Hymn To God The Father

0 God invisible as music, let me know Thee in the least reflection of Thy much, in termite, tick and earwig, in the glowworm striking matches on the dark, the housefly scratching his humungous-huge orbed head in all the creepy, crawly, earthbound things, the bandy ant in black fatigues, the slow gelatinous, fat snail. And when I climb to Thee in prayers that fall as if unsaid, 0 Alpha and Omega, Logos, great I AM, 1 know Thee in the nit, mosquito, flea in pollywog, boll weevil, gnat and louse...

Love Note To Strunk

Oh Will, why did we never meet I would've worshipped your pithiness, gone down on my knees before the towering rightness of your ideas, taken the mediocre grades you slapped on my themes without even a see me to hold out hope we might talk privately. I was born too late to breathe your air, paddle your canoe, bear your child, be known as the stylemaster's own and never recant. As you can see, research can be simple. When you come across a passage in one of your favorite (or least favorite)...

Satirical Elegy On The Death Of A Late Famous General

His Grace impossible what dead Of old age too, and in his bed And could that mighty warrior fall And so inglorious, after all Well, since he's gone, no matter how, The last loud trump must wake him now And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger, He'd wish to sleep a little longer. And could he be indeed so old As by the newspapers we're told Threescore, I think, is pretty high 'Twas time in conscience he should die. This world he cumbered long enough He burnt his candle to the snuff And that's...

Sense Of The Other Side

Back home at last After seeing my mother Lowered into frozen earth, I couldn't find sleep With wine or even pills, When our calico, as if Called, came to the sofa And did something Never repeated since One soft foot at a time, She climbed on my chest, Looked through the blank Lid of my face, made The faintest cry, then Curled over my heart And slept, so that I could, For three nights in a row Visitations like belief, Unreal, against all odds.

About The Author

Bugeja has published several poetry collections, including Talk (University of Arkansas Press) and Flight From Valhalla (Livingston University Press). His verse has appeared in such publications as Harper's, Poetry, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and Georgia Review. When he is not writing poetry, he is doing journalism. He directs the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University and is the author of Interpersonal Divide The Search for Community in a...

Approach And Perspective

Simply defined, approach means how a poet articulates beliefs or depicts entities or settings within and beyond the natural world. An approach is a strategy and usually involves a device that a poet uses to discuss and or describe the extranatural. It might be a lecture (device) delivered in heaven (setting), or it might be a religious or supernatural figure (device) through whom the poet speaks in a real place like a cafeteria or a surreal one like a wormhole in space (setting). The...

Assuming All Goes Well God Will

How do you know he loved you when he touched you, what a dozen times And you didn't think he loved you only then. It was as if you'd been struck for all of what you call time. But women can watch a world they never made and estimate forces of which they've only heard. Why did he write to you so infrequently Since he loved you it is interesting to consider. One day (you wouldn't know this) he bent mysteriously over the ground for minutes as if to be bent double was what he had expected. He went...

At The Heartland Cafe

Carol says His automatic's really cool, is one sweet weapon. She got state twice, went to nationals. Only a fool like Gerry forgets to tighten his scope down sighting it in and it damn near tore his nose off. God, what a mess. He wore that gauze like Nicholson in China Town. But Sandy's not so sure. You know my Jeff wakes up hard. I wouldn't want to scare him awake. If I just snap my fingers, he jumps up and throws the covers off. He says if the kids come in there, 'Hell, I won't shoot any...

Brainchild I

And interlock our limbs until we come Let the medulla make this child the way It makes the lungs inflate to help us breathe Let us key the lobes of equilibrium And sing about umbilicals, accompany The chamber music of the cranium. Or let the pons compose a symphony Sans a conductor, so we may occupy The seats of all-being and make-believe, Left and right. If we exalt the nuclei, Maybe then we will conceive.

Case Study The Private Elegy

In early April two years ago, I wrote in my journal Last night I took my daughter Erin to Ann Rowland's horse farm called Windy Hills. Ann died during the weekend, and I saw her several times leading up to her final hours. Anyway, Erin and I brought her family some bread last night, at twilight. Ann's daughter Andrea gave Erin her high school jacket and some Black Beauty books. Ann's son, Josh, took Erin up to a hilltop rink where he and she rode his prize-winning Paso Fino bareback as in The...

Case study writing brown shoes

Rutledge at a writer's conference. She had an individual critique session with me, and instead of bringing a poem, she brought a vignette that contained a rhymed fragment. She had composed a few poems, she said, but thought her prose showed more promise Brown shoes. Looks like a little boy's shoes, they said. I didn't care if it was from my daddy, it was above ridicule and I above humiliation. Me and my daddy didn't care together. I loved my brown shoes, they were kind of a rich...

Chickenegg Question

The answer is simple whatever works for you. Some poets need a title to help clarify or enhance content. Others think a working title one they plan to revise eases stress and eliminates writer's block. And some prefer to compose the poem without a title, worrying about that requirement later. A few do all three, depending on the content- or difficulty of the poem. These poets realize that sometimes the title will come naturally, sometimes not when it doesn't, they use a working title or none at...

D

Dactyl, defined, 191 Daigon, Ruth, 26-27, 241-242 views of, 31, 239-240 Definitions, of end words, for sestina, 300-301 Diaries, using, for research, 11 Dickinson, Emily, 70, 203 Dictionary, rhyming, 205-208 Didactic verse, 55-56 Dodd, Wayne, 92-93 Donne, John, 68, 121, 145 Draft, first, of sestina, 302-304 Dramatic poem, prototypical, 250-252 Dryden, John, 122 Editing. See Revision Elegy, 90-91, 129-134 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 46, 69-70, 104 Encyclopedia, for researching ideas, 10 Ending...

Decide Whether You Want Your Pantoum to Rhyme Scan or Be Free

Because your lines will repeat, your pantoum will sound as if it is rhymed anyway. If you rhyme it, however, you will add another layer of sound so the effect is fuguelike. In music, a fugue is a composition that blends one, two, or more sounds or melody lines. In psychiatry, a fugue can be a symptom of amnesia in which a person has a forgotten and a remembered life or two life lines. Both meanings of fugue are found in the rhymed pantoum, probably the eeriest-sounding poem in the English...

Do the First Draft

Don't worry about composing a perfect sestina on the first go-around. It won't happen. The first draft is important because you'll have a sense of the ultimate success of your sestina you can worry about meter and clarity of end words later. Your goal, simply, is to get a draft using your end words in the prescribed pattern. That is, by far, the most difficult aspect of composing a traditional sestina. They come on wheel or crutch to pray at Lourdes. The millions set up camp along the walks....

Driving Past The Nuclear Plant

How often have you heard it tornado rips through trailer court leaving dozens dead, homes demolished. Shoot of straw burrows into pine fence post. Or family killed, dog found barking on roof. So last night as the rain rattled off my hood like rocks, I looked, and there, black in the few hundred feet between storm clouds and ground, the twister dropped. I pulled over, cut the engine, covered my head to wait it out. But no wind roared. The rain let up. When I looked once more, only the reactor's...

Early Brass

When five balding men in long-tailed tuxedos rise to the bright occasion, their brass sacbuts, cornet, and slide trumpet in hand, 0 the chansons and canzoni, the madrigals, the sass they pull out of their bold embouchures Their bravado's a coinage of lieder and light so daft no music could, under sweet heaven, surpass the New York Cornet & Sacbut Ensemble's. Yet last night in the lunchroom of Van Hise School, when my sixth-grade daughter and her oversized trombone all silverware, sour milk,...

Employing A Proper Voice

Consider how Bruce Weigl confronted me in the classroom. He was able to speak to me so directly because he was wearing the mask of teacher and I the mask of student. If he had confronted me in the street or the restroom, the topic of our conversation and his tone of voice would have been inappropriate for the setting. Thus the mask, or role a person plays, influences the type of voice that he or she uses to address somebody in a particular place. On any given day, a person wears several masks 6...

Endstopped And Runon Stanzas

Let's define them When a punctuation mark, usually a period, appears at the end of a line, the line is end-stopped. In other words, the reader is forced to take a pause before continuing to the next line. That pause is even greater when the last line of a stanza is end-stopped, because the reader must take two pauses one for the end-stopped line and another for the white space that follows. When no punctuation mark appears at the end of a line, the line is called enjambed or run-on. Now the...

Even Such Is Time

These Verses following were made by Sir Walter Raleigh the night before he died and left at the Gate House Even such is Time which takes in trust Our youth, our joys, and all we have, And pays us but with age and dust Who in the dark and silent grave When we have wandered all our ways Shuts up the story of our days. And from which earth and grave and dust The Lord shall raise me up I trust. The Public Eulogy. Such a poem honors a literary or public figure, as do these excerpts from poems by Ben...

February Afternoon

Men heard this roar of parleying starlings, saw, A thousand years ago even as now, Black rooks with white gulls following the plough So that the first are last until a caw Commands that last are first again, a law Which was of old when one, like me, dreamed how A thousand years might dust lie on his brow Yet thus would birds do between hedge and shaw. Time swims before me, making as a day A thousand years, while the broad ploughland oak Roars mill-like and men strike and bear the stroke Of war...

Final words

At this point you should have an Idea File with remaining ideas for poems. (Every poet should have more ideas for poems than he or she has time to compose.) You should have a lighter Work in Progress file and a heavy Old Drafts one. Now it's time to reward yourself. If this is your first time through the text, the good news is that you need a new file Final Drafts. If this is your second or third time, you have such a file already and now will be able to add more poems to it. In...

Five Basic Kinds Of Lyric Poems

Not only can lyric poetry be broken into typical topics moment, object, living thing, concept or experience but also into five typical modes of expression. Master lyricists are able to combine these modes or vary them (as an improviser might vary a melody), but the following methods will simplify the process so you can execute well-crafted lyrics Investigate the meaning of a concept. Such a poem often focuses on a word or phrase and deconstructs it takes it apart, bone and sinew as it were to...

Fluently

My pen-pal cousin used to send me Photographs, heavy in those blue envelopes Stamped par avion. She posed in the sea, Small whitecaps splashing up her sundress. I think I loved her, even when she wrote In that strange tongue so many Ks, Js and Zs My father had to translate. I expected another blue envelope Announcing the birth of her child Instead I get this card, my cousin's picture Printed alongside a cross, heavy with Jesus. I don't call for my father, Scan the inscription full of Ks, Js and...

For All I Knew

Sleepwalkers already were bedded. . . . Generic Titles. These are ones that call attention to form, rather than content, as in Sonnet, Pantoum or Villanelle. (We'll learn about these form poems in later chapters.) Some poets, proud that they can execute a form as difficult as the pantoum, and not wanting readers to overlook that fact, cannot resist using a generic title. Option If you want to call attention to the form of your poem in the title, add a phrase as in, Pantoum for My Side of the...

For Mary Who Was Killed Here Before I Moved In

I have tried on hands and knees To find the dark stain That must be Blood in the hardwood. Rubbing my fingers along the fabric Of her curtains, I want something To be missing or torn. They say it was violent, and happened My neighbor tells me, nodding his head. I think of my father Killing a cat in the barn, a spot Relentlessly left on the floor That never came clean. And the highway that killed My brother glistens still With broken glass suddenly imbedded Under Montana sun. But this is clean....

Foreword

Hummer Editor, The Georgia Review Of all the mysteries at the core of what this book calls the art and craft of poetry, perhaps the most recalcitrant is the mystery of process. A painter can learn from watching other painters not only how the brush is held and how the paint is mixed, but also through the whole exfoliation of a piece, from sketch (perhaps) to finished painting the rhythm of the arc of a concept. Likewise, a musician observing other musicians learns both theory and...

Form Poems

You have to follow it like a road map and hope it leads you to a destination. In sum, a form poem has a pattern that sets it apart from other types of rhymed poems like the ballad or ode whose lengths or styles vary. The form poems we will discuss in this chapter had their origins in France, typically in the fourteenth century, or were introduced into Europe through France. That means they do not naturally suit the English language. Consequently, these forms...

God Explains Earth To His Angels

They would watch the colors of the sun, birds all around them, animals and insects of all kinds. They would watch the stars and when they came out they would sit with them for hours. Then they began to make things. They began to clear the land, the green earth, the grasses, the trees. They forgot about the sun, the stars, and thought only of what their work could bring. The animals and the birds left them. The insects became angry. I asked about this. They cleared more trees. One can argue that...

How It Works

Her lap full of the best ones, While she empties her apron and sweeps I ate what she and my mother had done Hales's poem employs one significant scene depicting the narrator as a child with her grandmother. Though quite brief, the action has a beginning (My grandmother picks through Snapbeans), a middle (I wait While she empties her apron, etc.) and an end (You'll be eating this stuff Long after I'm gone, she tells me). General Rule The simpler the action, the smaller the poem. Theme...

How To Compose A Character Study

Review the chapter on lyric verse, paying special attention to lyrics about basic topics (moments, objects, living things, concepts and experiences). If the living thing is a person and you focus on him or her intensely funneling tones of voice and viewpoint through that person you also are composing a character study. But the transition from the lyric to the dramatic mode can be much richer than that. All you have to do is 1. Imagine the person who would be intensely interested in a specific...

How to Scan

The word scan means analyze a poem to determine its meter. If you have never scanned before, follow this method 1. Read the lines of a poem aloud a number of times until you can feel or sense a rhythm. 2. Mark the unaccented ( ) and accented ( ' ) stresses of each word in the poem. 3. Identify the sound(s) employed most often in the poem. 4. Mark off each sound with the symbol (I ) to designate feet per line. (Consult the section below to identify the various types.) 5. Combine the name of the...

Ideas About Nature and the Environment

Ideas for nature and environmental poems surround you literally no matter where you live. The first step is to concentrate on objects and images that you normally overlook in your everyday activities. Once your perception has sharpened, your perspective how you opt to view nature and the environment should develop and help you generate ideas. Try these exercises 1. Go outdoors to your favorite spot or just wander until you arrive at a place. Stop and observe all its natural characteristics...

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe To you from failing hands we throw The torch be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. The Protest. Social activist and...

Info

Photographs, heavy in those blue envelopes Stamped par avion. She posed in the sea, Small whitecaps splashing up her sundress. I think I loved her, even when she wrote In that strange tongue so many Ks, Js and Zs My father had to translate. 2. I expected another blue envelope Announcing the birth of her child Instead I get this card, my cousin's picture Printed alongside a cross, heavy with Jesus. I don't call for my father, Scan the inscription full of Ks, Js and Zs At once making terrible...

Invocation

Till the sun falls Below that tree line And light stops Coloring stained glass, I want to talk With the Virgin Mother Who the saints say Always listens. I won't Worry about my wife Who waits outside The mountain chapel. She has a pastel sky For company, though She must share it With tourists at the peak Season. She refuses To share her grief With you and the stone Jesus, cold at your breast. Our child was colder, Even in the red Sunset that was a gift In the birthing room Sculpted forever To...

Jenny Kissed Me

Jumping from the chair she sat in Time, you thief, who love to get Sweets into your list, put that in Say I'm weary, say I'm sad, Say that health and wealth have missed me, Say I'm growing old, but add, Jenny kissed me. The Reconciliation. A reconciliation poem marks the end of an estrangement or a spat between lovers, as this excerpt from a poem by Robert Browning illustrates Strive nor weep All be as before, Love, Only sleep Love Token. This type accompanies a token of affection or a gift, as...

Journals and Genres

In this section you will learn how to conceive ideas for poems based on life experience, research and familiarity with traditional genres of poetry. In the first chapter you also will learn how poets use journals to keep track of their ideas. As you conceive and record your ideas, resist the urge to write first drafts. This is a time for observation, contemplation and discovery talents that make for superior poets and that take time to perfect. When you have finished exercises in this section...

Level

Reread the sections titled Approach and Perspective and Extranatural Ideas and generate five ideas for poems, at least one based on each of the methods of Kevin Bezner, Martha Whitmore Hickman, David Citino and Karen Joy Fowler. Don't feel compelled to agree with the perspectives. Simply conceive your own and note the various approaches. Afterward, return to the poet whose methods have intrigued you most and generate another five ideas for extranatural poems. 2. After you have generated your...

Level one

Select three ideas from your Idea File (preferably one related to love, nature, extranatural or occasion poetry). Adapt each idea to the Italian, Shakespearean and Spenserian form by making an outline, showing how you plan to execute key stanzas and turns. Compose drafts of each idea in each sonnet form. Compare versions. In your journal, discuss what you learned from the exercise, particularly any observations about each style of sonnet and the respective turn affecting augmenting content.

Level three

Read your journal entries from the Level One and Two exercises. Select two similar ideas from your Idea File. (Two lyric ideas involving a concept, say.) Do the Level One, Exercise Two again with one idea, composing a prose poem first and then revising it into structured free verse. Do the Level Two exercise again with the other idea, composing structured free verse first and then revising it into a prose poem. Discuss the methods of composition one more time and decide which one you prefer and...

Level Two

Read your Level One, Exercise Two journal entry in which you discussed how proposed methods of composition worked or did not work for you. Identify those methods that were least effective. Then select three suitable ideas from your Idea File and compose drafts based on those methods. After each composition, evaluate methods in question again and determine why they now work (or still do not work) for you. If you are still having problems with any, determine whether you can personalize the...

Levels Two And Three

Look at the list of highs, lows and turning points that you created in the previous exercise when you last went through this text. Has any new experience happened that should appear in a revised list If so, update. Then go through the list again and come up with new incidents for new entries and other incidents for old ones. You'll have at least ten more ideas. Record them as before. 2. Do the library exercise again, coming up with ten more ideas based on research of new listings in reference...

Living Legacies

On the surface, an elegy seems to be composed to honor the deceased, speaking directly to that person. But in actuality the deceased will never get to hear or read it. The only people who will are those who may have known the deceased, as this powerful example by Chidiock Tichborne put to death in 1586 illustrates all too well Written with his own hand in the tower before his execution My prime of youth is but a frost of cares, My feast of joy is but a dish of pain, My crop of corn is but a...

Love Primer

Using the right tone of voice to express love is an important aspect of mastering the genre. You'll become more familiar with the mechanical aspects of voice in chapter eight, but for now, think of it simply as the sound you hear on the page when you read a poem. According to Ruth Daigon, who has published and edited dozens of love poems, For beginning poets, love poetry is synonymous with a passionate outpouring, a singing, a saying, a surrender to the emotion. They feel that to restrain or...

Many And No Breaks

The more stanzas you use, the greater their pull on lines, as if white space is a force of poetic gravity. Some poems require that force to hold the structure together. Other poems seem weightless, fragile, unable to withstand any breaks. Let's consider the two types and their effects. This is the ending of An Abandoned Farm in the West, a poem in unrhymed couplets from Lower-Class Heresy (University of Illinois, 1987) by T.R. Hummer, who has edited The Kenyon Review and New England Review She...

Meter And Meaning

When should you use regular meter in a poem If you decide that you only want to compose formal verse (see part three), then most of your work should be metered. If you decide that you only want to compose free verse (see chapter seventeen), you should understand meter nonetheless because you may want to employ a certain type of sound in your poem. As we learned earlier in the chapter on voice, sound enhances meaning. To illustrate, I've composed a poem featuring two people talking on the...

Michael J Bugeja

In memory of our first two children, guardian angels of my daughter Erin Marie and my son Shane Michael, for whom this book is dedicated The Art and Craft of Poetry. Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Bugeja. Manufactured in the United States of America. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote...

Mini Anthology of Sequence Poems

Not the moth-worn clouds moving left, back-lit by some moon, but lightning with luminous yellow borders less boundary than tease. Go ahead for the hell of it off the side, windows down, nose down to the unlucky cushion of oak and pine. I'm tired. I imagine I'm going home. The morning surrenders, finally, its storm. Across the road a man hammers the door back in place and calls for his wife. They've lived here long enough to know what a house can take. Now there's everything to learn from...

Miss Intensity Meets The Holy Ghost

It was January 11, 1988 (because I thought I want to remember this, even though I didn't tell a soul, they'd think I was like those crazy UFO people in The National Enquirer), and I was wandering around the edge of one of my winning-the-lottery dreams, (the one where I would get the money to fix my teeth and get the calluses off my heels, some and a Thallium stress test because my heart beats too fast and I'd postpone my trip to Paris for six months so I could have plastic surgery at a spa in...

Miss Intensity Thinks About Her Name

Centuries ago at EST, when I waved my hand, praying the Trainer would choose me as lost as my friend Helen who got married and now her name isn't in the phone book anymore for the Birth Process because he was teaching all 300 of us, simultaneously, to get in touch with our bodies and the Self (I'd heard it was like being reborn, alive again, assertive, experiencing wailing Oh Moon of Alabama in the tub, charging that fringy sequin dress, *This excerpt originally was from a larger poem that was...

Missing

They mean more than the medals, The spit-shined Marine portraits Dotting her mantel letters, Undated and timeless in their talk About love and coming home. She forges On the envelope her name and address As he would write it, in a font Slanted toward future. His letters arrive Like poems, the lines saying nothing the heart behind this sentence beats another day. Again She will send off his last, the paper Dog-eared by sorters and caught Once in rain that bled his words blue. She takes it to the...

Most Of Us

In another age I would've married a sorry woman from my small village, had too many children, broken my back with my hands, and come home drunk. I would've died early from diseases, having suffered humiliation aftef humiliation, my heart twisting at the sight of a coin, while our hated king lived far off on a hill. I would've believed in anything that was given, been on my knees to anything with a singular face. I would not have been as I am, one who believes in himself and nothing else, to...

Mrs Wei On Patriotism

Here many people over-exercise their right to free speech. Everywhere bumper stickers shout at me Have you hugged your child today I brake for animals, Honk if you love Jesus We support our troops Say No to drugs I am for America But when they want us all to chant slogans and tie yellow ribbons to our houses, I plant my feet and say No. whose roots know the earth which gives it sustenance. It is not a hair ribbon Poems like Whitman's For You O Democracy are based on visions of what a country...

Mrs Wei Wants To Believe The First Amendment

That letter telling your President he is wrong, please don't mail it I am so afraid for you. Back home, such forthrightness will drag you to jail, your family will have to hide their name. Or worse, a noose on the raintree, only the wind to keep your ghost company. Speaking out is like flying a kite, a banner for police to track you down. In my country, we have learned to fly kites under the bed. Just don't tell me about the issues. I can see the pale spider-belly head of the newborn who lies...

Music

I cannot hold a note in my hand, Though the singer does in her throat. I cannot hold a grace note On lined paper and hear it, Though the singer waves Her sheet music like a flag. But I can hold the makers Of music, the singer by the palm, The silver of flute or piccolo, Buff nickle keys of a clarinet. If I breathe on them, I can See my own image in the maker. ' It's true. I can stroke The pipework of sax and trombone, Tip a chalice of trumpet, sort The pots of horn, cornet to tuba. I find...

My Heart Leaps Up

A rainbow in the sky So was it when my life began So is it now I am a man So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die The Child is father of the Man . . . Human Encountering Nature. Simply, the poet suddenly beholds an element or aspect of nature as if for the first time, with keen perception. Here's another excerpt from a famous Wordsworth poem I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils Beside the lake,...

No Strings

We keep finding on our doorstep Rattles too big for the post box. They arrive with offers from a company No parent can refuse, clean diapers Being next to God. The Ivory Snow mother Thinks so in baby magazines on trial Subscription. And if we don't want The bedtime books, we still get to keep The Disney mobile. It hangs above the crib Littered with coupons for free formula, Gerber, Johnson's no more tears shampoo. We send for everything. They don't know that After the stillborn, somebody forgot...

Not Only The Eskimos

We have only one noun but as many different kinds the grainy snow of the Puritans and snow of soft, fat flakes, guerrilla snow, which comes in the night and changes the world by morning, rabbinical snow, a permanent skullcap on the highest mountains, snow that blows in like the Lone Ranger, riding hard from out of the West, when you can't find your house, your street, though you are not in a dream or a science fiction movie, snow that tastes good to the sun when it licks black tree limbs,...

Notebook All Levels

Each time you go through this text at Level One, Two and Three, review the eighteen types of occasional verse and five types of elegies and select ones in which you have a personal stake. For some types, like the public or personal tragedy, that may change from year to year. Also, friends, relatives and loved ones along with public figures may pass away in the interim and can be eulogized. In any case, come up with ten ideas based on the occasional and elegy prototypes (or combine elements of...

Notebook level one

Visit the library and read the poems mentioned under each of the ten groupings in this chapter. After each poem, make notations in your journal about the poem's success as a sequence. For instance, evaluate the strength of each part and determine whether any part could have been eliminated without affecting meaning or theme. 2. Select five ideas from your Idea File (or conceive new ideas) that suit five of the ten groupings. Follow precepts explained in this chapter about preparing to write a...

Occasion Poetry

This is the catchall category of the text. After reading chapters on love, nature, extranatural, war and political poetry, you should have read many poems that cross borders. For instance, a love poem may speak of the soul and be set in nature. War poetry can have an environmental theme while protesting government policies. However, behind all such poems was an occasion, an incident or a memory that inspired or angered the writer and that may or may not even be mentioned on the page. When we...

Of Sitting Bear

Hoka hey, Lakotas, Sioux warriors used to shout before riding into battle It's a good day to die. Comanche braves must have said it Now the Comanches I don't miss much, and the Plains Indian may not have been or ride the surface of the earth, but I say to majce a man, old and sick and huddled with his teeth, until at last the manacles slide and attacks and attacks the guarding soldiers he knew, a bad day for Sitting Bear to be captured, but a good day to die. First of all, the above account is...

On The Edge

Yes, I lived on the edge of Mother Earth Then, but ran my toes through her green hair. Still, my heart lives within her heart and beats With a similar yet quicker music. And I too, remember that spring of laughter. The music of love that fell like water from a Cliff, spread like a child's perfect hoop. My heart a gold and black polka dotted skirt Flared over toes in spiked heels that brushed That precarious edge. Remember that hot, humid afternoon that honored Elders at Ghost Hawk Park, and the...

On The Extinction Of The Venetian Republic

Once did She hold the gorgeous East in fee And was the safeguard of the west the worth Of Venice did not fall below her birth, Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty. . . . The Birth-of-State Poem. This brand of poem marks the birth of a government or reign. Here's an excerpt by an unknown author chronicling the birth of the United States There was a tumult in the city In the quaint old Quaker town, And the streets were rife with people Pacing restless up and down Where they whispered each to...

One Dream

Every morning, that I wake before you to watch your eyes tremble and awkwardly blossom. The casual remoteness of your body still startles me in the grainy light that lies between us. How your dreams must hold you, their amorous and fascinating figures the populations inside your vast cities, the quiet voices spinning kisses to keep you. These must be, because you sleep and dream in a lovely game. Only your eyes are telling, their lids pressing out a Morse code at uncertain intervals, cautious...

Patriotics

Yesterday a little girl got slapped to death by her daddy, out of work, alcoholic, and estranged two towns down river. America, it's hard to get your attention politely. America, the beautiful night is about to blow up and the cop who brought the man down with a shot to the chops is shaking hands, dribbling chaw across his sweaty shirt, and pointing cars across the courthouse grass to park. It's the Big One one more time, July the 4th, our country's perfect holiday, so direct a metaphor for war...

Pick Your End Words Carefully

Since these words are going to appear in your sestina so often, you want them to have special qualities. First, the end words should be common enough to serve different sentences. (For instance, you won't get too far with consequently, which is apt to grate on the ear or call attention to itself after the second use.) Second, the words should have different meanings or work in different ways (as a noun, verb and adjective, as in the word fast, for example). Now the English language can help...

Platonic Love

Can that for true love pass When a fair woman courts her glass Something unlike must in love's likeness be His wonder is one and variety. For he whose soul nought but a soul can move Does a new Narcissus prove, And his own image love. . . . The Obstacle. A poem about any person, object or thing that prevents one lover from reaching another. In Richard Lovelace's case, the obstacle was a jail cell, as stated in the title and last stanza from To Althea, from Prison Stone walls do not a prison...

Poems Here And Elsewhere

I have researched thousands of poems for this book and selected the best. By best I mean ones that illustrate specific points rather than qualify as the greatest in the canon. The latter is a matter of taste, and my list of the greatest poems is bound to differ from someone else's. In each chapter, however, you will find plenty of examples from the works of past and present writers. This is meant to give you perspective. You can see how a genre of poetry began, developed and evolved through the...

Preparing to write the sequence

Outline each section of your sequence in your journal. If you rough out the poem first, you'll save time by identifying weak spots and eliminating or adding parts as needed. Finally, with overview of the sequence, you can move or rearrange parts to enhance theme or add clout to message. For example, in a six-part villanelle sequence (a combination of symbolic and dramatic groupings), I researched passages in the Bible relating to trees in general and the fig tree in particular. I found several...

Ready To Kill

Ten minutes now I have been looking at this. I have gone by here before and wondered about it. This is a bronze memorial of a famous general Riding horseback with a flag and a sword and a revolver on him. I want to smash the whole thing into a pile of junk to be hauled After the farmer, the miner, the shop man, the factory hand, the fireman and the teamster, Have all been remembered with bronze memorials, Shaping them on the job of getting all of us Something to eat and something to wear, When...

Reflections On The Sherwinwilliams

The Master Painter, weary of sending rainbows, then like lava down Sequoias and skyscrapers, the wings of birds thick with it, plummeting to where the mole chews a beet root, You half-believe it could end like this, so why not keep driving your sleek white Jag, wrap your lover in pelts of cheetahs, order that baby grand with its cool ivory keys to be as opulent as Diamond Jim Brady (pass the chocolate hummingbird tongues), to wallow in your just desserts until your fingers tingle, your arm goes...

Remembering New London

On March 18, 1937, 293 children, teachers and visitors were killed as the richest rural school in the world at New London, Texas, exploded from the ignition of natural gas, which had seeped up from the ground and accumulated in the walls. Even as we sat in our third-wing last classroom peering out at the mantis-like structures plunging into the soil, gritty and black, rising again with jaws drenched in the thrilling crude, those fifteen minutes mattered to us more then the bell would scatter us...

Researching Ideas

Incident My one-year-old son Shane was under a tangle of morning glories on our outdoor deck, when a ladybug alighted on his arm. He marveled at its bright red wingcase that looked like a round piece of candy. I beamed at the sight, proud my son was learning about the beauty of nature. Then, without warning, Shane popped the bug into his mouth, giggling as it slid down his throat. I knew immediately that I would base a poem on this incident. (All poets must learn to observe life closely, ready...

Revising your poems

Take out drafts of poems and follow this step-by-step method to revise your work 1. Lay drafts of each poem on a flat surface. Read them sequentially, from first draft to last, and choose the best draft. Usually (but not always) the last draft will be the most effective because you knew your poem intimately when you composed this version. In any case, put aside your most effective draft. 2. Review every word and line of your lesser drafts. Occasionally you'll find better passages in these...

Rewrite and Polish the Offending Line

When you are as deep as I was in a traditional pantoum, you don't want a clunky line to scrap the entire effort. Fve known poets who have come within one word of completing a pantoum, only to abandon the effort because a line wouldn't serve two stanzas. When that happens, throw out the entire line. Don't try to save it no matter how brilliant your images or extended your metaphors. Kill it, or it will kill your pantoum. When you consider lines to replace it, focus again on ones that break well...

Sketching The Story

An outline is simply that a guide to help you picture and depict events in a narrative poem. People who argue against such outlines either are born storytellers or are able to imagine key elements without putting them down on paper first. By making a sketch, you can see what elements might falter and what might succeed before you write your poem. You'll save time and energy, recognizing good stories and avoiding problematic ones that stand little chance of success. To illustrate, let's make...

Solving Common Problems

A good descriptive or label title is deceptively simple. It seems at first to define content or set the scene so the poet can continue. True, it does that. But if that is all your title accomplishes, then it has fallen short of its mark. A descriptive or label title also has to convey another level of meaning usually associated with an epiphany or a peak experience. Let's use another excerpt from the poem by Judson Jerome to illustrate this concept. In the middle stanzas of Oil of the Pecos...

Speaking Of Love

Speaking of love was difficult at first. We groped for those lost, untarnished words That parents never traded casually at home, The radio had not devalued. How little there seemed left to us. So, speaking of love, we chose The harsh and level language of denial Knowing only what we did not wish to say, Choosing silence in our terror of a lie. For surely love existed before words. But silence can become its own clich , And bodies lie as skillfully as words, So one by one we spoke the easy lines...

State Poetry

The mayor couldn't be here, but he sends his grand whereases, and his best regards take their places in the rear. Another year closes with a villanelle's razzmatazzes. Outside, in sunlight, with their stunted squash and radishes, farmers wonder what the going rate is for crop failure and despair. The mayor couldn't be here but he sends his grand whereases. In the legislative chambers with their dactyls and caesuras the local poet laureates sing in praise of cheese and beer. Another year closes...

The Anniversary

All kings, and all their favorites, All glory 'of honors, beauties, wits, The sun itself, which makes times, as they pass, Is elder by a year, now, than it was When thou and I first one another saw All other things to their destruction draw, Only our love hath no decay . . . The Solstice Poem. This excerpt by Donne celebrates the solstice days marking the change of seasons or, in his example, the shortest day of the year in December, which happened to fall then on a holy day A NOCTURNAL UPON...

The Bohemian Hymn

In many forms we try To utter God's infinity, But the boundless hath no form, And the Universal Friend Doth as far transcend An angel as a worm. The great Idea baffles wit, Language falters under it, It leaves the learned in the lurch, Nor art, nor power, nor toil can find The measure of the eternal Mind, Nor hymn, nor prayer, nor church. The Supernatural Poem. Emily Dickinson, who wrote devotional verse, spoke of other entities disembodied spirits in this excerpt set in the mind

The Collar

I struck the board, and cried, 'No more I will abroad. What shall I ever sigh and pine My lines and life are free free as the road, Loose as the wind, as large as store. . . . NO COWARD SOUL IS MINE By Emily Bronte No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear. (Voice confident, intelligent, philosophical) THE QUEEN OF HEARTS By Christina Rossetti How comes it, Flora, that, whenever we Play cards together, you invariably, However the pack parts,...

The Conversion

Iamb Rising Meter, for Conversation I won't apologize, you know. I don't have anything to say to you. II. Trochee Falling Meter, for Emphasis Like I said I won't a- If you don't then I will leave you. -pologize until I'm good and ready. III. Anapest Tripping Meter, for Excitement Eat a rock. Do you think we can talk Don't you dare condescend anymore Do you think we can talk without fighting awhile Not unless you apologize, buddy. Take back what you said. IV. Dactyl Awkward Meter, for...

The Dramatic Poem

If narrative poems tell stories and lyric ones sound like music, then dramatic poems characterize. But again, the mode is more complex than that. Like narrative and lyric poems, dramatic ones come in all sizes, styles and voices. Moreover, a dramatic poem can be essentially narrative or lyric. Skilled poets often cross the borders of these three major verse categories, as they should nonetheless, every poet should be able to distinguish a predominantly narrative poem from a lyric one (and vice...

The End Of Science Fiction

This is not fantasy, this is our life. We are the characters who have invaded the moon, who cannot stop their computers. We are the gods who can unmake the world in seven days. Both hands are stopped at noon. We are beginning to live forever, in lightweight, aluminum bodies with numbers stamped on our backs. We dial our words like muzak. We hear each other through water. The genre is dead. Invent something new. Invent a man and a woman naked in a garden, invent a child that will save the world,...

The Harp

When he was my age and I was already a boy my father made a machine in the garage. ground so smooth they resembled rows of pearls. He held it so carefully in his arms. He carried it foundry to foundry. I think it was his harp, I think it was what he longed to make with his hands for the world. He moved it finally from the locked closet As you can see, Weigl end-stops stanzas with each memory, giving his voice a plaintive, almost halting quality. Time lapses in the white space of any stanza, but...

The Last

Raised up in the back of our open truck And threw a can of c-rations at a child Who called into the rumble for food. He didn't toss the can, he wound up and hung it On the child's forehead and she was stunned Backwards into the dust of our trucks. Across the sudden angle of the road's curving Waving one hand across her swollen, bleeding head, I grit my teeth to myself to remember that girl Smiling as she fought off her brothers and sisters. She laughed As if she thought it were a joke And the...

The Palace Cafe

We sit here with our backs to the wall and drink to all the things we should have done before Armageddon fell upon this town. We think we know it well, the mountainous cloud that bore the very soul away, its winds whipping roofs away, walls. It took the wives we swore to God we'd love forever, honor, and sing the seasons to. And took our sons. And then our farms. There was total nothing on the wing but cloud and wind. If we are lucky when the waitress comes, coffee in hand, she might say a word...

The Papal Saw In A Roman Blind

I can almost hear the bells rung by the priest who sired a child. Nuncio, let that father rise to sit at my right touch. One last kiss to ease his grief in the afterlife. I, his bastard, bid for calm like a Papal See in a murmur of signs. Confessor, hear my doubts of the Seven Dolors of Mary, Elevation of the Host. on its knees and offer my alms to a ghost who cannot see the weight of years, blood-soaked stones and the orphanage drilling its wards on the telling of beads. My father, does he...

The Sestina

The sestina usually is regarded as the most difficult fixed form of the French lyric poets of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. These poets were called troubadours. The sestina's structure is ornate. It contains six six-line stanzas with an ending three-line envoy (extra stanza). Worse, you only get to use six words (or their homonymic counterparts) at the end of each line in a preconceived pattern. Even worse, that three-line envoy doesn't let you off the hook, either you have to use three...

The Total Poem

The total poem is one to which you have given your all. That means that you have considered the elements of craft when composing each draft idea, voice, line, stanza, title, meter and rhyme. It means that you have analyzed the modes of expression narrative, lyric, dramatic and employed the appropriate methods and forms to convey your epiphanies and peak experiences. It means, ultimately, that you have respect for your readers, sharing your best ideas with the best words in the best order of...

The Universal Political Poem

One of the first poets to balance the public message with the felt experience is Carolyn Forche whose book The Country Between Us (Harper and Row, 1981) remains a touchstone for the contemporary political poet. Her politics occasionally disturb readers but her poetry always stirs them to the quick. In the 1980s, when many of her contemporaries were writing about shopping malls and love at honky-tonks, Forche was writing about America and Latin America. Her verse was so accomplished that it will...

The Universe Exploding

A sign in front of the furnace display, most efficient in the world and I have to gathers and the salesman starts his pitch this is the one ya want to buy, no doubt about it he says looking straight at me, taught I suppose soul to make it seem more real, and I'm caught in the spiel. How's it work you ask he says before the words leave my mouth. Well, serious, the gas sort of forms little balls and then explodes, hundreds of times a minute, like . . . he's looking for words, sort of like he says...

The villanelle

Although it is known as a French form, the roots of the villanelle actually go back to medieval Italy. The bards there sang about pastoral settings. Soon the French were singing, too. By the time the villanelle arrived in England, though, it was used for light-verse topics. In this century, modern and contemporary poets began employing the form for more serious fare. Next to the sonnet, the villanelle probably is the most common type of formal poem. Its scheme is said to be more difficult to...

The Voice

Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me, Saying that now you are not as you were When you had changed from the one who was all to me, But as at first, when our day was fair. It's perfectly all right to disagree with my adjectives and to substitute your own when analyzing these selections. All you need to hear are distinct sounds. Contemplate those sounds and see how they harmonize with the subject matter. Then consider the various aspects of voice that you will bring out in your poems...

The World

Like a great Ring of pure and endless light, All calm as it was bright And round beneath it, Time, in hours, days, years, Driven by the spheres, Like a vast shadow moved, in which the world And all her train were hurled. . . . The Intercession Poem. This type calls on a deity to intercede in events on earth, as illustrated by this excerpt from Milton's On the Late Massacre in Piedmont (about an attack on Protestants) Avenge, 0 Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones Lie scattered on the...

This Is Just To

I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold The final lines, so sweet and so cold, imply a certain spite. Marital friction. Watch how the lines defuse, however, if rewritten into long lengths I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast. Forgive me. They were delicious, so sweet and so cold. Reads like a kitchen memo again, doesn't it The voice suddenly sounds like a family doctor late for...

Title and Polish the First Draft

While I was letting my sestina cool, I thought about using these titles Pilgrims, Mortality and Sightings. The first title seemed too simple in that it did not contain a second level of meaning, as all good titles should. The second title, Mortality, seemed undercut by that word being used so effectively in the envoy. The last title, Sightings, suggested several levels of meaning the site of Lourdes, sighting the Virgin Mary, and citing the poem as a chant (a homophone ). I chose Sightings...