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:


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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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.


She is too klutzy for kickball, so
she spends recess
with a library book
But in gym class, participation is
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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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.



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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The RONDEAU is yet another French form.  Each line has eight to ten syllables that flow in an undulation of upbeats and downbeats.  The first line begins with a refrain and ends with a rhyme.  The refrain (A) and two rhymes (a and b) are woven through the fifteen-line structure in the order demonstrated below.  Online sources cite this sequence as the most common of the variations that exist for this versatile form.
In addition, I managed to kill two prompts with one poem, #11 Night and #12 Change.  Call it cheating if you want; I’m calling it ingenuity.



Aa    On restless nights post-menopause,
a       as hormones yield to nature’s laws,
b       dreams disrupted by hot flashes
b       In their throes, she madly thrashes,
a       and her sweat-damp nightgown claws
a       as though its neckline were the cause
a       bemoaning sleep as once it was
b      Cool water on her face she splashes
A      on restless nights
a       Back to the bedroom she withdraws
a       to wrestle in insomnia’s
b       firm grip until, at last, she crashes,
b       up again as fever rachets
a       and manly snoring shakes the walls
A      on restless nights

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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.”


(From Trump’s Lips to Your Ears)

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”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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This week on JustJoan42, we welcome our old friend, the LIMERICK.
A limerick is a five-line form with a waltzing beat that often involves bawdy humor.  The first, second, and fifth lines contain seven to ten syllables, rhyme with each other, and conform to the same rhythmic pattern.  The third and fourth lines are shorter, rhyme with each other, and have the same rhythm.  Perhaps the most famous one begins this way:  “There once was a man from Nantucket…”  Google it if you’re unfamiliar.  WARNING: this poem is political.  Believers in alternative facts may wish to put their fingers in their ears and hum until it’s over.



I’m sure Bernie didn’t envision
his campaign would end in recision
His bump from the race
left us in a bad place:
Trump or Clinton, a dismal decision

I held out until the last minute
amid warnings Donald might win it
The odds seemed remote
but I cast my blue vote
To be honest, my heart wasn’t in it

I paled as Ohio turned red,
fighting panic as westward it spread
I threw up a prayer
for the country’s welfare
and uneasily tossed in my bed

I woke the next morning unrested
Seems popular vote had been bested
Why do we acknowledge
the electoral college?
Red’s so-called win hotly contested

Despite opposition’s outrage,
the U.S. became Donald’s stage
Teamed up with Bannon,
another loose cannon,
he’s gone on a reckless rampage

His cronies warm cabinet seats
Detractors are out on the streets
He pokes other nations
and threatens relations
with his inappropriate Tweets

Senators, please take a stand
and impeach this tyrannical man!
Before it’s too late,
pry our nuclear fate
from the grasp of his miniscule hands

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Another way to write a poem is to start with a PROMPT.  We do this in my poetry group; at the end of the evening, we choose a topic for our next meeting.  While it’s not mandatory to follow it, the prompt acts
as an idea generator.  The variety of ways different people approach the same subject always proves interesting.  Prompts can come from many sources–writing guides or classes, internet sites, etc.  I found the list below on WordPress, on the blog of a friend of a friend.  I greatly admire anyone with the discipline to write a new poem every day for
a month.  I am slowly working through, and my current prompt is #5, Blue.  That reminded me of a short piece I did for Writerrific last year.  Our assignment was to choose a color and personify it (assign human characteristics to something non-human or abstract).  It’s not a poem, so I’m not off the hook on my project, but I thought I’d dust it off and share it.  Listen as Miss Navy coaxes the Blues right outta that horn…



I’m the middle child of the Blues, a deep but underappreciated color whose name nobody remembers.  I hoped things would change when I won a place on the American flag but found victory empty when I was reduced to a number (70075), the backdrop for the fifty “real” stars.  A second chance at fame took a painfully ironic turn when I learned that the “Dress Blue” uniform of the Navy is actually black.  If I really apply myself, I can shrink an ample bedroom to the dimensions of a prison cell, a magnificent parlor trick no one cares to witness.  The smallest box of crayons to even include me is the 64-pack, where there is a high probability I will never leave my assigned seat, let alone rendezvous with the built-in sharpener.  I envy Teal and Cerulean and Cobalt their flashy popularity, making guest appearances on sports cars and swim- suits and Kitchen Aid mixers while I remain eternally in the shadows, a lackluster hue woven into the pleated tartan skirts of Catholic school- girls.  Only the most discerning eye sees me for what I am, an enduring classic with potential to steal the show, my smoky voice matching the saxophone note-for-note as I belt out them Birth Order Blues.

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The Presidential Inauguration is less than three weeks away.  Soon, a bigoted sociopath sporting a fake tan and bad toupee (not to mention, the most feckless cabinet in history) will be running our country.  How have we strayed so hopelessly off course, so far from our forefathers’ vision?  I mourn the America of my childhood, to which I pledged my allegiance with my hand over my heart – a land of hope that promised liberty and justice for ALL.  The piece below is an ELEGY, a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, usually a funeral song or a lament for the dead.  To ramp up the difficulty factor and kill two poetic forms with one stone, it also meets the exacting criteria of a VILLANELLE.



America, what has become of thee?
One man, one vote our motto, yet we mock it
where money silences democracy

Test scores measure kids’ proficiency
while teaching them to think not on the docket
America, what has become of thee?

In fear, we forfeit civil liberties,
abide elected hands in corporate pockets
and money silences democracy

A wall, our immigration policy
Just slam the door on foreigners and lock it!
America, what has become of thee?

The war machine rolls on eternally,
its Big Wheels churning suffering into profit,
the money silencing democracy

Yet, mired in patriotic fantasy,
we raise our fists to any who would knock it
America, what has become of thee?
where money silences democracy

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I have been busy, busy, busy this week, so I’m recycling a post from last December inspired, in part, by Starbuck’s dilemma about serving their coffees in red holiday cups.  Relax and enjoy this encore presentation:


HOLY HOLIDAY HOOLIGANS, BATMAN!  These evil yuletide villains have returned for the season and may be headed to a city near you:

PUMPKIN SPICE MEISTER is the mastermind behind a diabolical plan to take over the world before the New Year by slowly invading every product line, from flavored coffee drinks to scented doggie-poo bags.

THE RED-CUPSTER, disguised as an ambassador of political correct-ness, pulls shameless publicity stunts to conjure up conflict, squelch goodwill, and distract the public from the real meaning of Christmas.

THE ZAPSTER incites electrical mayhem by tangling up strands of lights, hiding the multi-outlets you know you just bought, shorting
out extension cords, and blowing random circuits in the fuse box.

THE NEEDLER sucks up endless gallons of water and sheds every time you look at him.  Stay calm and don’t make a move toward the vacuum cleaner or he will spontaneously combust and set your house on fire.

THE MUDDLER employs hypnosis to take control of brain cells, causing confusion, incomplete lists, multiple trips to the store and post office, and inability to recall what it was you crawled up into the attic for.

THE PRANKSTER joins random groups of carolers and sings off-key, deploys his fart machine during church services, transforms prime parking spaces into queues for shopping carts, and teases the family dog by hiding little sausages in the toes of all the Christmas stockings.

THE SCOTCH TAPESTER is an obsessive-compulsive psychopath driven to secure all loose folds of wrapping paper directly onto the box, thus insuring that each and every package is sealed up as tight as Fort Knox.

THE TOPPLER creates a powerful optical illusion that causes you to see your tree as straight when it is, in fact, quite crooked.  He then arranges all the heaviest ornaments on one side and chases the cat up the trunk.

THE PEEKSTER dislikes surprises, so he secretly unwraps his Christmas gifts and examines the contents, then carefully rewraps them and puts them back under the tree.  His archenemy is the Scotch-Tapester.

THE SAMPLER pops into the kitchen and helps himself when your back is turned.  He sneaks nips of the good whiskey and is especially fond of “finger foods” such as cookie dough, cheese balls, and turkey gravy.

THE SHRINKSTER performs his evil magic throughout the season on everything from cardboard shipping boxes and the trunk of your car to your holiday budget and the waistband of your favorite pants.

THE LEFT-OGLER stands there forever holding the refrigerator door open, picking at the turkey carcass and checking out the Tupperware, before walking away whining “There’s nothing to eat around here!”

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A Sevenling is a seven line poem comprised of two tercets and a final one-line stanza.  Each tercet contains a grouping of three.  The two groupings can be connected directly or indirectly or not at all.  The last line is a summary, punchline, or juxtaposition.  Meter and rhyme are optional.  This form feels mysterious, offbeat, or disturbing, as if only part of the tale is being told.  Enjoy a bite of sugar-free Word Candy!




Sometimes, it pays to be short




Dead eyes
Sallow cheeks
Unruly horns of hair

Not rattled
Not spooked
Certainly not scared

Of the crazy hag reflected there

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