RAI SNG THE POE TRY BAR SKY HGH!

Poets think differently than other people.  They see possibilities everywhere.  I have used as the basis of my own pieces:  80 common clichés, idioms, lists, random phrases from books, lines from rejection letters I’ve received, even a page from Consumer Reports magazine with the non-poem words blacked out.  I’ve done a poem shaped like a bathing suit.  A poem in the style of a Psalm.  A recipe poem.  Acrostic, Anagrammatic, Epitaphic, Palindromic, ABCDarian and more.  But this guy blew me away.  The following clip from New York Times Magazine contains samples from Nasser Hussain’s new book, SKY WRI TEI NGS, poetry comprised entirely of airport codes.  You know, those three-letter designation codes (LAX, JFK, etc) they fasten to your checked luggage so it ends up (hopefully) at the same destination you do.  The author compares a poem made from airport codes to “a model of the human genome built out of Legos.”

Last week, crapping Christmas logs and caganers in Nativity scenes in Catalonia, this week, airport code poetry.  Every week, a new beehive puzzle to share with my sister.  Alas, my NYT’s subscription has come
to an end — the price quadruples after 12 weeks at the “teaser” rate.

SOL ONG NYK TMS
TEN BKS FOR THE
SUN DAY PAP RIS
TOO FKN XPN SVE

(Any resemblance of these letter groups to actual airport codes is completely coincidental.)

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HOW ABOUT SOME TUTTI FRUTTI, CUTIE?

How do you spell Tutti Frutti, anyway?  The Internet was of no help, it just added six more possibilities to the three I was already grappling with.  If anyone knows for sure, I’m all ears.

Did you ever wonder about the origins of Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo?  Me either, but thanks to a recent article in The New York Times Sunday magazine, I’m going to guess he is a direct descendant of a Catalonian Tió de Nadal.  I’ve summarized this Old World Christmas ritual in a Vers Beaucoup, a poetry form whose name means “many rhymes.”  A Vers Beaucoup is made up of one or more quatrains that adhere to the rhyme scheme below:

Line 1:  a – a – a
Line 2:  a – b – b
Line 3:  b – c – c
Line 4:  c – d – d

TIO DE NADAL

Blows my mind, odd traditions I find outlined
in the NY Times.  Kids abroad feed a “pet log”
then flog it with sticks until it magically shits
nougats.  Scatological sugarplums, yum yum!

As if this custom was not weird enough, the article went on to report that Catalonian Nativity scenes often include a “caganer,” a defecator inconspicuously squatting somewhere in the vicinity of the crèche.  He is believed to bring good luck by fertilizing the earth.  As if the ox, ass, sheep, and camels don’t produce enough manure!  If you know of any other bizarre holiday traditions, please leave me a comment.  I would love to hear about them.

ALL IS CALM, ALL IS BRIGHT

For most of the year, I’m perfectly happy with shadows and darkness.  But the approach of winter solstice awakens in me an almost primal need for illumination, as evidenced by my recent household projects.

Setting up our life-sized crèche, powered by six extension cords:

Installing the Lego lighting kit in my little VW Bus.
Oooooh!  Ahhhhh!
Headlights, tail lights, signal lights, and overhead cabin lights:

Decorating my lime tree with a garland of twinkling stars:

Writing another Lanturne:

NOEL
Light
Shining
Luminous
In the Manger
Christ

 

But light can be metaphorical as well as literal.  I drove out to Dollar General yesterday to buy some non-perishable items for our Little Free Pantry.  I had already shopped there three times during the week and accumulated three coupons for $5 off a $25 order, all redeemable 22 Dec 18, not to be combined with any other coupon or offer.  I pushed my cart through the grocery aisles tossing in beans, vegetables, fruits, canned meats, pastas, sauce, macaroni and cheese, and jars of peanut butter.  Then some holiday items: cinnamon, ginger and vanilla, poultry seasoning, Stove Top stuffing, cranberry sauce, cookie mixes, frosting and sprinkles, hot chocolate and marshmallows.  I knew I had gone way over budget and briefly considered putting all the frivolous items back, but a voice inside assured me that I would be able to afford everything.

Just one register was open.  The clerk was hesitant to let me divide my order into three piles and use all three coupons, but she relented when I explained the food would be donated to charity.  Checking out took a while.  The line grew longer and the customers behind me grew antsy.  As the clerk scanned the final pile of groceries, a man in the line leaned toward me, held out his credit card and said, “This is the card you’ll want to use for that, Miss.”  It was the most expensive of the three piles, well over $50.  I asked if he was sure.  “Positive,” he smiled.  He’d overheard enough to figure out what I was doing and wanted to help.  The rest of the customers nodded approvingly, their irritation forgotten.  Greetings and blessings were exchanged and afterward, we parted ways, each of us touched by the glow of goodwill, carrying it like a torch into the cold, gray afternoon.

Merry Christmas!  May you all be bearers of the light.

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DAHL-LA-LA-LA-LA, LA-LA-LA-LA!

After a modest investment of time this morning—chopping onions, peeling and dicing fresh ginger, measuring spices—a pot of red lentil soup bubbles on the stove and the kitchen smells amazing.  So there will be something hot, healthy, and delicious to dig into when I finish frosting my cookies.

SING A SONG OF SOUP

Lentils, onions, ginger, spice
make a hearty soup in winter
Raid the pantry, peel and dice
Lentils, onions, ginger, spice
Let it simmer, steam some rice
Grab a bowl and call it dinner
Lentils, onions, ginger, spice
make a hearty soup in winter

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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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BROTHER, CAN WE HITCH A RIDE?

Hubby and I patronize various ethnic eateries in our area.  Many are hole-in-the-wall joints located in the shadiest parts of town.  One is a Mexican food truck set up in a Laundromat parking lot.  The lady can throw together an awesome Cubana torta in about twenty minutes.  Sometimes we call ahead; other times we just sit in the car and wait.  The houses are rundown — peeling paint, missing shingles, broken windows repaired with plywood.  Nearby businesses offer beer and wine, lottery tickets, payday loans, burner cells, and vaping supplies.  Lucky people drive rusted-out Chevys with loud mufflers and stereos; unlucky ones plod to the bus stop in dilapidated shoes, or push carts containing all their worldly possessions. Cardboard signs are rampant but no one gives them a second look unless they’re creative or funny.
Is this what “Making America Great Again” is supposed to look like?

RUST BELT CITY*

Shame-faced
Homeless
Addicts
Trade sex
Out by Fast-Cash, shame-faced homeless folks
beg, while jonesing addicts trade sex for dope

*This poem is a Try-burn; an earnest attempt at a Tyburn.  The extra syllables and oblique-ish rhymes make it imperfect, yet an accurate reflection of the flawed world we live in.

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ODE TO THE ROOT CANAL (JK!)

Last week, a commenter said my dental post made her “squirm” and asked that I not give the blow-by-blow of my recent root canal (which was, admittedly, pretty grisly).  So OK, let’s dish about mammograms instead.  I’ll be doing mine soon.  Last year, I chose the closest facility and totally lucked out.  Their mammography tech had worked hard to create a spa-like atmosphere:  a Keurig machine with assorted herbal teas, soft terrycloth robes, current issues of women’s magazines and the pièce de résistance, a revolutionary “variable-pressure” mammo-gram machine.  Your boobs still get flattened, but gently, as if they were sofa cushions being sat upon by the world’s politest elephant.
If they added complimentary mani-pedis, women would be beating down the door.

I’ve condensed the mammogram experience into a new-to-me poetry form.  A TYBURN is a six-line poem, four rhyming lines of two syllables each, followed by two rhyming lines of nine syllables each.  Lines 1 and 2 reappear as syllables 5, 6, 7, and 8 in line 5.  Lines 3 and 4 reappear as syllables 5, 6, 7, and 8 in line 6.  You’ll get it when you see it in action:


(Whoever thought these up is a genius!)

MAMMOGRAM IN A NUTSHELL

Undressed
Compressed
Flattest
Breathless
Left breast, right breast, undressed, compressed, trapped
squashed flat…  flatter…  flattest…  breathless…  SNAP!

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A CAVITY AND NOTHING MORE

Those with dental-phobia know exactly what I’m talking about
in this parody of Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy classic, The Raven.

THE DENTIST

Once upon a Monday dreary, half-awake with eyes still bleary,
I grab my keys and purse and check my watch and hurry out the door
To the dentist I am heading, an appointment I’ve been dreading,
through my body, fear is spreading, knowing what she has in store
On display on a metal tray, the wicked things she has in store
Just instruments, and nothing more

Ah, distinctly, I remember Novocaine needles, long and slender
plunging deep, this way and that, injecting more and more and more
The serum slowly penetrates while anxiously my jaw awaits
the numbness I both love and hate, as my poor molar she explores
Steel probe picking, sometimes sticking, in the molar she explores
A cavity, and nothing more

Lying there fat-lipped and fretting, every pore profusely sweating,
I watch her scrutinize her weapons, choosing which will win the war
She re-checks x-rays, preps the filling, then leans in and starts her drilling,
prolonged squeals I find bone-chilling; in their wake, tooth dust and gore
Left to languish, in mute anguish, choking on tooth dust and gore
I dare not swallow anymore

Presently my will grows stronger; hesitating then no longer,
I mmmph! and yank the sleeve of the assistant who’d forgot her chore
Noticing my apprehension, she snaps quickly to attention,
suctioning with great intention all around the hole they bored
I pray, God willing, soon that filling will be in the hole they bored
Please, I cannot take much more

As measured blasts of arctic air connect with the exposed repair,
I almost fly out of the chair; Sweet Jesus, mercy, I implore!
Once the filling’s firm in place, she gently files and smoothes and scrapes
until the tooth’s the proper shape, my bite just as it was before
Grinding, fussing, re-adjusting, everything just as before
Not quite… she grinds a little more

Upon completing her inspection, she declares her work perfection
Relieved, I stretch and rub my waking jaw, where it’s already sore
Then she announces without warning, she has time this very morning
for my other tooth that needs restoring, but I’m already out the door
Car keys jingling, handbag swinging, I’m already out the door
Back next week… or nevermore

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SIMPLY (IR)RESISTIBLE

The Mister is planning a tail-end-of-the-season RV trip and keeps trying to persuade me to come along.  I almost get swept up in the romance of it, almost.  I know the minute I let my guard down, the RV gods will sock it to me.  One minute, we’ll be rolling along fine, the next, the brakes will overheat, a tire will blow out, or we’ll miss one effing sign and end up on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Or we’ll hit a pothole and fail to notice that a bicycle bounced off the rack and has been dragging behind us, burning rubber and throwing sparks, for the past five miles. Once we’re settled in the RV camp, the dog will piddle in our bed, the coin-op washing machine will steal my quarters, and the unique mini-lights that were supposed to make our RV easy to find after dark will turn out to be so popular they’re on half the campers in our section.

The following are parodies of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe and The Nymph’s Reply by Sir Walter Raleigh:

THE PASSIONATE RV-ER TO HIS LOVE

Come away with me, my love,
asphalt below, blue skies above
We’ll roll along in our RV,
off-the-grid and schedule-free

We’ll snub the boring Interstate
and motor where adventure waits
Roads less traveled, scenic paths,
fate our compass, fortune our map

We’ll eat at local Mom and Pops
like breakfast dives and donut shops,
have a second or third coffee
and ask the waitress what to see

Claims to fame, local landmarks
Waterfalls, amusement parks
Town museums, covered bridges
Winding trails up mountain ridges

Evenings, we’ll enjoy sunsets
from lounge chairs on the upper deck
and share a bottle of Chardonnay
as waxing night meets waning day

Then go inside and watch TV
or pull the shades and make whoopee
in the flickering light of a 12V bulb
Come away with me, my love

HER TRAVEL-WEARY REPLY

If traveling in our RV
was comfortable and trouble-free
and as idyllic as you describe
I’d hit the road with you, my love

Clear blue skies are unsurpassed
but sometimes storms are forecast
We’ll have, without a reservation,
no power, water, or dumping station

Country roads are picturesque
but oft confound the GPS
And a breakdown out in Boonie-Ville
is sure to dampen my goodwill

Over time, I’ve grown immune
to the lure of booths at greasy spoons
The trailer door is just so wide;
our asses might get stuck outside

Hauling lounge chairs to the deck
and down again is a pain in the neck
And sunsets pale, however stellar,
in a haze of OFF! and Citronella

If gypsy life possessed the charm
and easiness of Home Sweet Home
my hermit self might then be moved
to hit the road with you, my love

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Below are links to my RV series from 2016:
RV-ING FOR BEGINNERS
INTERMEDIATE RV-ING
ADVANCED RV-ING