{pf: poetry peeps do the dizain}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

You’re invited to try our challenge in the month of April! Here’s the plan: We’re going to write an “in the style of” poem after Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan’s “Innocence.” Does “in the style of” mean a line-by-line imitation, including the idea of innocence in the theme, or using the word within your poem? Only YOU know for sure! Interested? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else’s) with the rest of us on April 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Did you grow up with a family who did Spring Cleaning? I didn’t, not really – we just cleaned house like it was Spring, every Sunday. Somehow though, no matter how I didn’t grow up, we still end up doing a version of Spring Cleaning at my house. It rarely coincides with the actual start-date of Spring, but it starts out with “we should really get the windows cleaned” and devolves into a flurry of vacuuming and organizing shelves. This past Sunday, I got a burst of energy – a rarity lately with this autoimmune disorder – and tackled the dust under the futon which had been leering at me. We washed duvet covers and pillows, scoured vinegar and baking soda on the shower floor (it’s supposed to be good for granite), organized the fridge and freezer, sanded and oiled the porch rocking chair, re-potted a couple of plants, and even raked up the last of the little spiky tree balls on the lawn. I felt pretty good about all of the work we got through, until I saw the texts from my poetry group. Are you coming? Are you joining us today?

Oops. Darn it!

Sadly, as my writing group can attest, housework occasionally gets the better of me. I fully intend to be where I’m meant to, but a dusty shelf or a streaky mirror distracts me. It’s not as if I even prefer to clean than to write – not even a little tiny bit – but I had my father’s preferred activity for me pretty well braided as an extra strand into my DNA through childhood. Though it’s nice to have vacuum lines on the living room rug, I missed talking words, hearing what everyone’s reading, and discussing what we’re doing next month. So, my dizain today is slightly narrative (but since I write fiction, it’s emotionally true rather than factual).

Appointment With Art

“Appointment with the Arts” my notebook read,
but I skipped reading for a messy chore,
letting my planning for the week ahead
drain from the weekend’s restful reservoir
the freshness, verve, and life it held before.
I chose a solid thing – hard-edged, *brick shaped,
and fed my soul on duty, scrubbed and scraped –
exchanged the weekend vibe for day-to-day,
set my own snare, and foiled my own escape!
Dull Jackie chose to work when she should play.


Dizains always involve some finessing for me – I forever think I have the pattern cold, and then when I read back, realize I’ve gotten something (usually several somethings) out of order. And then I do that deep breath/eye roll thing and start over. It’s all about patience with the process! I loved the idea of work/duty/responsibility as something pedestrian and brick-shaped, so borrowed that phrase from Barbara Kingsolver’s “How to Drink Water When There Is Wine,” a poem which Tricia shared with the poetry group last week.

My Poetry Peeps have doubtless produced less dispiriting dizains than mine! Please do check out Tricia’s here. This one is Laura’s, and Kelly’s is here. Here’s Liz’s and you’ll find Sara’s poem here, and Michelle Kogan’s is here. More Poetry Peeps will check in throughout the day, so stay tuned.


Art by Marc Johns.

More poetry? Yep: Poetry Friday is gloriously blooming today at Susan Bruck’s Soul Blossom Living, where she’s doing a round-up of who is doing what next month for National Poetry Month. I’m going to try for a poem-a-day, but we’ll see where that lands. For now, here’s to sitting down with a book, or grabbing a jacket and finding some tadpole puddles, and ignoring those cobwebs for one more day. Happy Weekend.

{poetry peeps will spin you right round, baby}

Never heard of a dizain? Not sure why you’ll be stumbling and spun with its dizzy delights? The short version is: it’s a French form from 15th-16th c., with a 10-line stanza · 10 syllables per line · And an ababbccdcd rhyme scheme. A bit longer of an explanation can be found at Writer’s Digest, with a few helpful tips and an example. Interested? Good! Hope you give it a shot!

{embrace the weirdness: poetry friday…}

…even if you’ve got your head in the clouds, you won’t want to miss the fun. The metaphor generator, Perchance is full of… weird and wonderful phrases, and after having sister poet Laura Salas throw hers for me, I’ve discovered that metaphor dice are possibly even weirder! So, look forward to some thoughtful, random, and possibly offbeat poetry – see you Friday!

{#winterlight: country of freedom}

I’ve run out of words.

Fortunately, there’s poetry.

Poetry Friday today is hosted by Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children. Thank you, Sylvia.

Country of Freedom

Country of freedom, be free in thy heart:
Free from the shackles of poisoning pride,
Free from the liar’s contemptible art,
Free from allurements that tempt thee aside,
Free from the crafty and treacherous guide,
Free from the ravening greed of the mart,
Free from the snares that in opulence hide, —
Country of freedom be free in thy heart.

— Amos Russel Wells (1863-1933)

{#winterlight: poetry friday, early in the year}

This is going to be a year absolutely packed with literature.

It’s going to be a year of taking risks with writing, including no longer dipping a toe into fantasy and fairy tales, but diving in, and also… taking my poetry writing seriously. I’m not fond of calling myself a writer, much less a poet… somehow the idea of A Poet seems much more deep and knowledgeable and serious than my iamb-counting, form-conforming, rule-bound, doggerel scribbling self. How do people become poets, anyway? In the same way that we become writers – by doing the thing, I’m told. So, I will be doing the thing, taking serious study with a textbook and instructors and all, and with scheduled practice time.

It’s… a little terrifying, honestly. But, it’s also very hopeful and anticipatory – much like the 365 neat, blank squares marching importantly through our calendars. So many things cluster close to our imaginations, tugging on our fine hairs, breathing into our ears, “Maybe this year! Maybe this year!”

Well? Maybe it is all going to happen this year. But, how will we find out if we don’t start?

Poetry Friday is hosted by Ruth, all the way from Haiti, at There Is No Such Thing As A God-Forsaken Town. Have a lovely, restful weekend – because Monday’s the day we jump in and make it all happen!

{#winterlight: wistful pf poetry peeps}

I loved history in school – it seemed an endlessly wonderful story of All These People doing All These Interesting Things! My sophomore year in high school, however, Dave Reedy was my teacher. Mr. Reedy was (IS) a hippie who was caustic about the government, outspoken about “History Is Written By The Winner” and made us students realize – way back even in the mid/late eighties – that what we were being taught wasn’t exactly inclusive, thus it wasn’t wholly factual. It was from Mr. Reedy that I learned to engage history critically, to think of it with my whole mind and not just passively accept what the text said.

Thus, it was from Mr. Reedy I learned that I Would Not Want To Visit History. History has a smell that is stomach turning, and a texture that would make me want to wash my hands – repeatedly. History has soap that is made of lye and tallow, and not much else. History’s water is cold, unless I boil it over an open flame. Dry skin, toasted front and frozen back, scratchy wool and fleas – I’m…certain I’d want to avoid History at all costs.

…Which is why it’s so funny to me that our last Poetry Peeps prompt of the year is mine (also the date was wrong further indication of my involvement): Theme is Wish I’d Been There, or an historical event that incites wistfulness. Wistfulness! But, do I really wish I’d been there?

love lies lying

“I wish I’d been there,”
The kindest sort of falsehoods
told by introverts,
the chronically booked, and those
sparing of tender feelings.

not to mention the lack of modern dentistry

Nits, pease porridge, fleas
Creaky whalebone, bloomers, wigs
Tanners, tallow, smoke and coal –
Grimed with sweaty industry, the
Grubby march of history.

Um… no. No, I don’t wish I’d been there. But, it’s nice to pretend I bound into adventure, unbothered by oh, slavery, bug bites, rodents of plague-passing sizes, stepping unshod (or shod, for that matter), in scat, or eating dubious food like lark’s tongues or tripe. It’s nice to imagine, but let’s be real: I only wish I’d been there because the outfits look so interesting in paintings and pictures. Oh, well.

If you’d like to see what the other wistful Poetry Peeps poetry closes out the year, Kelly is back with a wistful haiku. Laura is here, while Tricia is here. Sara is here, and Cousin Mary Lee is here. Stay tuned for more Poetry Peeps checking in throughout the day. Poetry Friday today is ably hosted by the poet Irene Latham – thanks Irene! Happy Christmas, if you celebrate! Warm hearths, cozy reading nooks, and historically anachronistic comforts to you.