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.


  1. Oh, I have been transported completely!! Here's what I love about this, Sara. This form made me feel I had to go very simple and child-like, but you went ahead and went very very big, deep, expansive! I'm in love with this!

  2. What an ending!
    Like Liz, mine feels very simple and child-like, but this...oof! So many ways to think about pioneers!

  3. Ochre chandeliers, ragged edges, crocheted lace, parchment map--I love how these old-timey-sounding phrases pair with the image and title of space/science/scifi things! We haven't tried this iteration of Star Trek yet...

  4. Beautifully written. I hope in our next age of exploration we tread lightly.

  5. Oh, the beautiful imagery -- and you found the perfect words to repeat so it sounds like a song instead of an unnecessary repetition. Absolutely glorious, Sara, truly.

  6. I'm so intrigued by this reboot! I grew up obsessed with TNG, DS9 and Voyager. :)

  7. Wow! This is amazing. I love how each of you have used this form but all the poems are so different. I love "blind-twist."

  8. I'll echo Marcie, love your new action, "blind-twist", Sara. This certainly fits a 'transforming world" - poignant!

  9. My oh my--you hit the jackpot here, Sara. Even though I can just sense how much effort went into this, it feels like you pulled the handle and out the starcoins poured. I agree with Laura that the contrasting textures--old handwoven vs. shiny new edge--is what makes this so effective. Brava!

  10. After spending a week engaging with colonial times, the second stanza really speaks to me, especially after visiting Yorktown.
    "A parchment map, the cloth unwound / in a graveyard of ships gone down"

    I love the words chosen for your end rhymes, particularly the first stanza. We spent some time with an indigenous historian and I'll never think of the word frontier in the same way again.

    This is absolutely breathtaking.

  11. I admire the worldly depth the poem limns and the poem title's
    double meaning, if we are considering the form a strange new world
    (& it is, for me.) Admiration for how you've pulled off all aspects of the monotetra.
    Also, I'm from a "Big Foot" state so I have to comment on the veerey fetching first image. My question of wonder is over the idea a physical book by a named author. Or a clever spoof by you, referencing the NASA Sasquatch system for keeping track of the flotsam space debris "footprints? Either way, a winner image in a winning post.
    An altogether delightful post.


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