Friday, March 31, 2023

Poetry Friday: The Etheree (once more)

The March challenge was the etheree, an expanding syllable-based form we've attempted before (back in 2015, and also in 2020, although it looks like I skipped that one.) The first line has one syllable, the second, two, and so on until you reach the tenth line with ten syllables. 

Easy, right?  Well, except for picking the right one-syllable word to begin...and choosing a subject..and possibly sprinkling in some internal rhyme (if you want to.)  In truth, no challenge is ever "hard" or "easy," which makes our continual expectation that we know what we're up against each month hilariously foolish. And yet...we label our challenges anyway. Groan or gloat. Dread or delight. Until the actual writing begins, and then we have to jump in, ready or not, and see what words come. 

At least the inherent steady growth of this form lends itself well to our 2023 theme, which is transformation (conversion, alteration, metamorphosis,  mutation, growth, evolution, revision, modulation, change.. )

But, with all that, I still didn't have a subject in hand until I visited the National Cherry Blossom Kite Festival last Sunday. One event was labeled "Kite Ballet," which turned out to be kite-flying to music. But the more I listened (and watched the multitude of kites in the sky) the more I doubted that one dance form could hold what I saw. Instead, I tried to transform, over and over and over again, the initial "definition" of this event.  That led to Take #1, below.  

Kite ballet is...

but hip-hop,
kites pop and lock,
embattled X-wings; 
spring-drunk sky-flower blooms;
current-cranked deep sea creatures;
gust-lifted ghosts, soundless, spinning; 
love-floaty newlywed dragonflies; 
fly-boy flotillas in sky high beat boats.

           ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved) 

I liked it.  But the next day, I set out to make those syllables dance harder.  So here's Take #2:


Kite  ballet is...

but bopping;
X-wing twerking; 
hip-hop high locking;
spring-drunk sky-blooms larking;
sea creatures current-cruising;
gust-lifted ghosts, soundless, meeting; 
dragonflies, newlywed love-woozy; 
brash boasting fly-boys, beat-beat-beat-beating.

                ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

My poetry sisters' etherees can be found here:

***For next month, we're writing poems in the style of Pablo Neruda.  So pick any of his poems, and see where it leads you! 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Poetry Friday: Talking back to Art

Fairy rock, Iceland


In February, we're still exploring our 2023 theme of transformation in all its forms: conversion, alteration, metamorphosis,  mutation, growth, evolution, revision, modulation, change..  (I'm going to repeat this list every month, for my own benefit, so I know how wide the possibilities are.)  We're also repeating a challenge we've done several times (and one I love):  ekphrastic poetry---which is a fancy way of saying poetry that responds to art. 

This challenge can be done anytime, anywhere a piece of art (painting, sculpture, graffiti, woodblock print, collage...etc.) inspires you to think longer and deeper about the world.  You know you've picked the right piece of art when you want to talk back to it---ask it questions, or dispute its premise, or praise its insight.  As a group, we each threw in two photos that could provoke such a response, and as of blogging this, I don't know what everyone picked.  

As for me, I picked my own photo, probably because I've been dying to talk to this troll woman ever since I saw her on the streets of Reykjavik, Iceland. 

Known as Iceland's "hidden people," trolls (along with  fairies and other folk not easily seen)  are often portrayed as greedy or evil.  But-- if you treat them with respect (the Icelanders say)-- they can be helpful and wise.  So instead of talking back to her, I thought I'd simply let her speak. 

What words would this giantess have for me, should she choose to reveal herself? 



Sunlight will turn me to stone,
they say, leaving me cliff and fissure, 
strata and sediment, mineral and sand

my nose a crag, my eyes, two black nooks,
my arm, an outcrop of granite 
dangling over the sea 

So come, young one,
take a story; I’m unburdening
myself of invisibility. 

Soon, I will be rock,
forever seen. A mountain. 
I think I’ll like that.

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

You can find my poetry sisters ekphrastic poetry here;


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tabitha Yeatts.  And for next month, here's  our challenge: 

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of March. Here’s the scoop: we’re writing an etheree. This ten-line form begins with a single syllable, and each line expands by one syllable until the tenth line has ten. We’re continuing with our 2023 theme of transformation, but how you interpret that topically is up to you. You have a month to craft your creation and share it on March 31st (hosted here at {fiction, instead of lies!}) in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

What stories do you  have to tell?

Friday, January 27, 2023

Poetry Friday: Cascade Poems


In 2023, the Poetry Sisters are exploring transformation in all its forms: conversion, alteration, metamorphosis,  mutation, growth, evolution, revision, modulation, change...

January's challenge was to try a cascade poem, in which the opening stanza (of any length) transforms into the backbone of the poem by "cascading" through the rest of piece. Specifically, each line of the opening stanza becomes the end line for each of the following stanzas. So, if you have a first stanza of ABC, then the next stanza is xxA, and then xxB, and then xxC.

It's a form that because of the repetition, can emphasize what doesn't change: for example, something we can't let go of---producing perhaps, a rant or a eulogy. It also lends itself to explanations of process, or logical argument, making change as orderly as a five paragraph essay. But, it turns out, I wanted to write  about love.

Yes, I know February is the designated month for that stuff, but doesn't January deserve a bit of affection too? And what is love but a transformation of how we see the world?

Nothing has changed since we were young.
You keep a coat for thirty-five years.
I never follow a recipe.
We walk, we talk, we hold hands.

Our first date was 1.1 hours in a Cessna; 
you logged it, pinpointed day and time; 
I had no idea the world held such steadiness;
nothing has changed since we were young.

I still try on new friends, new shoes, new lives,
wander into deep woods, find the sky again;
you land safely, time after time;
you keep a coat for thirty-five years.

You ask where I’m going---
how would I know? I gather words
until I have to give some away;
I never follow a recipe.

Years flow into years--
a steadfast meander;
you, the banks; I, the river; 
We walk, we talk, we hold hands.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

My poetry sisters' cascade poems can be found here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Bookseedstudio