Saturday, April 11, 2015


A Riot of Souls

Two more for Poetry Month Scouting: for the Haiku Anew and Interrogator badges.

First, the Haiku: I selected a haiku from a collection titled Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness and Open Your Heart by Patricia Donegan. It's a source I dip into every so often, haiku being a sort of stout ale best appreciated in sips.  I entered the haiku text (by Hekigodo Kawahigashi) into the recommended on-line discombobulator, which rearranges letters as well as words. It seemed to come up with extra words, so I picked the ones that seemed to work the best. I titled the collection of five haiku Moonlit Riot. The instructions say to create a poem that “fits the haiku structure while still making sense.” At first, I assumed "haiku structure" meant the common 5-7-5 syllabic construction (first line 5 syllables, and so on).  In reading other examples, I don't think many other participants have felt bound to this restriction; I think the editors really meant "a poem of three short lines."

This proved to be an interesting exercise, one I might repeat. I think I'd loosen the bonds a bit more, though.

You Who Question Souls was my response to the Interrogator prompt. I still had Leonard Cohen on my mind (he has yet another live album coming out in May), so I pulled out my copy of Book of Mercy. My goal was to gather about two pages worth of questions from the book.  These questions were rearranged into a new poem. I'm rather pleased with the end result; with the exception of a couple of lines, one might not guess the source was a modern collection of psalms.

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Friday, April 10, 2015


Babel Broke Down

Poetry Month Scouting, continued. My poem “Babel Broke Down” was in response to the “First in Line” prompt. As the referenced page mentions, this type of poem is a cento, a form I've tried once before, using the index of first lines from selected poems of Emily Dickinson.

My first impulse was to use first lines from Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen, which happens to be next to the chair by my writing desk. It also happens to have an index of first lines, which includes the titles of his drawings throughout the book. The index goes on for several pages, and felt too overwhelming. So I picked up a chapbook which also sits near my chair, Lexicography, by my friend Carol Hamilton.  Although her chapbook had no index of first lines, it was less intimidating – being a little over 81 pages.

Chapbooks tend to be collections of poems along a common theme, in this case Words, and their meanings. After only a few pages, I was struck by how frequently the first line on the recto page seems to comment on, or reply to, the first line on the opposing page.  In a sense, the poem seemed to write itself.

In my mind, it seems to have a plot.  As a friend said, “It almost makes sense.” As such, I think it is one of my more successful attempts in this project.

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Thursday, April 09, 2015


Poetry Month Scouting

As I mentioned on March 25, I am participating in the Poety Month Scout project, sponsored by the Found Poetry Review.  “Found Poetry” is an interesting concept, challenging the writer to create something new out of a pre-existing work.  The editors of the Found Poetry Review have crafted 31 prompts intended to be a fun way to introduce poets to this process. I've managed to complete nine prompts, or badges.  In effect, I've written a poem a day.

Some of these attempts have been more rewarding, some have been frustrating.  For example, the "Redacted" badge required the poet to use an on-line tool to black out words on screen; the remaining words would constitute the "poem".  I found the on-line tool very hard to use (especially in Firefox).  However, after reading the experiences of other poets, I decided to give it another go, this time using the Chrome browser. I'm happier with this result; the source text is a meditation on the resurrection narrative from the Gospel of John.

Crumpled is a Verb” is possibly the most popular of my attempts, at least judging from the number of positive comments it has received. To quote from the Scount Badge Handbook:

To earn the “On Demand” badge, start by coming up with an unlikely word combination. You can make up your own, choose words at random from a source text, or use a generator like the one at JimPix to come up with your words. Examples:

  • Foolish Ninja
  • Calamitous Rock
  • Hurry Pork
  • Jugular Magnet

Visit Google ( and do a search on your chosen word combination (no quotes around the terms)..

Google will display a list of pages, as well as short descriptions for each site. Compose a poem using only these page titles and short descriptions — do not click into the sites themselves to grab more text. You can use multiple pages of search results if necessary.

I used the Jim Pix tool, and got "“Crumpled Change” as the word combination.

Working On Doodles” was in response to the “Spaced Out” prompt.  It's possible I didn't select the best source text for this challege: a one-paragraph blurb on “Ally McBeal” from Entertainment Weekly.

The irony in all this, of course, is that I was a wash-out as a scout; never made it past cub. Don't know what the editors would call a person who completes 15 or more of these prompt badges, but I hope it's better than cub. Padre would be amused, if not proud.

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Idée d’jour

Bad weather always looks worse through a window.
— Tom Lehrer, singer-songwriter and mathematician (b. 9 Apr 1928)


Friday, April 03, 2015


Bones of Bashan

Third in the PoMoSco series. The source is Psalm 22, as rendered in the New Zealand Prayer Book.

The guidelines were to select words and phrases by a means of rolling dice. I had done a similar poem using the I Ching. The editor-in-chief of the PoMoSco project gave me permission to use the I Ching for this project as well.

The I Ching didn't give as much variety as I had hoped, and using a method similar to what I did for A Loveless Marriage (linked above) would have been too time-consuming, so I also applied an on-line dice rolling site — using six twelve sided dice. Each die would determine which line I would select; the line of the trigram would determine whether I would select the first half or second half of the line. I think the end product is rather interesting.

This poem also marks the third in my personal “Holy Week” series. The PoMoSco Handbook has a suggested calendar, but I respond to do this prompt out of order. “Roll the Dice” immediately made me think of a line from Ps 22: “they cast lots for my clothing”. “Casting lots” is similar to rolling dice. A connection!

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Thursday, April 02, 2015


In remembrance of her

A cut-up from the Gospel According to Mark, 2nd in the series for Poetry Month.

This picture demonstrates the process: I cut out a paragraph from the Passion according to Mark from my church bulletin. I sliced out words and phrases with the Exacto knife, put them in the glass bowl, and shook vigorously. Tiny slips of paper flew everywhere! Being a slow learner, I put then back in the glass bowl and shook more gently. Fewer slips of paper were lost. I painstakingly pulled them out of the bowl and stuck them on the blank page. This was hampered by the fact that just a sliver of Glue Stick was left, and it was almost dried out.

Yet, if you go to the PoMoSco site, you'll see a scan of that same page. Although cut-up is often associated with William S. Burroughs, the PoMoSco Handbook attributes the process to Dada poet Tristan Tzara. Gotta say, I ended up with something like word salad, so I've got to wonder how Burroughs made any sense.

The poem has received a positive comment: “It’s fascinating how the main character becomes female here and the voice of the teller fades into the background. I had to look up the verses to see what was shattered — this is that interesting!”

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Saturday, March 28, 2015


A Withered Hosanna

This linked poem is the first in the Poetry Month Scout Project, a special National Poetry Month effort . This is in response to the “Pick &” Mix prompt under the Remixing Badge. The goal was to write down words and phrases that caught my eye in the source text, then use them in any order I wished. MLA style citation appears below.

I chose the reading from Mark, assigned for Palm Sunday, because this project begins in the midst of Holy Week. Interestingly, the April 1 prompt coincides with Holy Wednesday, which many scholars call "silent", because there is no record of what Jesus did on this day.

The goal is to respond to at least 15 out of 30 prompts by the end of April, the cruelest month.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015


Thursday afternoon, 19.Mar.2015

Feeling earth respond to my step
energized by ion-rich mist
Bradford Pear blossoms

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Idée d’jour

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.
T.S. Eliot


Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Idée d’jour

There is only one religion though there are a hundred versions of it.
— George Bernard Shaw


Monday, February 09, 2015


Idée d’jour

Music is a means of rapid transportation.
— John Cage


Thursday, February 05, 2015


Idée d’jour

The beauty of the band was you never knew what was going to come out next.
— Jimmy Page


Monday, February 02, 2015


Idée d’jour

There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat.
Tay Hohoff


Thursday, January 29, 2015


Idée d’jour

There is no enlightenment outside of daily life
— Thich Nhat Hanh


Friday, January 23, 2015


Idée d’jour

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
— Rumi


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