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Archive for the ‘Poetry Forms’ Category

Cento

I’ve written a cento before and posted on this blog and you can dig through and try to find it if you’re really all that interested. It was made of ee cummings, Franz Wright, and Pablo Neruda. I’m too lazy to repost it.

A cento is a a poem pieced from other poems. Other people’s poems only, I believe. The book I’m pulling these forms from says that someone made a cento about the life of Jesus and pulled all the lines out of Homer. I’d like to read that.

This time I decided to piece one from bits of Biblical Psalms i jotted down in my last journal. So, all the lines are from Psalms (though not necessarily David’s) and I’m not sure which numbers… I sort of rearranged the phrases a bit. I used the NIV in case you want to find one of the lines…
HAND

Your hands made me and formed me
Do not utterly forsake me.
Though I constantly take my life in my hands
do not let my hopes be dashed.

Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
Give me understanding—

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
My eyes are fixed on you
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there, your hand will guide me.
the eyes of all who look to you
you give them their food at the proper time
you open your hand and satisfy the desires
of every living thing.

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calligram

A poem that makes a shape
OH NO
I don’t
like Eve
I believe
I coulda
done bet
ter. yes
I belie
ve I cou
lda done
and we
‘d all be
there pa
in free
yes in
deed eat
in’ fruits
and prun
in’ trees
if I’da
seen th
at snake
I’da kn
own I’d

a give
n him the
world’s first
DEATH

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Bouts-Rimes


French for “rhymed ends.” It takes two people to make. One person sits down and lists rhyming words and the other takes those words and makes rhymed lines in the same order the rhymes were given. Requires “wit and mental agility.”

I had my boyfriend supply the rhymes:

scotch notch
will pill
grit mitt
broth moth
jack mack
fun run
over clover
great mate
bravery knavery
chose prose

At the quilted tablecloth she stirred her milk and scotch.
I would have been shouting if I raised my voice a notch.
“Each decision carried out,” she moaned, “becomes an act of will;
from folding heavy laundry to taking every pill.”

Before she’d had her freedom she’d had her share of grit;
her life smacked into a pop-up before it landed in a mitt.
I slipped into her tales while I sipped her onion broth
deciding she’s a butterfly (though she’d say she’s a moth).

If at the end we find the man who gave the beans to Jack
was the same who handed the bloody knife to Mack,
she won’t be surprised. She predicted all the fun
would become the very thing that made her drop it all and run.

And that’s all she can ruminate before her life is over;
she won’t pretend her shamrock was a four-leaf clover.
But in my eyes her shamrock is as intricate and great
as luck itself. Her thorn: her deceased mate

whose memory jabs the flesh of her mind. His bravery,
which won her heart, was blotted by his knavery.
“Maybe everything ain’t go the way I know I would have chose.”
Some moments are librettos slapped into a stretch of prose.

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blues poem

In case you need a label like my brother puts on his pictures, that’s John Lee Hooker.
A form derived from blues music. There are two kinds of blues poems. The first has no typical form but has blues content. The second might as well be lyrics to a blues song

Stanzas are typically the same line twice and then a third line that rhymes with the other ones. There’s often some slight variation with the first two lines.

Because the blues is one of my top favorite things in the world, I’ve posted three blues poems/song lyrics I’ve written. They go from latest to oldest.

NATURE BLUES

I came home one morning and found our house was gone
I came home one morning and found our house was gone
I couldn’t hardly tell what side the street I’s on.

I’da been back there just the other day
I’da been back there just the other day
Built a little sandbox for my babies to play

I went away on business, came back to mud and sand
I went away on business, came back to mud and sand
How God could let this happen, I just don’t understand

Aunty says her babies were playin in the road
Aunty lost her babies playing in the road
The road became a river, that’s the story she told.

I came home one morning and found our house was gone
I came home one morning and found our house was gone
I can’t hardly tell what side my life is on.

MEMORY BLUES

So you say you walked the streets calling out my name
So you say you walked the streets calling out my name
If you thought I’d smile to see you, baby that’s a shame

You disappeared one sunny morning
Now you come back to my door
Expecting me to get all weepy
Well I ain’t gon’ cry no more

It’s been years now honey, won’t you let me go my way
It’s been years now honey, won’t you let me go my way
There ain’t nothing about me same as yesterday

You disappeared one foggy morning
Now you come back to my door
Expecting me to get all weepy
Well I ain’t gon’ cry no more

You say you gotta memory of me I can’t recall
You say you gotta memory I’m sure I don’t recall
You said I told you that I loved you…
…I don’t remember that at all.

PORCH BLUES
(listen)

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Blank Verse


Ten syllable lines that don’t rhyme. Made famous by Marlowe; lit up and smoked by Shakespeare. People still use them. Usually they’re used to tell stories.

Above Kreunteap,* out on a balcony,
we listened to the call of mutts below
and ate Pad Thai prepared upon a plugged-in
pan. We laughed in broken language. I learned
what they’ve done to my native tongue or call
my native land: in Thai, “Uncle Sam City.”

We laughed until she asked in broken English,
“How about your native people?” Chilis
lost their kick and I looked to the hazed moon
to smile upon my mind with a response.
“The natives that are left,” I said, “live alone,
on reserved land.”
. . . . . . . . “Why?”
. . . . . . . . . . . “The settlers forced them.”
I was the first to tell them of the Trail
of Tears. They sat in silence at the thought
of so much bloodshed; our national debt.

The King, I’m told, once redesigned the roads
of Kreunteap from his hospital window.
The King could find no rest when, below,
his people were stuck in traffic. He loved them
and couldn’t leave them, not one, behind.

(*Kreunteap=what natives call Bangkok. It means, “City of Angels.” The shortened name is, “Kreunteap a ha nakorn” but the actual name is about 30 times as long…

I had to put the dots in because the blogger wouldn’t publish my spaces. Argh.)

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ballade

Mostly used by the French in the 14th and 15th centuries. Complicated as hell (see picture attached to the “judgement” post for an illustration of how complicated this is). Stresses rhyme.

Form:

Three stanzas and a short one (envoi). The envoi addresses an important person or sums up the meaning of the poem.

Each stanza has eight lines. They follow the same rhyme scheme and use the same rhymes. The Rhyme Scheme is: ababbcbC ababbcbC ababbcbC bcbC. C is always the same line.

Other forms:
ababbccdcD, ababbccdcD, ababbccdcD, ccdcD
Twelve line stanzas, six line envoi
Double ballade: six stanzas of eight, ten, or twelve lines but no envoi.

(I took a shot at the standard one…)

In the darkest corner of an unborn heart
(where phantoms asleep with fantasies
stifle glimmers of a new start),
You wait. A grove of dead trees,
still in a violent breeze
reach softly to a sky
of stars. In post-disease,
let them listen to creation’s cry.

Behind the grove in a broken down cart,
painted red with a missing wheel, she lies
staring at nighttime clouds. Quiet Mozart
fills her chest with perfect harmonies.
In the pile of documentaries
this world keeps secret, she’ll try
for dreams—in broadcast pleas,
let them listen to creation’s cry.

Backstage before the play will start:
cracked mirror make-up sessions. She’s
barely memorized her bit part
and not a one to wing it. In balconies,
angels and zombies give silent cheers; the Marquis’
announcement soon to be a lie.
When these shows are forgotten entities,
let them listen to creation’s cry.

You stepped on every species.
In all forgotten forests, you hide
your solemn footprints for blinded men to see.
Let them listen to creation’s cry

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Ballads


Tell exciting stories, usually about lost love. Set to eerie tunes. They are a way to express strong feelings from a tragic event. Traditional British ballads are written with four line stanzas–lines 2 and 4 have 3 beats and rhyme. Literary ballads are written to be said, not sung. Images are key in either form.

I have posted two ballads here–both set to music (however, I haven’t applied music yet to the second one…)

BALLAD OF THE FAIR WEATHER LOVE

The clouds do gather here, my love,
and darken the midday sky.
The rain will come down soon, my love,
and wash away the day light

Do you remember yesterday
when happier songs were sung?
Do you remember what you said
when day had just begun?

You said you’d love me for all time;
you’d never leave my side.
Now you’re packing up your things
(your words emerge to lies).

How can I learn to breathe again
as I breathed with your ear to my chest?
Will I learn to sleep again
in our cold and empty nest?

And when I hear those songs, my love,
the ones you sang to me
how can I keep from breaking down
at their piercing melodies?

What should I now say, my love
I’ll be happy when you’re gone?
How long must I wait, my love
before I can move on?

The clouds do gather here, my love,
and darken the midday sky.
The rain will come down soon, my love,
and wash away the daylight.

Find a warmer place, my love,
go where the sun does shine.
I’ll forget my fair-weather love
who loved me for a short time.

Here’s my second stab at a ballad:

THE BALLAD OF C WALKER

when she walked into the room
when she came around
good people watched the floor
and no one made a sound

she raised her hand in sharing time
we tensed up in our chairs
she spoke and spoke till someone asked
if someone else would share

when she walked into the room
when she came around
good people turned their heads
and no one made a sound

she wailed along with Joplin
on a rainy Friday night
dancing with herself
her tumbling world took flight

she spoke to us for hours
but now that she’s dead
can we recall a single word
this shaking woman said?

her aching soul departed
in January gloom
where scribbled lists of prayers
were found in every room

good people look to heaven
in memory, confess
while we were forgetting her
she was praying for us

when she walks into the room
we’ll all fall to the ground
light from every limb
a song from every sound

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