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)...

Particular Order

Look at the contents page again, and you'll note that this book is arranged in a particular order. We begin with generating ideas for poems and end with the total poem, summarizing key elements in the making of publishable verse. In between those two chapters is the making of a poet, and that usually takes time . . . and patience. This book has three sections. In Journals and Genres, you'll learn how to generate and record ideas for poems. You'll also become familiar with the established genres...

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...

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.

Burial

A1 The stalks of wheat appear to writhe and bow b As funnel clouds descend upon the plain. A The farmer ends his dreaming with a plow. a The sirens in the village always blow, b As if to synchronize his life of pain. A1 The stalks of wheat appear to writhe and bow a Then burst into a thunderclap of crow, b They flap against sky but do not gain. A The farmer ends his dreaming with a plow. a The funnel clouds increase, the shadows grow, b A gust of wind revolves the weathervane. A The stalks of...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Am A Parcel Of Vain Strivings Tied

I am a parcel of vain strivings tied By a chance bond together, Dangling this way and that, their links Were made so loose and wide, Methinks, For milder weather. A bunch of violets without their roots, And sorrel intermixed, Encircled by a wisp of straw Once coiled about their shoots, The law By which I'm fixed. A nosegay which Time clutched from out Those fair Elysian fields, With weeds and broken stems, in haste, Doth make the rabble rout That waste The day he yields. And here I bloom for a...

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...

Know the Method

Because the first and third lines of the villanelle repeat according to a pattern and then must come together as ending lines in the final quatrain, compose the ending (as you would a couplet) first. Many villanelles fail because the first and third lines of the first stanza are not strong enough to sustain the structure and then serve as a conclusion. By composing the last two lines first, you'll save yourself time and energy and virtually guarantee a first draft. Compose your final lines...

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

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

Analyze the titles of the best drafts in your Work in Progress file and determine whether you are satisfied with them. If not, revise according to methods explained in this chapter. 2. If you haven't done the reading exercises (analyzing the use of titles in magazines, prizewinning collections and the Norton anthology), do them now. 3. Read the passage in your journal from the Level One, Exercise Two. Identify the method of title writing that was least effective for you. Now select three ideas...

Levels Two And Three

Do the second part of the Level One assignment again, noting any change in perception or interpretation of your natural surroundings. Base at least five ideas for poems on those changes (or lack thereof) and include insight about why they did (or did not) occur. 2. Invent five of your own exercises (similar to ones described in the second part of the Level One assignment above) and contemplate nature. Base at least five ideas for poems on your own exercises. 3. Do the third part of the Level...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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

Evaluate drafts of poems in your Work in Progress file that you cast in free verse. (If you have only metered poems, recast three of those into free verse.) In any case, revise drafts according to precepts learned in this chapter. 2. Take three ideas from your Idea File and compose each one in prose, using sentences and paragraphs so you end up with three self-contained prose poems. In each work, circle phrases, images, individual words whatever intrigues you in the piece and reprint them on 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 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...

Plug in the Scheme

Once you have your end words, take six pieces of paper (or make six pages in a file on your computer disk) one for each stanza. Insert your end words on each page according to the prescribed scheme for that stanza. Using a page for each stanza helps you concentrate, as if it was a separate poem. This way, you'll emphasize every stanza as a complete unit of thought and avoid the tendency to lose interest in the sestina when it progresses and becomes more difficult to compose. 1. Lourdes, walks,...

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...

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...

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 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 Protest Poem

Like the patriotic poet, the protest poet knows that freedom taken for granted is apt to be taken away. But the protest poet expresses that notion differently. Instead of praising a nation's potential, or taking a nation back to the principles on which it was founded, the protest poet criticizes policy so our leaders do not become complacent. Such poets believe that debate is good in a democracy the more controversy, the better because truth thrives when people have access to all manner of...

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 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 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...

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...

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...

To The Lord General Cromwell

Cromwell, our chief of men, who through a cloud, Not of war only, but detractions rude, Guided by faith and matchless fortitude, To peace and truth thy glorious way hast ploughed, And on the neck of crowned Fortune proud Hast reared God's trophies, and His work pursued, While Darwen stream, with blood of Scots imbrued, And Dunbar field, resounds thy praises loud, And Worcester's laureate wreath yet much remains To conquer still peace hath her victories No less renowned than war new foes arise,...

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 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,...

Voice Of America

The computer and the offer Is in the mail with free Coupons. Eat your fill You'll grow fat on freedom, So we'll sell you fat-free Entrees while you exercise Free speech, singing new Anthems with your Sony. The poem tries to work a metaphor, but beyond that, relies solely on message to discuss an agenda our economic addictions. Thus, the poem is mediocre. It preaches to the converted, like patriotic poetry often does. In general, a good political poem should contain as many images as a typical...

War Poetry

The combination of poetry and war seems oxymoronic, a type of water and oil mix. When we think of poetry, we think of beauty images so lovely or stunning they take our breath away. When we think of war, other images come to mind destruction, sacrifice. Death. And yet war poetry remains one of the earliest categories of verse in Western literature. Perhaps only poetry about nature and love two aspects of humanity that war often consumes are more popular in the annals. Our greatest poetic...

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...

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...

For Those Who Have Died At Birth

What do they say, the souls of the newborn dead When, lolling about in the long afternoons of heaven, The conversation turns to reminiscing Remember how it was . . . The feel of silk The taste of strawberries The smell of a mother's hair Her perspective can be reduced to a few words, Hickman says the ultimate triumph of love. To convey that, she imagines lazy afternoons in heaven (setting) in which images associated with touch, taste and smell important senses to newborns are recalled in easy...

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...