{pf: poetry peeps play with words}

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


Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of November! Here’s the scoop: This month, we’re writing an Ode to Autumn. An ode is a lyrical song-like poem, and like the ancient Greeks, modern humans also enjoy marking an occasion with a song. Whether you choose an irregular ode with no set pattern or rhyme, or the ten-line, three-to-five stanza famed by Homer himself, we hope you’ll join us in singing in the season of leaf-fall and perfect pie. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on November 26th (the Friday after Thanksgiving, so plan ahead) in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Our wordplay poems this month are based on the very fun “________is a Word” poem challenge first introduced by Nikki Grimes when she visited with Michelle Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty. We had many directions we could go with these – so many that I, at least, had trouble choosing a word. Sometimes wordplay presents us an embarrassment of riches! When that happens, we have Laura on hand with her poetry dice to help us narrow things down.

Though many of these wordplay poems seem to land on concrete nouns for their defining roots, I began with an adjective. I chose “hungry” because honestly, when I started writing, I was.

HUNGER

Hungry is a hollow word:
The ‘h’ deflates a sigh
the ‘un-‘ hums onward greedily
Craves Havarti on dark rye…

Hungry swings its syllables
– two snicked-tight pantry doors
That house honey for your hotcakes:
Won’t you have some? Have some more!

Hungry growls its g-r-y,
Like stomachs growl their rage.
A hangry belly is the root
Of many a harsh rampage!

Hungry – just hung up on food?
Or starved, unfilled, abased?
That hungry ends with anguished “Why?”
We have extra, “just in case.”*

So, here’s to ‘hungry,’
Since the word we’ve chopped up to mincemeat
Has left me with a hole inside…
I’m just famished. Let’s go eat.

During our poetry time this month, The Poetry Sisters had a fun discussion about some of the words Laura rolled from the poetry Metaphor Dice. After rolling words we could use easily, we hit upon the word virtuous, to much commentary. It’s a difficult word, carrying baggage heavy enough for its own overhead compartment. Kelly reminded us of Míshlê from the Hebrew Bible, more familiar to some as the Proverbs (of Solomon). This book has a section called the Praise of the Virtuous Woman which Orthodox gentlemen sometimes sing to their wives. It’s a lovely image, but unfortunately, my 19th century British and American Literature undergraduate degree left me with the Nathaniel Hawthorne version of “virtuous.” It’s a hardtack, narrow, Puritanical, word, for me. The judgment I find within it is reflected in the poem I wrote. And, I’m aware – this technically isn’t quite fulfilling the wordplay challenge, because it’s less about the shapes and sounds of the word than my loathing of its meaning, but – oh, well, right?

Virtually Virtue

Virtuous is a sharp-edged word
It cleaves us with its ‘v’
and two looped ‘u’s restrain and herd
the ‘O’ for a pillory.

The frowning ‘ir’ looks down its nose,
At slattern, slanted ‘s’
A judging word, with narrowed eyes
Existing to oppress.

Though Puritans of Olden Days
Would judge me as unfit
History records less white than gray
Of those narrow hypocrites!

Um… Yay, Pilgrims? Happy Thanksgiving?


*clears throat*

Anyway! I loved doing those, and some of our discussion on this form really sparked some thoughts for me. I think I’m going to revisit wordplay poems during my “Gratitudinal” project this November.

Meanwhile, the Poetry Peeps in our digital neighborhood have superbly entertaining wordplay on tap. Sara’s poem is here. Cousin Mary Lee’s is here. Andromeda drops in here, and Tricia’s poem is here. Kelly’s poem is here as is Laura’s. Liz joins the party JoAnn’s poem is here. Rose’s poem is here, while Heidi’s is here. Carol’s playing along, and Michelle is too.. More Poetry Peeps will potentially be popping in all day, so stay tuned for a round-up of wordplay links.


Well, there goes October. What a strange end – torrents and floods in this state, and a wild, windy nor’easter on the other coast. Seems it might be a nippy winter – so I hope you have some wonderful autumnal adventures ahead to see you through. If you’d like to begin your adventures this morning, read more poetry! Poetry Friday today is genially hosted by Linda at Teacher Dance, and costumes are welcome (also, can you believe I’d forgotten it was almost Halloween!? Obviously I need to get out of my writing cave more often)! Here’s to the scarecrows and slightly spooky scares in store.


*I’m always horrified by the statistic that according the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations presented a few years ago, that the world produces agriculturally over one and a half times enough food to feed everyone, everywhere. But, that would require equal distribution, or sharing… something humanity hasn’t learned to do.

{slowly we begin}

My little sister texted me to ask what we were doing for Thanksgiving.

Ugh.

Writing a novel that has a deadline Wednesday, December 1 means that you don’t want anything to do with NaNoWriMo, nothing to do with Thanksgiving, and panic at the idea of Black Friday. I really don’t have time to do this! And yet, Thanksgiving 2020 didn’t happen at all, except in terms of a series of phone calls and waving at each other briefly over Zoom (which is its own special level-of-hell annoyance).

Thanksgiving has always been our family’s one holiday. Growing up poor, we didn’t do Christmas, which requires an outlay of funds to buy things – and we didn’t get that much into Easter. Our extended family is made up of very religious and very anti-religious people, so Thanksgiving – and, oddly, Labor Day – to us the least religious holidays – have always been the time for the biggest family get-togethers. Courtesy of Covid, our big Thanksgiving do will likely for many years be a thing of the past, so this year, a much smaller holiday-esque mystery party thing might have to happen.

AFTER Thanksgiving. Say, maybe December 12th?

Baby steps. We’ll get things back to some version of “normal” eventually, right?

At least that’s the dream…


P.S., Just in case my editor is reading this: I WILL FINISH. I’m fine. No worries! I’m going to make that deadline! Really! Promise!

P.P.S., Just realized looking at the picture I found for this that I really miss babies. All my book nieces and nephews are either not yet born or toddling/running, so their little thighs are no longer quite so pillowy. Bittersweet! But, they chew and drool much less, and are differently destructive with books, so that’s a win? Progress. Baby steps, as it were…

{fire season}

It’s been cold when I wake up for the last several nights, and we’ve had a brief rain – so this idea of autumn is not a fluke. “Fire season” is almost over.

Like the mother in PARTLY CLOUDY, I used to hate the idea of a season for wildfires. Fire doesn’t seem like a natural part of the natural world – but it is. Fires, insects, and tree blights are part of a natural cycle of replenishment and growth in a forest. Lightning ignited wildfires used to simply burn, but now people go through a lot of effort to make sure that don’t … and without wildfires to scour the forest floor to thin out the deadfalls and competing vegetation, to encourage certain tree species seeds to fall and certain flowers to bloom, to break down and return certain nutrients to the soil, the forest isn’t as strong and healthy of an ecosystem as it needs to be.

Even knowing all of this, it’s hard not to hate the fires. The climate changes that create severe drought make them worse, and the fires are burning hotter and longer, creating a changed landscape and ecosystem as trees don’t have time to grow back before the next big blaze. On top of all the other changes we’re facing as a society, this comes with the additional trauma of people losing their homes. It isn’t within our natures not to fight for what is ours, and it’s going to take a lot to move past our ingrained responses to fire and loss. But every time this seems like a hopeless tangle, I remind myself that human beings are flexible and creative, and because we are also deeply stubborn creatures, we will figure out a way around this. We’ll relearn managing the forests and learn new ways of using water and our natural resources to everyone’s benefit. We will manage this. We don’t have any choice.

In the meantime, we welcome autumn – a chance to breathe and recover, and hopefully, to await the rain.