Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween - A Bit 'O Shakespeare

Macbeth: Act 4, Scene 1

A dark cave. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches.

First Witch 
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

Second Witch 
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

Third Witch 
Harpier cries "'Tis time, 'tis time."

First Witch 
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch 
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Third Witch 
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch 
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - 13 Ways of Looking at Fall

This weekend I was savoring Wallace Steven's wonderful poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. I began to think that looking at fall in this way might be an interesting thing to do. Now, you don't need to come up with 13 stanzas of your own. Perhaps we could write this as a modified renga, each contributing a verse or two.

Here are the stanzas I'm starting with (I think).

Why is autumn
Is it cooling temperatures?
Dampening spirits
as summer fades away?
Could it be as simple
as dropping leaves?


Ripe, round, juicy
delights picked 
and turned into
steaming, cinnamon slathered pies

However you want to approach it, the challenge this week is to write a few stanzas (or more!) about fall. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Poetry Friday - Zero by Eve Merriam

In honor of the holiday just 6 short days away, I'm sharing a poem in the spirit of the season.
I love the 1987 publication Halloween ABC, written by Eve Merriam and illustrated by Lane Smith. However, I must say that I am even fonder of the 2002 revised and retitled edition Spooky ABC. Besides the absolutely pitch-perfect poems and illustrations, one of the most interesting things about the book is the section at the end entitled "The Awful Truth Behind The Making Of Spooky ABC." In it, Lane Smith describes how the first book and revised edition came about. This section also includes images that were created for the first book, but ultimately dropped because Merriam's poems suggested other illustrations. For example, vampire was lost to viper, tree to trap, and cat to crawler. (I do LOVE the cat illustration, as well as the one for invisible. I wish you could see them!)

Today I'm sharing the poem for the letter Z.

by Eve Merriam

Round blank
Round blank
Only bubbles
mark where it sank.

What was the secret,
what was the prize?
Nothing but hollow
holes for eyes.

Where did it come from,
and where did it go?
No one alive
will ever know.

Check out other poetic things being shared today at Live Your Poem. Wish Irene a happy 1000th post while you're there. Happy Poetry Friday all!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Rictameter

Created in 1990 by two cousins, rictameter is a nine line poetry form in which the 1st and last lines are the same. The syllable count is 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2.

You can learn more about this relatively young form at Wikipedia, or read some examples at Shadow Poetry.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem in the form of rictameter. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Poetry Friday - Mortimer Minute

I hope Mortimer isn't too angry that I finished off the last of the fresh celery greens last night while making a pot of yummy vegetable soup. I promise to head to the farmer's market tomorrow to get him something green and leafy if he promises to stick around!

I've been absent from Poetry Friday for quite a while now, so Laura Purdie Salas thought this might be a way to get me back into the swing of things. I think she just might be right! Like Laura, I'm not much of a meme girl, but this one was too much fun to pass up.

So, without further ado, I'm jumping into the Children's Poetry Blog Hop head first. Many thanks to Laura for the invite!

Here’s how to hop “Mortimer Minute” style!
  • Answer 3 questions. Pick one question from the previous Hopper. Add two of your own. Keep it short, please! This is a Blog Hop, not a Blog Long Jump. This is The Mortimer Minute—not The Mortimer Millennium!
  • Invite friends. Invite 1-3 bloggers who love children’s poetry to follow you. They can be writers, teachers, librarians, or just plain old poetry lovers.
  • Say thank you. In your own post, link to The Previous Hopper. Then keep The Mortimer Minute going — let us know who your Hoppers are and when they plan to post their own Mortimer Minute.
Mortimer's got some friends waiting, so let's go!

Mortimer: Is there a children’s poem that you wish you had written?
Mortimer, you really can't expect me to pick just one! There are so many that I love for so many different reasons. Since growing up next door to a dairy farm, I've always had a fondness for cows. This means that I wish I had written just one of the many cow-themed poems penned by Alice Schertle. Here's one of my favorites.


She landed hard,
they say,
and afterward was slightly lame.
For several days
the curious came to stare,
and many hoped
that she would dare
to try the trick again.
They went away dissatisfied.
She never tried
to jump again,
but gazed for hours at the moon.
They never found the dish and spoon.

Poem ©Alice Schertle. All rights reserved.

Mortimer: Do you have a favorite poetry book from childhood?
I certainly do! It's called THE PEDALING MAN AND OTHER POEMS and is written by Russell Hoban. Here's a photo of my well-worn and much beloved book. It was published in 1968. I'm not sure when I got it, but I remember it well. Growing up near the Erie Canal, Genesee River, and Lake Ontario I was very familiar with water, but it was this poem of Hoban's that captivated me. 

Old Man Ocean
by Russell Hoban

Old Man Ocean, how do you pound
Smooth glass rough, rough stones round?
     Time and the tide and the wild waves rolling,
     Night and the wind and the long gray dawn.

Old Man Ocean, what do you tell,
What do you sing in the empty shell?
     Fog and the storm and the long bell tolling,
     Bones in the deep and brave men gone.

Mortimer: If you could host a dinner party and invite three poets, who would you choose?
Oh Mortimer, that question is just so unfair. Since I'm a rule-breaker, I'll give you two answers. If I could dine with the dead, my choices would be Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Walt Whitman. Of folks writing poetry today, I'd choose J. Patrick Lewis, Helen Frost, and Avis Harley. (Yes, I left out some AMAZING poets, but I'm going to gloat for just a moment and tell you that I have shared meals with some of them!)

That's it for me and my Mortimer Minute. Next week the the Children's Poetry Blog Hop continues with Robyn Hood Black, an author and poet I had the honor of sharing many fabulous meals with while attending a Highlights Foundation workshop.

Robyn is the author of Sir Mike (Scholastic) and Wolves (Intervisual Books) and writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her poetry appears in The Poetry Friday Anthology and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, Pomelo Books), in Georgia Heard's anthology of found poems, The Arrow Finds Its Mark (Roaring Brook), and in leading haiku journals. Her fiction has appeared in Highlights and her poetry has been featured in Ladybug and Hopscotch. She also creates "art for your literary side" through her business, artsyletters.

Check out other poetic things being shared today at Merely Day by Day. Happy Poetry Friday all!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Kyrielle

I seem to be stuck on repeating forms these days. There is something challenging about fitting the same line(s) into a poem and making it work.

A kyrielle is a French from that was originally used by Troubadours. In the original French kyrielle, lines had eight syllables. Written in English, the lines are usually iambic tetrameters. The distinctive feature of a kyrielle is the refrain in which the final line of every stanza is the same. The name of the form comes from the word kyrie, a form of prayer in which the phrase "Lord have mercy" (kyrie eleison) is repeated.

A kyrielle can be any length as long as it is written in 4 line stanzas of iambic tetrameters. A kyrielle also has a rhyme scheme. Two popular forms are aabB/ccbB/ddbB etc. or abaB/cbcB/dbdB etc., where B is the repeated refrain.

Here is an example of the form.
by John Payne

A lark in the mesh of the tangled vine,
A bee that drowns in the flower-cup's wine,
A fly in sunshine,--such is the man.
All things must end, as all began.

A little pain, a little pleasure,
A little heaping up of treasure;
Then no more gazing upon the sun.
All things must end that have begun.

Where is the time for hope or doubt?
A puff of the wind, and life is out;
A turn of the wheel, and rest is won.
All things must end that have begun.

Golden morning and purple night,
Life that fails with the failing light;
Death is the only deathless one.
All things must end that have begun.

Ending waits on the brief beginning;
Is the prize worth the stress of winning?
E'en in the dawning day is done.
All things must end that have begun.

Weary waiting and weary striving,
Glad outsetting and sad arriving;
What is it worth when the goal is won?
All things must end that have begun.

Speedily fades the morning glitter;
Love grows irksome and wine grows bitter.
Two are parted from what was one.
All things must end that have begun.

Toil and pain and the evening rest;
Joy is weary and sleep is best;
Fair and softly the day is done.
All things must end that have begun.
If you want to learn more about the kyrielle you can read this Wikipedia entry or the article Kyrielle: The Kyrie Reformed.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a kyrielle. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Poetry Friday - She Runs

Laura Salas has done a spectacular job in her poetry Friday introduction describing the Poetry Seven's recent foray into writing pantoums. The only requirement was the form and that we use the line “I’ve got better things to do than survive,” from Ani DiFranco’s song Swandive. I have the album this song is on, so I did not listen to it while I was writing for fear that my poem might too closely resemble the song.

I wish I could explain in some eloquent manner how this poem came to be. It actually began to form while I was walking to work and watching the many people jogging past me. I started thinking about how much I despise running and how sometimes in life it's a struggle to finish the course I've set for myself. With the song lyric in mind, a desire to make the poem rhyme and move a bit like a runner, this is what I came up with. I did take some liberties with the lyric, but you can still see a bit of it in here.

Thanks to my poetry sisters for holding my feet to the fire and encouraging me not only to write, but to share.

She Runs

This day I am alive
up and racing with the sun
I’ll do better than survive
though I’ve only just begun

Up and racing with the sun
breathing morning’s sweet bouquet
I’ve only just begun
to watch the pavement slip away

Breathing morning’s sweet bouquet
clock the miles beneath my feet
watching pavement slip away
down a sleepy, city street

Clock the miles beneath my feet
breathing hard and fading fast
down a sleepy, city street
more mile markers passed

Breathing hard and fading fast
I’ll do better than survive
last mile marker passed
this day I am alive!

I hope you visit the other Poetry Seven blogs today and see how crazy talented these women are and how very different poems revolving around the same line can be. Here's where you'll find them.

Tanita S. Davis - The Mother Load
Kelly Fineman - On My List
Sara Lewis Holmes
Laura Purdie Salas - Buckled Bricks
Liz Garton Scanlon - And This, and This and  The Food Movement (2 poems!)
Andromeda Jazmon Sibley - Moth Sisters

While you're at Laura's place, don't forget to check out the rest of the Poetry Friday entries being shared this week. Happy poetry Friday all!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Rondel/Roundel

A rondel is a variation of the roundeau. In the book A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms, Paul Janeczko calls it a roundel and defines it this way.
A roundel is a three-stanza poem of 11 lines. The stanzas have four, three, and four lines in them and a rhyme scheme of abab bab abab. Ah, but there's more. Line 4 is repeated as line 11 -- not an easy trick!
The roundel in the book, entitled A Silver Trapeze, was written by Alice Schertle, a woman who once said "Writing poetry is difficult, absorbing, frustrating, satisfying, maddening, intriguing – and I love all of it!" I am so with her!

Here is a roundel about a roundel.

The Roundel
By Algernon Charles Swinburne

A roundel is wrought as a ring or a starbright sphere,
With craft of delight and with cunning of sound unsought,
That the heart of the hearer may smile if to pleasure his ear
A roundel is wrought.

Its jewel of music is carven of all or of aught--
Love, laughter, or mourning--remembrance of rapture or fear--
That fancy may fashion to hang in the ear of thought.

As a bird's quick song runs round, and the hearts in us hear
Pause answer to pause, and again the same strain caught,
So moves the device whence, round as a pearl or tear,
A roundel is wrought.
Will you join me this week in writing a roundel? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Tuesday Poetry Stretch - Triolet

It may be "Five O'Clock Somewhere," but it's certainly not Monday anywhere. Sorry for being a bit late on this one.

Since I've been playing around with the pantoum, I want to try another strict verse form this week. I've only written a few triolets, largely because the form scares the heck out of me. A triolet is an eight line poem with a tightly rhymed structure and repeated lines. Here is the form.
line 1 - A
line 2 - B
line 3 - A
line 4 - line 1 repeated
line 5 - A
line 6 - B
line 7 - line 1 repeated
line 8 - line 2 repeated
You can read an example and learn more about this form at

Here is a triolet I particularly like. It comes from the book Fly With Poetry: An ABC of Poetry, written and illustrated by Avis Harley.
by Avis Harley

Have you ever swum in a sea
alive with silver light
sprinkled from a galaxy?
Have you ever swum in a sea
littered with glitter graffiti
scribbled on liquid night?
Have you ever swum in a sea
alive with silver light?
Another terrific triolet can be found in Paul Janeczko's A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Written by Alice Schertle, the poem is entitled The Cow's Complaint.

Will you write a triolet with me this week? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.