Category Archives: Slimverse

Collection of 12 syllable, four line poems, each line is three syllables

Railspur Alley Park (Slimverse – The Journey, Episode 3)

Railspur Alley Park.

a humid
lion house
hogo hangs
on the air

dogs and trees
dogs and trees
free jazz, jazz
for free, the

bass player
leans like a
drunk around
a lamp post.

After hearing this one, I asked Slim if he found this verse form, this 3 syllable line too confining. Did he not want to escape its shackles and roam free, go for 5, 6 syllables or even stretch a line across the width of the page. “Au contraire”, he said. He actually said that, “au contraire”, which I thought was a bit effete, a bit foppish for a bald guy of his heft, his corpulence.

“Au contraire, in fact I find it liberating to escape the tyranny of free verse, the endless decisions – upper case, lower case, line length, is it really a poem or is it just chopped up prose, if I am writing a poem about a flower, should the poem be in the shape of a flower, should I rhyme or not rhyme, what is doggerel anyway? This is like fundamentalism, religion, the boundaries are clearly defined, this far and no further, you have 12 syllables per verse, make the best of it!”

Well, that answer was a bit more than I needed or wanted, if I owned a watch I would have been looking at it.

“Got to go, Slim” I said.

“Hang on” he said, “I am feeling a vague fin de saison ennui, a certain je ne sais quoi and I have this urge to use every hackneyed French phrase I know in a pathetic attempt to sound world-weary, like I’m sitting in an outdoor café, a scarf knotted at my neck, smoking a Gitane and nursing an existential crisis, out on

a rain swept
pier, a lone
tourist bends
to the wind.”

Episodes 1 and 2 are here and here.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

Party Animal (Slimverse* – The Journey, Episode 2)

Party Animal

in he walks
like a bull
checking out
a paddock

the air shifts
nervously
eyes lower
bells jangle

(Episode 1 is here)
The following is a memory and like all memories it’s under constant revision. What’s significant I think is that it was the first time I realized that Slim was taking this whole slimverse thing a bit more seriously than I was. As I remember it……..


I invited Slim and the rest of The Poet’s Circle over for a few drinks to celebrate something, I can’t quite remember what it was and to be honest, it doesn’t matter.
The evening began relatively smoothly with an intense discussion about accessibility (no surprises there) and I made an emotional speech about the end rhymes in Leonard Cohen’s song, “Suzanne”. The conversation moved on to verse forms – cinquains, tankas, sestinas, halibuns, what happens if one turns a haiku upside down -fascinating stuff. Then Slim chimed in and asked where our own invention, the slimverse, fitted in to this pantheon. There was an awkward silence. Eventually, The Accomplished Poet spoke up. I should add that he is indeed accomplished and his compact vivid poems, mostly about his garden, have been widely published. He politely suggested that perhaps a 3 syllable line was too limiting, that making poetic music with such a restriction is quite difficult.
Now there was another kind of silence, the kind that ensues when a lion tamer drops his whip. Slim said quietly “fuck you and your fucking garden” and aimed a punch at The Accomplished Poet’s head, who, perhaps because of all that work in the garden, is quite agile. He ducked Slim’s punch and kicked him adroitly in the crotch. When the applause died down and Slim could speak again, he uncharacteristically apologized and gave The Accomplished Poet a hug, a doubtful pleasure given Slim’s personal hygiene issues. The evening ended on a happy note with a raucous rendition of “Suzanne”, everyone hitting the end rhymes hard.
Later that night Slim and I wrote the above poem which stretched the slimverse form to two verses. History in the making.

(*Slimverse – four 3 syllable lines)

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

Names ( Slimverse-The Journey, Episode 1)

Names 

those that can

stand alone

those that can’t

hyphenate.

Looking back now to 2016 when the above was written, it’s hard to believe that slimverse was once an obscure 12 syllable (3-3-3-3) verse form, standing in the shadow of its older sibling, the seventeen syllable (5-7-5) haiku. Now, it’s 2021, year 2 in the age of Covid and slimverse is, well, still  an obscure 12 syllable (3-3-3-3) verse form, standing in the shadow of its older sibling, the seventeen syllable (5-7-5) haiku. The above masterpiece was composed by Slim (Volume) and I in the early hours of the morning following “the Poet’s Circle” Christmas Party which was held at the Accomplished Poet’s house.  It was a fun-filled night of poetic over-indulgence and excess. The Accomplished Poet (an avid gardener) read a poem about pruning as a metaphor for the editing process involved in writing  a poem, it was tortuous but accomplished. The Upper Case Poet had a minor shoving match with our newest and youngest member, the editor of an edgy E-zine called “Capslock Off” – no prizes for guessing what the argument was about. Slim hung around the buffet all night like a dog that had come across a bag of pork chops while walking in the woods, then later insisted that he had an invented a new word : “tumultaneous” – when tumultuous events occur simultaneously. He was met with benign indifference. But that was all back when Slim and I were in each other’s pockets before our estrangement, our parting of the ways, but more about that later…….

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

12 Syllables that Shook the World

Well, after a brief diversion into haikuland, April – Month of Slim returns with the first sighting of slimverse outside of North America (well, actually, outside of this blog) and it comes from Stiofan O’Broin   (over in Ireland/ Italy ?) who shows a complete mastery of the form in his first attempt! Here it is:

Slimverse

a slimverse

is an odd

metrical

exercise.

On closer examination, this is actually a poem in which the poem is the subject of the poem itself, a kind of poetic selfie. It’s like writing a sonnet about a sonnet, or a haiku about a haiku. For example:

Haiku 

haiku: seventeen

ineffable syllables

five, seven and five.

 

I think we’ll call it a“ Narcissus”.

Here’s a vaguely related blast from the past from Slim:

 

The Pre-Selfie Years (a slimverse)

fifteen years

ago, no

one could spell

narcissist.

 

(Be sure to check out Stiofan’s blog, it’s an eclectic mix of poetry, Irish politics and music and always interesting.).

 

Autumn and Death (2 poems and a Conversation)

 

Autumn

The leaves have abandoned

that chlorophyll thing

and are leaking yellows and reds

like a paint store catalogue.

Death (a slimverse)

A God’s voice

roaring: You!

You are not

in control.

Conversation with Slim

Me: Slim, in a previous post “Slim’s Advice Part 2” you said and I quote:

“Avoid Autumn and Death

they’ve been done before

there’s little more to say

on either score.”

Are you being ironic here in a self referential way?

Slim: No.

Me: “Slim, the first poem here is an outtake or revision of a previous poem (Slim’s Advice Part 3), are poems ever really finished?”

Slim:

“Words can be ‘

rearranged

if you just

talk to them.”

Lately, Slim has taken to talking in these 12 syllable bites he calls “slimverse” and I find it irritating and more than a little disturbing. So, as gently as I can, I say to him:

“Slim, that makes absolutely no sense to me, do you not think you are being a tad cryptic, a tad gnomic, if you keep on like this, you are danger of turning into a fucking garden ornament”

We haven’t talked since.