{pf: poetry peeps time travel with M-W}

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

You’re invited to try our challenge in the month of February! Here’s the plan: We’ll roll a set of metaphor dice and write a poem inspired by your metaphor. Don’t have metaphor dice? Never even heard of them? I first encountered them in Heidi’s Juicy Little Universe, and they were invented just a few years prior by the poet Taylor Mali. Interesting, right? If you’d rather not get metaphor dice, just use an online metaphor generator, like this one. Then share your poem on February 26 in a post and/or on social media – #PoetryPals.


Our first challenge of 2021 was to visit Merriam-Webster’s Time Traveler page and explore when a word was first used in print. Not invented, but printed – the first time a word was used in the United States, at least, in a print publication – a book, a newspaper or a magazine. To begin, each of us chose a year which was meaningful to us – for whatever reason – and went back in time before diving into poetry. There were no other rules.

Time Traveler is a big old rabbit hole, and I hope you take set aside some time to dig around and see what you discover. I chose 1973, and find it surprising that no one had said “underwire” or “bralette” in print until then – although, that might be because some objects of clothing were considered “unmentionables” not so long ago, even in women’s magazines. Just imagine – people hadn’t referred to “news person” or “anchorpeople” before 1973. Concepts like a “crumple zone” or an “ACE inhibitor” were unknown. The plethora of medical words first in print in 1973 indicates the number of discoveries being made – and shared – with the general public for the first time. And I was unsurprised to discover that words like “lockdown,” “super-spreader,” and “bunyavirus” (what even is that?!) were also there. History records, and our Time Traveler confirms: viral outbreaks and lockdowns are nothing at all new.

While forty-eight years ago, no one had ever written about video games, urgent care, soccer moms, or televangelists, romance was, of course, alive and well (how else did we all get here). The clutter of Valentine’s related junk in my inbox (as frantic retailers try to make it The Next Big Holiday) together with the utter randomness of my 1973 word list came together in my head to create… a love story. Obviously. Because, what else would I write about? With apologies for the resulting cheesiness, I present to you…

Meet Cute

A Love Story With The Worst Romantic Verbiage, Ever

Who would’ve thought when first we met
A deconstruction – of Chaucer! – made him a sure bet.

His factoid filled mind jump-started my heart
8 AM edutainment – he made snark a fine art.

I kept seeing him, sending me into hyperdrive,
My space-cadet heart barely kept me alive…

I was cash-strapped and stressed, held up by duct tape
Balanced on razor wire with no means of escape.

While reverse-engineering success, I could soar
But dating? No thanks! I was no revolving door.

So we were “just friends,” and he shared his moon-roof.
As it turned out, “mere” friendship was the burden of proof

That I needed. That swooning was not such a sin.
My heart broke its lockdown: I gave up! He was in.


(Don’t fact-check me, but there’s just the teeniest bit of history in this poem. Deniability is the name of the game!)

This list of words was both frustrating and hilarious. I started trying to use the fact that the words are presented alphabetically, but an abecedarian form did NOT work. I finally settled on blank verse, which apparently any Joe Six-Pack could do, but the disparate variations of meanings and sounds made me greedy – I so wanted to use so many other words, but — honestly! — this was plenty. I had fun, and that satisfies the requirements for this challenge. Want to see the other attempts of our stalwart crew of poetry peeps? Check out Laura’s. Right here is Liz’s. This one’s Sara’s. Find Kelly’s here, and Andi’s, and this is Tricia‘s. Cousin Mary Lee’s will eventually turn up here, and Michelle Kogan’s is here. More poets will check in throughout the day, so stay tuned!

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jan at Bookseed Studio. Thank you, Jan! It’s finally safe to say Happy New Year to everyone – it’s the Year of the Ox! Here’s to stubbornly pushing forward on the things we need to do this year. Until then, keep your food processors busy, and your hot tubs sultry, and your Earth tones subdued. Happy weekend.

18 Replies to “{pf: poetry peeps time travel with M-W}”

  1. Oh!! The 8am friendship leading to love — this was so evocative of that time and stage of life.
    Also, the fact that LOCKDOWN was one of your words!?!? Whoa — kind of gave me shivers after the past year….

    1. @Liz Garton Scanlon: Everyone you meet in an 8 am upper division literature class in college ought to be power-welded to you in friendship forever… you’ve been IN the trenches, man… And yes: lockdown was in reference to prisons but also mentioned disease outbreaks!! I looked it up in disbelief!

  2. I am floored by how you were able to create such a delightful story (and rhyme!!) using those random words. So many great lines. I thoroughly enjoyed this!

  3. It’s a love story with words that sing of the past, perhaps yours, Tanita, quite fun to read the time-line of the relationship and you managed to rhyme, too. Considering your talk of the Valentine’s Day onslaught (our Christmas aisles were replaced by the Valentines fast), I love your condensed history of one love story, ready for February!

    1. @lindabaie: Isn’t the rush toward February 14 ridiculous?! I mean, I love a holiday and that goes double for one we can decorate for, but from Halloween stuff appearing in August onward, we’ve gotten more than slightly out of control with it.

  4. Well Tanita, your post and poem take the cake, as a top drawer, STAND-UPPERISM perfection of 1973 words–I smiled all the way through, and am still smiling. Thanks for this fun adventurous sonnet, me thinks… πŸ™‚

  5. Fun & games! Appreciations for your groovy pre-amble & precious poem (saw the personal history in comments πŸ™‚ I want to learn more about the metaphor match up & the T-T dictionary game which has added so much to this week’s Poetry Friday party.

    I also want to share a past URL where I gave some love to Mare’s War – that gal & her exploits in basic training & overseas are page-turning; so too her connection with the grand gals & surprise ending!
    Here’s that write up:
    https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/2021/01/11/the-u-s-capitol-1-2021-higher-ground/

    Happy New Year to you!
    Jan

    1. @bookseedstudio: Oh, Jan! I’m so touched. I’m so glad you read and enjoyed MARE’S WAR, and that it gave you something to enjoy during the Overthrow That Wasn’t. I had to remind myself during those first days of this year that those who worked to lay the foundations for equality and diversity in this country haven’t gone anywhere, even if the louder voices were of nationalists slinging their ugliness. Taking your song metaphor further, the meaning of “We Shall Overcome” is that stubborn, quieter voices do still keep on singing, no matter who isn’t listening. Love is stronger than death; the song goes on.

  6. As usual, I adore your introduction. And honestly, your poem had me laughing out loud. If this describes Tech Boy, I think even more highly of him. What a marvelous use of your words, despite the tagline “A Love Story With The Worst Romantic Verbiage, Ever.”
    I wasn’t sure this challenge was a good idea, but I’m so glad we did it!

    1. @Tricia Stohr-Hunt: Indeed, this is meant to be Tech Boy at our 8 am class where we met. Awfully early, awfully wordy professor – awfully snarky seat mate turned into not-so-awful after all. And, as soon as I started writing, I wasn’t sure this exercise was a good idea either -!! but it worked out.

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