Thursday, December 03, 2009

Poetry Stretch Results - A Poetic Bestiary

The challenge this week was to write about magical or mythical creatures. However, a bestiary includes all kinds of animals, as you'll see from the results shared here.

Griffin's Stomach Rumbles
by Heidi Mordhorst of my juicy little universe
In hunger
my furred tail flicks
my muscled hindquarters
set themselves tightly back
ready to spring

In hunger
my wide wings beat
my keen eye climbs
the sky, scans the ground
ready to strike

Only my talons and claws agree on
how to hunt.

Tiel Aisha Ansari of Knocking From Inside shares a poem entitled Manticore.

by Steven Withrow of Crackles of Speech
My Dearest Love,

This fair morning we died:
Corncob, Squashtupple, Fortiflax,
And I, Bellwhisper,
We four of Loop Forsooth,
In meadow country of Glisterberry,
Roused to the bugle of Her Mouseship's
Twenty-Second Anti-Raptor Infantry,
Donned bright centurion suits,
Shouldered buckthorn bayonets,
And marched to meet our adversary
At the battle of Low Fernfrond,
Mellow month of mustard seed,
Year of white leaf.

You should know that chief
Among my thoughts were visions
Of you and of our pups.
You'll be pleased to learn not one of us cried,
Save for young Squashtupple
Who clutched his thistle rifle like a toy
And tried to cover a sniffle --
But you couldn't blame the boy,
For when the skirmish started in earnest
And shades of dread Horned Owls
Cloaked over us like clouds before the moon,
Even formidable Fortiflax, who fought the Cats,
Elsewhere, in another year and war,
Looked no prouder, no stouter than a ghost.

I hope you find this posthumous post,
If such can describe my manner
Of writing you now,
In aftermath of afternoon,
Some small consolation for your grief.
Tell all others whom you pass
This one unhurried thing:
Corncob, Squashtupple, Fortiflax,
And I, Bellwhisper,
Were mice of tested mettle till last
Gash of talon and lash of midnight wing,
At the battle of Low Fernfrond,
Mellow month of mustard seed,
Year of white leaf.

© 2009 by Steven Withrow

Dr. Alastair Dobbs' Notebook,

Final Entry
by Kate Coombs of Book Aunt
Not a dragon,
has no scales.

Not a swamp beast,
lacks algae.

Horns, seven.
Not a satyr.

Far too large
to be a basilisk.

Too many teeth
to be a minotaur.

If I could just—

Color, the black
of the inside of a grave.


--Kate Coombs (Book Aunt), 2009

Here be monsters
by Harriet of spynotes

I stand
On the pebbled edge of the world,
my cardboard spyglass
peering toward the horizon
at the break in the swells,
ignoring the tide
of frustration and rage
that brought me here.
After the crashing door.
After the hail of thundering words.
After outriding the wind
on a too-small bicycle.

The rise and fall of static
that buzzes around me
in salted eddies
half drowns
that guilty voice behind my ears
whispering, “Leviathan.”

Scraped palms
on barnacled rocks,
feet scrabbling for grip
on their soft mossy surfaces,
I am at last on the top of the heap,
The conquering hero,
looking again
At the small circle of ocean
within the ocean
of oceans.

It heaves and swells,
a sickly green,
savaging the waves
with scales
and a mighty roar.
The shock of it
Knocks the spyglass
From my hand.
I watch it disappear in the sea
Like a drowned bird.

What is it to drown?
No Ophelia drenched in flowers,
but sinew and bone
flailed raw against the rocks,
until nothing is left
But scales and sea;
and something sucking
just beneath the surface
where you can’t quite see;
something so deafening
that you can’t quite hear.
Until you wonder where it is
that you end and the sea begins.

And then the tide goes out.
And then the tide comes in.
And nothing is any different
than it was before,
except the dull roar
that stays with you
on the long road home.

by Carol Weis

Peering into the mirror
stuffy nosed
and mouth ajar
I see the hair
of Medusa
round my head
with eyes
from Böcklin’s painting
drooping back at me
and immediately
to go back
to bed.

© Carol Weis, all rights reserved

"The echeneis is a small fish that is often found on rocks. It has the ability to slow the passage of ships by clinging to their hulls." Pliny the Elder, Natural History

by Diane Mayr of Random Noodling
The rocks are barely
visible beneath the waves,
yet, I know they are there.
I half hope the echeneis will

rise up, make contact, cling
to me, restrain me, stop
me from touching the
edge of the world. Fish,

or no fish, I know what
awaits at the end. Sail
on, sail on. It's too late
now, to turn back.

by Julie Larios of The Drift Record

East to west,
two Egyptian fish
guide the sun-ship
across the sky over Cairo,
above the dunes of the Sinai.

Wouldn't you like to fly
through the day
sunrise to sunset,
a fish twin?

by Easter of Owl in the Library

Her house is clean. She's always dressed to kill.
She only shops the most exclusive stores.
Her springtime garden bursts with daffodils.
At Christmas, she's the first to wreath her doors.

Her kids are on the honor roll, of course,
Obedient and talented and bright.
Her marriages is free from threats of divorce.
She and her husband never, ever fight.

She's the CPA for a major firm
And secretary of the PTA.
And though her to-do list would make you squirm
She still found time to hit the gym today.

No one should emulate this mythic beast.
Imperfect is more fun, to say the least.

Here's my poem.
Outside Fenrir's Grasp 
His yellow eyes stare through you
as he contemplates your taste
the crunch of your bones in his mouth
sound of your screams in the night

But thanks to the dwarves
he is just out reach
chained to a rock
straining against a thin ribbon

Strangely fashioned of
bear sinews
cat footsteps
bird spittle
breath of fishes
mountain roots
a woman’s beard

What magic is this that holds Fenrir?
Step lightly, tiptoe past
the crouched and snarling beast
a monster in wolf’s clothing
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll add it to the list.


  1. Tricia--I love the ingredients in Fenrir's chain! --Kate

  2. Wow -- so much great reading for a Friday! I especially love Julie's "Flying Fish" -- that's a poem I wish I'd written.

  3. Oh these are all fabulous! I popped over on Monday with the intent to try one but the topic threw me. I know, an excuse. I am finding that I need more time for poetry, more quiet. I will keep coming back, keep trying. Thank you so much for the prompts.

  4. I'm not writing much right now (long story for another time) but I wanted to let everyone know how wonderful this batch of poems are! They were a wonderful journey "away" today.

    Harriet's "Here be monsters" will definitely stick with me on my long road home tonight. Thanks!