Friday, August 25, 2023

Poetry Friday: Exquisite Corpse (Clunker Edition)

Dead or not?
Mystery photo taken
 November, 2016

August's challenge was a fun one. As a group, we played a version of the "Exquisite Corpse" game, where one poet passes a set of two lines to the next poet, who adds her own two, and then sends only the new ones on to the next person, and so on, until everyone has added (in secret) two lines to the whole poem. The big reveal of ALL the lines was during our Sunday ZOOM session. And there was a twist: each of us added one original line and one "clunker" taken from Linda Mitchell's clunker exchange and comments here. 

Wow. At first sight, our draft poem actually held together (see it below my poem.) We couldn't believe it! Still, the challenge for the year was transformation (conversion, alteration, metamorphosis, mutation, growth, evolution, revision, modulation, change) so we couldn't stop there.  Each of us took the raw material and created something new. Here's how my transformation ended up:


I’m no longer winsome to the world—
I’m a yesterday shadow of the sun’s rise, 
the one that got away, a nub of flower,

plucked, no snap, no sass to sweeten September
when trees turn so orange the road looks blue;
when words tangle, colors muddy the palette

and thoughts of you sprout. I bury
them, and yet in they creep, weedy-thick,
until the prickly buds of odd logic bloom:

I don't cry anymore, so why do I sing all the words—
each line in a different language as the light shifts,
every scattered petal saying “but you loved me”—

and then I remember
love was exactly what you wrote
about the green beans.

                      ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved) 

Here's the raw material we all had to work with:

They say the mind is garden-like, with thoughts as sprouting seeds
but I'm left holding cuttings I'm not sure where to plant
Weedy-thick, the prickly buds of odd logic bloom: 
You don't cry anymore, but you sing all the words.
Each line in a different language as the light shifts,
trees turned so orange the road looked blue.
Words tangle, colors muddy in the palette.
I am no longer winsome to the sun.
a whole sun’s rise to share
there goes the one that got away
found a bit of sunflower
and plucked every petal (by the way, he loves me)
and then I remembered
that’s what you wrote about the green beans
Stockpile, then, that snap and sass to sweeten your September.

See what beauties my poetry sisters created here:

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Linda at TeacherDance.


Friday, July 28, 2023

Poetry Friday: The Monotetra

Of course we stopped
at the "world's smallest Bigfoot store"
because that's what you do
on vacation.

The July challenge is the monotetra.  If you parse that name, you'll see it means something like "single-four" because each stanza has a repeated mono-rhyme scheme---yes, every single line rhymes with each other!-- and four "feet" per line.  (A foot has two syllables, so this means eight syllables for each line.) You can write as many stanzas as you like, and (thankfully) vary the singular rhyme between stanzas, but each stanza is only four lines, and each ends with four repeated syllables. all those rules make writing a monotetra easier or harder?   I say easier because it tells you what to do...and harder because it leans towards sounding forced. Add in our 2023 theme of transformation (conversion, alteration, metamorphosis, mutation, growth, evolution, revision, modulation, change.. ) and I had myself a job to do.  At least I had Bigfoot and the new Star Trek series to put me in mind of how exploration spurs transformation....

The Lagoon Nebula, 
image courtesy of the 
Hubble Telescope

Strange New Worlds*

Dust hangs like ochre chandeliers
over the trails of pioneers;
the ragged edge of their frontiers
unstrung by years; unstrung by years. 

A parchment map, the cloth unwound
in a graveyard of ships gone down
still threads the rocks without a sound;
calls the unfound, calls the unfound. 

Now nebulas expand, efface   
starlight, a crown of crocheted lace
knotting this fringe of outer space
with dark grace, with dark grace.

Again we'll blind-twist, one by one, 
from rough hems of times overrun,
fresh seams; an old revolution:
the world undone; the world undone.

           ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

*I'm enthralled by the Star Trek re-boot called Strange New Worlds.  Have you seen it?

My poetry sisters' monotetras can be found here:

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Bookseed Studio.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Poetry Friday: The Ghazal

"The Weather" by Laurie Anderson,
Exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC

I'm not sure about this one-- maybe because lore has it the ghazal takes its name from the noise a gazelle makes while dying? I certainly gasped my last a few times, working on this non-narrative form which is held together with one rhyme that comes directly before a repeated ending refrain.  The first couplet signals the ghazal form's arrival by doing this twice; the rest of the couplets only have the rhyme/refrain combo in the second line.

And I say again: it's non-narrative. No story telling allowed. The effect is supposed to be one of a string of beads, each sufficient unto itself but tied together by the refrain. Or perhaps a mirror, shattered into revealing shards. Finally,  it's traditional for the poet to mention herself in the last couplet.  Ooof.  

I dunno.  To me, writing this felt like being made to comply with strict rules and yet, being completely adrift without narrative at the same time. But enough about process. This is about trying. DOING. Letting things be as they are and inviting the reader to make their own connections. Perhaps that, too is a form of our 2023 theme of transformation (conversion, alteration, metamorphosis, mutation, growth, evolution, revision, modulation, change.. )  I'm still not sure, but as I sprinkled a few of those transformation words into my ghazal, I could feel a poem forming....

Half the world

They say the ad is for oysters, yet there she is, but half
mutated—her mermaid tail the gut half;

They say if we bow to modulation twelve times a day, 
our risk of dying (but they only studied men) is cut by half.

They say: Someone else. Somewhere else.
Can’t you see evolution dictates we shut out half?

They say we can’t write of overflowing life-altering loss, of not now, 
not whole, of not even close to having somewhat half.

They say: would we like roast chicken with homegrown kumquats
and kale salad or hey, catch! one stale doughnut half?

They say I shouldn’t laugh at the erupting fountain 
when I chop the hairy shell of a coconut in half.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

You can read more about the form here.  And my poetry sisters' ghazals can be found here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Patricia at Reverie.