Tag Archives: Slimverse

To All You Haiku Masters (Slimverse – The Journey, Episode 4)

(Episode 3 is here)

To All You Haiku Masters

it’s time to
discuss the
effable
in the room.

Back in the time before the time, the Poets’ Circle would hold a meeting every April to honor TS Eliot, the theme was always the same, “April just got crueler”. No alcohol was served.
The last meeting, before the pandemic, took place at the house of The Accomplished Poet in West Point Grey. His wife, Cheryl served her asparagus quiche, by far the highlight of the evening.
At the invitation of The Accomplished Poet, The Academic Poet read his 40 verse poem about the Canadian Constitution and afterwards spoke for an hour about the making of the poem and his creative process. He wore, as always, a Mountain Equipment Co-Op black fleece vest, a pale blue button down shirt, a pair of Khaki pants with more pockets than any normal human being could use, and a pair of Merrill hiking shoes.
His creative process? He, apparently, decided at the outset on a six line verse with an ABABCC rhyming scheme and added the restriction that he would only use rhymes that had never been used before in an English language poem, a daunting task, as you can imagine. However, being a professor of literature at a local university, he had his resources and with the help of a few grants, he had a group of his students devise a computer program that would check all his rhymes for originality. This involved compiling a data bank of all the rhymes in English Literature, a process that took ten years and an ever changing band of students. In the end meaning and clarity had to take a back seat and the resulting poem turned out to be a real head scratcher, a masterpiece of obfuscation delivered in a dry monotone.
Did I mention that there was no alcohol at the event?
Slim and I got out of there as fast as we could and headed for The Post-Coital Beetle. Being April, both the hockey season and the European soccer competitions were reaching their climax, so the Beetle was crowded and raucous. All the screens were on and everyone was eager to take in the final stretch before the boredom and blandness of summer sports.
Slim and I got a booth in the corner, ordered a plate of nachos and a pitcher of Blue Buck Ale and settled in. It was hot in the room, and Slim’s bald head was shining, he took off his jacket to reveal a white tee shirt with the following message on the front:
U is at?
Is u at?
At issue?
Is it u?

The third and fourth lines of the message were on a different plane because of Slim’s stomach which is about the size of a regulation soccer ball. So the effect was almost cubist, images stealthily approaching the eye.
“Slimverse at its minimalist best”, I say to Slim, “what a relief!”
We both grin smugly and wax snide at The Academic Poet’s expense. The evening stretches before us like a drunk laid out on a pavement. Two pitchers in, our syllable count rises and we compose this haiku about the real estate bubble in Vancouver. The bubble is always either forming or bursting.


white Lexus on lease
new suit, shoes, two day stubble
bubble? What bubble?

Then cut free from the 12 syllable bonds of slimverse we write another:

cherry blossoms bloom
well-dressed ladies from Beijing
pose with hand on hip

The bar erupts, a goal has been scored. Is it hockey? Is it soccer? Slim and I don’t care, we are gorging on syllables. We expectorate another haiku

cherry blossoms bloom
the air is sticky with greed
houses, for sale, sold.

We pause. The nachos are gone, except for a few crumbs. The remains of the guacamole are slowly oxidizing in the bowl. The second pitcher is all but drained. In the hockey game, the goalie has been pulled. We manage a final push and the last haiku comes out screaming.

cherry blossoms bloom
the wrecking ball’s lazy swing
petals, debris, spring.

Then nothing, a guilty silence, the feeling that we had betrayed our mission, that the future of slimverse was threatened, in doubt. We drain our glasses, get up and head out into the spring night. I walk to the bus stop for the 99 express heading west. Slim walks to the bus stop for the 99 express heading east. It will be a number of months before we meet again.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

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

Slim’s Sudbury Vacation ( a poem and a post-poem interview) 3

IMG_1385 (3)_LI

The Stack

And what a
beautiful
plume we have
here, Nigel,

a plume with
time on its
hands, look at
it loping

across the
sky like a
giant Chinese
dragon, let’s

hail a cab
to find the
plume’s end, where
the last wisps

of vapor
drift upwards
and a blue
mist hangs, yes,

there it is
in the sky
to the west
stalking the

cars in the
parking lot
outside the
big box mall

while the sun
bawls and the
sky gets all
indignant.

Post Poem Interview 

You played well out there tonight, Slim.

Slim: Well, you know it’s not about me, it’s about the poem, I’m just part of the process.

Are you suggesting that you are perhaps some kind of conduit linked to some higher power, some higher resource.

Slim: No, I am just mouthing platitudes, isn’t that the idea?

Quite, so I am sure everyone is wondering, who is Nigel?

Slim: He’s my cousin.

That’s a very English name.

Slim: That’s hardly surprising, he is English.

Do you call him ’Nige’ for short?

Slim: No!

It sounds like he could be a member of one of those floppy-haired synth bands from the eighties, you know, like Soft Cell or Human League or The Pet Shop Boys. Didn’t XTC have a song about a guy called Nigel. Is he in a band?

Slim: He’s a welder.

Does his hair not get in the way?

Slim: He’s bald, where is this going?

(mumbles) somewhere slow or nowhere fast. So tell me about the structure of this poem.

Slim: I took the 3 syllable line, 4 line verse , I have been using, and applied it to a poem that I was never happy with and it worked, at least it made me trim a lot of the fat and I came up with a better poem, I think?

……….what? Sorry I nodded off there for a bit. Well, I’m sure you are itching to get back to the dressing room and join the rest of the lads in a lukewarm bath of diluted sweat.

Slim: Can’t wait!

 

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse.

Slim’s Sudbury Vacation ( a poem and a post-poem interview) 2

IMG_1385 (3)_LI

 

The Stack

And what a

beautiful

plume we have

here, Nigel,

 

a plume with

time on its

hands, look at

it loping

 

across the

sky like a

giant Chinese

dragon, let’s

 

hail a cab

to find the

plume’s end, where

the last wisps

 

of vapor

drift upwards

and a blue

mist hangs, yes,

 

there it is

in the sky

to the west

stalking the

 

cars in the

parking lot

outside the

big box mall

 

while the sun

bawls and the

sky gets all

indignant.

 

Post Poem Interview 

You played well out there tonight, Slim.

Slim: Well, you know it’s not about me, it’s about the poem, I’m just part of the process.

Are you suggesting that you are perhaps some kind of conduit linked to some higher power, some higher resource.

Slim: No, I am just mouthing platitudes, isn’t that the idea?

Quite, so I am sure everyone is wondering, who is Nigel?

Slim: He’s my cousin.

That’s a very English name.

Slim: That’s hardly surprising, he is English.

Do you call him ’Nige’ for short?

Slim: No!

It sounds like he could be a member of one of those floppy-haired synth bands from the eighties, you know, like Soft Cell or Human League or The Pet Shop Boys. Didn’t XTC have a song about a guy called Nigel. Is he in a band?

Slim: He’s a welder.

Does his hair not get in the way?

Slim: He’s bald, where is this going?

(mumbles) somewhere slow or nowhere fast. So tell me about the structure of this poem.

Slim: I took the 3 syllable line, 4 line verse , I have been using, and applied it to a poem that I was never happy with and it worked, at least it made me trim a lot of the fat and I came up with a better poem, I think?

……….what? Sorry I nodded off there for a bit. Well, I’m sure you are itching to get back to the dressing room and join the rest of the lads in a lukewarm bath of diluted sweat.

Slim: Can’t wait!

 

 

 

Waiting for Slim/ Melania’s Cheekbones

IMG_0269 (8)

Waiting for Slim

Sunday afternoon in late June
I’m sitting outside The Post-Coital Beetle
watching the traffic on Broadway,
at the next table, four bearded guys
wearing flat caps and plaid shirts,
looking like the bastard sons of Mumford,
are downing pints of over-hopped pale ale.
At the traffic lights, an eighteen year old Asian kid
checks his hair in the rear view mirror
while his Lamborghini growls
like a panther on a leash.
And who is this slouching along Broadway
his bald head shining in the sun?
No, it is not an image out of Spiritus Mundi,
it’s not one of the boys of summer,
it’s Slim,
a man with all the charm of a pit bull with distemper;
his remaining hair is scrunched into an angry man-bun
he’s carrying a magazine
which he slams down on the table in front of me
“Look at this bullshit!” he whines.

Later, as the sun goes down over Point Grey
and automatic timers turn lights
on in empty Styrofoam mansions,
we settle in to a plate of nachos
and one pitcher follows another
until we find ourselves face to face
trading lines like Lennon and McCartney (well, not quite)
and driven by our shared admiration
of Melania Trump’s granite cheekbones
we compose this maudlin cri de couer

Melania
his megalomania
don’t let it stain ya
don’t let it restrain ya
don’t let it contain ya
and if he should fail ya
remember this:
you know the size
of his hands
and his……..

(the last line is drowned out
by the roar of a feral Ferrari
tearing down Broadway).

there is no stopping us…

Ivanka (a slimverse)

Ivanka
no offence
but your dad’s
a wanka.

there was more, but I can’t remember…..

Pigments of the Imagination

Pigments (2)

Pigments of the Imagination

black crow, a
chunk of white
bread, becomes
an eagle,

pigments in
flight, flying
pigments, yes,
imagine.

….the return of slimverse* after a month of haiku.

* A verse form in which each line can contain only 3 syllables and each verse can contain only 4 lines. In its purest form, there is only one verse, a poetic morsel.

Tree (woman with stroller)- 2

 

Nature Poem (a slim verse)

you call your

self a tree

my bank has

more branches.

 

tree-6-2

 

plus a bonus poem in which Slim escapes the 3 syllable shackles of slimverse and displays an uncharacteristic lightness of being.

 

The Low November Sun

The low November sun
hits the silver birches
and the cherry tree
sending the bush tits
and the black-capped
chickadees
into a flitting frenzy
Who pulled the alarm?
Which one is my nest?
Where did I leave that worm?

Both poems have appeared in other posts, this combination was prompted by the Daily Prompt – ‘branch’.

Elements/ First Winter in the New Car (haiku plus a slimverse plus a bonus poem)

 

Elements

 

 

 

First Winter in the New Car

wheel well icicles
rear screen wiper on thin ice
seat warmer up high

arse-scorching
high, so that
is what that
switch is for.

A haiku and a slimverse together for the first time – 29 syllable madness. A terrible beauty is born.

Now, a poem that died and came back to life.

Elliot

some said he got what he deserved
he was just another ocean liner
looking for an iceberg
but I had to observe, you know,
not all disasters
are waiting to happen.

 

2 Poems and a Song Lyric at The Basil O’Flaherty.

I have 2 poems (“Living Off the Grid”, “Railspur Alley Park”) and a song lyric (“Willie’s Oasis”) up at the tri-quarterly web magazine “The Basil O’Flaherty”.

Regular visitors to this blog will recognise the second poem as a triple slimverse. Only the second time this verse form has appeared outside this blog….is that momentum I feel?

I’m never totally sure about publishing song lyrics as they sometimes seem a bit thin on the page without melody and music, but I hope this one stands up! You can check out a sample of the recorded version here.

The Best of Slimverse, 2016

When 2016 began, slimverse was 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 and now that 2016 is being carried, battered and bruised, out of the building, slimverse is 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. This is a collection of the best of 2016, compiled by Slim 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 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, who edits 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.

Here’s the List:

Bison

Like an old

Christian

Brother, an

unkempt monk.

***

Golf

 the one sport

that demands

blandness from

its heroes.

***

The Stack (remix)

And what a

beautiful

plume we have

here, Nigel,

 

a plume with

time on its

hands, look at

it loping

 

across the

sky like a

giant Chinese

dragon, let’s

 

hail a cab

to find the

plume’s end, where

the last wisps

 

of vapor

drift upwards

and a blue

mist hangs, yes,

 

there it is

in the sky

to the west

stalking the

 

cars in the

parking lot

outside the

big box mall

 

while the sun

bawls and the

sky gets all

indignant.

 ***

Holy Scripture

when asked to

pick a font

he replied:

baptismal.

***

And No Tom

 Danger Mouse

Modest Mouse

DeadMau5. It’s

all Jerry…….

***

Vancouver Jazz Festival (Re-Mix)

 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.

 ***

Names 

those that can

stand alone

those that can’t

hyphenate.

 ***

Old Cowboy

bowed legs

straddling a

ghost horse, beef

jerky thin

 

Holiday

Inn, buffet

breakfast, far

from the range.

***

When the Twittering Stops

it’s all fun

and games ’til

the body

bags come home.

 

***

On Hearing that Justin Trudeau had approved the Kinder Morgan Pipeline

there are 3

certainties

death, taxes,

corrosion.

 

Photo: Cranberriment