{pf: poetry peeps write quote-ably}

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

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge for the month of July! Here’s the scoop: we’re writing monotetra poems. This four-line stanzas form is in tetrameter, with a total of 8 syllables per line, and can be a single quatrain, or several. Each stanza is mono-rhymed (each line has the same end rhyme), and the final line of each stanza repeats the same four syllables Writers’ Digest has an example. The Poetry Sisters are continuing with our 2023 theme of TRANSFORMATION somehow wedged or sneaked into this form. You have a month to craft your creation and share it on July 28th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Thought-provoking words from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: “We may not have wings or leaves, but we humans do have words. Language is our gift and our responsibility.” Those are the words before the sentence Mary Lee proposed for this month’s writing quote, which is, “If grief can be a doorway to love, then let us all weep for the world we are breaking apart so we can love it back to wholeness again.”

…language is our gift and our responsibility. Though perhaps not in the way that Kimmerer intended, because my mind is far from the natural world, this phrase has really resonated this month. I’m always conscious of when I make a social expression of concern… – promising to keep friends in my thoughts or prayers, to find a way to help, if I can; to keep a daughter/son/husband in mind if I hear about a job/hear about an opening/tutor/book they might need or like. We promise each other so many tiny things in the name of care, a hundred small words that we genuinely mean in the moment they emerge. How many of them do we carry through? Because I AM Me, these are the types of things that revisit my thoughts late at night.

I am always disappointed in myself when I fail to fulfill the social exchanges I have promised. I feel, frankly, like a liar. We all fail, though, to follow through sometimes – sometimes on smaller, and sometimes on a larger scale. What would happen if we let that sting of feeling bad about it …change things? What if it all… meant something? What if we could go backwards and fix all the times in the past, from bad faith treaties to outright grift and lies, that have made the social contract has fallen apart? What wouldn’t we all give for a time machine that we could flip, and get a do-over.

I started out trying to use a villanelle for this poem, but a four-stanza pantoum – a form I normally struggle with – suggested itself, and, shockingly, worked out. The shorter lines conveyed a sense of my theme without drowning me in it, hinting at multiple meanings and not locking me into one way of looking at grief, change, or loss. I also took the opportunity to use one of Linda M’s clunker lines while revising. I swapped a clunker of my own with “for minute sips of time,” which worked amazingly, and is an absolutely BRILLIANT line, so thank you, Linda, I’ll take it!

I like the way this reads, laid out differently, too:

Time Machine

If grief can lead the way/ ‘cross the threshold of the world,
For minute sips of time /recreate our past again.

Cross the threshold of the world/ where our words, no longer lies
Recreate our past again/ bedrock-solid as we stand.

With our words no longer lies/ we, who never kept our word,
Bedrock-solid, make a stand/ make this lever pivot worlds.

We, who never kept our word/ if grief can lead the way
Make this lever pivot. Worlds,/ for minute sips of time.

I’m so glad I’m not teaching this poem, so I don’t have to force it to mean something that makes entirely coherent sense to anyone but me. ☺ Other poetic thoughts on quotations can be found at Cousin Mary Lee’s place, at Laura’s blog, at Tricia’s, and at Liz’s website. Michelle K’s lovely responsive poem is here. More Poetry Peeps will be checking in throughout the weekend, so don’t forget to pop back for the round up. And, Poetry Friday is ably hosted today by Irene Latham, who invites you to celebrate the moon in June and read more remarkable, thought-provoking, creative poetry. Happy Friday, and enjoy the supermoon and Independence Day.

8 Replies to “{pf: poetry peeps write quote-ably}”

  1. Oh, I think this is beautiful, Tanita, on so many levels. The thoughts behind the poem, the poem itself, the chosen form. It’s haunting. (Aren’t we all haunted by these kinds of thoughts, regrets, disappointments?) And Linda’s “clunker” didn’t clunk at all. Lent itself beautifully, didn’t it?

  2. You’ve packed so much in these few lines and especially in this one, “With our words no longer lies”
    And that ominous sand timer-“Time Machine” sends shivers, belated thanks for this powerful poem Tanita. Hope this finds you and yours well in the vast rushing on of time… And that you have clean air, ours has been in short supply of late.

  3. I so appreciate this poem. As usual, the words of your introduction ring so true. I too am disappointed in myself when I fail to follow through. I want the time machine your poem describes. I appreciate that you went with a pantoum. It’s a form I struggle with, but you made this work. I love the clunker line followed by “recreate the past again.”

  4. Connecting, from your command (wish?) “Make this lever pivot. Worlds” if only we could make it so, a la StarWars, Tanita. Yes, Linda’s ‘clunker’ is perfect and you made it so! Perhaps ‘clunkers’ belong in the category of “someone’s trash is another’s treasure” as your poem so gracefully shows!

  5. The pantoum with its “doomed to repeat the past” structure is perfect for this poem in which we are given a not-doomed-but-wiser chance to do better! Cousin Tanita, like you I fret; I say there is nothing more important than doing what you say you’re going to do, than being dependable instead of flaky. The whole “giving grace” thing has been like learning a foreign language–at least when pointed at myself. Thanks for letting grief lead into second chances.

  6. Wow, you worked it out, Tanita. I especially love the third quatrain. Gives me hope that despite ALL my failures (and even though I can’t truly go back and change things), I might somehow make things bedrock-solid. Lovely.

  7. What a non-clunker that line was, and how perfect for your pantoum! The repetition really works well with the whole “things that keep me awake in the middle of the night” vibe. I will study (not teach!) this poem in order to learn more about how to modify lines, keeping the words the same, but changing the meaning with punctuation. You do this so brilliantly!

    1. Tanita, bedrock-solid is a great word choice for a very interesting prose piece that leads into a powerful poem about looking inward. I am norry that I did not have a poem for #PoetryPals. This past month has been filled with too many tasks to remember. May you have a wonderful 4th of July.

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