Friday, March 27, 2020

Poetry Friday: A Classic

The theme for March's poetry challenge is: "classic, or to an image we consider classic, whatever form we wish."

Well, now. I wish I hadn't left this assignment to the last second. According to most definitions, "classic" has a time element to it, as in:  "judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind."  Contrary to some book blurbs, then, nothing is truly an "overnight" classic.  We need the strong lens of history, the developed perspective of many generations, and the long, collective sieving through much debris.  Got time for that?

Me neither.  So I glommed onto well....a classic. The sonnet!  No one could argue with that. The form has stood the test of time, and survived endless variations, too. Even now, Patrick Stewart is reading a sonnet a day on Facebook.  But I wondered, even as I made my hasty choice...why did the sonnet survive? What makes it tick? What makes it last?

Turns out, other people have asked the same.  Here's a beautiful essay on "The Sonnet as Silver Marrow Spoon."  As esoteric as that sounds, it's actually a cool "how to" for teachers on stripping the form down to its basics for students to try. The author says a sonnet can simply be a fourteen line story that, around line eight or nine, is "nudged or diverted slightly in its path so that it turns and says something else."

He suggests trying it with an old family story.  I decided to try it with a fairy tale.


Note: I truly would like to try this as instructed, with a family story (the example given in the article is stunning) but for now, that's what I have. My fellow poets have done better.


Poetry Friday is hosted today by The Opposite of Indifference.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Poetry Friday: February Sure Has Changed

(Not Snowmageddon, just a pretty yard, Jan, 2108) 
February's challenge was to re-visit one of our older poems, and view it through the lens of who we are now. Perhaps we'd learned a new form in which the poem would fit better. Perhaps we'd realized the words we'd chosen weren't the best. Or perhaps, we, ourselves, were fuller human beings, with more to put on the page. We could either revise the older poem...or pair it with a new poem. 

The more I thought about this challenge, the more I knew which poem was getting a return visit:  the one I'd written for a 2010 blog post called The Impossibility of February.  In that post, fresh off the blizzard known as "Snowmageddon," I'd given myself the task of composing an "ode to February." And boy, did I do that, addressing the month with a lover's heart, and a bit of wit, too.  

The only trouble was that I wasn't interested in revising that original poem.  I liked it, and it said what I'd had in mind. Moreover, my hindsight (our theme for this challenge!) led me to believe that it wasn't ME who had changed since was February.  

So here I am, talking to impossible February in 2010, followed by my 2020 talk with that bad boy...


Oh, February, oh February 

You make my heart sing, you do,
were it not for blinding blizzards…and the swine-iest of flu.

Oh, February, far too short the days
to count the shades of grayest grays

you send me, year after weary year.
If I were you, I'd watch my back, dear;

such nuanced love cannot last
before I exchange you for something less…overcast.

Oh, February, love is patient, love is kind;
love doesn't leave you disinclined

to climb from underneath the warmest covers
to join the bitterest, iciest, and brutalist of lovers

on the barren street, no less! to watch how much snow
you can blow and blow and blow---some beau

you are. But how can I call it quits
when you bite my cheeks and grab my wrists

kissing color into my frozen face---
Oh, February, let's March on apace!

               ---Sara Lewis Holmes


Oh, February, oh February 

You make my heart sing, you do…
Were it not for days of sixty degrees, and nights of minus two!

Tulips bloom, then crack to ice before they can be kissed;
Lovers sweat, then freeze to death if they dare outdoor trysts.

And what’s with the extra day you want to stuff
Into a month that already has it rough,

What with viruses ravaging the land,
And Astros not apologizing for whacking on a can?

February, I know claimed I was no quitter,
But that was when I thought you merely icy, brutal, bitter—

Now you unleash forest fires, and dump tornados in my lap; 
I wouldn’t swipe right on you, not on any dating app!

So cut it out, February, you heartless fool.
Be true. Be you. Go back to being cool.

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

You can find my Poetry Sisters poems here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Karen Edmisten.  

Friday, January 31, 2020

Poetry Friday: 2020, The Year of Hindsight (and Foresight, too)

2020 is a great year for poetry. (And for hindsight, too, apparently.)

How do I know? Because any year, any day, is a great time for poetry. And also, of course, because the Poetry Sisters have plans---plans to write all twelve months of this year, with the added twist of looking forward and looking back every so often as we create our poems.  

January kicks it off, gently, with a haiku, on the theme of foresight, or the new year, or both.  

I live on a tidal river, so I always feel aware of time, or at least, of the physical movement that accompanies time. So I know that every year turns into the next by the slow work of the tide. And that work can be seen---every day.  So what then, is "new" about each new year? And what does it mean to see "forward" or to have "foresight" about that year? 

I don't know the answer to those questions---or at least not enough to fill a haiku! 

But I do admire the life that lives in and around the tides of the river.  Perhaps foresight is being in the flow of the world, but not dragged under by it.  Like oysters. Like egrets.  Perhaps. 

oyster shells steady
low tide mud; at high, egrets
guard the fey river.  

My sisters greet the new year here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jone, at DeoWriter.