Monday, 20 March 2017

Two Poems! And One Of Them Is Mine!

Actually, three poems. Technically speaking. But, still, only one of them is mine :)

It's Poetry Monday! Started by Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border; picked up by Delores at Mumblings. Join in, or just read, or just skip - your choice, as always!

First of all, my inspiration poem, by American writer Gelett Burgess, with the original title of ...

The Purple Cow's Projected Feast/Reflections on a Mythic Beast/Who's Quite Remarkable At Least

... but more commonly known as ...

Purple Cow

I've never seen a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

Sound familiar?

Now, according to Wikipedia, Mr. Burgess was less than pleased with his poem as time went by. It was widely quoted, often without giving him proper credit; it became his best known work, and he eventually resented it. Whereupon he wrote another poem called ...

Confession: and a Portrait, Too, Upon a Background that I Rue 

Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow" --
I'm sorry, now, I wrote it;
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'll kill you if you quote it!

Now, I've been having a bit of trouble coming up with a poem for today's post. I wrote one in free verse, but it was long and kind of depressing, and I'm saving it for a soggy grey day when the news is bad and we are all about to weep into our soup to start with. A public service, if you will, to help everybody have a good cathartic cry.

In its place, I set about to try to write some rhyming poetry. The only success I've ever had with rhymes in the past has been when lines just pop into my head -- it's like a crack of lightening, only less painful. To sit down on purpose and try to compose something with the proper rhyme and meter is quite difficult. (For me. I'm not sure how hard it is for Diane, because she produces them regularly, as if by magic.)

You may have heard the saying "The perfect is the enemy of the good." In the spirit of "good" rather than "perfect," I offer these mushrooms from my soul. They are not 100%, but they're 75%, and y'all are welcome to leave only 75% of a comment (if you choose to leave any at all).

HUGE apologies to Mr. Burgess.

 My Rhymes Don't Work/I'm Going Berserk

I've never written rhyming verse.
With every line the chore gets worse.
Lines One through Three I can coerce --
It's Line Four that messes everything up.

I wonder how the scribes of yore
Found just the words they needed, for
They never seemed to be word-poor,
Unlike me, who has to Google "rhymes with" in order to come up with anything.

They must have had so many words
Flitting in their heads like birds.
Today we'd call them rhyming nerds
Or maybe rhyming ninjas, and it would definitely be a compliment.

When all is said and done, I say
A poet's work is hard -- but, hey!
I'm not a poet anyway,
Which is painfully, obviously, irrefutably, and undeniably clear.


Tha-tha-that's all, folks! Hope you have an excellent week :)

Pixabay, how I love your pictures. Although, this is more a lavender cow than a purple cow. But it will do.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Springy Things, Plus Funnies

Even though the vernal equinox is still three days away, there are signs of spring everywhere here. A snowfall on Tuesday was followed by rain, so the ground is mostly brown again. The river has frozen and thawed too many times to count. The sun is warm and the wind is numbing cold. Yep, it's spring in Atlantic Canada.

Ice patterns in the river. I keep seeing a salamander shape there.

Mucky path or mucky grass -- neither one is my preferred walking medium. But it's spring!

Our irises are peeping out. They are on the south side of our house, so they get a head start.

Sad little piles of snow sit forlornly in the oddest places.

Hummingbirds and flowers -- a garden stepping stone. In the summer it is completely surrounded by perennial plants. At the moment, it is sitting (along with its mossy fringe) in the middle of a huge patch of muck. Hopefully things will rise from the swamp in a month or so. Plant-type things.

This also happens in the spring:

And for the dog-lovers, because this is an equal opportunity blog:

And finally, this:

.... known in some circles as "the weekend" ...

Have a good one!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Poetry Monday; And, The Results Are In!

It's Poetry Monday! Started by Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border, and joined by Delores at Mumblings. Join us in writing, or share a poem you like, or just read and enjoy ... or you can cross to the other side of the street and run away. It's all good. Just come back when the danger has receded, eh?

This is a poem I wrote a few years ago based on the writing prompt: "Write a poem that contains only questions."

Is There A Problem?

You want me to do what?
Write a poem that contains only questions?
What kind of a suggestion is that?
Do you realize how silly you're being?
Do you know how hard it is to do?
Do you care?
If you don't care, why should I?
Did you get this idea from "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" *
Why aren't you answering me?
Are you upset with me?
Can't you hear me?
How can I get you to speak?
Will I regret it if you do?
How long can I keep this up?
Would you like to call it quits?
Can I join you?
Can we never do this again?
Can you stop whining now?
Can I apologize now?
Must you cover your eyes and ears like that?
Isn't this the worst poem ever?
Can you prove you wrote a worse one?
Is there a prize involved?
How will I know when I am done here?
Are you as bored as I am?
Why are we still here?
Who thinks I should stop writing?
Are you sincere?
Is it even possible to stop?
What if I never find the right words to finish?
Doesn't everyone want their poem to end with a bang?
Can you believe I think I'm finished?
Can you at least try?
Do you think I should write another poem?
Will you pay me to stop?
How much?
Do you know - ouch! - how much that rotten tomato hurt?

*Note: "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" refers to both a short-lived British radio show and its spin-off American improvisational TV comedy. One of the regular skits requires the actors/comedians to converse only in questions - unscripted and unrehearsed. For a Youtube video example, click HERE.

*          *          *

Last Monday, I stated my intention to give up the use of exclamation marks for one week.

It was about as difficult as I had expected. The week is over now, and I have put them back in my pencil case along with my ellipses, dashes, and asterisks, with a big sigh of relief.

Actually, I didn't last the full week. I cheated toward the end.  

The exercise was useful, though, because it raised my awareness of my writing habits. I immediately realized just how much I use exclamation marks. I also realized that I don't always overuse them. If the topic is a serious one, or if I'm writing business-type correspondence, I don't feel the need to use them at all. I also realized that my writing style here is often like my speaking style with friends - relaxed and animated. It's hard for me to express myself in real life without some body language and excited talking, and in my writing I've decided to go back to flinging punctuation around like confetti to convey my enthusiasm.

... Maybe not like confetti. Maybe less than that.

But it is not a crime to use exclamation marks! It might be a crime to use smiley faces, but until the Smiley Face Police come to get me, I'm hanging on to those little guys too.

Friday, 10 March 2017

A River In The Sky

Last weekend while running errands, I took this picture from the parking lot of our mall. The sky was intriguing with its layers of clouds - heavier ones further away, and smoke-like wisps hanging in the air in front of them.

I kept snapping pictures, ignoring cars that were driving by, pretending I was comfortable being stared at, because Hey, this is my job, man... even though it's clearly not, at least not when I'm carrying only a point and shoot camera.

And as I clicked and clicked in the deepening twilight, I realized I was seeing something else in the sky.

Can you see them? If you click on the photo it will get bigger, although if you have sharp eyes you may be able to see what I'm talking about without enlarging it.

All those black dots that I'm hoping you're able to see are crows, and they were flying to a local roosting area. Every day in early evening, thousands of them come from all over to fly steadily in an overhead corridor until they've all reached their safe sleeping place, a wooded area off the highway.

This sight always gets my attention. There are just so many birds. They come in a steady stream for about thirty minutes as the sky darkens with the setting of the sun.

The first time I ever saw this phenomenon was about nine years ago. My father was in the hospital after his stroke, waiting for an opening in a nursing home. He was able to get around a little in a wheelchair and we had gone to one end of the hall to look out a large window at the pinkness of the early evening sky. We began to notice birds flying toward us and over the hospital.

On and on they came; it seemed there would never be an end to them. I can still see the black wings silhouetted against the rosy sky, wave after wave of crows, instinct driving them to gather for shelter as the day ended. Positioned on the top floor of the hospital, we had probably the best seat in the county from which to watch the spectacle.

It's a bittersweet memory, spent with my dear father as he struggled to adjust to his newly constricted life with hemiparalysis, yet filled with the beauty and wonder of nature and its creatures.


You'll find there is a short break in the stream of crows partway through the video, but things get busy again within fifteen seconds. You'll also hear the traffic going by, which is why the camera was aimed so high in the sky. At least none of the drivers got shouty at me, and don't worry, I was safely parked and not in their way.

If you want to read more about my father's stroke and paralysis, click here
Happy weekend to all. I will return on Monday, and there WILL BE exclamation marks involved.

Monday, 6 March 2017

BOGO: Poetry Monday, And Giving Up A Writing Crutch

I already had my post underway for today when I "remembered" it's Poetry Monday ... and by "remembered" I mean that Diane, over at On the Alberta/Montana Border, reminded me and her other readers ...

Poetry Monday was conjured up by Diane, who was then joined by Delores (at Mumblings). If you go to either of their blogs, you will find other people who have joined in as well.

So today: BOGO - buy one post, get one free (and don't think you aren't "buying" because you're spending precious time to read this stuff, so it's anything but free ...)


I think many people hear the word "poem" and either roll their eyes or run screaming for the hills.

But there are so many kinds of poems; it's just a matter of finding some that fit the reader's likes and preferences.

Personally I enjoy a wide variety of poetry - everything from sonnets to limericks to free verse to cat haiku. And I've written many kinds, although I'll admit some of them were for a project in high school. But occasionally since then, too. Sometimes a few lines will pop into my head and - just like having a mouse in the house - I can't rest until it's out of there.

What is cat haiku? If you haven't run into this concept before, here's an example:

Grace personified.
I leap into the window.
I meant to do that.

(Like me, you may have learned in school that a haiku is a Japanese form of poetry consisting of three lines, with a certain number of syllables in each line - five, then seven, then five. Actual REAL haiku counts Japanese characters, not syllables, but in English we have to use syllables instead.)

On this Poetry Monday I feel like writing cat haiku, so here goes. This one is inspired by our finicky male cat, who maintains his svelte figure by never eating, except sometimes when we least expect it.

Dinner time so soon?
That bowl of food revolts me.
Take it away, slave.

What is this I see -
Yesterday's forgotten bowl?
Leave it! I must eat.

*          *          *

And now the other half of the "buy one, get one free" post.

And this one really hurts me. Don't be alarmed. It only hurts in the literary way.

I am about to embark on an experiment. It involves giving up something very dear to me. Something I use every day, in every way, to express my feelings of joy! excitement!! disbelief!!! rage!!!!

Yes, it's the exclamation mark, also known as the exclamation point. And according to every grammar site I've checked, people are using too many of them. I know this particular person is.

As an aside, Wikipedia says that the exclamation mark is thought to have derived from the Latin exclamation for joy (oi) and that the modern representation started in the Middle Ages, when medieval copyists wrote it at the end of their sentences to indicate joy. (If I were a medieval copyist I'm pretty sure I'd be using it at the end of my painstakingly handwritten sentences, too.) And then it evolved into its present day form over time.

I love that punctuation mark. Until emoticons came into widespread use, it was my only means of expressing emotion in the written word. When I look at the letters I wrote to my parents from university (which my mother kindly saved for me, I know not why) I am embarrassed - embarrassed, I tell you - by the number of them I used.

I admire writers who can get across their joy, excitement, disbelief and rage without the use of flagrant punctuation. I want to become one of them.

So I'm giving up exclamation marks for a whole week. In my posts, in my comments, in my replies to comments here.  It's going to be a rough week, but I did want to warn you. Nothing has happened to me - I'm not sad, I'm not depressed, I'm not bored with life. None of those. I'm trying to progress as a writer, and I'm hoping that one week will turn into longer.

I have to admit I am not optimistic about this experiment. But I'm going to give it a try.

Who knows? If this is successful, maybe I'll try living without my next-most-favourite crutch, the smiley face :)

"I narrow my eyes at your lack of optimism, Slave. Signed, Finicky Male Cat"

Did you reflexively go back and count the number of exclamation marks today? I'm proud to say I edited out five, and left in eleven, but I think all eleven are used correctly!

Make that twelve, now ...