Tag Archives: dverse

Free Associating in New Orleans (Redux)

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Free Associating in New Orleans

The waitress in the restaurant on Frenchmen Street
tells us that the rack of lamb changed her life;
that the flank steak with an ocean sauce of baby shrimps and clams
is to die for.

Surf and turf; America continues its love affair with protein.

The first cab driver is from Saudi
his mother is from Pakistan
he tells us that Pakistan
is a better place to party.
No surprises there.

The second cab driver is Egyptian.
We talk a little about Trump’s America
but mostly we talk about Mohammed Salah,
the Egyptian Messi
Egypt’s pride and joy,
who apparently is also a good person
gives back to his community
has sponsored seven weddings
in the village he comes from.
Now all of Egypt supports
Liverpool Football Club.

The third cab driver is Jordanian
The fourth cab driver is Algerian,
we commiserate, our national teams
did not qualify for the World Cup;
we talk about lack of money
pampered players, poor coaching.

Immigrants in cars talking soccer
We couldn’t be happier.

Later, in the early hours
waiting for my hangover
to make its way across town
to my hotel room
with its suitcase of regrets
I wonder what my taxi driver friends
think of it all…..
Mardi Gras
Fat Tuesday
Show me your tits
Christian rituals.

The challenge over at dVerse is to write a poem about Mardi Gras,  or similar festivities and to perhaps use juxtaposition to present a contrasting view point or mood.

This is a poem from last year, which I re-worked after thinking about the challenge.

 

Just a ruba’i before I go (2 poems)

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The man who communicated with paintings

He liked to shout at Picasso
commiserate with Van Gogh
ruminate with Monet
joke with Michelangelo.

The Last Ruba’i

this is it, finally, the last ruba’i
it’s time to call it a day, say goodbye
but there is still time for another rhyme
yes, that’s right, you have guessed it, it’s ‘Dubai’.

 

The ruba’i challenge over at dVerse ends at the end of the month……two more before the end! It’s a verse form, I think, that is perhaps best suited to light verse!

The Scale of Things … (a Poem)

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The Scale of Things

Is it possible to have a metric
a way to rate privilege
one that does not reference
gender, economic status, race?

Can the moral high ground be assigned?

Is a child loved by a parent
not more privileged
than one that is not?

 

This is in response to Anmol’s challenge over at dVerse which begins with the quote :

To be white, or straight, or male, or middle class is to be simultaneously ubiquitious and invisible. You’re everywhere you look, you’re the standard against which everyone else is measured….Michael S. Kimmel

Talking Senses (a Rubaiyat)

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Talking Senses (a Rubaiyat)

Wet whiff of sour milk
the rustle of silk
the kerang of a guitar
– the Who, or their ilk

the whirl of a dervish
the bloat of a blow-fish
the wince of a lemon
that chocolate fetish

I doubt my ability
to convey tactility
but, hey, here’s an eggshell
go on, feel the fragility.

Jilly’s challenge over at dVerse is to write a rubaiyat, using imagery that evokes all 6 senses – 1.) Visual, 2.) Tactile/Touch, 3.) Olfactory/Smell, 4.) Taste, 5.) Auditory, and 6.) Kinesthetic.

I gave it a go….I didn’t pay too much attention to syllables per line, I just went with what sounded right, but I did stick to the rhyme scheme!

Free Jazz (ruba’i)

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Free Jazz

in the park off Railspur Alley
lion house hogo, dogs and trees
like a drunk around a lamp post
the bass player leans.

This is my first attempt at a ruba’i (dVerse prompt). I have used, as per the form structure, a AABA rhyme scheme, I have used half rhymes because they fit! The first three lines are iambic tetrameter, the last line is shorter because it sounded good to my ear that way.

If you want to learn all about the ruba’i and the rubaiyat Check out Frank Hubeny’s excellent post at dVerse.

This is a rewrite of a poem that was published in ” The Basil O’Flaherty” online magazine.

 

The Reverend George Weeble (Quadrille)

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The Reverend George Weeble 

The Reverend George Weeble
liked to spend his holidays
visiting churches in foreign lands,
his parishioners called him:
the steeplechaser.
When I’m old and feeble,
George Weeble said,
when I retire,
I want to be
where the spires conspire
to show me the way.

Mish’s challenge over at dVerse is to write a quadrille (44 word poem) incorporating the word “steep”.

The Town of High Dudgeon

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The Town of High Dudgeon

In the town of High Dudgeon
at the corner of Grump Street and Curmudgeon
people talk about the old ways
about young people these days
with their smart phones, their social media
their Facebook, their Wikipedia
hell, in our day we had to know stuff.
Harrumph! They shout in unison.
Harrumph! They shout harrumphantly.

Outside the town limits
the future raises a middle finger
and data accumulates
about this moment
and the moment before
in cabinets that hum
a one note tune.

 

Participating in Open Link night over at dVerse, one of the best poetry blogs around!

Mr. Courtney ( a sonnet)

 

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Mr. Courtney

Sitting in Mr. Courtney’s English class
moving my feet to that iambic beat
while  greasy Joan doth keel the pot
and snot runneth down the back of my nose.

He tells us he is not a happy man
which makes us feel embarrassed, awkward, sad
(behold the dawn in russet mantle clad)
we pretend interest in (yes) Charles Lamb.

He struck me on the face once, hit me hard.
Have at you varlet! A palpable hit!
A snide remark I made, yes that was it,
about poor Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Still, would this poem be, if not for him,
Keats, beaded bubbles winking at the brim?

 

Taking part in Bjorn’s verse form challenge over at dVerse to write a sonnet. I’ve chosen  an ABBA, CDDC, EFFE, GG rhyme scheme. I’ve used half rhymes here and there to add interest and tried to keep to a ten syllable line even though I haven’t always stuck to that iambic beat. I’ve also woven in quotes from Shakespeare and Keats, these are lines that stuck in my head from those high school classes.

 

Todd and the Time Machine

 

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Todd and the Time Machine

I
Todd’s time machine
has three settings:
time was
time is
time will be.

II
Sometimes
the time travel sickness
hits him
like a five alarm flu.

III
Returning through the time hail,
through the accelerating centuries
he hears his wife yell
from the ever present
from the basement stairs:
I’m turning off that bloody time machine
your dinner’s getting cold!

 

The subject of the day over at dVerse is “Time and What if”

I Should Never Have Started This Villanelle

 

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Thinking of it now, truth to tell
I should have said goodnight, turned out the light
I should never have started this villanelle

now I am stuck in verse form hell
everything I write seems totally trite
thinking of it now, truth to tell

I can check out but I can’t leave this hotel
(the Eagles, you get the reference, right?)
I should never have started this villanelle

mission bell, tinker bell, death knell
I’ve started to write total shite
thinking of it now, truth to tell

I have to get off this carousel
it’s been a struggle, it’s been a fight
I should never have started this villanelle

I need another word that rhymes with ‘elle’
final quatrain, the pain, the urge to yell;
thinking of it now, truth to tell
I should never have started this villanelle

 

Ha…so this all started about a week ago with a challenge on dVerse to write a poem using a verse form that incorporated repetition. I posted 3 poems that were essentially chants but I felt that this was a cop out so I decided to write a villanelle. That was a mistake, that’s all I worked on all week. I felt like I was in a creative straight jacket, that I was wearing one of those ankle bracelets that would alarm if I tried to escape the villanelle. It didn’t help that I got half way through one attempt before I realised that I had the wrong structure, the wrong rhyming scheme.

That poem was built around two lines:

a villain in a villanelle
a doomed lover in a sonnet

It will never see the light of day.

Of form and free verse……..

Free Verse

free verse, let
it roam, far
from all rhyme
and reason

The irony is that this short poem actually has a form – 4 lines, 3 syllables per line. It’s called slim verse. It was invented by my friend, Slim Volume, and I. Of course Slim Volume is not his real name; he used to play in a punk band, The Working Stiffs, and that was his stage name, not that they appeared on many stages. You may remember their seminal album, ‘ Anger and Acne’, but you probably don’t. My all time favorite stage name belongs to the bass player in the Boomtown Rats, Pete Briquette. You’d have to be Irish to get it…..peat briquettes were used as a substitute for coal in open fires. Where was I…oh yes..slim verse..this was meant to be a form designed for the attention span of internet users, problem is I got tired of its limitations. We were churning out aphorisms not poems. We don’t talk about it much anymore, too painful.

…taking part in Open Link night over at dVerse, check them out, well worth the visit!

 

 

 

And Sometimes I Wonder (poems)

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The challenge from Jilly over at dVerse is to write a poem using repetition, the snag is that the poem has to be written to a particular form; the forms being either villanelle, terzanelle, pantoum, triolet or chant. Check out Jilly’s fascinating post for examples and definitions of these forms. I have to admit, having never studied poetry beyond high school (and not much at that) I find these forms intriguing and a little daunting, so I decided to go for what I thought was the easy one – chant; this proved to be a bit more elusive than I had imagined. Here are 3 attempts, the first one is new, the other two are edits of previous posts.

And Sometimes I Wonder

and sometimes I wonder
why it’s easy to curry lamb
but hard to curry favour

and sometimes I wonder
would a defibrillator
stop Donald Trump lying

and sometimes I wonder
are all Donald’s lies
by definition, white

and sometimes I wonder
living comfortable lives
can we legitimately claim suffering credits
from our parents, the past.

Smart Phone (with apologies to Dickens and Darwin)

’twas the best invention
’twas the worst invention

’twas communication’s new dawn
’twas the end of communication

’twas a pain in the neck
’twas incipient myopia

’twas why we evolved
with opposable thumbs.

Auto

auto-didact
auto-deduct
auto-redact
auto- instruct
auto-emphatic
auto-erratic
auto-erotic
auto-neurotic
auto-symbiotic
auto-despotic
auto-dramatic
auto-Semitic
auto-semantic
auto-romantic
auto-demonic
auto-symphonic
auto-bubonic
auto-ironic
auto-motive
auto-emotive
auto-mobile
auto-labile
auto-manual
auto-mandate
Otamendi*
Otamendi
Otamendi.

 

*plays centre half for Manchester City.

 

 

Christmas Cheer (quadrille)

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Christmas Cheer

cell phone rings
you’re not listening
you left it in the Fox and Vixen
on top of the cistern
in the stall
beside the condom machine
it started with one beer,
some Christmas cheer,
now you can’t recollect
what it is that you regret.

 

response to dVerse prompt from whimsygizmo, to write a quadrille (44 word poem) incorporating the word “cheer”.

Poem: Desire – what is it good for?

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Desire – what is it good for?

tender is the night
long is the day’s journey into night
it’s easier to name a street car
than it is to name one’s desire
never attempt a ménage in a glass menagerie
there is nothing less erotic than a red wheelbarrow
a thing of beauty is a joy for a fortnight.

 

…a response to Anmol Arora’s prompt – Poetics: Desire and Sexuality in Poetry,  over at dverse (check it out, it’s well worth a read).

photo taken in Sitges, Catalonia.

 

Heavy Metal Heaven (Edit)

 

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Heavy Metal Heaven

Slim plugs in his guitar
sets the dial on his amp
to “heavy metal”
hits an E minor seven
walks out of the room
makes a cup of coffee
drinks a cup of coffee
checks the football results
texts his brother in England:
what’s up, mate?
his brother doesn’t answer
he starts writing a novel:
The sun –
a red ball of anger on the horizon –
shouts through the brown chemical haze:
“that’s it, I’m outta here”.
Then, and only then, they hear a baby cry.
That’s all he’s got
He returns to the room
that E minor seven
is still going
but faint now
like a rustle of paper
like the distant chatter
of dead drummers
in heavy metal heaven
he picks up his guitar
hits an A minor seven
walks out of the room
starts his taxes……

 

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taking part in Open Link Night over at dVerse

Between (Everyone’s got something to bring..)..Poem.

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Between

Between the caucus and the carcass
between the chaos and the calm
between the fracas and the ruckus
between the righteous and the damned

Between the priest and the sermon
between the singer and the song
no one can determine
why we all can’t get along

Between the question and the answer
there is a life time of space
between the dance and the dancer
there is beauty and there is grace

Everyone’s
got something to bring
affect one thing
affect one thing

Everyone’s
got something to bring
affect one thing
affect one thing

Between the caucus and the chaos
between the crack house and the calm
between the raucous and the ruckus
between the righteous and the damned

Between the priest and the sermon
between the lawyer and the law
no one can determine
what is right and what is wrong

Between the question and the answer
there is a life time of space
between the dance and the dancer
there is beauty and there is grace

Everyone’s
got something to bring
affect one thing
affect one thing

 

In response to the dverse prompt to write a poem using repetition (thanks Jilly). I had the first 3 verses for a while..the prompt spurred me to finish the poem!

 

The Chester Beatty Library (Poem)

A slightly different version of this poem was published a while back in The Galway Review .  I am posting this edited version as part of dVerse’s open link Thursday.

The Chester Beatty Library                                   

In the Chester Beatty Library
Four elderly ladies
Permed, perfumed and powdered
Stroll past the ancient texts
The papyrus and the parchment
Seemingly unimpressed
By the evidence before them
That ever since we could stand upright
We have tried to leave foot prints
In the wet cement of time.
What intrigues the ladies,
Is how these fragile treasures
These artefacts and amulets
Were safely transported
From their exotic homelands
To the airless glass cases
In which they now reside.
They explore this theme together
In intertwining solos
Like a modern jazz quartet
Like mythical creatures
Compelled to talk forever
Because they believe
That to stop
Would be to die.

 

If you are ever in Dublin, the Chester Beatty Library is well worth a visit. The photo below is not the Chester Beatty Library, but it was taken in Dublin in September. I am including it here to show that the sun shines in Dublin but the clouds are always on the move.

 

Radisson

Yuck (a quadrille)

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Yuck (quadrille)

I have never been to Yucatan
but I’ve been to Playa del Carmen

I’ve never been to the Yukon
but I’ve camped in Uclulet

I have never played the ukulele
but I have strummed a guitar

as for the Ukraine
haven’t been there either.

 
In response to the dVerse prompt to write a quadrille using the word “Yuck” which I haven’t used but the sound is there. Thanks to the people at dVerse for making things interesting.

The Toddler King (parts 1,2 and 3)

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The Toddler King

1

5 am. in America

the toddler king
checks his Twitter feed

a five hundred pound ball
of carbohydrate and grease
rolls across the parking lot
of a big box store

assault rifles take stock

the second amendment
thinks about making amends

the founding fathers
find themselves wanting.

2

5 am. in America

the toddler king
checks his Twitter feed

in the empty parking lot
of a big box store
a plastic bag pirouettes
on the halitotic breeze

national monuments
fear for their lives

the adjectives – good, bad, great-
drop in value again

the toddler king
picks a fight with himself.

3

5 am. in America

the toddler king
checks his Twitter feed

an empty shopping cart
rolls across the parking lot
of a big box store
and wishes it was
a metaphor for something

rivers say goodbye
to their banks

the ocean
eyes the shore

the toddler king pardons
those great American dioxides
sulphur, nitric, carbon
they are quickly released.

 

Parts 1&2 appeared previously on this blog, participating in dverse Open Link Night

Butcher

 

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Butcher

7: 30 in the morning, at the corner of Main and King Edward, a butcher in a white coat stands looking out from behind the empty meat trays in the window of the Windsor Packing Company. Back in the fridge, somnolent sausages, blood red sirloin, and thick pink pork chops (each with a trim icing of fat) wait patiently for their return to the public eye…

January wind
Order your Christmas turkey!
Now! The sign urges.

…in response to the dVerse prompt to write a  morning-related halibun.

End of Summer double septo

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End of Summer double septo 

like a wasp in late August
circling a bin of regrets.

This poem is a double septo also known as a quatorze, it consists of two seven syllable lines. Sometimes, I find that the five syllable lines in a haiku create a flatness, a po-faced solemnity…wasp in late August…too much oracle not enough bounce. A seven syllable line allows room for rhythm.

Obviously, I made up the double septo bit. Recently I wrote a quadrille as part of a dVerse prompt and it got me thinking about arbitrary verse forms. A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words, it doesn’t get more arbitrary than that.

Down and Out in Idabel

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Down and Out in Idabel

How Myron found himself in the parking lot
of the Holiday Inn in Idabel, Oklahoma
looking out at the road
on a Saturday morning in April
– after a breakfast of brittle bacon,
sausages slick with grease,
dry fluorescent scrambled eggs –
is not important.

The road pauses, a skittish dog roams.
Myron’s eyes are drawn to a dead armadillo
upside down on the hard shoulder
an empty beer can in its claws
Old Milwaukee, prehistoric drunk,
someone’s joke.

A pick up truck passes
a pick up truck passes
a pick up truck passes
over the fence a cow chews grass
and makes a meal of it.
Dogwoods bloom.
The cow moos like a reluctant foghorn.
Myron’s mood turns
he thinks about the cow,
Manifest Destiny,
the plight of the bison
our lust for red meat
while greenhouse gas
shimmies upwards
ice caps melt
glaciers retreat
and looking down
the road to Shreveport
buoyed by the prospect
of seeing Idabel
in his rear-view mirror
he quietly resolves
to recover what he was
before sadness lodged
like a wet sack
in the back
of his head.

This poem originally appeared in issue 38 of The SHOp poetry magazine (print) which was a fine magazine, unfortunately they closed up shop a few years ago.

 

 

 

Earth (quadrille)

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This poem is in response to the dVerse challenge to write a quadrille (44 word poem) about “earth”.

Earth (quadrille)

wind and fire
earthling, earthenware
is buried in
hearth, dearth, breath
can also be found in
don’t fear the reaper
clear the room
Neanderthal
the Lord’s Prayer;
David Bowie
was the man who fell to earth
Major Tom observed
that planet earth is blue.

A Scarecrow looks back on his Life

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A Scarecrow looks back on his Life

Before Oz
I had control of my life
I had a purpose
a reason for existence

a modus operandi:
stand in a field
and scare crows
that’s it, that’s all.

It was lonely at times
I admit, particularly
at night, but occasionally
a farmer returning

drunk across the fields
would stop and tell me his life story
then fall asleep, snoring
and farting at my feet

and yes, oh yes
I listened in on
acts of intimacy
on hot summer nights

and heard sounds
that made my straw curl;
then Oz occurred
and it was no longer

about presence
it was about absence
the absence of a brain;
children would circle me

and sing that stupid song
suddenly I was pathetic, forlorn;
what got me most was the
sheer illogicality of it all –

to yearn for a brain, one must
have a brain to begin with,
sometimes, I think the sole function
of a brain is to yearn…..

(…hang on a second, I’m sure I saw that same crow yesterday. The little bugger won’t come within twenty feet of me. I’ve still got it….)

This poem was inspired by a dVerse prompt to write a poem from the point of view of a character from The Wizard of Oz..a scarecrow, a Tin Man, a lion. I played with that a bit.