Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Tuesday Poetry Stretch - Ideograms

As my mother would say, I'm a day late and a dollar short, but at least I'm here.

This in one of my favorite May Swenson poems, second only to Analysis of Baseball.
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 S-P-R-I-N-G? (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. Won't you join us? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


  1. Those are two of my favorite May Swenson poems, too! Great prompt.

  2. I did this for my first name last year, so here’s my last name, with a nod to alphabet books:

    C—the curve of a cloud

    O—the oblong of an octopus’s head

    O—the oval of an omelet

    M—the movement of a mouse

    B—the bellow of a bull

    S—the subtlety of a snake

    —Kate Coombs, 2014

  3. Like Kate I did my first name a while ago, so here's the last.


    W – Waxing verbal tangents.

    A – Robert Redford’s 1969 home.

    T – Tightrope walker climbing down after losing nerve halfway through.

    E – A handle-less pitchfork taking a nap.

    R – New water slide called “The Leaning Question Mark.”

    S – Tubing southbound.

    (c) Charles Waters 2014 all rights reserved.