Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Ideograms

This in one of my favorite May Swenson poems.
Cardinal Ideograms
by May Swenson

0     A mouth.  Can blow or breathe,
       be a funnel, or Hello.

1     A grass blade or cut.

2     A question seated.  And a proud
       bird’s neck.

3     Shallow mitten for a two-fingered hand.

4     Three-cornered hut
       on one stilt.  Sometimes built
       so the roof gapes.

I love the notion of writing about the shape of things. What do you see in the number 6? Or the letter Y? What kind of ideogramatic poem can from the word L-O-V-E? (Ideogramatic? Yeah, I just made that up!)

Visit Joyce Sidman's site to see how she used the words in her name to write an ideogram poem. Now it's your turn to write an ideogram poem. Leave me a note about your work and I'll share the results here later this week.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hmm. Tabs didn't show. Trying again.

    Ideogram #1

    K One-year-old. Stepping slowly.

    A Wizard. Muttering magic.

    T Weightlifter. Heaving higher.

    E Driver. Prodding pedal.

    Ideogram #2

    K Starfish, hurt. Will it grow back?

    A Dunce. Committed to corners?

    T Death of a street. Right or left?

    E House, tornado tipped. Lost?

    —Kate Coombs, 2013

  3. Oh well. You get the idea.


    W - The letter M falling into bed.

    A - An archway getting poked.

    T - The letter I being incomplete due to bottom half
    Going on strike.

    E - A pitchfork whose handle is on lunch break.

    R - A strike line connected to a unmotivated Z.

    S - A snake on the lookout for tonight's supper.

    (C) Charles Waters 2013 all rights reserved.

  5. T - lightning slices
    H - window flashes, rattles
    U - gutters spill
    N - you sit up small in bed
    D - wrap arms ‘round
    E - wind whips, rages
    R - run for cellar
    S - sirens bay
    T - pines sway
    O - cellar damp black nothing
    R - match touches candle, illuminates
    M - you huddle, wait

    © 2013 Stephanie Parsley

  6. K - Beak against the wall.
    A - Scaling mountains.
    R - Pliers, holding on for dear life.
    Y - Funnel, slowly sharing its contents.

  7. Stephanie--that's brilliant!


  8. I've posted my poem for the day, "The Public Librarian's Summer," over at the ALSC blog. Happy Monday!

  9. Here's part of an ideogrammatic alphabet book I wrote called yogabets--

    a . . . teacup resting on its side—


    earring for a tiny lobe.

    b . . . Mama with a baby-bump—

    c . . . baby-bump all by itself.

    d . . . proud new Papa, pitching in,

    e . . . combination lock, unhinged...

  10. All so creative! I'm new to this, but loving it.
    Lindsey McDivitt

  11. So Creative! I'm new to this, but love the ideas!
    Lindsey McDivitt