THROWING TOGETHER A PANTOUM

After chewing and digesting last week’s pantoum, one of my faithful readers commented, “I suspect this form is deceivingly simple.”  I had put a lot of work into it and was taken aback, but her words hummed
in my subconscious…  Perhaps she had intuitively grasped something
I hadn’t.  I wanted to test her theory by creating a “found” pantoum.  Currently in the throes of a summer reading frenzy, I borrowed two random phrases from each of the three books parked on my desktop
(The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron), and two more from my
go-to cookbook, a dog-eared copy of Real Thai by Nancie McDermott.
I typed and copied the phrases and went to work cutting and pasting, arranging and rearranging them according to the Pantoum Rule Book until they clicked in place.  The resulting poem is a bizarrely accurate picture of my writing life, the intersection of a soul and a notebook, a story told in the words of others but a wholly unique voice:  my own.

SUBMERGED

I’m mad for the smell of paper,
a habit I fell into of necessity
Without worry for things left undone,
I communicate only with glances

A habit I fell into of necessity,
connecting the dots into a mandala
I communicate only with glances
balancing sweet, sour, salty and spicy

Connecting the dots into a mandala
I must turn to face my own life
balancing sweet, sour, salty and spicy
alone with no one to guide me

I must turn to face my own life
without worry for things left undone
Alone with no one to guide me
I’m mad for the smell of paper

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LOOSEN UP!

Malaysian in origin, the PANTOUM is a looping poetry form made up
of two or more quatrains.  The lines overlap as they weave in and out, loose ends neatly tucking themselves in as the poem comes full circle.  Every line is repeated; lines 2 and 4 of the first stanza cascade down to become lines 1 and 3 of the next, a pattern that continues throughout.  The final stanza grabs lines 3 and 1 of the first stanza and recasts them as the third-to-last and final lines.  Word Karma comes into play here.  Rigid lines will double back and bite you – graceful in one context but awkward in the other.  Loose phrases, however, will pull together and tighten up as you work.  Rhyming is an optional mission.  Should you choose to accept it, the most common schemes are abab baba abab baba and abab bcbc cdcd dada.  Below, a pantoum about pantoums:

THE PANTOUM

An infinite design
looping quatrains
crisscrossing of lines
like links in a chain

Looping quatrains
free verse or rhyme
like links in a chain
as words intertwine

Free verse or rhyme
the writer’s domain
as words intertwine
reborn as refrains

The writer’s domain
crisscrossing of lines
reborn as refrains
an infinite design

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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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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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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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ALL OF LIFE’S A FIB… OR IS IT?

fib-in-nature

The FIB is a poetry form based on the Fibonacci sequence.  The first and second lines have one syllable.  Each subsequent line has same number of syllables as the previous two lines added together, so 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21… into infinity.  You can stop at any point, or proceed back down as I have done here.  Fibonacci supporters believe everything in nature is based on mathematical order rather than randomness; I selected the Fib for this poem because doing so created an interesting juxtaposition of form and content.  (Click on the poem to view it in LARGER PRINT.)

life-fib

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FOLLOWING MY BLUE BLITZ

The piece below is a BLITZ poem, fifty lines of loosely related phrases and images that read (in my mind, anyway) like a schizophrenic flight of ideas.  Click HERE to learn the ground rules of the form, or simply enjoy this blueprint of a journey through the human mind.  It was penned in less than fifteen minutes and I changed nothing, save for the insertion of the first two lines after I had completed the rest; I re-read the rules and wanted the title to contain the word “BLUE” (to fit the prompt).

blue-runblue-runblue-run

BLUE FROM RUNNING

Black and white
Black and blue
Blue eyes
Blue skies
Skies so clear
Skies of clouds
Clouds in coffee
Clouds in judgment
Judgment passed
Judgment Day
Daybreak
Day of birth
Birthmark
Birth of a nation
Nation gone awry
Nation under God
God is real
God is watching
Watching from afar
Watching birds
Bird song
Bird wings
Wings of freedom
Wings of angels
Angels unaware
Angels among us
Us vs. Them
Us united
United States
United we stand
Stand for something
Stand your ground
Ground is lost
Ground is gained
Gained insight
Gained knowledge
Knowledge is power
Knowledge is sorrow
Sorrow overflowing
Sorrow overcome
Overcome obstacles
Overcome with emotion
Emotion expressed
Emotion bottled up
Up and down
Up and running
Running away
Running in a dream
Dream
Away

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ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHERS…

In the wake of the Christmas rush, I’ve been savoring my copy of FROM THE TOWER, the anthology of poetry written by my local group.  One snowy afternoon, as I was contentedly flipping through this smooth and polished collection, I turned a page and unexpectedly encountered one of my own poems.  An image something like this flashed in my brain:

waltz-4waltz-4gypsy-8waltz-4

I wonder if all poets and artists feel this way, like everyone else’s pieces are clear and deep and perfect while their own are… (not sure exactly what word I’m searching for here).  Anyway, the experience inspired the following poem, written in FREE VERSE.  Free verse is exactly what it sounds like – poetry unconstrained by rules or structure.  Surprisingly,
I find this form to be one of the most difficult, like trying make paper mâché without a balloon – wet, pasty strips curling and twisting in the wind.  But in this case, nothing else in my poetic toolbox seemed to fit.

FLABBERGASTED

I’m relaxed at last
into a groove
of demure words
waltzing over the page
when out springs
a garish gypsy
in bright scarves
and bare feet
banging on
a tambourine
Our eyes meet;
she knows secrets
that I have told no one
She twirls past
bewildered poems
in tuxedos and gowns
and steals away
leaving them
to wonder
what just crashed
through the ballroom

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