Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested writing a syllabic poem about a color using a word from a color chart she provided. I chose orange because it is close to my favorite color which is coral. For a word I chose joy.
Last year I posted a photo I took of one of our gorgeous Arizona Flame Skimmers, or orange dragonflies. This beauty is my inspiration.
Here is my tanka:
On a day of cares,
when the water heater leaks
and I am in pain,
I step outside and notice
with joy orange fairy wings.
The following photo is a closeup from the free photo library.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested writing a syllabic poem about our spirit animal. She provided a quiz to find our spirit animal. I took the quiz and discovered that at this moment mine is the turtle. The website, spiritanimal.info, says that “The turtle totem symbolizes our peaceful walk on this earth. It represents the path we take as we embark on our journey through life. In contrast to emotional or spiritual development occurring in bursts, the way of the turtle anchors our personal unfolding in a slow, more grounded series of steps and longer cycles of transformation. The turtle is associated with our physical and embodied evolution on the earthly plane. Call this spirit animal for help to be more grounded. You can also get help slowing down and pacing yourself, so you can take your next step with more confidence.” While I doubt my spirit animal is always a turtle it does fit right now. I’ve had this torn meniscus and other issues since January, and I am trying to resolve myself to stop fighting it and just proceed in the right direction, working hard at physical therapy, icing, and REST. Yes, this past week it was so bad that I actually rested, and wow, that actually helps . . . a lot. I had a good physical therapy appointment today. Fingers crossed. Moving at my turtle’s pace, in the right direction.
For this poem, I wrote a tanaga, which is a form from the Philippines. This is a 7-7-7-7 Syllabic verse, with an AABB or AAAA rhyme scheme.
Accepting the Turtle as My Guide
For this part of my journey
I learn to walk with this knee.
A turtle guide teaches me
to keep on without hurry.
Another thing that I like about a turtle is that while they are slow and seem clumsy on earth, they are quite graceful and fast in the water. With my Sun in Cancer, I was born under a water sign. And grew up in and around the lakes of Michigan.
When I was a little girl, I had a beautiful painted turtle as a pet. The turtle’s shell was at least 4″ long. I must have been about five. I took him or her outside to play a few times. She would fall into the window well and need help out. I recall my father helping me release her to live free, but I don’t remember the details. Today it is illegal to release a captive turtle into the wild. But I do remember that I felt wonderful letting that turtle go have her own wild life.
Then when I was in 4th grade, I was given two tiny turtles to live in an aquarium. I don’t remember what happened to those turtles, but I did used to love to feel their scratchy claws scrabbling at my palms when I held them. Looking back, I wonder if the idea of releasing the big turtle was sympathy for it because of it’s size or if I was too young to take proper care of it.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested writing an acrostic poem based on a word from a list she provided. She asked every line to be 8, 9, or 10 syllables long. I used the word ORACLE. Each line begins with a letter from that word so that if you read down instead of across you see the word oracle. I created a form of 8, 9, 10, 10, 9, 8 and rhymed same count lines with each other.
Voice of the Gods
On the sunwarmed rock she holds court
Ruling a man’s world with prescient words.
All listen and quake, even mighty kings
Clothed in velvet vestments and golden rings.
Love and riches–often doom–they heard,
Even took heed or to the heart.
A couple of years ago Memoryhouse Magazine published an acrostic poem I wrote using the title of my favorite Whitman poem, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking.” Note that my title starts the phrase and then the first letters of each line the last part, “endlessly rocking.”
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested we write a syllabic poem using synonyms for the word “work” and “play,” and to contrast the two for this week’s #TankaTuesday.
I have to admit that the synonym prompts are not my favorite. I prefer a little looser prompt, and this was even tighter by the need to contrast them. So go ahead and hate my poem, which is three Badger’s Hexastitch stanzas put together. I used that form because I LOVE the name. It’s like a cross between something a witch does as a hobby and the town that Loretta Lynn sings about in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (Butcher’s Holler).
For work I used the word “toil,” because it reminded me of two of my favorite poems (see below). And for play I used “entertain” and “rest.”
like Hopkins and Shakespeare.*
Entertain sounds lazy
as if I should
does not toil much
except to wash himself
or hunt food if he must,
that I can be
more like the cat than me
and rest when I need to,
toiling just as
Hopkins is the Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “God’s Grandeur,” and Shakespeare is Will himself, “Song of the Witches” from MacBeth. I loved to entertain my kids when they were little with the latter.
Here are both poems and you can see where I got “toil” from.
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
SONG OF THE WITCHES
by William Shakespeare
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
Macbeth: IV.i 10-19; 35-38
Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)
Now if you’re still reading, here’s a sonnet that I wrote based on the Hopkins poem which was published in Last Stanza Poetry Journal by editor Jenny Kalahar. After that you can see a pic of my cutie pie Meesker.
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod* by Luanne Castle
and I am shackled to the backlit screen, subjected to technology’s caprice, my feet immobile, hidden, and benumbed, my thoughts dispelled by cumbrous messages of discounts, password problems, and a troll, and so I scroll my Twitter notices and scan What’s Happening, then Google God, procrastinating still and find, alas, my spirit drifts away, mere haze, but then the images of light dividing clouds is how we see the brightest wings and warmth and you appear and take me by my hand to share the garden, smell the sweetbush, hear the cactus wrens, and trill for butterflies.
With son and DIL living here, we have their dog Theo here as well. He’s such a little goofy guy, and I get to let him out when his mom and dad are both gone for three hours or more. I can’t physically handle walking him on a leash, although in a pinch I can take him on the driveway on a leash because he’s very good for me. But I like to let him roam the backyard, which is fenced. He’s very loved and what’s rewarding for me is that he loves his Grandma! In his photo you can see a very typical expression he gets on his face as he is always trying to figure out what’s going on.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this beautiful photo byTerri Webster Schrandt as a prompt for this week’s #TankaTuesday.
I wrote another tanka as I first tried a different form (tetractys), but couldn’t make it work for this image. Though the actual setting was the Sacramento river delta, I saw a lake. That also worked better syllable-wise.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this prompt today: to write a syllabic poem using this 19th century painting as inspiration. She mentioned how it looked like the girl is on her cell phone. For a time it was hard to unsee that cell. But then, after I saw something hanging down from the “cell phone,” I realized how important our own world views are to how we see something. As I researched, I read that Hitler loved the paintings of this artist, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, and made his work Nazi favorites. But the artist (blessedly) never lived long enough to see the Nazis come to power or to know the name Adolf Hitler. All these different perspectives are where my poem today comes from and it is what complicates the form, creating an ekphrastic contrapuntal tanka string with haiku.
I’m sorry that the poem had to be a screenshot as I couldn’t make it stay on the screen otherwise. If you click on the poem image a couple of times you might be able to make it larger. Please let me know if you can read it or if I need to figure out something else. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this prompt today: to write a tanka using our own inspiration.
Since I just traveled to Michigan to visit my mother and other family, I used something from that trip as inspiration. When I was a baby, a friend or coworker created a caricature of my father and me. It always hung in my father’s basement workshop. I spent a lot of time with him in that workshop; therefore, I saw it often. The last few times I have gone to Michigan, I have looked at that caricature and tried to figure out how to get it home to Arizona. Now my mother is moving from her duplex into an apartment in her retirement community, so I shipped it home to myself. I kept the chipped old frame because it is part of the experience.
In this old cartoon Daddy diapers baby me, the tweety bird babe, as if time is paralyzed by memory’s insistence.
I had a poem published today in a cool Australian lit mag. It’s called Trash to Treasure Lit, and the idea behind it is that “every writer has a piece of ‘trash’ that we can treasure.” Look through your drafts, your poems you figured you could never do right by, and if you can write something that explains why this “trash” can be a “treasure,” they might publish it. In my case, I wrote a love poem to my cat Perry, who as you may know, suffers from a couple of terminal illnesses (so far so good in case you’re wondering). I hope you can tell from this poem that Perry is the real treasure.
Colleen Chesebro’s prompt for #TankaTuesday this week is in celebration of her 65th birthday. (Happy birthday, Colleen!) We were to create a poetic form using 65 syllables.
I created a form I will call the aînée, which is the French word for a female elder. I was going to use the Spanish word anciana, but I didn’t like the connotations which seemed less positive. Plus I like that I am honoring the French language which is a language that has originated a lot of syllabic poetry. 65 syllables are arranged this way: ten lines of six syllables each, followed by a line of 2 syllables, and a final line of 3 syllables.