Tag Archives: poetry

Poem 36: Grandfather Clock

(The poetic form selected for this month is the Burns stanza. However, even though I liked what I’d written it was a bit “hard-hitting” and I decided that some readers would get offended – so I wrote something modelled on the ghazal instead!!)

Once wound I am ignored, the old clock chimes.
Once loved and once adored, the old clock chimes.

Too weak and frail to spring from bed at dawn,
Men wait in old age ward. The old clock chimes.

Three! Three! Three at last! Thank God Almighty!
School is out! Praise the Lord! the old clock chimes!

Four times she runs late for work, just this week;
It’s what she can’t afford, the old clock chimes.

Five-green-bottles-hanging-on-the-wall song:
In which one is time stored? the old clock chimes.

Six steps on toes the ballerina goes,
Major lift, minor chord, the old clock chimes.

Severn is the river through Shrewsbury.
So? Just for the record, the old clock chimes.

Ate eight big eggs for breakfast, fried in fat,
And greasy bacon gnawed. The old clock chimes.

Nein, the Germans say. No! Trains leave on time!
Delay is much abhorred! The old clock chimes!

Tender are most maternal hearts, and kind;
Kids leave to go abroad, the old clock chimes.

Eleven days make way for dozens more.
In none is bliss forestalled. The old clock chimes.

Twelve heralds in the darkest midnight hour.
I’m timeworn… slow… and bored… The old clock chimes.

Poem 35: Dead flowers

(The poetic form selected for this month is the Standard Habbie aka Burns Stanza).

The flowers you left when I was ill
Lie dead upon my window sill.
The flowers are dead, not me, you dill!
I’m still alive!
I’ll throw them out, I think I will.
They won’t revive.

You left these flowers when you left me,
You said our love was dead, you see,
And you had wanted to be free
And not enchained.
I know that what will be will be
But little’s gained.

I hope you love the life you choose.
I cook a meal and watch the News.
I clean the house; don’t touch the booze.
If you were here
The things we hold I’d never lose.
Dead flowers don’t care.

Poem 31: Rain

(The poetic form selected for this month is the ghazal.
The refrain is taken from Edith Sitwell’s profound poem, “Still falls the rain”. This ghazal is NOT intended as a reflection on her poem; it’s simply a phrase that’s stayed with me for fifty years or so.)

Night has turned to day yet still falls the rain.
Accept what floods you get. Still falls the rain.

Lovers steal the hearts of one another
And leave the lost to fret. Still falls the rain.

Mollycoddling keep us warm and dry but
Socks, shoes, and feet get wet. Still falls the rain.

Frozen clouds gather on far mountain hills.
It’s cold this night? You bet! Still falls the rain.

Sun brings its joys to those who ever hope,
Yet sleet shall caste its net. Still falls the rain.

Our days are predetermined, are they not?
So Bruce’s steps are set. Still falls the rain.

1082. Jack and Jill my foot

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after

Up Jack got and home did trot
As fast as he could caper
He went to bed and bound his head
With vinegar and brown paper.

Have you ever heard such balderdash?

The only reason they went “up the hill” was because “hill” rhymes with “Jill”. Obviously, one doesn’t go UP a hill to get water. If anything, one would go DOWN. In fact, they could have gone to a well to get water. It certainly makes more sense. All they need do is change the name from “Jill” to “Nell”.

Jack and Nell went to a well.

It’s possible they went to a “water hole in the bog”, but what girl’s name rhymes with “water hole in the bog”? Brook?

Jack fell down and broke his crown. Presumably they mean “crown of the head”. Well, if he broke that he’d be dead and not capering home to wrap things up with vinegar and brown paper. In all likelihood, he broke his arm. But “arm” doesn’t rhyme with “down”. At least not in my book.

Lies! Lies! Lies! I shudder to think of the lies that have been told throughout history for the sake of a rhyme. Imagine the fibs told by Shakespeare in all those sonnet. No wonder he wrote his plays in blank verse. And the whoppers scattered throughout Milton’s Paradise Lost. Phew! We won’t even begin to go into the Iliad and the Odyssey.

I could indeed go on about Jack and Jill to illustrate further this proclivity to lie for the sake of rhyme, but I won’t. Suffice to say that “water” doesn’t rhyme with “after” like the author clearly thinks it does. This makes it a lie in an unrhyme. Is there nothing true and sacred left in this world of ours?

Poem 29: Split open wide

(As some of you know, I pick a specific poetic form each month, and any poem composed in that month uses – or tries to use – that form. It’s a way of giving myself a bit of discipline! This month it is the ghazal. I was inspired to attempt the ghazal by the late Cynthia Jobin and by my blogging friend Uma. I hope this attempt does them proud enough…)

Pierced by lightning, skies split open wide.
Thrashed with loss my cries split open wide.

Poppy bud bright red with fecund stamen
bursts out as soldiers die split open wide.

Gnarled log once lord of all the forest trees
on earthen floor now lies split open wide.

Full-term ripe womb about to shed its fruit,
breaks its waters, falls, sighs, split open wide.

We shake our words as dice in hand are played,
and Bruce has tossed his die split open wide.

Poems 27: Five bits of doggerel

(Over the years we’ve had five dogs. I know all pets are special, and the pets of others can become a little tedious. But since this month’s poetic form (for myself) is doggerel, I thought a tribute was in order!)

Doggie

I found my masters on my own –
A battered dog, I found a home.
I simply ran to where they lived.
For me to stay I’d give give give.
It worked!

Sedona

They got me as a tiny puppy
to keep old Doggie alert and huppy.
Doggie taught me all I know
like how to find my way in snow;
how to chase squirrels; climb a tree!
even taught me where to pee.
But most of all how to eat all the wild raspberries
(that grew in the woods)
and leave not a damn thing for anyone else.

Rusty

I was in a pound.
They were going to put me down.
I went to my new home and put on weight.
I was the only dog about that became bilingual,
understanding French and English.
And then a deer hunter came uninvited to my place
and shot me dead.
For fun.
C’est la vie.

Delia

I was allergic to everything – even food,
which is why I had such expensive tastes.
For eleven years I looked after everyone,
all day, every day,
especially the cow, the cat, and the goat.
Every now and then, all on my own,
I would bring home a wild turkey for all to have a feast.
One day we all went for a walk
(the cow didn’t come but everyone else did).
I came home, had a drink of water,
and died.

Bubble

I know men talk about my ears
And say they sprout a lot of hairs.
I really shouldn’t proudly boast:
For dogs, that’s cute; for men, that’s gross.

1045. Professor of Poetry

When Professor Edwin Lumsden’s mother died, he left it to his only sibling, his sister Berwyn, to make all the funeral arrangements. After all, Professor Edwin Lumsden was a busy man. He had to lecture in poetry at the university twice a week, and each lecture took hours of preparation. Only last week he had lectured on the meaning of the bits of Greek in Ezra Pound’s poetry. This week he was lecturing on several of e. e. cummings’ 2,900 poems. His mother would have understood why he couldn’t afford the time to help organise her funeral, and besides, his sister was exceedingly competent.

And there it was – in the morning paper – for all to see. The obituary:

I know you find it hard to part
With me, O darling of my heart,
But only trust in Jesu’s name
And you shall see your mother again.
  – Inserted by her loving son, Professor Edwin Lumsden

How could he face his academic colleagues after that? He was down to lecture about the impact of Duns Scotus’s philosophy on the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and then this bit of rhyming balderdash made its appearance.

Professor Edwin Lumsden couldn’t face it. He was ashamed. He was embarrassed. He missed the funeral and called in sick at the university for three weeks.