Friday, October 04, 2019

Pastorals with the Poetry Sisters

The Poetry Sisters have been challenged by Sara's daughter Rebecca to write a Pastoral poem this month. Pastoral poetry focuses on the joys and delights of country life and nature's bounty, while at the same time contrasting human endeavors and occupations, or the harmony and disharmony of humans in nature. Serendipitously, I have been studying William Blake lately, and found a wealth of examples to follow. I particularly love this little one: "Ah! Sunflower!"

I am a college librarian on a beautiful suburban campus right next to a large natural area. We have a lot of birds in residence and migrating through. This week some students found a hummingbird that had fallen on the sidewalk after hitting the windows of the classroom building. We tried to nurse it but it never was able to fly away. We passed it onto the professor who does a lot with birds and haven’t heard back if it survived. It was drinking sugar water and getting sleepy, sinking into torpor when I last saw it… (Link to Facts about Hummingbirds webpage).

To a Hummingbird Injured on Migration

Bright heart beating, slightly thrumming!
Cradled by my pulse, broken by this
school of glass and steel. Impact numbing,
zing of feathers, crumpled on the ground.

Who can splint such tiny, trembling bones?
Blessed hummer, you remembered every flower
till you fell in love with window tombstones.
Yet we offer sugar water, crooning low and sweet.

Defending warrior, rest your sword,
Torpor takes your warmth and light.
Meant to fly long miles to seaboard;
tiny toes were never made to stand.

Frail bones broken, wee wings warped
on the temple of our pride; how we
echo your distress! Brief hope corked
at your demise, here our wishes flounder.

                         -Andromeda Jazmon

Please take some time to visit my Poetry Sister's blogs and enjoy their poems too!

And save some time this weekend to explore the Friday Poetry Roundup at the Library Matters blog. Happy Fall!

Friday, September 06, 2019

snake poem

The poetry sisters are thinking about snakes this month, writing short poems comparing a snake to something new. Eight lines or less. Phew, that's a tough one! I don't normally like snakes, but I could right away think of a time a cute little baby garden snake surprised me on my front step. Here's my little poem -

Snake resting on my step -
a baked rock holding heat.
Neither he nor I
intending to move.
With a quick flick he’s gone;
a smooth stone slipping
across the pond.
- Andromeda Jazmon

Check out what my poetry sisters have written:

Kelly is taking a break this month, but we will see her next time!

And here's the Friday Poetry Round up at Poetry for Children. Enjoy!

Friday, August 02, 2019

Ekphrastic Tanka

Our challenge this month is to take another try at writing ekphrasitc poems of any form, this time in response to the photos taken by my friend Sara. On a trip to Israel she took this amazing photo of the Bell Caves of Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park. I've written a series of Renga poems. Renga is an old Japanese form based on Haiku, usually played by more than one person in a back and forth game. One person does a 17 syllable poem and the next person answers with a 14 syllable couplet, and so on in a chain. In this case I wrote the haiku one day and came back a few days later to respond with the couplets.

Cool roundness of dark:
stone walls curved unto themselves,
light an upturned bowl.

Unseen skillful hands hewed rock,
leaving caverns filled with air.

Rock wrapped around rock:
darkness the core, the curved crust,
light the space between.

The bell an empty cup of
sound, luminescent choirs call

summer evenings seeking chill.
Ancient singing echoes still

smoothed as if by water flow,
rock holds the brilliant blazing.
                                 -Andromeda Jazmon

My Poetry Sisters have all written amazing poems in response to Sara's photos. Check them out:


And don't forget to enjoy Poetry Friday at Heidi Mordhorst's blog My Juicy Little Universe.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Heat Triolets

This month we are working on Triolets, an 18th century English form of eight lines. The first and second line repeat, and there are only two rhymes, so it has a sing-song quality. I looked back through the blog here and found a couple other times we did triolets, and liked them better than what I have the week. I wrote "Joe's Fire" in 2015, and "Birthday Boy" in 2009 with my Poetry Sisters.

Our theme was "heat", it being summer. I found it really hard to think of anything worth repeating on the subject, because, who can chatter when it's so darn hot? I was thinking about the sharp contrast between the chill of my work environment and the blast of humidity at lunch hour, when I scribbled my first attempt:

Walk out the door you’re slammed with heat;
work’s icebox chill dissolves in mist.
An office job just can’t be beat.
Walk out the door, you’re slammed with heat.
Return from lunch, the breeze you meet;
with icy blast your brow is kissed.
Walk out the door, you’re slammed with heat -
The icebox chill dissolves in mist.

 I wasn't too happy with it, as it seems so trivial! I tried again, after re-reading Rumi's lovely 
poem "Story Water", where he points out the great blessing of hot water in these lines:

A story is like water
That you heat for your bath.
It takes messages between the fire and your skin. It lets them meet,
and it cleans you! 

Read the rest of that poem here. 

My second triolet for this month:

Water blesses - hot or frozen,
ice in drinks and steam in showers.
Rumi’s story waters rose in
blessed water, hot or frozen.
Icy drinks can clink the hours,
Summer downpours end in flowers.
Water blesses hot or frozen,
ice in drinks and steam in showers.
-Andromeda Jazmon

I need to work on it a bit more, but it's getting somewhere I think.

Check out the lovely poems my poetry sisters have posted today:

And enjoy the Friday Poetry round-up hosted by Trisha!


Friday, June 07, 2019

Skinny poems

This month my poetry sisters and I are trying our hands at writing Skinny poems.The Skinny form was created by Truth Thomas in the Tony Medina Poetry Workshop at Howard University. The Skinny Blog explains the form this way:

"A Skinny is a short poem form that consists of eleven lines. The first and eleventh lines can be any length (although shorter lines are favored). The eleventh and last line must be repeated using the same words from the first and opening line (however, they can be rearranged). The second, sixth, and tenth lines must be identical. All the lines in this form, except for the first and last lines, must be comprised of ONLY one word. The point of the Skinny, or Skinnys, is to convey a vivid image with as few words as possible. Skinny poems can be about any subject, although the form generally reflects more serious concerns facing humankind. Also, Skinnys can be linked, much like Haiku, Senryu or Tanka. (Note: As a matter of aesthetics, the plural form of the Skinny should be “Skinnys.”)"

I had some fun making these. I found it difficult, however, to create something that held a lot of meaning and context for a wide audience from such a limited pallet of words. One word per line and repeating the same word three times is harder than I thought it would be!

Here's my best effort so far:

You loved to dance
Love, you danced!

Liz and Sara are taking a break this month. We look forward to them joining in the coming weeks. Take a look at what my poetry sisters have written in this form:

And visit the Friday Poetry roundup at Michelle Kogan's blog. Enjoy!

Friday, April 05, 2019

Dyslexic insomniac poetry

Q: What do dyslexic insomniacs think about in the middle of the night?

A: Is there really a dog?

Ha Ha. Now that we are on the subject of anagrams, guess what the Poetry Princesses are tangling with this month? That's right, anagram poems! And whew, they are a doozy.

From our internet research we found four types of anagram poems:
  1. Word pairs made up of the same letters in different orders.
  2. Lines made up of the same set of words in different orders.
  3. When end words all use at least four letters from the words in the title.
  4. Anagram a poet's name to come up with the title and then write a poem to go with it.
I remembered a poem I have loved since I was in college that followed the second form above. It's by the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, titled Opening the Cage: 14 Variations on 14 Words. Man, I love that poem. Take a moment to enjoy it right now.

For my poem I was thinking about April and how beautiful but mixed up and confusing the weather can be, which fits right in with mixing up a bunch of words and trying to find beauty.

April Weather

Good sunshine; but no fair breezes bringing a wind and fair blossoms.
Good wind brings fair blossoms, but no rain in sunshine or breezes.
Bring sunshine, good wind, and fair breezes, but no blossoms or rain!
Bring good blossoms but no wind, and rain in breezes of sunshine!

But fair wind or breezes in sunshine and no blossoms brings rain.
But no sunshine or good rain bringing fair breezes in wind and blossoms.
No breeze but a good wind brings blossoms in fair sunshine and rain.
No wind in sunshine, but fair rain and a good breeze brings blossoms.

                                                                            -Andromeda Jazmon

Check out what my Poetry Sisters have done with the anagram challenge: (Kelly Ramsdell is taking a break this month, but will be back!)

And please take some enjoyable time reading the other Friday Poetry posts hosted by Karen Edmisten.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Miracle Story Poems

This month I am writing with my Poetry Sisters. We are all writing prose poems in the style of Marilyn Nelson’s “Minor Miracle,” about a small, miraculous thing you have seen or know. Click the link in the poem's title to read Nelson's poem so you know where we are headed. The Poetry Sisters have been writing together for over ten years now, which is hard to believe. This year we are excited to be joined by Rebecca Holmes, starting next month.

What I love most about Marilyn Nelson's poem is the exquisite details in her setting. You can just feel yourself on that bike ride through the countryside, and hear the dialog rip. Also, of course, the amazing turn as the miracle is revealed at the very end. I have been racking my brain for an experience of a small miracle that would fit in a poem. I can think of so many miracles, as God is so good. But they are not small. Maybe none are, right?

So anyway, we got a kitten just after Christmas this year. Talk about small, this cat's tiny. And full of zip. The more I thought about him, the more miracle I saw. It seemed the Spirit was showing me a miracle to write about and share. Here's what I got:

Talk About Minor Miracle

Which reminds me of another bit of fluff
that saved us. When the littlest kitten
skittered into our house, it was a house of broken
hearts, wrung out, stretched thin fears, and
no more family dinners. We’d got to when no one
could stand to sit down together
in case tears choked or fists flew.

After losing so much, there was plenty of space
for a tiny flutter of pin prick, skinny boned,
all sass curiosity that could dash up and
down silly with wide eyed jade gaze. Hungry. Bold
enough and fool enough to catch any dangling
loose end; forgotten strings, crumpled receipts,
dust bunnies or tumbled scraps left too long
for want of care, want of will. We’d lost a child.
Lost a brother. Lost.

“Where’s the kitten?” The youngest son would say,
tipping his head around my door; come out of his cave,
from out the silence around the screen glow. He’d scoop
up kitten from amongst my quilts, pretending
to toss him over. But really, snuggling
that beating heart. The way a teenage
boy grabs a hug, sliding sideways as if.
The wonder of how a curl of fur
fits in a hoodie pocket, finds a warm lap,
accepts kisses. All start and go and what? Eager
to trouble the waters.
-Andromeda Jazmon

Please go visit the blogs of my Poetry Sisters to read their poems, 

Also, please visit the Poetry
Friday Round up at Tabitha Yeatts' blog The Opposite of Indifference. Happy Friday!