Winter rime and winter rhyme

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Winter’s minions stand their ground.

 

The book of days that hangs upon my wall told me more than a week ago that spring was here. I’m waiting, trying to believe it’s true.

 

Yes, the time of rime is now past, but winter lingers, reluctant to leave. Though the thermometer says it is 23 degrees this morning, winter sends its winds to swallow 5 degrees or more.

 

I brood. Rime, the ice that winter paints the trees with, rhymes with “rhyme.”

 

The time of rhyme is also past. Once upon a time, poets moved in measured footsteps, inviting us to join the verbal dance. Often when a line stopped and bowed its rhyme, the next one mirrored those same steps, matching the sound in kind. Some poets slanted rhymes or placed them inside, waltzing to a steady beat until the final curtsey.

 

These days we like our rhymes sung, whether hip-hop, pop, or rock. Our poems are free to wander, twirl, and spin. Free verse creates its own steps and feels no constraint to follow someone else’s choreography. It rhymes or not, according to its own interpretation of the dance.

 

I would like to rhyme and dance a poem, but I have two left feet. However, it doesn’t stop me from trying.

 

So, today, I’ll share a poem of winter’s end, written years ago for my children. I warn you now: should you cross beyond the yellow tape, you’ll wind up in a rhyme scene.

Rhyme Scene

                                    Winter

 

Sweet swift dreams buried lie,

Mourned with long and silver sighs

Winter bares his strength ice-cold,

Tyrant clothed in robe of snow.

 

None would even dare to try

Reason with those deathful eyes;

Piercing, chilling, large and small;

Well he knows we’re cowards all.

 

Oh so proud, he comes with foot

Booted.  And where once had stood

Tender creatures soft and green,

Sterile, barren world is seen.

 

Laughing with a blasting wind

Opens court, his reign begins.

Long he banquets, drinks the wine

Stolen from the summer vine.

 

Largely ‘neath his grey tent sky

Sated monarch, drunken lies

Sleeping.  Snores with white-cold breath;

All his subjects wait, in death.

 

Deep in dreams his lover spies,

Hoary kisses tantalize.

Then sound with laughing fingers cracks

His smooth white dream, still unhatched.

 

Would one dare disturb this king

Who exiled thousands born to sing;

Southern regions welcomed them

Feathered orphans, fled on wing.

 

Still the sound, gentle laughter,

Warmly wrapping ‘round the rafters;

Anger fills the tyrant’s breast,

“Halt!” he cries with frosty breath.

 

Comes a child with melting smile,

Skips and flowers multiply.

Smaller growing, puddle king,

Conquered by the barefoot Spring.

 

Melting minions.

Melting minions.

The calling

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Dream world

 

 

Do you hear it

in the dark

moment

before you slip

beneath the cover

of sleep?

 

Does it murmur

you awake

call you back to

day?

 

There

between the worlds

do you hear

your heart whisper

what you must do?

 

You begin to see

there is an end

to the long tunnel

of time,

and your heart says,

Now

before it is too late

let’s look

just one more time

for those dreams

we’ve heard so much about.

 

Simple past

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Only in grammar

can you guarantee

a past, present, and future

that is perfect.

 

 

I have had my share

of that perfection,

but yesterday,

the verbs were restless.

Some sprouted –ings

and flew around the room

as nouns

as if flying were a thing

to be desired.

 

 

The rest,

tired of being active,

pulled on their participles

and just stood there,

describing things.

 

 

Some of the nouns,

envious of all the action,

broke into a dictionary

grabbed suffixes willy-nilly

and put them on like tails

to strut among the verbs

symbolizing

something.

 

 

So many things were

happening,

And while much of it

was clearly progressive,

I sat in that hubbub

and longed for my

simple past.

In the park on an angry day

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The house was full of too many words,

so I took the train to town and walked

in the park through the silent, soft

afternoon light among red maples, and

yellow ginkgos. The lake was infested

with greedy ducks. A long orange carp

followed me, or perhaps I followed it,

along the bridge. Ducks paddled over

its head begging for bread. Twice it

surfaced and looked as if it would speak

to me, but apparently thought better of it,

and went back underwater. At the bridge’s

end, a father and his little girl fed the mob

of ducks. The carp swam under the bridge.

We parted without speaking.

For Emily

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                                    I do prefer a book

                                    to laboratory looks

                                    at writhing specimens

                                    each dancing on a pin.

                                    I’d really rather read

                                    of how the hero bleeds

                                    than try to staunch the flow

                                    and feel my heart go slow.

                                    The lab’s the class to miss

                                    and if I had my wish

                                    I’d have a textbook life

                                    and skip formaldehyde.

Love comes in small change

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Love comes in small change: pennies of please and thank you, nickels of you go first,

 

ten-cent hugs, quarters of talks over coffee, half-dollar words not said,

 

and some cents of forgiveness, always held back till the end of the day,

 

for the dirty socks forgotten on the floor and the toilet seat left gaping in the bathroom.

 

Lovers save the change of love, fill their pockets and their piggy banks,

 

to spend on love’s small extravagances.

 

Love is a lifetime of wealth, mostly made of small change.