The Last Poetry Roundup

Hello all. Today was a cold, cold day as I made my way to Barnes & Noble. Such is fall/winter in Wisconsin. After I had got inside the store and warmed up, I sharpened my pencil and began to write. Today’s last two chapters were on the sonnet, that grand old form that served Shakespeare so well, and other miscellaneous “forms”.

I must be honest: I don’t like sonnets, and I’ll tell you why shortly. But, they come in two varieties, the Petrarchan sonnet and the Shakespearean sonnet. They both have fourteen lines, but the Petrarchan sonnet is differentiated by a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBACDECDE whereas the Shakespearean sonnet has a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG. Really, that is all the difference I can find in the form, though each, perhaps, has its uses and themes that are better suited to pairs of rhymes or what not. I wrote one sonnet of each variety. The first, a Petrarchan, could also be called an ode, as it is written about a personal object that I so love.


The little man with yellow face and smile,
he stands upon my desk to greet the morn.
Though well he has been played; little worn
is he. His legs could walk a million miles,
his arms could lift a heavy plastic pile.
And should an arm or leg from body shorn
with careful reattachment he’s reborn
to last again some many little whiles.
But this tiny person is not too real:
he’s molded plastic, a child’s plaything,
minute and pallid, this man is but a fake.
Yet I like him and he has great appeal
to me. He and his kind, though small, are kings
of the playground. For him a world I’ll make.

The second sonnet, a Shakespearean, tells, at last, why I hate sonnets.

I Hate Sonnets

Though poet I am and poet remain
some forms of po-et-ry I do disdain
and try, as much as I can to refrain
from composing: the sonnet I abstain.
It’s overlong, and I don’t like the rhymes
Which come in separated pairs of ab
or cd or ef. And did I say the crimes
include a steady beat and meter drab?
Why it’s enough to drive the poet mad!
That is, if the poet’s me and not Bill
Shakespeare or, uh, Petrarch who both wrote scads
of poems in sonnetical form at will.
It seems, to some, like them, it’s easily wrote.
Apparently I got in the wrong boat.

Ha ha. I thus amuse myself.

The final chapter of my book, The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry, as yes, I have at least reached the end, was on miscellaneous and sundry forms that are not, really, proper forms. There are the whimsical non-forms of ee cummings that seem to do whatever he wants them to do to fit the theme, and there are other poems by poets that make a shape to illustrate themselves. Finally there are forms for forms sake, such as the rictameter, which for no particular purpose is in the shape of a diamond. Here, I’ll demonstrate:


They say
that a diamond
is a girl’s very best
and that to win her heart you must
buy one, ring one, set upon her finger
but I find it crass and capital
to buy love with a rock
white, sparkley
and cut.

See? Diamond themed AND diamond shaped. How bout that?

Lastly, I took a stab at an ee cummings type poem.


From here it






sp     sh

And there you have it. A dripping faucet.

I have very much enjoyed my poetical foraging, and for now I’ll put down the pencil. For one, next week is my sister’s wedding and I will be quite otherwise entertained, and for another, I’m done with my guidebook and must now think how to proceed without a set structure to follow. As always, I hope you enjoyed reading my poems.

Earth’s Mightiest Poems

I made it to Barnes & Noble this week earlier than ever before in the morning, just after the store opened. On a Friday, that meant the store was mostly empty and quiet, just perfect for a bit of poetry play and rhyming.

This time I worked along two avenues, one with two forms that mix and match a poet’s own words to form new poems, and the other in exotic forms in the vein of the haiku.

My theme today was the Avengers.

the Avengers
the Avengers

The first two forms I worked with were the Cento and the Clerihew. Both ostensibly re-work an existing poet’s lines of poetry to form new poems. Instead of taking an existing poet and his words, I instead worked from another medium that I enjoy: film. For my centos I remixed lines from the three Iron Man films to form poems. A cento also uses the name of the purloined poet as the first line of the poem, and in this case, the name of the movie. There is no meter or rhyme scheme.

Cento 1

Iron Man
Yeah, well, vacation’s over,
there’s the next mission, and nothing else.
(Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.)
What you’re asking about: it’s me.

It’s not technically accurate,
I’m just not the hero type.
(Yeah, I can fly.)
The truth is: I am Iron Man.

Cento 2

Iron Man 2
It’s subtle, all the bells and whistles,
It’s a high tech prosthesis,
The suit and I are one:
It tastes like coconut. And metal.

The point is: you’re welcome,
I am your nuclear deterrent,
I’ve successfully privatized world peace:
it’s about legacy.

Cento 3

Iron Man Three
Let’s track this from the beginning:
we create our own demons,
the prodigal son returns.
Technically, I am Iron Man.

(I broke the crayon)
Everybody needs a hobby,
my armor was a cocoon:
I am Iron Man.

For these centos I tried to encapsulate what each film was about, speaking to both the plot and theme. And, as I said, all are composed entirely of lines spoken by Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Next was the Clerihew which is again formed by lines from an existing poetical work, for which I again used lines from a film, in this case, the first Avengers film. The clerihew uses the name of the poet for the first line of two couplets. There is no set length, and again, it is non-metrical and non-rhyming.

The Avengers

Who controls the would-be king?
Do I look to be in a gaming mood?
This is beyond you, metal man!

Tony Stark
Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?
Have you ever tried shawarma?
We have a Hulk.

Bruce Banner
So this all seems horrible.
I’m always angry.
Puny God!

Steve Rogers
There’s only one god, ma’am.
Put the hammer down.
We have orders, we should follow them.

Natasha Romanoff
These guys come from legend.
I’ve got red in my ledger.
This is just like Budapest all over again.

Clint Barton
You and I remember Budapest very differently.
Ever had someone take your brain and play?
I see better from a distance.

For better or worse: a clerihew. I tried to capture the core of each character, and also do a sort of call and response from one stanza to the next. In actual fact, each stanza is its own clerihew, as a proper clerihew is only four lines long. This is, truth be told, a super clerihew, just as the Avengers are a super team. Neat, huh? My cleverness knows no bounds, apparently.

Next up I tackled some more exotic forms. First, a Japanese form called the tanka, which is a five line poem consisting of lines of 5,7,5,7,7 syllables. Again, the Avengers gave me inspiration.


Banner is a man
who got hit with gamma rays.
The man’s a monster
who turns tall and strong and green.
The Hulk is always angry.


Steven Rogers fights
for the small and helpless man.
The military
experiment made him strong,
time made him legendary.


He’s a demi-god
Thor from the realm of Asgard
He wields a hammer
a weapon to pound, a tool
to build a much better world.

After that I wrote a tanaga, a Filipino form consisting of four seven syllable lines, all rhyming.


Natasha’s a widow black,
a spy with assassin’s knack.
Fear and cowardice she lacks,
she shuts down the tesseract.

Finally, after all that, I wrote a Persian form called a Ghazal, which is written in couplets that rhyme the final word before an ending refrain. The ghazal is typically signed by the author in the last line.

The Avengers

There are six who fight: the Avengers.
In Loki they inspire fright, the Avengers.

Romanoff, a woman with widow’s bite,
Hawkeye, possessed of keen sight, the Avengers.

Thor, whose hammer throws light-ning
Captain America stands for the right, the Avengers.

Hulk, he smashes with green might,
Iron Man, a modern metal knight, the Avengers.

Though the world’s in a plight,
I, Redbeard, love to write the Avengers.

Do remember that all my poems are basically explorations of a form or style of poetry and are not claiming to be exemplars of said forms. They merely adhere to (most) of the rules of the form, no more, no less. Thus they are not great poems, or even good poems, but they are poems. I enjoy writing them, and as always, I hope you enjoy reading them.


Happy Halloween everyone!


Today I went down to Barnes & Noble, as is my custom now, and wrote some poetry. The poetical forms of this day were exotic, by which was meant foreign-to-English forms. I focused on the haiku, a Japanese form that in English is rendered as 17 syllables in three lines of 5,7,5. Usually the subject is nature, with the season being referenced in the haiku. There is some discussion as to whether or not the Japanese form can actually be translated into English for use, but I think the approximation is worth pursuing. I certainly had fun with it, at any rate.

Half of my haikus are about the autumn season, the other half are a macabre collection celebrating the holiday of Halloween.

Haikus on Autumn

A cool wisp of breeze
Rustles in the fallen leaves
Autumn is aground

A crow in flight caws
Harshly. The cold waning light
Lands on naked branch.

A leaf on the wind
Soaring, dancing, falling low
Joins its dying mates.

Chiseled pumpkin grins
Letting out the light within
Glows on the dark hearth

Halloween Haikus

Creaking and moaning
This cabin in the woods sits
Full of horror’s screams.

Frank the Monster
Frank the Monster

Jangling and clanking
Skellington walks into town
To trick-or-treat you.

Ghastly laughing ghoul
Haunts the house on the dark ridge
Ghost of virgin past

The monster moans low
He’s stitched and sewn together
Missing a partner.

Clink clank in the dank
Cold dungeon dark and slimy
Chained: rotten zombies.

Low moan on the heath
Zombie, ghost, or monster mean?
Just the autumn wind.

Like I said, I had fun, especially with the Halloween haikus which I wrote more in a spirit of the old gothic novels, creepy castles and Frankenstein’s monster, than in the mode of today’s horror films, which I detest for various reasons. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading through my haikus.

Until next time, have a spooktacular evening. *creepy laugh*