Monday, February 01, 2016

Monday Poetry Stretch - Ideograms

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.

Read the poem in its entirety
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. Y? An Ideographic Answer

    My last name
    begins with a question,
    as all lives do,
    the wonder of turning,
    yes, no, maybe,
    left, right,
    into the dark,
    the light.

    My last name
    begins with a road diverged,
    as all lives can,
    the wonder of returning,
    taken, not taken,
    left, right,
    into the morning,
    into the night.

    My last name begins
    with the body’s lower half
    as all lives must,
    hurtling down the birthing
    channel, canal, bridge
    left, right,
    into the shadow,
    into the bright.

    ©2016 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  2. Jane, that's lovely, especially the last stanza. Your poem inspired mine this morning!

    Do You C?

    The curving, curling
    bay of the C
    widens into an ocean
    and a world.

    The C opens her mouth
    and out come poems,
    jokes, questions, prayers.
    Out comes music.

    The eye of the C blinks,
    looks round in amazement
    at the roundness of sky,
    at the round earth.

    The C doesn’t finish
    her sentences, her thoughts,
    or her looking. C
    is hopeful, always eager

    to embrace more,
    arms spread out
    like the curl of waves,
    like the curve of wings.

    —Kate Coombs, 2016
    all rights reserved

  3. I would love to see that illustrated, especially "The eye of the C. . ."


  4. Wonderful poems, original and in comments. I paused merely to C in the Y a martini glass.

  5. Thanks to both of you for sharing - wonderful poems!
    And to, you,Tricia for prompting.