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:


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

    So beautiful...I am holding this one - with my teenagers, near as my hand but also not - close to my heart today.

    Happy Poetry Friday! xo, a.

  2. I think this is my favorite of our whole group this month, Sara. It resonates inside me, pounds against my skin. And yet it's totally different from how I would phrase anything. It's like trying on something foreign in a dressing room and finding that it looks like it was designed just for me:>) breaks my heart every time I read it.

  3. Tides and people we love; often just out of reach... So poignant. I still cannot believe that you wrote the poem first and THEN had the words work out. How??? (0.o) This form loves you!

  4. Love this. So good to be reading your poetry again. Third stanza is my favorite, loved how the sense of urgency pulled me through the entire poem. Interesting form!

  5. Like Tanita, I can't believe you wrote it in the manner you did. Lovely, poetic images, too. (Sorry if it posts twice - it's my THIRD time trying!)

  6. Sara, Love the poem and am impressed by the really difficult route you chose to the summit. Why make the hard more difficult? The result says it all. John

  7. I'm with Laura -- this is so lovely and it made me sick with nostalgia... Wow, this is fine.

  8. My favorite stanza:
    " I have only seconds before noon slips into
    afternoon; blocks of hours eroded to sand."

    Simply heartbreaking! And I am in awe, with the others, that you could wrangle all that into the form. Bravo!

  9. I'll just add an echo down here: WOW! Thanks for sharing your process,! And it is SO good to be reading your words again here. (wow)

  10. Hi there Sara, I admire your ability to discipline the poem into such structured form. I love the vision of the dusk in your lines. :) Reading about your process is amazing too.

  11. I love your poetry! This raccontino and your pantoum both leave me with happy sighs.


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