Poem 17a: It’s pretty

(By way of explanation: I have decided to post on the first of each month a poem in a specific form. Throughout that month, if further poems are created and posted, they will all use that form. The poetic form chosen for January 2016 is the Pantoum. The pantoum originated in Malaysia in the fifteenth-century. The modern pantoum is a poem of any length, composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The third to last and last lines of a pantoum are often the third and first respectively of the opening stanza.)

20jigsaw

It’s pretty but there’s no hope
in the picture on a jigsaw box;
patched, thatched, and always a puzzle,
and a couple of ducks on a lake.

In the picture on a jigsaw box
there’s always lots and lots of flowers,
and a couple of ducks on a lake
with lots and lots of babies.

There’s always lots and lots of flowers
and those inside the house
with lots and lots of babies,
can’t feed them all.

And those inside the house,
they’ve gone to pieces,
can’t feed them all
in bits and pieces.

They’ve gone to pieces,
jigsawed into shape
in bits and pieces,
disintegrated and broken.

Jigsawed into shape,
patched, thatched, and always a puzzle,
disintegrated and broken.
It’s pretty, but there’s no hope.

43 thoughts on “Poem 17a: It’s pretty

  1. Cynthia Jobin

    Brilliant, Bruce! One of the best pantoums I’ve read!

    [I must confess to a real idiosyncratic distaste for the 20th century type of this form in English because it brings back very bad memories of those who invented it, (it has little to do with the Malaysian type) and my scorn is for the inventors: those graduate school creative writing professors and poetry workshop leaders I have known who use it as a gimmick and a prompt. This has nothing to do with your poem, which is indeed very good.]

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Thanks, Cynthia. One of the “main” things I think about the form – and which I haven’t as yet mastered – is that the repeated phrase should change meaning by context, punctuation etc. At least I THINK that’s the case, and it’s possibly (?) the thing that makes a pantoum a pantoum rather than the repetition per se.

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      1. Cynthia Jobin

        Yes, it’s somewhat like the villanelle in that it should not be simple mesmerizing repetition. This poem “moves on” from the beginning, to the last line, which brings the first line back in a surprising and different way. Many pantoums I have read don’t have that logic, and come across as obsessive, falling into the idiocy of surrealism….fun, but tiresome as junk food after a while. I think you avoided that danger nicely.

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        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          I thought I’d read everything about the pantoum until your 1st comment, and then I explored (as I should have done initially) it further. The “modern” pantoum certainly doesn’t seem to have much bearing on the traditional Malay form. I guess for starters I’m going to have to stick to the modern “version” as that Malay one looks nigh impossible!

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          1. Cynthia Jobin

            All poems have one form or another, and people—including myself— are making them up all the time.
            I’m a nut for traditional European forms, especially English, because language is created socially and my language roots—the music and ordinary speech— are there. I like the challenge of seeing whether or not I can use my inherited forms true to their origination, but in an unforced way, to speak in the diction of today.

            You’re right that the traditional pantoum looks nigh impossible. I don’t speak that language or know much about that culture so I avoid it. For the same reason, I mostly avoid writing haiku. I only recently have tried the ghazal because Aga Shahid Ali, a poet in that Urdu language as well as English, has led a campaign here in the US and written extensively of a way of using that form—strictly—in English.

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        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          As you know, Susanne, from constantly scrubbing the brass bottoms of your pots, I dash off a poem, but it sits there for months and words get changed here and there – it’s so much easier to polish a little bit at a time. I always write longhand – and that way you can see what you’ve crossed out.

          Liked by 1 person

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  2. arlingwoman

    Such an educational post to begin the year. Never heard of the pantoum, but the lovely conversation I was able to listen in on I know more now. Happy new year to you in the south who have had it already!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. Outlier Babe

    How terribly sad. And you are a smarty, aren’t you? These look tricksy. Very so. Congratulations!
    (How long did it take you? You slam out prose so quickly, maybe you sneeze everyday poetry rapid-fire, and need merely slow your breathing briefly for the more challenging poetic forms.)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      LOL! Thanks you, Outlier Babe. It took all of five minutes to write initially, but the “refinement” “honing” took several months! From April onward, Cynthia has chosen the poetic form so that’s a bit more challenging!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

Gentle thoughts and expressions of astoundedness are both gratefully accepted.

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