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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Poem for a young child

Napowrimo 2014, Day Twenty Two suggests writing a poem for children...a nursery rhyme, or something longer, say in the manner of Shel Silverstein.

Napowrimo Eighteen: In Medias Res

"Today’s prompt comes to us from Cathy Evans, who challenges us to write a poem that begins and ends with the same word. You could try for something in media res, that begins and ends with “and,” for example. Or maybe “if.” Or perhaps you could really challenge yourself and begin/end your poem with a six-dollar word like “antidisestablishmentarianism.” "...from the site's day one hundred eight of year seventy two, 'running', not 'of our Lord', though you wish it were true, that you were a saint, not this self-centered you.  You should be so (lucky, grounded, ___ serendip) as to always wish it, nay, demand that it always be just, be,  so....
There are just so many hours in a day, many days in a week, so many months in a year,
and for that matter, whoever measured(s) the value of 'so'.  Is it a nanosecond?  Half a minute?
In the middle of lunch, I dash to the computer,  the highest level of mathemstics with which I have to deal.  I have an overwhelming urge to look up the word, so.

Riff on a Foreign Poem

It's day twenty three of Napowrimo 2014, and I feel that I'm gaining momentum.  The first couple weeks I was quite literally lame, and even using the computer was tiring. While I still have a couple of days set apart  for want of words or finesse, I'm getting more into it, though, and many of the recent posts are coming more easily.Now the only thing is, will somebody please read my blog?????

Today's challenge is an exercise in exploring the sounds of words.  We are to take a poem in a foreign (to me) language, and try to mimic the original letters and the words into English sounds, without reference to a translation of meaning.  I chose a children's poem about a snowman (ok, I peeked, but did not imitate the theme), by Prevert, who is said to be a very popular French poet (and trust that one quotation of a very familiar poem is a matter of 'fair use.".  I share both the original and the riff side by side.    Here goes! (Unf. copied and pasted matter comes with its own margins, that too on its own white, rather than the green, background of my blog, truncating the ends of my 'side' of the poem, shifting them over to interpolate with the original....  If you know how to circumvent that, please let me know in a blog comment after these poems.)

The Original:...


Chanson pour les enfants l’hiver           Chance on pour-less n-fonts liver

Dans la nuit de l’hiver                         Dan's la, new, it deliver
galope un grand homme blanc              Gallop un-grand homie, blank
c’est un bonhomme de neige                zest un-bond homie, den eggie.
avec une pipe en bois                         Ah, vex you a-pipe and boys
un grand bonhomme de neige              un-grand, un-bond homie, den eggie
poursuivi par le froid                          pours you, live e-par, lay Freud.
il arrive au village                              Ill arrive, ow village
voyant de la lumière                          Voyant de-la loomie, ere
le voilà rassuré.                                Lee voile erasure.
Dans une petite maison                     Dan's a petty mason,
il entre sans frapper                          Ill enters ants frappe', 
et pour se réchauffer                         Ate pour series chauffeur,
s’assoit sur le poêle rouge,                Sass, oh, it's surely po', well, e-rouge.
et d’un coup disparait                       Ate dun coop this parrot,
ne laissant que sa pipe                     Nay, lace ant quay saw pipe.
au milieu d’une flaque d’eau              Oh, milieu, dune flack you, dough,
ne laissant que sa pipe                     Nay, lace ant quay saw pipe,
et puis son vieux chapeau.                ate pulse, son vie you, ox chap, oh.
                  --Prevert                                                  --Franklin (me)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What You Can Hear in a Seashell

Day nineteen's Napowrimo challenge is to take inspiration from one of a list of fanciful seashell names.  I am immediately drawn to a name suggesting poignance:
Unequal Bittersweet. Will I be able to put what I felt, in words?

Unequal Bittersweet       

Now the term 'bittersweet' is an oxymoron, if I ever heard one.
In recipedic terms, I suppose it could translate 'half bitter, half sweet.'
Equal parts.  
But in the life of the heart, you know bittersweet is never equal.

Neither equal in concept, of course, it's a contradiction in terms,
nor gender, not to mention quality, intention, ability,
nebulous words.
When you start to define it, meaning evaporates into the clouds.

But in music, you can suppose that it's three against two, 
but I think the point is for the numbers to complement each other,
Though counterpoint in music is a different thing altogether.

Bittersweet could be a happy theme above a serious one,
swelling in joy, wallowing in sorrow, arguing the truth,
Ostinatos, melodies,
Different voices striving together to sing the same song.

                                                                ---Shirley Smith Franklin

Monday, April 21, 2014


Today’s challenge was to write a New York School. poem  the idea of which is to incorporate as many as possible of the "New York School" (of poets)'s 23 rules.. Here is the list: (I did not  particularly like it, or, rather, it did not 'grab' me at first, but I gave it a shot.  I think I accomplished every 'rule," and did a fairly decent job of it, at that!  And there, it's done. So, here are the New York School 'rules,' ff by my poem.
    1. at least one addressee (to which you may or may not wish to dedicate your poem)
    2. use of specific place names and dates (time, day, month, year)–especially the names of places in and around New York City
    3. prolific use of proper names
    4. at least one reminiscence, aside, digression, or anecdote
    5. one or more quotations, especially from things people have said in conversation or through the media
    6. a moment where you call into question at least one thing you have said or proposed throughout your poem so far
    7. something that sounds amazing even if it doesn’t make any sense to you
    8. pop cultural references
    9. consumer goods/services
    10. mention of natural phenomena (in which natural phenomena do not appear ‘natural’)
    11. slang/colloquialism/vernacular/the word “fuck”
    12. at least one celebrity
    13. at least one question directed at the addressee/imagined reader
    14. reference to sex or use of sexual innuendo
    15. the words “life” and “death”
    16. at least one exclamation/declaration of love
    17. references to fine art, theater, music, or film
    18. mention of genitals and body parts
    19. food items
    20. drug references (legal or illegal)
    21. gossip
    22. mention of sleep or dreaming
    23. use of ironic overtone                      _______________                                                                                                                         Heyhowyadoin
  1. Heyhowyadoin BFF, let's change this thing up.  We've
  2. lived long enough at 123 West Thirteenth Street, 
  3. which, even though it is conveniently located 
  4. between the Sixth and Seventh Avenue subways,
  5. bears no comparison to the Prague Hotel where we saw
  6. Vanessa Redgrave, like, you know, this movie star, 
  7. at the registration desk, like the bellhop glared
  8. at us staring at her but we were at the short end 
  9. of life then, too self conscious about showing
  10. any body parts, arms or legs, never torso,
  11. much less breasts or genitals, but not interest.
  12. (I mean, how much can a bikini cover, are you
  13. down with that?)  The war broke out before 
  14. we passed that way again, we cowered
  15. in a Berlin airport hallway the second time through,
  16. spent the whole dark of the moon night
  17. longing for a sedative, damn!, to sleep, to dream away
  18. the sounds and possibilities of the existence
  19. of war.  Fortunately we'd saved snack crackers
  20. from the flight and a kiosk operator shared
  21. fruit at a reduced price, but did you know
  22. Irene peed her pants that night
  23. (should've worn a Kotex)  before we were allowed
  24. to get up, stretch, go to the'd think
  25. we'd've been safer in there, in the first place.
  26. "Let's tell each other stories," you said,
  27.  as though the word would save the world..
  28. Well, I didn't mean to be sacrilegious, but anyway
  29. I don't think that's the kind of story 
  30. you were talking about.  OH it was a long, hard 
  31. night; reminding me of being scared to death
  32. during a bad storm one night when 
  33. I was a child just old enough to be trusted
  34. to stay home alone overnight.  I never used 
  35. the "I"m old enough, aren't I?" 
  36. argument with Mother again.                         by Shirley Smith Franklin

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

One of the pleasures of Napowrimo is the number of poems and blogs you can link to from the daily page and its responses.  Today the challenge was to write something in the voice of a family member.  I followed a link to one responder's blog delightfully named  "Shhh... Voiceless Fricative" (voicelessfricative.word) The author pens a delightful fantasy in the 'voice' of her precocious three year old daughter.

Oops--The down side is that it may be a bit inhibiting to have read such a good response before I write my own!

Anyway, it's been a full and Happy Easter (Happy Easter everybody!), and I' going to let today's suggestion percolate for awhile before I respond.  Lord willing, I'll be back..

Ok, here's the voice of a familiar family member.


Where're you going? You didn't tell me about that.
You don't have enough to do around here?
What time are you going to be coming back?
Where is this thing going to be held?
Who else is going to be there?
What do you do at these things?
Lot of gossip, I suppose.
When are you going to stop running around
and start sticking to business around here,
       do something 'useful'?
So you didn't bother to look for the car keys
       before you went out?
Why didn't you ask me?
I'll be in bed when you come back;
       Don't make noise.
                                   --Shirley Smith Franklin

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Naporimo Day Fifteen: A Wrinkled, Decrepit Terza Rima

I found there is more than one site suggesting napowrimo challenges for this year.
One of them suggested writing a 'poetic challenge' for the sixteenth and  poem about hands for the seventeenth days.  I'd done one for hands a couple of years ago, perhaps even before (gasp) napowrimo,
I'll keep the former challenge in mind for  a future 'write.'
For now, 'wishing you a happy day...may the sun shine and skies turn blue...

 Today's poetic challenge is to ' a poem in terza rima, a form invented by Dante, and used in The Divine Comedy. It consists of three-line stanzas, with a “chained” rhyme scheme. The first stanza is ABA, the second is BCB, the third is CDC, and so on. No particular meter is necessary, but English poets have tended to default to iambic pentameter (iambic pentameter is like the Microsoft Windows of English poetry). One common way of ending a terza rima poem is with a single line standing on its own, rhyming with the middle line of the preceding three-line stanza."
I'll try to fit some of this morning's thoughts into terza rima form. That's sure to be an exercise for the brain! (Figuring out how my blog page 'reads' information about highlighting and line spacing is an exercise in itself.  The following is intended to print uniformly...!)

Watch Who You're Talking About!

Who're you calling old and wrinkled and decrepit?
You should be old enough to know better.
Oh, I'm old, I'll grant it, older than you, I'll bet it.

Old enough to know talk like that is a fetter.
That faces become twisted by too many a sneer.
I'm proud of every one of my wrinkles. Better

for having weathered so many seasons here,
crows feet crowding, radiating from my eyes,
and laugh lines drawn by smiling at somebody dear.

So you think I"m decrepit? Some day, I surmise,
when I've moved on to a much better place,
You'll look in the mirror, look into your eyes.

You will stop taking back, you will wish for grace.

You'll talk to yourself, but it will be too late.
What you've said or intended will be writ on your face,

Surprise!                                   --Shirley Smith Franklin

(Alas, the muse had flown by the time I got to the third and fourth revisions of this theme, but I slogged through for the sake of practicing the form.  Practice makes perfect, right?  That's one of the benefits of Napowrimo...holding me to the discipline of reading, writing, and learning poetry daily, like it or not!)