yeah.  That’s pretty much the definition of “alternative facts.”

donald-1

JUST OUT OF BRAIN-WASHINGTON
(From Trump’s Lips to Your Ears)

Refrain:
Believe in alternative facts
Whoopee for alternative facts!
Put the truth on the shelf
and keep telling yourself
“I believe in alternative facts”

Believe in alternative facts
All you need is alternative facts
Disregard honesty
and repeat after me
“I believe in alternative facts”

Verses:
My inaugural crowd was so vast,
it’s sure to remain unsurpassed
That people would think
a few marchers in pink
had outdone us, that leaves me aghast
(Refrain)

My cabinet’s filling up fast
and seats for advisory staff
A fluke that their owners
are generous donors
who stuffed my campaign’s Super-PAC
(Refrain)

The intrusion by Soviet hacks
to manipulate votes that were cast
was nothing but rumor,
a scheming maneuver,
pioneered by irate Democrats
(Refrain)

Shut up with the yakkity-yaks
about showing returns from my tax
The public and press
couldn’t care any less
so forget it, that’s all in the past
(Refrain)

Bowling Green coverage was lax,
but now that we’ve issued the facts
the Circuit Court Judge
who wouldn’t be budged
will be bringing my Muslim ban back
(Refrain)

Vetting in the aftermath,
based on dozens of terrorist acts,
will bar Yemen and Syria,
Somalia and Libya,
Sudan and Iran and Iraq
(Refrain)

I’ll repeal the ObamaCare Act
toss that nonsense into the trash
The poor and oppressed
will have open access
to the privatized plan we’ll enact
(Refrain)

The Mexican Wall is on track
and they’ll pay for it all, so relax
An astute business man,
I have things well in hand
Under sanctions, Nieto will crack
(Refrain)

Ignore all the Standing Rock whacks
set on blocking the pipeline contract
Army Corps engineers
say there’s nothing to fear
There’ll be no ecologic impact
(Refrain)

And by the way,

Ivanka did not get the axe
At Nordstrom’s, she’s selling like crack
So don’t wait to peruse
her fine jewelry and shoes;
they’re flying right off of the racks!
(Refrain)

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