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.

 

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.

On the lake

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The sun paints

the side of

the boathouse

glossy white,

splattering

the lake with light

that only night

can wash away.

 

 

 

The trees gather

around the shore

admiring their reflections,

leaves shimmering.

 

 

 

My boat follows

the water’s path,

unanchored.

 

 

 

I love the trees, lake, sun,

this day, this time

and I can almost believe

they love me back

when the wind sighs

and caresses my cheek

without a word,

the way lovers

so often do.

Frequently Not Asked Questions: Two

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Why is “Poetry” listed as one of the categories on your blog? Aren’t you a failed poet?

 

 

 

Thank you for asking.

 

 

First, please note that you should be asking only one question at a time. Did you realize you asked two?

 

 

Second, do you have a problem with me listing “Poetry” as a category?

 

 

Third, I really wish you would capitalize the word “failed.” I just so happen to write in the literary style of poetry known as Failed. Surely you have heard of the Baroque1 or Metaphysical poets, Imagist poets, Confessional poets, and Martian poets? I am part of that great tradition and subscribe to the tenets of Failed Poetry, so technically I should be referred to as a Failed poet.

 

Martian poet, Christopher Reid, looking good, but a bit spaced out. (On Wikipedia.)

 

Like all great poets, Failed poets have one long foot and one short foot. (By the way, the easiest way to determine if someone has an ability to write poetry is to ask to see their feet. Don’t be fooled if they are so-called “Long fellows.”) Those of us who are part of this movement favor mixed metaphors and imprecise language, with an occasional forced rhyme in tribute to early rhymers like Shakespeare and John Donne. To us, poetry is music and every poem a song to sing, so when we’re feeling metrical we write singsong verse. Otherwise, we just write down whatever we are thinking but without the punctuation. We love words and like how they look on paper or computer screens. Many of us like to spell our words correctly, but it’s not required.

 

John Done is now done with poetry. We miss him. Thank you Wikipedia for this portrait.

Fourth, I put that category on my blog because I believe in the U.S. Constitution. For a little over a year, I submitted my poetry to various journals. Although one online and one print journal accepted my work out of pity, the majority wrote back to express regret and sorrow. Apparently editors all over the nation were filled with sadness and grief after reading my poems. I felt guilty singling them out and making them bear the full burden of reading my poetry, so I chose to include some on this blog and make that pain available to anyone and everyone. It is the American way.

 

 

Fifth, please keep in mind that on this blog I use the word “Poetry” in its broadest sense:  a bunch of words.

 

 

 

 

1 The Baroque movement never died. Most poets since the 1600s consider themselves Baroque; however, they now use the modern spelling “broke.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

You always hurt the one you love

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The Mills Brothers

Do you ever wonder what your brain is doing while you sleep? If you’re like me, you also  wonder what it’s doing while you’re awake.

 

This morning I woke up with two rhymes in my head. The first (thankfully) has only one stanza, the second has two.

 

Like the majority of  people who majored in English, I’m a failed poet. That doesn’t stop me from writing it, of course, but when I fail, I tend to fail in free verse. I’m not going to try to fix or clean up the rhymes that were in my head this morning, so if you have a weak stomach, I suggest you avert your eyes from the rhyme scene. It may be too gruesome for you. The first goes like this:

 

Have you seen how love ebbs and leaves the shore

Flowing out to sea, seen no more?

Have you felt the chill when love shuts the door

Quietly because it has other places it must go?

 

I’ve written some posts about my mother recently and have been thinking how she spent her whole life looking for love. She found it for a while, but then lost it when my father died in an accident.

 

One of her pet phrases was “You always hurt the one you love.” She would often say it in a teasing way to my sister or me, but I never paid much attention to it. I learned later that it was from a hit song The Mills Brothers sang in 1944. Mother would have been in her second marriage then, getting beat up on a regular basis. For her, perhaps, it was a hit song in more ways than one. Here are the lyrics:

 

You always hurt the one you love,

The one you shouldn’t hurt at all.

You always take the sweetest rose,

And crush it till the petals fall.

You always break the kindest heart,

With a hasty word you can’t recall.

So, if I broke your heart last night,

It’s because I love you most of all.

 

I attribute my morning’s first rhyming thought to mother and the elusiveness of love. But I mentioned there were two rhymes in my head this morning. Here’s the second one:

 

Little Billy Martin

liked to pick his nose.

He liked to poke, he liked to prod

Then wipe it on his clothes.

 

When friends saw Billy Martin

They always liked to shout.

Stop it Billy Martin

and take your finger out!

 

 

Don’t ask me where that one came from. I don’t have a clue.