Friday, March 29, 2024

Poetry Friday: Animal Pantoums

My flowerpots,

March's challenge was to write a pantoum featuring an animal.  Mine is a modern pantoum, which repeats lines in the right order but doesn't use rhyme like a traditional pantoum would.  Usually, I love playing with rhyme (even making up words) but I kind of liked attempting this without rhyme this month---it forced me to focus on images and verbs instead of word play.  

A pantoum is not complicated but it does have strict rules. If you're intimidated, or feeling stuck, you can do as some of us did, and use this lovely exercise. Just answer the questions about something "ordinary" in your life, and a pantoum practically falls into your lap.  Or at least a rough draft of one! 

Here's something ordinary that I mined for my pantoum:

Squirrels in the Flowerpots 

Spring blooms, gone,
scattered soil on the steps,
holes big as my fist
a hail of empty walnut shells

scattered. Soil on the steps
near thin-fingered roots, torn;
a hail of empty walnut shells—
something no longer buried

near thin-fingered roots. Torn,
my hands twist and clutch;
something is no longer buried
in this broken pot that

my hands twist and clutch. 
Time and earth were found
in this broken pot—that’s
nothing, really—

time unearthed; found
holes big as my fist;
nothing, really—
spring blooms, gone.

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

My poetry sister's pantoums can be found here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by our own Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.


  1. Enjambment for the WIN!
    I've quit trying with potted plants on the porch, but hardly anything stops the dratted diggers from rearranging plants and bulbs in the front bed. THE front bed, because it's clearly not MY front bed and I refuse to cede it completely over to the squirrels!!

  2. Oh, those squirrels! This is lovely, Sara -- I love "nothing, really" as a line -- so much there and so little....

  3. The form fits the frustration, Sara. I battle squirrels in my flower pots, too. And they often win.

  4. I'm going to have to try to use more frustrated sentiments in a pantoum sometime. The repetition lends itself to increasing frustration, and I really like how your shorter lines really bristle and build upon themselves.

  5. The bookending of this poem with "spring blooms gone" is almost heartbreaking. Like Mary Lee, I love the enjambment. Those darn squirrels!

  6. I really love "thin-fingered roots." But also THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS! They vex me every year.

  7. Well done! I love all the hand imagery--I can cumulatively see a fist shaking in the air at those squirrels. And the alterations in punctuation for meaning are so clever.

  8. The 'twist and clutch", the frustration throughout your poem, Sara. Argh, those dratted animals! I, too, love how you worked the enjambment. It's so tricky but you did it so well! I have found I cannot leave my windows open when I leave my home. They will come right in!

  9. Oh, I so love the before picture, Sara. It makes your poem all the better. I love the acceptance that these lines project.
    "Time and earth were found
    in this broken pot—that’s
    nothing, really—"
    These lines in your poem reminded me of Ada Limon's "Give Me This" where she resigned to a groundhog eating her green tomatoes.

  10. Love how you play with punctuation to create unique lines. Thank you for this.

  11. Sara, I do like the unrhymed format of yours and the way your weaved the words and changed thoughts to fit your ideas, such as "near thin-fingered roots. Torn." This and the enjambment made for a lovely sprint pantoum. It isn't the squirrels that dig up my flowers. The deers and rabbits like to feed on my flowers.

  12. Beautifully crafted, Sara--quite far from the traditional pantoum and somehow extra effective as a result!

  13. Oooh, I love your masterful enjambment, Sara, and how you managed to change phrasings and meanings with punctuation. Those "thin-fingered roots" are lovely.


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