sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Cover of "The Limerick"

Cover of The Limeric

I love rhyme. I love limericks, and I’ve written quite a few. Here, since I now have the perfect excuse,
are a few new ones.

Here’s one:

There once was a young lad from Kyoto
one evening while viewing a photo
saw a face so grotesque
it resembled a desk
and was sure he had seen Quasimodo.

and another:

One evening while cooking some rice,
a lass went to look for some ice.
When she failed to return,
the rice started to burn.
The poor lass had to cook her rice twice.

A note on meter in limerick:

The feet (metrical feet, not the things at the ends of your legs) for a limerick is typically an anapest
dum, dum, DUM or an amphibrach
dum DUM dum
with the first, third, and fifth lines consisting of three feet of three syllables each, and the third and fourth consisting of two metrical feet.

Edward Lear popularized the limerick,  but in contrast to modern limericks, they contain neither humor nor  a punch line, and the first and last lines were often the same.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Lear

Although Mr. Lear wrote some limericks
I’m thinking they really are gimmericks,
First and last lines the same
make them seem pretty lame.
and of humor there’s nary a glimmerick.

And here’s one about Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick:

Expressing intention to pass
on a third term, the governor of Mass
saw his influence ebb.
It’s all over the web.
Is he planning to seek greener grass?

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Power of the Pen – Limericks

St. Paddy’s Day weekend 2009, I read my poems publicly for the first time at an open mic event. Terrified at exposing my babies to the harsh elements of public view. Even more terrified at the form I chose — limericks.

The Poetic Muselings were experimenting with different forms, and this was a huge stretch, but what better way to go all the way out on the limb?  Here’s what gave me strength to lead us on our journey. If political satire (especially in an election year) upset you, perhaps you want to skip this musing.

Power of the Pen

We need a new four-letter word
To deny this is simply absurd.
To say what we mean
and not be obscene —

The best way for the herds to be heard

****************

Hooray for good old “uck”
One letter changes a duck
into something we find —
outrageous? sublime?

the epitome of our yucked-up old luck?

****************

Politicians are so damn perverse
Campaigning should all be in verse
let rapier wits
expose all the twits

Then watch them go lurch in reverse

***************

The elected have grandiose schemes
to fix economic machines
Trust us, they say
we work magic today

Naked Emperors with unraveled seams

***********

Don’t worry, my darling, my honey
They’re only just stealing our money
They really don’t care
that they trade in despair —

Now tell me how that can’t be funny.

*****

Limericks are not my strength. Try as I might, I cannot spin them off the top of my head. It took me all day to get two decent ones. If you’re not familiar with the form, I found a good guide on About.com by Grace Fleming: How to Write a Limerick. Here are a few tricks I use to get through them:

  1. Do the first two lines (the setup) and the last line (the punchline) first. All these have the same rhyme, and gives you the frame to work with. Then fill in lines three and four (transition) which only have to rhyme with each other.
  2. Use a rhyming dictionary! I use The Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary. Helps for getting out of tight corners when you use a word with not very many rhymes.
  3. Along the last lines, sometimes you have this idea you want, but can’t find workable rhymes. Like in my second limerick below, I wanted to do “Sang for her supper” but could NOT get a decent follow up. Solution: find a synonym. A thesaurus is a handy tool for poets.
  4. If you still struggle coming up with something, give yourself a theme. Write about a friend, or a book character, or spin off a fairy tale. Have fun with it!

Without further ado, here are my two Limericks.

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood (Photo credit: lllllT)

There once was a red-hooded girl
Who through the dark woods did twirl
‘Til a sound made her scream
And fall in a stream
Turned out it was only a squirrel

There once was a girl from Cancun
Who couldn’t carry a tune
Her song for a meal
Made a werewolf reel
And now she howls at the moon

I wrote these today.  I’m not one to write limericks.  I’m not real comfortable with the form.  The last one is for a special friend of mine.

Here goes nothing!

Presenting Really Bad Limericks:

 

Savannah

 

There was a girl from Savannah

Who had the most terrible manners

She never said please

And often would tease

Even those who tripped on peeled bananas.

 

Seattle

 

There was a man from Seattle

Who got in the rottenest battles

If he sat next to you at a bar

Best to take yourself very far

From his brass knuckles, used often on cattle.

 

Ocean Shores

 

There was a woman from Ocean Shores

Who only saw open doors

She was so positive

That God was the causative

With only good things in store.

 

Orlando

 

There was a lady from Orlando

Who was all about the Can-Do

Collages, poems and short stories

Productive, even with her health worries

Wish I had her ducks in a row.

 

“Savannah,” “Seattle,” “Ocean Shores,” and “Orlando” © Anne Westlund

 

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm ...

Time for something fun, poetry fans. Put away that solemn face and let your Inner Child out to play by writing a limerick.

In its simplest form, the limerick has five lines. It is lighthearted,  sometimes naughty, witty and provokes a laugh. If you want to be a stickler for the form, Wiki says it is “anapestic or amphibrachic meter with a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA)”.  Follow that or do your own thing. like I did below.

A Sad Tale

by

Lin Neiswender

There was a young lad from ‘Bama
With a taste for glitter and glammah
His designer stiletto shoe
Too high for his hair doo
Made him spend the night in the slammah.

My Voice

I’ve been thinking about voice a lot lately. Voice, as in writer’s voice, what is it, where does it come from, what influences it. As a writer, I love words and word play, have a good knowledge of English grammar, can speak, read and write French well enough to carry on a conversation, read a book, and appreciate some of the differences in the grammars. I enjoy humor and like writing all kinds of humorous poetry.

Many things have influenced me as a writer, but one of the biggest was my father. An attorney who appeared twice before the Supreme Court, he love the English language and was adamant about correct usage. Every time my sister or I would make a mistake, he would repeat the whole rule and its explanation. Not simply the correction. The whole, blasted thing. He also refused, generally, to give us the meaning of a word; he made us look them up ourselves. At the time I found the whole thing beyond annoying. Now I view it as one of the biggest gifts he could have given me.

He also encouraged us to read widely. I recall reading Damon Runyon and O’Henry among others at about age twelve, and having to look up about one word in every sentence. Talk about vocabulary building! And I can still recall discussions about points of grammar around the dinner table.

The New York Times crossword puzzle was another big influence, in that it led to my developing my own algorithm for generating rhymes. I am an auditory learner, and one day while doing the puzzle, searching for a word where I had the first letter, I realized that there were a very limited selection of sounds that could follow:
Consonant plus L sound: for example C plus L as in clap
Consonant plus R sound: for example C plus L as in crap
For some, Consonant plus W sound:   C plus W sound would be cwap — nope, that one’s not a word.
For S, C, and T: consonant plus H
For letter q: KW is the sound
Special case : S : S plus most of the others: S plus C , S plus C plus L, S plus C plus R…

But NOTE well.  We’re talking about SOUNDS, not spelling. I use C for the K sound.
If you’re visual and this throws you off, this system might not work for you. fat frat flat

I’ve used this algorithm for years. I love to rhyme, and although I now occasionally look up the rhymes using rhymezone.com, I can go through my own algorithm pretty quickly. I do better that way, because it forces me to contemplate each word and whether or not it would fit in the poem.

Although I love music and play the flute and the piccolo, I don’t listen to music as I write, nor do I see images when I listen to music. When I listen to music, I listen to music. It evokes emotions, but I don’t see pictures unreeling in my brain. I know some writers are inspired by music, like to write to music, and the like. I don’t, not in the way most people mean. I do find music to be very freeing when I’m letting my mind wander, contemplate plot, character, or whatever.

I have written several poems that were music-inspired. In  the cases I can remember, I was in my car listening to the radio when a particular song — or songs — got me started on a poem. Here is one of them. The first part of the first stanza was what was happening when the Kenny Chesney song started to play on the radio. I did have to go search out the titles of some of his other songs in order to fill out my conception of the poem. I’m nobly resisting the urge to revise it. It was published in an ezine:

Crack Up

Swish through car-lit darkness
Past squares of light,
street signs sparkling green and white.
Roll down your window,
feel the lemon air
ruffle what’s left of your hair.
Kenny Chesney blaring on the radio
loud enough to silence the thoughts in your head
waiting to be drowned in a cold beer.

Your wheels slide through ghosts of clouds,
past skeleton trees waving bare arms,
past lighted windows with families eating
roast chicken, green beans, potatoes
while the letter from your daughter
crinkles in your back pocket,
your seat belt chafing as
Kenny croons Who you’d Be Today.

The smell of leaf smoke drifts
through the window
as you drive at twenty-five miles per hour
past the cop in the turn-out on your left,
as the rain starts dripping down your windshield
and your windshield wipers quit.
You reach for a beer
as Kenny starts singing Keg in the Closet

Your car drifts into the center of the road
as you drop the empty on the floor,
reach behind you for another,
one hand on the wheel.
The car skids on wet leaves
going around that curve in the road
you forgot was there
and Kenny sings Steamy Windows.

The sweat drips down your neck
as you wrestle with the steering wheel,
brake on the empties,
your seat belt unfastened.
Skid into the tree.
Glass arrows your cheek your eye.
You’re bleeding from your ear.
Somewhere Kenny’s singing How Forever Feels.

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We welcome back Lisa Gentile — she’s more like family than a guest poster! Thank you, Lisa, for joining us again today. (Please read our earlier interview with Lisa, too: http://poetic-muselings.net/2012/07/10/lisa-gentile-mentor-and-moxie-maverick/)

Savoring Form and Visibility

One of the many uplifting themes that I notice every time I read through this Poetic Muselings blog is that of appreciating the world around us, with all of its tragic, glorious, epic, and everyday beauty.

It hits me every time even though I shouldn’t be surprised by it. After all, that’s what writers and other artists do, right? They grasp an inspiration and artfully shape it into a piece of creative work so that they may reflect upon it, move on from it, and/or share it with the rest of us. But what really goes on? I suspect there are some answers lurking in around this blog.

Through focus on form we assemble a collection of sensorial, intellectual, and emotional experiences and string them together in a pleasing poetic form. Very often the new configuration gives us insight into the events or imaginings that we selected.

The resultant poem tells us something about ourselves, the characters portrayed, or the moment captured. The selection might seem random at first, the configuration unremarkable. A subtle change could shift the whole message. This is our creative hand at work, we trust that we have made the right selections for this particular piece and we follow them to their conclusion.

When we make visible what we have seen we create something tangible out of our interpretation. It matters that we create a unit of meaning, and beauty, that we can share with others. This is a powerful way to connect with each other. It creates the potential for a dialog.

We may be sharing a joy, a sorrow, or a casual rumination. The important point is that we are sharing, we are saying “I was there and I saw/ heard/ did/ felt/ thought this.” We are inviting others to enjoy our art, experience the meaning give it, and then to create their own meaning.

When we create, whether by focusing on form or making an idea visible, we are making an impression that holds personal value less abstract and more real in the world—we are shaping its meaning so that we may share it and appreciate it in our lives, so that we may savor it.

Research shows that this making and expression of meaning from our experiences contributes to our satisfaction in life. How do you give form and visibility to your experiences? How do you savor life?

Lisa Gentile, M.S. is a professional life coach. You can read more about her practice at http://www.moxiemavericks.com

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