COLLATERAL DAMAGE

This week’s form is the LAI (lay).  French in origin, a Lai has nine lines and two rhymes that follow this pattern:  aab aab aab.  Lines with an “a” rhyme have five syllables and those with a “b” rhyme have two.  Mine (below) is also an elegy, mourning the loss of a beloved friend.

For decades, we’ve walked our dogs down a long lane between tracts
of farmland, enjoying the seasonal beauty of an iconic oak on the path.  This year, it emerged from spring rickety and leafless, likely a victim of agricultural pesticides.  It puzzles me that farmers, men who depend on the soil for their livelihood, are so flippant about their use of chemicals.  Without wildflowers and weeds for food, populations of bees and other pollinators continue to wane.  Stately trees are written off as collateral damage.  What do you suppose eating tainted crops does to humans?  Clue:  a hundred years ago, your chance of getting cancer was 1 in 33; today, it’s nearly 1 in 3!  Please, please, please, THINK about what you put in your mouth.  Choose ORGANIC and support farmers who care.

CASUAL-TREE

Lifeless old oak
your shriveled roots poke,
forlorn,
between farm fields soaked
with poisons to choke
weed and thorn
What foolhardy folk
would trade this grand bloke
for corn?

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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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NINE… EIGHT… SEVEN… SIX…

The NONET is a poetic form based on nines.  There are nine lines.  The first line has nine syllables.  Each successive line has one fewer, a sort
of “countdown” to the finish.  I chose to repeat the Earth Day theme because, well, it bears repeating.  Scientists know global warming has put our planet in a precarious position.  She is teetering on the brink of a meltdown and when she goes, we all go.  That seems reason enough to get your head out of Uranus, educate yourself on the many simple, Earth-friendly habits in your power, and start putting them in practice.

EARTH’S ULTIMATUM: LIVE “GREEN” OR DIE
Stripped of fossil fuels and rainforests,
feverish with greenhouse gasses,
knee-deep in melting ice caps,
rocked by violent storms,
choked on pollutants,
Earth draws a line
and dares us
to cross
it

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SHIMMERING WITH POSSIBILITIES

Thanks to Jordan of Literary Fuzz for introducing me to the CINQUAIN.  Like Haiku, Cinquain are usually nature-themed and need not be titled.  Spring, with emerging green and abundance of vibrant flowers, lends itself well to this form, twenty-two syllables divided 2-4-6-8-2 over its five lines.  Go outside, look around, then grab your pencil and try one!

Tulip
lit from within
by radiant mandala,
low yellow flames licking scarlet
petals

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WHEN ONE ART BEGETS ANOTHER

In my little village, art is highly valued and might be found anywhere.  Years ago, the painting below was on display at our local pizza parlor, part of a small art show.  Something about it spoke to me, and it was inexpensive, so I bought it.  I later learned the artist was a student in junior high.  It was the first piece she’d ever sold and she was elated.  Knowing that made it positively priceless.  To this day, that dandelion painting hangs above my desk, a testament to everyday beauty and a reminder that it’s never too early (or late) to indulge the creative self.

So I chose to make it the subject of an EKPHRASTIC poem.  These are vivid descriptions inspired or stimulated by a work of art, most often a painting or sculpture.  Additionally, the poet may use her imagination
to narrate, reflect, or otherwise amplify or expand upon its meaning.

TUFTS OF FLUFF

drift over the border
of a square blue world
devoid of breeze,
remaining aloft
on the singular power
of a fervent wish

Riding high on
the hopes and dreams
of a fledgling artist
whose stiff brush
dances across
her canvas trampoline

Amateur fingers
tracing the wild shape
of serendipity
visible only
to audacious believers
willing to imagine it

 

Here is another, a “wishful” triolet from last fall:

YELLOW SPRING

A dandelion gone to seed
can color spring with yellow
Packaged cleverly, indeed
A dandelion gone to seed
Make a wish and set it free
Aloft and soft and mellow
A dandelion gone to seed
can color spring with yellow

 

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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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HAIKU – ENTITLED TO BE UNTITLED

My friend TJ McGuire recently released his first collection of poetry, Midlife Chrysler.  In a related interview, he held that poetry matters in modern America because readers like its compact format.  They want “to be able to ingest a high-quality gourmet meal in one sitting, put their hands behind their heads and feel completely satisfied… because of its brevity, one can revisit [a poem] and be wonderstruck as often as time allows.  If Time is one of humankind’s most precious commodities, then (as the arts are concerned) one could consider poetry as one of Time’s most valuable distributor of goods.  Poetry delivers.  It delivers fast and hard.  Therein lies its power.”

In the world of gourmet poetry, HAIKU would be a canapé, a gorgeous bite-sized morsel to be savored.  Traditionally, haiku are descriptive nature poems that aim to capture a scene in just seventeen syllables, divided 5 – 7 – 5 over its three lines.  Today’s more flexible rules allow
a variety of subject matter and slightly altered syllable counts, as long as the first and last lines are shorter than the middle one.

 

Pregnant orchid
swollen with fourth set of twins
may deliver today

 

A fuchsia sunrise
shimmers on slapdash puddles
from yesterday’s rain

 

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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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EL-EM-EN-OH-PEE!

ABECEDARIAN is an ancient poetic form based on alphabetical order. Generally, the first line begins with the first letter of the alphabet and subsequent lines begin with successive letters until the final letter is reached.  My friend Chevvy wrote a really impressive one last spring; click HERE to read it.  Mine is a simple list compiled from the pages of my gratitude journal.  Try one!  What inspires YOU?

abc-2

INSPIRATION A TO Z

Autumn, Apple Butter, Aurora Borealis
Blizzards, Baby animals, Baking cookies
Cloud formations, Candles in windows
Dandelion puffs, Dreams remembered
Earth and Echoes and Earflaps on hats
Farm markets, Fireflies, Freckled Faces
God, Gratitude, Guacamole with chips
Handwritten letters and Happy endings
Inner vision, Imagination, and Insanity
Jazz saxophones, Java, and Journaling
Karma coming full circle, playing Kazoo
Libraries, Life Lessons, and Loving arms
Muses, Memory, the Moon when it’s full
Nature, Naptime, and a New Notebook
Orchid blossoms, Oldsters with attitude
Pet antics, Prompts, and Practical jokes
Quiet mornings, Quilts stitched by hand
Rainbows and Random Acts of Kindness
Serendipity, Syncopation, Street Music
Teachers, Time alone, Thunderstorms
Underdog victories and Ugly Umbrellas
Volkswagen Busses that go Vroooom!
Wonder, Wood smoke, Window seats
X on a treasure map, XXX’s and OOO’s
Yoga in motion, Yakking with my sister
Zinnias flanking the Zigzag path of life

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