The Old Trick

It happened once that a woman who couldn't conceive Paradise without her adopted daughter, And the natural mother who all her life held out Hope for a celestial reunion, approached The wise judge, prepared to yield custody At the sight of a sword. Beyond Solomon A girl scaled the pearly gates like an acrobat. Hi, mommy she called, and both women waved. That didn't work. So Solomon heard the arguments, How the natural mother labored while the other Simply waited, and how the adoptive mother...

Elvis At The Dollar Slotbank Sestina

It wasn't only Beethoven whom I found in Las Vegas, though the sound of silver dollar money thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk clanking similar to his Fifth symphony. We hear it coming from the bank of dollar slots next to the Keno Bar Where Steelman likes to sit, drinking soda. It's a bar where he can see the Keno board, watch Las Vegas characters clowns, Elvis impersonators, old ladies in gold lame. It is part of his story, this rattle of money, of the Rolling Stones must also be part of what he...

The Man Who Grew Silent

But he's sure they parted as friends. His wife took him by both shoulders And tried to shake some sense into him. He had not spoken to her since August And the nights were getting cold and long. His fingers trailed down her spine As she turned away and left the house. The trunk was packed already, the children On a bus. He waved from the porch as her car Disappeared. He turned around and smiled Into the almost empty room, TV With a blown tube and a blank face Like his own, but inside, a storm...

Look Up Definitions of End Words and Chart Their Uses

After you have selected your end words, look up all possible definitions and uses in the dictionary and make a chart. Before writing this chapter, I composed a new sestina according to the steps I have outlined here. I had just seen a fabulous documentary on Lourdes, the city in France where the Virgin Mary is said to appear and where miracles reportedly are performed. The mystic appearances and cures seemed ideal for the repetition of a sestina. Using the list above, I chose a related set of...

Keeping Track Of Ideas

There's no one best way to record ideas. Typically poets keep diaries, journals, notebooks or idea files. Strictly defined, a diary is a daily chronicle of incidents and thoughts. A journal is less rigid, allowing you to make entries only when you think you have something important to relate, remember or observe. A notebook is less formal than a journal, usually a spiral pad in which you sporadically jot down ideas for poems or important elements of craft. An idea file is a folder containing...

Satan

Or steals money meant for others' food. said once No man believes he's evil. in these circumstances, and from him. He's not stupid, and doesn't seem insane. He knows I've done no harm to him or his. and prays to Allah, merciful, compassionate. I know too well the darker urges in myself, I've seen little in him I can't recognize. my soul would die if I did the things he does. I'm tempted to believe there really is That's too easy and too dangerous an answer I must reject, abhor and fight against...

Mini Anthology of Free Verse Poems

INSIDE THE LIGHT, THE FIGURE THAT HOLDS US Monet's poplars slide through the bright surfaces of water their slender wands they rise through sky the color of the water, opaque, substantial > enough to hold the V-curve of leaf canopy that suggests perspective, flattened into painting after painting, blurred to background or focussed, distinct, as though by telephoto eye so mesmerized by sun the shape has burned into the lens and left a scar overlaid by a rhythmic imaging of light that hunts the...

Coccinella Punctata

Biologists say the creator Had a fondness for beetles, Queenly colors of a wingcase More angelic than seraphim Aflutter at the seat of all-Being. Whoever made you Kept re-making you until You were divine as the seven Red and yellow like apples Out of Eden. Kill beetles, And the hop fields burn Lady bug, lady bug, Fly away home, Your house is on fire, Your children do roam. Another judgment is upon us, Our Lady. Blessed Coccinella, Intercede as your namesake Seldom does on our behalf. I would...

Extra natura I Poetry

We began the chapter on nature poetry by noting that, at least in part, poems set in the real world are about nature. What about poems set somewhere else in heaven, on Mars, in the mind What to call these For centuries, critics have labeled such categories of verse religious, metaphysical and sublime. The religious poem usually was devotional the metaphysical, metaphoric and the sublime, intellectual. More recently, however, religious verse has become associated with churches or movements e.g.,...

The Line

Poetry is the highest and most complex form of human speech. It includes terms as difficult to pronounce as medical ones amphibrach, dactyl, onomatopoeia to name a few. Suffice it to say that encyclopedias of poetry often number one thousand pages or more, chock full of words like these, with examples and definitions. And yet poetry has one characteristic on which all its other elements must rely the line. Eliminate rhyme, and you still have free verse. Eliminate simile, and you still have...

On My First Daughter

Here lies, to each her parents' ruth, Mary, the daughter of their youth Yet all heaven's gifts being heaven's due, It makes the father less to rue. . . . ON MY DEAR GRANDCHILD SIMON BRADSTREET, WHO DIED ON 16 NOVEMBER, 1669, BEING BUT A MONTH, AND ONE DAY OLD No sooner came, but gone, and fall'n asleep, Acquaintance short, yet parting caused us weep Three flowers, two scarcely blown, the last i' th' bud, Cropt by th' Almighty's hand yet is He good. With dreadful awe before Him let's be mute,...

Structured Free Verse

If you have been composing free verse and following guidelines about idea, voice, title, line, stanza and other elements of craft as presented in the second section of this text, then your free verse really isn't free. It's structured. In other words, it has a preconceived form. In traditional verse using rhyme and or meter, the length of the line, and sometimes the shape of the stanza and the duration of the poem, are determined without your help. For instance, if you follow a rhyme scheme,...

Acknowledgments

I don't know how I got so lucky to write it. Included in these pages are dozens of poems by some of the world's most talented contemporary writers, most of whom donated their works, time and wisdom without compensation in an attempt to make The Art and Craft of Poetry an enlightening, enduring text. Contributors to this project include Diane Ackerman, Terry Anderson, Tom Andrews, Nuala Archer, David Baker, Jim Barnes, Kevin Bezner, Charlene Blue Horse, Lady Borton, Kevin...

Genera Ubi Sunt

Where are the Mahicans whose name means wolf In the wolf-less mountains of the Catskill The Tasmanians whose rocks are relics In the marsupial uplands of evolution The Congoids who met Columbus, the Celts Who met the Norse in their holocaust sloops We, too, are explorers but cannot find them In our modems and books. We know all about Eur-asians and -arabs, the yearlings of war. Show us the lost tribes of Israel and Germania So we may follow the roads to Rome, annul The laws of endangerment, and...

Permissions

Kismet and How Like a Virus Entering a Cell are reprinted with the permission of Diane Ackerman. The poems appear in her book Jaguar of Sweet Laughter New amp Selected Poems, published by Random House in 1991. The excerpt from the poem Beowulf, as translated by Michael Alexander, is reprinted with permission from Penguin Books Ltd. Alexander's translation was originally published by Penguin Classics in 1973. Satan by Terry Anderson is reprinted with his permission, copyright 1992. At Burt Lake...

Ann Howland

Three trees are planted. more will follow Your horse delivered a magnificent, independent foal Valour and survived a terrible contest with old barbed wire. Spring percolates, hesitates. The records are boxed, estates in order, patients redirected. Still . . . the winds blow thru the hills and the brightly colored wings are missed. The poem was signed by her husband Gerry Hilferty and Ann's children Andrea and Josh. Later I learned that Hilferty, a designer of museums and...

On The Life And Death Of St Teresa

Her left arm's at Lisbon, fingers of the right hand at Seville, Avila, Paris, Brussels, Rome. Right foot in Rome, a slice of flesh. One tooth in Venice. Piacenza boasts of a napkin stained with her blood. Milan keeps a piece of the heart, another tooth. Lump of her flesh in Naples, scapular. Her slippers at Avila, most of the torso at Alva, at Cagliari her veil. The wooden cross she used to beat the demons sent to try her, at Rome. Also Brussels. Two very large slices of...

The Narrative Poem

Narrative poems come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common They tell stories. People have been telling stories since the dawn of creation, and the great religious and poetic works reflect this. For instance, a parable is a story. Throughout time, in cultures around the world, the person who tells an enlightened tale has been honored as a priest or visionary with unique powers. Even the word poet, used today in conversation, implies that a person has a special gift that...

Cultural Filters

At this point it is important to note that each of us views nature differently, however hard we try to depict it in verse. Each of us carries the filters of culture and experience that influence how we perceive and interpret the world. Rather than attempt to explain the myriad types of possible interpretations an exercise that could fill an encyclopedia I'll contrast the poems of two women from different cultures and regions. Poet Sharon Klander came north to earn a doctorate in creative...

All The Leaves Say

In the other, the sunken life, in the world of green feedings, all the leaves say yes, meadows of curved stems say yes and warmth flows from the depth of this yes out toward horizons where hills are still transparent and the ground white with drippings from the moon. Waking from this memory of green, we'll face the skirmish of each day, with hostages retrieved from the night. This time will be different, new patterns for the feet, wings for the eye, rhythms for the heart, and our names...

The Patriotic Poem

While revolutionary poetry is written only by a handful of poets and succeeds only at propitious moments, patriotic poetry appeals to many writers and is timeless. Those are drawbacks. At any given moment, poets are writing this type of verse and doing so in similar or antiquated ways. Thou art as rich as proud, from snow cap to gulf stream, panhandle to prairie, Chances are, you've seen poems like this or even written a few. Indeed, anyone could have written the above work, with its safe ideas...

Infant Sorrow

Into the dangerous world I leapt Helpless, naked, piping loud Like a fiend hid in a cloud. Struggling in my fathers hands Striving against my swadling bands Bound and weary I thought best To sulk upon my mothers breast. I wander thro' each charter'd street, Near where the charter'd Thames does flow. And mark in every face I meet Marks of weakness, marks of woe. In every cry of every man, In every Infants cry of fear, In every voice in every ban, The mind-forg'd...

Generating Ideas For Political Poems

You may claim that you don't have a political bone in your body, but if you have bones, some of them are political. You might not care for protest poetry and might shrug at the mention of revolutionary or patriotic verse. Perhaps you are quite content with the status quo. If so, imagine an issue that would send you into the streets with a sign and a slogan. Surely, there's one. For instance, millions of Americans are content to watch spectator sports every weekend or consume hours of soap...