{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.