Friday, June 5, 2015

Poetry Friday: An ode to...well, you'll see---I think

The Poetry Seven has a list: an agreed upon schedule of poetic forms we will attempt this year. And in which order.

But then, we get fancy. Throw around themes or a common word or two.

This month, we were due to tackle odes.  Free-verse odes, so no one had to wrestle with rhyme if they didn't want to.  The topic? Anything at all. The words? Up to us.

The only catch? They were supposed to be humorous.

Well.

It turns out that a funny ode---praising and pranking, both at once, you might say---is jolly hard.


An Ode to---well, you’ll see---I think


One wintry morn, waking to find
my snow shovel absconded with—
brazenly taken from under the front stairs
—and replaced by one with a cracked acrylic blade—
why oh why would you steal my shovel
and leave me your TRASH instead?—
I will make, to re-boot (re-foot? re-shoe?) the day
Frito waffles with mascarpone
and warm strawberry compote (!!!)
but today—having found this recipe
now am deeply depressed
for who can ode-alate
corn chips better than such a dish—certainly not
this poem, which is why
it is not about Fritos—

although, in a way, the first stanza touches
on but does not intersect
with the subject of this ode—
or should I say, the object of this ode—
for we use the term “object of my undying devotion”—
or perhaps the word is yet to be coined
 —the ode-ulatee? the ode-ified?—
or perhaps it is —like an old cell phone—in the clutches
of a different owner, and dialing it would yield
a word like odoriferous— which has nothing
to do with odes—

—still, there was this Danish mathematician—I know!
I know! the Danes don’t stink, but they are often confused
with the Finns, so I rather think it’s nearly as confusing
as odiferous—so, this Dane—
he thought nothing of writing
a book called Geomietriae Rotundi,
which might be funny if there were a photo
of him, jolly and circular, eating waffles,
but the year was 1585 and it was Denmark,
so perhaps he was wan and thin, and mope-y
in a Hamlet sort of no-snow-shovel way and really
would’ve annoyed you
with his tons and tons of friends, despite his lack
of social graces—or waffles—
and this is when— it occurs to you,
that he is a mathematician—

not a writer—and yet, he has introduced—
as you wish to—although not for the
first time, as he did, but soon! yes, soon!
the term you are gallantly ode-ifying
if only you could stop thinking
about Fritos—an idea which should be by now
all but parenthetical (which means enclosed)
while the term you are praising is entirely
uncaged— like one of those European
vacays, where you ricochet off borders
like you were being Googled
by a middle-schooler who must—in twelve minutes—
crib an ethnic costume indicative
of her illustrious ancestors
or else forfeit the extra credit needed
to crawl across the
finish (Ha! the Finns, again!) line
of World History and yet—

you cannot believe that in all this—
not once—perhaps because you are certain
that this mathematician, this Thomas Fincke—-
does that name sound Danish to you?— that he
had a snow shovel AND friends, and—despite having
a son-in-law named Ole Worm—perhaps he had
a loving, round-ish wife who made him waffles
—so maybe you should’ve praised
geometry, with all its useful
angles—but instead…
Sorry, I’ve lost my train
of thought. What was I saying?
Oh!
Yes.

This is an ode to tangents.
I like them.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Buffy at Buffy's Blog.

Other humorous odes by the Poetry Seven can be found here:  Tricia, Liz, Kelly, Laura, Andi, Tanita.

Friday, May 1, 2015

I would let in the moon (A Pantoum)


The last time I tried a pantoum, I was feeling mucky and complicated and my poem reflected that. This time, I resolved to write a small love song, and pare it down as much as possible.

A pantoum, it seems, can hold both moods---the rotating, repeating lines clarify the complicated and amplify the simple.



I would let in the moon
ere light floods
the room
and everything flies

ere light—flooding
fast the hole in my heart
where everything flies
into night; no keys lock

fast the hole in my heart
Dark as dusk, I swell
into night; no keys lock
you to me; only love,

dark as dusk. We swell
the room,
you to me, only. Love,
I would let in the moon.

           ----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)


End notes:
Don't miss this magnificent post from Michael Rosen at Tricia's blog about form poetry.
And find all the Poetry Seven's pantoums here: Liz, Tricia, Andi, Tanita, Kelly, and Laura.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Ellen at Space City Scribes.

Friday, April 3, 2015

At the Fulcrum of the Day: A Raccontino


If you're like me, you had to look up a raccontino to know what it was. Or, more precisely, I had to scramble to Miss Rhumpius's blog to find out that it's a poem that is:

  • composed of couplets (any number)
  • even number lines share the same end rhyme
  • the title and last words of the odd numbered lines tell a story


The Poetry Seven had different approaches to this form. Some wrote their end line sentence first. Others came up with a theme first. Me? I wrote a non-rhyming poem, made it rhyme and then played with the odd numbered end words and line breaks to form a story sentence.  

As one of our group said of my method: Impossible. 

Heh. Well, I will admit that I didn't mind toying with the couplets or jiggering the rhyme scheme, but moving those end words around into a sentence was killer for me.  It felt wrong to be messing with how I shaped the poem originally.  I like my line breaks to be my line breaks!

But it all came right in the end. 



at the fulcrum of the day

I watch my children as the tides, escaping,
inch by inch, until they are fanned

out, too far out; I call to them: mind the time!  
Thin as a needle, I rise, slow to expand—

How closely sliced are the minutes, as onions shaved
to transparency; I see them, as near as my hand;

I have only seconds before noon slips into 
afternoon; blocks of hours eroded to sand.

Soon it is before supper; Beyond is the dusk
and the night; the tide I can withstand

But great God, let the sun balance, never-ending
Wait there, wait there! I call as l stand.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Amy at The Poem Farm. The other raccontinos--by each of the Poetry Seven--can be found here:


Friday, February 6, 2015

Chiral: a Poetry Friday Fling with a Villanelle





When I fall in love with a word, I go a bit mad.  It happened this week, when I belatedly began a draft of a villanelle so I could hang with the Poetry Seven today.

I'd written a villanelle with this Gang of Poets once before, and was pleased with my fairly traditional take on a feast. This time, I aimed to write about the "fulcrum of the day" (i.e. noon) but I made the fatal error of Googling rhymes on the Internet.

Specifically, I had a non-repeating line that ended with spiral and needed help.  Lo and behold! The rhyme search turned up

Chiral.

On to Wikipedia, where, along with some impenetrable diagrams of molecules, I found THIS:

"Human hands are perhaps the most universally recognized example of chirality: the left hand is a non-superposable mirror image of the right hand; no matter how the two hands are oriented, it is impossible for all the major features of both hands to coincide." 


Well, COOL. Our hands, although we think of them in pairs (like rhymes), they are, in reality, unmatchable. What a fitting subject for the villanelle, a poetic form built around the fiction that things can always be manipulated so they will line up, just so.

The only teeny problem with this lovely word, chiral, was that I could name but one other rhyme for it off the top of my head. (Besides spiral.)  Did that stop me? Did that stop me from making it the REPEATING LINE?

No, it made me fling myself further into the Internet to see what other unmatchable words were out there.

 See? MAD.

In truth, though, I've always been this way.

I admire other approaches to poetry, of course--  I adore a well-tempered line turn, a gorgeously formal word choice, an exquisitely correct rhyme---I really do.  I just don't know how to write that way.

To me, poetry is an excuse to play with words as hard as I possibly can.  A way to be madly in love with world, one cool fact at a time. A chance to gyre and gimble over the fundamental strangeness of my own hands.

My poetry sisters all know this, of course. What a veneration of villanelles they've made:  Tanita, Liz, Laura, Andi, Kelly, and Tricia.


No Matter

Our hands, no matter how we rotate them, are chiral
did you know that? they’re mirror images that never meet
Look at them! Look at them now! Don’t listen as I birle

(to cause a floating log to revolve by treading); I spiral
on the surface of the Inter-bog, layered rich as peat;
But my hands, no matter how I rotate them, are chiral

How did I find these facts? I was seeking rhymes more viral,
to conflagrate—OMG—there is such a thing as gleet?
Look at your hands! Look at them now! Don’t listen as I birle!

I blame Ogden Nash, who could precisely match eye roll
-ing end rhymes; no unruly corners on his fitted sheet!
Yet, my hands, no matter how I rotate them, are chiral

It’s like trying to tame the Jabberwock, most gyre-ral
but he’s one-off; no need for gamete to mate gamete
Look at your hands! Look at those doozies! Don’t listen as I birle!

But if you must Google these words, seek out too: gyral
(relating to the convolutions of the brain); how meet!
Yet, hands, no matter how we rotate them, are chiral;
Look at them! Look at them now! Don’t listen. I birle!

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass.



Friday, January 2, 2015

Antidote: A Triolet for the New Year



The antidote to fear is honeyed in devotion
delivered deep, a draught of slow and barmy mead.
Else we dry to salt, fleeing night-depths of the ocean;
The antidote to fear is honeyed in devotion 

Why pillory our hearts, why gulp the unguent potion?
Why frack our veins to stir up courage quickly dead?
The antidote to fear is honey-slow devotion;
Yes, poetry, delivered deep, a draught of barmy mead.


This poem would not have been possible without the encouragement of the rest of the Poetry Seven:  Liz, Andi, Kelly, Laura, Tricia, and TanitaEach of these poets has a triolet posted today, so go and drink deeply.  

For more about triolets, see here.   For more about the Poetry Seven, read about our first gig together on this April day in 2008.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by one of the Poetry Seven, the amazing Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect