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)...

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...

Designing Stanza Patterns

Stanza patterns are just that lines with indentations and white space that constitute visually appealing units. These function like regular stanzas, controlling how we read a poem and enhancing content however, they also serve as an element of design on the page. The goal is to please the ear and the eye. Such patterns have been composed since Shakespeare's day. He used them in his songs so they resemble measures of music Blow, blow, thou winter wind, Thou art not so unkind As man's ingratitude...

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....

Dont Forget to Plug in Repeating Lines in the Following Stanza

This will keep you on track so you don't have to memorize the pattern of a pantoum. For instance, after creating my first stanza, I knew what the first and third lines of my second stanza would be. I also knew that the second and fourth lines would be new, again containing dual functions To haunt us. Say your mantras, make your peace. (Compose second line that also makes transition) Something dies within. Something is released. (Compose fourth line that also propels the poem) I concentrated on...

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...

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...

Flowering Plum

In spring from the black branches of the flowering plum tree the woodthrush issues its routine message of survival. Where does such happiness come from as the neighbors' daughter reads into that singing, in the partial shade of the plum tree, as the mild wind floods her immaculate lap with blossoms, greenish white unraveling dark stains in heavier winds, in summer. This poem's structure is fragile, blossoms afloat in the wind and flooding a girl's lap. To break the lyric into couplets would...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Know the Pattern

The villanelle uses two rhymes (designated by a and b), five tercets and one ending quatrain (or five three-line stanzas and one four-line stanza), and two repeating lines (designated by I1 and A the first and third lines of the first tercet, which repeat alternately as the third line of each following tercet and, finally, as the ending two lines). Thus, the form A*b A2 abA1 abA2 abA1 abA2 abA1 A2. If you are having difficulty visualizing the pattern, check this villanelle that I composed...

Level One

By now you have organized your Idea File so it contains as many as one hundred ideas for poems. Choose three that feature a specific *This excerpt originally was part one of a six-part sequence. setting. For instance, ideas based on your list of highs, lows and turning points from chapter one might feature an exotic vacation (high), the scene of an accident (low) or a place of employment (turning point). Now do the four-step process (page 114) for each idea. Once you have established the right...

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...

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...

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...

Meter

I fell in love with poetry because of meter. When I was a boy, my mother read lyrics by the great English poets to lull me to sleep at night. She had been given an anthology of immortal poems by her eighth grade teacher and cherished the book. By the time I was in the eighth grade, I had read every poem in the collection. Included was The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe, a stanza of which is quoted below. I would read the poem chant is a better word with my nine-year-old sister Lori, and soon this...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...

Now

Out of your whole life give but a moment All of your life that has gone before, All to come after it, so you ignore, So you make perfect the present, condense, In a rapture of rage, for perfection's endowment, Thought and feeling and soul and sense Merged in a moment which gives me at last You around me for once, you beneath me, above me Me sure that despite of time future, time past, This tick of our life-time's one moment you love me How long such suspension may linger Ah, Sweet The moment...

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 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 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 Village Atheist

Ye young debaters over the doctrine Of the soul's immortality, I who lie here was the village atheist, Talkative, contentious, versed in the arguments I read the Upanishads and the poetry of Jesus. And they lighted a torch of hope and intuition And desire which the Shadow, Leading me swiftly through the caverns of darkness, Listen to me, ye who live in the senses The Surreal Poem. Such verse contains dreamlike or hallucinatory images. To illustrate, here is the fourth and last section of...

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...

Those Lines Come Back

You'd better make your peace You are worthless, dear. Something dies within. Let your goodness go You are worthless, dear And concentrate on pain. Let your goodness go To waste on one-night stands And concentrate on pain. You remember words To waste on one-night stands What a disappointment. You remember words, So sabotage the heart What a disappointment. You have nothing to lose So sabotage the heart. Any slur can slay you. You have nothing to lose. Our lives are like pantoums.

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...

To The Evening Star

Thou fair-hair'd angel of the evening, Now, while the sun rests on the mountains, light Thy bright torch of love thy radiant crown Put on, and smile upon our evening bed Smile on our loves and, while thou drawest the Blue curtains of the sky, scatter thy silver dew On every flower that shuts its sweet eyes In timely sleep. Let thy west wind sleep on The lake speak silence with thy glimmering eyes, And wash the dusk with silver. Soon, full soon, Dost thou withdraw then the wolf rages wide, And...

Tuning Your

One way to sharpen your voice is to listen to the voices of other poets. In a typical poem, you will hear distinctive tones, just like string instruments in a quartet. Here are excerpts from famous poems and, in parentheses, adjectives to describe the tones I hear on the page For God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love, Or chide my palsy, or my gout, My five gray hairs, or ruined fortune flout . . . (Voice impatient, testy, self-effacing) Time, you thief, who love to get Sweets into your...

Turns of the sonnet

In any sonnet, the turn is that point in the poem where theme or conflict is addressed and resolved. As such, the turn must be foreboded by lines preceding it. Foreboding means that the ideas or images before the turn prepare the reader for the ending . . . without exhausting theme or revealing punch line a tall order. To execute this phase of the sonnet, you need to reflect again on epiphany and peak experience (as explained in chapter one). Like all poems, sonnets deal with these moments of...

Types of Feet

One iamb, trochee, anapest, dactyl, pyrrhic or spondee equals one foot. If you use one foot per line, you are writing monometer as in we write j tiny poems but we never publish any of them. Here are other meters (note the use of trochee) Dimeter two feet per line as in we write tiny poems but we never publish any of them. Trimeter three feet per line as in we write tiny poems and we seldom publish any of them quickly. Tetrameter four feet per line as in we write standard poems and we often...

Types of topics

Each sonnet form was designed as a vehicle to convey certain topics or situations, using rhyme and scheme to enhance a message. Thus, you should know the tradition before attempting to compose such a poem. Simply, certain subjects do not fit the short form. While a skilled poet can break tradition and employ the sonnet to explain, say, why Communism failed in Eastern Europe, a novice probably should choose a freer form to convey such a notion. A check of several major poetry anthologies puts...

Unfolded Out Of The Folds

Unfolded out of the folds of the woman man comes unfolded, and is always to come unfolded, Unfolded only out of the superbest woman of the earth is to come the superbest man of the earth, Unfolded out of the friendliest woman is to come the friendliest man, Unfolded only out of the perfect body of a woman can a man be form'd of Unfolded only out of the inimitable poems of woman can come the poems of man, (only thence have my poems come ) Unfolded out of the strong and arrogant woman I love,...

What Happens

In Alma, Nebraska, at midnight into a spring storm the young doctor goes out. He says he is going to deliver the widow's baby. I am sitting in the parlor with my new friend, our landlady, who is painting my nails what she calls a good color. She paints her own and tells the story of the widow. Outside the window the rosy snow comes down on the crocus. After explaining the situation in the opening lines, Raz sets the poem in the parlor with a friend and uses images to highlight the irony of...

What The Vietnamese Clerk At K Mart Said Before She Sold The Veteran A Betta

You can find them anywhere, any pet shop, Even the K mart at Muskogee fighting fish That flare so bright you think of dragons, That come one to a bowl with a story I keep For the special customer. Long ago a girl With hair like mine, so black the sun Sparked in the paddies, dipped her hands Below some bubbles and scooped a betta With a little color. The men she knew Fought such fish as Americans today fight , The betta she held was not purple like yours, But brown with a promise of purple, and...

What The Waitress Sees

Something went snap , and she found herself In the service of businessmen. More bread, They call to her, and she responds (1) As if known by that name. More Bread. We want burgundy, lots of it, and then We would like her to leave. She sees Couples all the time married, pretending (2) To be, not to be, about to be. Yet We are different. A man of dangerous Middle Age suited, tied. And you are younger Of course casual, cute. That says plenty, But how we carry on How we huddle Over paper You yell,...

When Angels Came To Zimmer

One morning a great gaggle slid Down through holes in clouds, Twirling like maple seeds Through trees to the windowscreen. Fervent as new tussock moths, They flapped and dashed themselves, Smearing their heavenly dust, Until Zimmer, in pity and alarm, Opened to let them into his study. They flew in with smiles and sighs, Making him bashful, as if a dozen Gorgeous chorus girls had suddenly Pranced into the room. They perched on Bookshelves, cigar stubs and beer cans One even tried to sit on...

While My Lame Uncle Prays

Outside the cathedral Aunt Lena makes the sign to carry in protest against the British governor, at mass. It is a good sign, the wood handle ripped from her rabbit hutch, our Sunday dinner last seen hopping seaward, a kind of sacrifice. She colors her slogan in red Limey Set Sail The choir inside chants Amen. to see the protest. He leads the charge against us, his walking stick held like a sword. I don't move when he spots me, my rump ready for the cane. Auntie cuts in front her sign a shield...

White Noise

To make sound, I need peace so the disturbance may pass through a medium. To make love, I need sound so peace ensues as bodies become equal again. Love is greater Than sound and subsumes it as light subsumes the same common ground, hearing our talk at the log fence, Queen Anne's lace microphone heads at the hip, recording the disturbance. We are magnetic now as love happens without sound, White noise as it is known in circles of science Within the ring cycle of wood, logging our longing so when...

Writing the sequence

Once you have broken the sequence into its respective parts, compose each as you would a regular poem. The problem now, however, is that the typical poet normally writes good, bad and mediocre poems, and each part of a sequence has to be good or the chain will have a weak link. It is one thing to eliminate a weak link during the outlining phase and another to do so after a part has been composed. After you invest so much time composing a sequence, you might be tempted to leave in a weak poem or...

Drawing From Experience

When I speak at writers' conferences, I ask participants to do an exercise that generates ideas based on life experience. On a piece of paper, poets make a list of the high points, low points and turning points in their lives. For instance, my abbreviated list looks like this 2. Studied to become a musician. 3. Lived and worked in Salzburg, Austria. 5. Divorced at twenty-five, no children. 7. Met Diane Sears and married again. 8. Our first daughter is stillborn. 9. We have another daughter,...

This Living Hand

This living hand, now warm and capable Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood So in my veins red life might stream again, And thou be conscience-calmed see here it is I hold it towards you. TARTINE, FOR ALL HER BULK Tartine, for all and rump pivots and revolves with burly grace across the several acres of yard, dashing from one garden corner to the next amid the gush of wit and loquacious...

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...

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,...

Brown Shoes

Looks like little boy's shoes, they said. I didn't care if they were from daddy, I liked them rich dark brown round-toed, not quite Buster-Brownish. If they looked like little boy's shoes so what I wore them. 2. In time, the house that held 7 people was condemned uninhabitable. 7 people, torn to the ground. Levelled. In the rubble After we had revised her vignette, I asked Rutledge to comment on the experience I had used rhyme in writing poetry almost exclusively to lay an emotional foundation...

The Dynamo

At Yellowstone I saw a geyser spew its water in the air, this was but an appetizer the park attendant, debonair, saw me wearing polyester, knew at once that I was lost how'd he guess my name was Esther Then I saw the name embossed On the tag the park required When I drove here. I'm retired. He explained what rangers know Geysers steam before they blow As you can see, if used in this manner, the rhyming dictionary composes mostly nonsense. You begin a work wanting to capture the essence of a...

Descriptive Suspense And Label Titles

A descriptive title depicts content, a suspense one sparks interest, and the label variety is just that a word or two as on a can of vegetables Beans or Creamed Corn. Let's use a poem by Judson Jerome Oil of the Pecos Valley to illustrate how each functions. Study the above title for a moment. Now imagine it in a trade publication, accompanying an article on drilling in the Southwest. A magazine editor would call this a descriptive title because it informs the audience what the content is going...

On Alum Creek

Is dying, its branches of white horn surrounding and breaking and forming again. We are one man and one woman. It is the shortest day, the solstice, and already we feel it passing on the flickering of sun, the colder absorbing air disguised as breath, brushing our faces, our ankles. You glide far onto the ice, onto the deep shadow of the sycamore, walking stick discarded on the bank. Your breath follows you, floating up as you shout, Come on, the water's fine I edge out, uncertain, my stick...

My Last Duchess

That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now Fra Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will't please you sit and look at her I said 'Fra Pandolf' by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, How such a glance...

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...

Six Elements Of Narrative Verse

If you know these elements topic, theme, voice, viewpoint, moment, ending and how they affect your story, you'll also be able to envision your narrative and simplify the creative process. Topic The subject matter has a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes the ending comes first, the beginning second and the middle third or some other combination but all narratives, however innovative, contain all three. Moreover, because of such a structure, you'll be able to sense a passage of time First this...

Environmental Poetry

Some people might argue that if you crossbred nature poetry with political poetry, you would end up with a mutant environmental verse. I think the genre is much richer than that. The problem, however, is that any poetry that becomes too didactic, or moralizing, tends to be better suited to the essay, which processes instruction more easily than verse does. We look to poetry to feel ennobled, or inspired, or to understand the essence of truth not the facts of it, or the consequences. Yet poems...

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...

Mini Anthology of Narrative Poems

THE MAN WHO BEAT THE GAME AT JOHNNY'S TRUCK STOP for Bruce Weigl The man didn't say a word. He brought his hands down hard On the glass top of the machine And broke through into the shining Space we all gaze at, longing To touch it, never knowing What we want, or how easy it would be If you only didn't mind getting a little Blood on your hands. In napkins, and he sat a long time Not talking, not minding the dark Blot the bound fingers left On the table, not listening When we told him again and...

The Pantoum

Although I think it's more difficult to compose a good sestina, some critics argue that the pantoum is more elusive. The reason, simply, is the complex form. Written in quatrains four-line stanzas , the pantoum repeats the second and fourth lines of each stanza as the first and third lines of the following stanza, respectively. The pattern is continued for as many stanzas as you like. But when you end a pantoum, you should repeat the first and third lines of the first stanza as the fourth and...

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...