Micro-poetry

What’s MICRO POETRY? Anything short, I suppose. 🙂

Background image: Pixabay

A lot of the old nursery rhymes were micro-poetry, as are haiku & senryu. I hear of Twitter verses now, which must be 140 characters or less. Here’s my effort, using 139 characters:

Snatched an egg from our hen,
the egg was good; I tried it again.
What a thief! the angry hen squawked.
Now I have one hand with chicken pox.

🙂

Another type of micro-poetry is the limerick like this one — I think it’s quite well known — by an unknown author:

I raised a great hullabaloo
 when I found a large mouse in my stew.
Said the waiter, "Don't shout and wave it about
 or the rest will be wanting one, too!"


Some years back I found the book PIPING DOWN THE VALLEYS WILD — “A merry mix of verses for all ages.” Edited and © 1968 by Nancy Larrick Crosby, published by Bantam Doubleday Dell Books. So many fun examples of long and short verses, old and new.

Here are a couple of my own micro-poems — the first one mainly for lovers of big words:

FLETCHERIZE

What is this new word fletcherize?
It brings no vision to my eyes;
its purpose I can’t crystalize;
all sense of rhythm it defies.

A word that is so obdurate,
with sounds that cannot resonate
a poet true will obviate
for fear it would obfuscate.

(Fletcherize, a word given as a writing prompt one day, means to reduce (food) to tiny particles, especially by prolonged chewing.)

FRIENDS

The real jewels in this world
Aren't found midst piles of gold;
They're found in friendship's sparkling eyes
Where love and warmth enfold.

Idealism Takes A Hit

Occasionally I read an article posted on POCKET, historical articles or some journalist’s take on a recent news story. I’ve read about the newest wave of CENSORSHIP, an issue that often boils down to an idealistic approach versus a realistic one. I read about one young man who responded to the many PROTESTS and CONSPIRACY THEORIES by starting his own. Others said, “Hey, why not?” and the crazy thing went viral.

I’ve heard about the social upheaval massive immigration has caused in Texas. Last night I started reading J D Vance’s HILLBILLY ELEGY, describing the “hollowing out” and desperate poverty in the US Midwest — “the Rust Belt.” All this input rattling around in my mind, plus my own experience, has produced cogitations I’m going to share in several upcoming posts. Starting with…

Idealism In a Real World

A few years after we were married we were discussing a politician of our day and my husband commented, “He’s too much of an idealist. I’d rather see a crook elected to run the country than an idealist.”

I understood where he was coming from. A crook usually has a good handle on how things really work. A dreamer who isn’t facing reality can be dangerous when handed the reins. Now, with almost fifty years of practical observations as well as a keen interest in history, I understand that sentiment so much better. Especially after I read a number of accounts of how the ultimate idealism, PROHIBITION, worked, especially in the US.

An elderly friend once told me about Nellie McClung’s sad observation on being hit by reality. McClung (1873-1951) was one of Canada’s original suffragettes and women writers. She worked hard to get the vote for women; once women had the vote she was elected to the Alberta Legislature. Being all for home and family, and opposed to the demon drink that destroyed homes and left wives and families destitute, she was totally in support of Prohibition.

The sad remark she made in her old age, according to my friend, was: “We thought when women got the vote, we’d outlaw liquor. But we never thought we’d see the day when women would take to drinking!”

I could have told her that. When I was young most of the women I knew drank. My own mother, according to my sisters, “spent half her life in the beer parlour.” My younger sister, Donna, unsuccessfully fought a lifelong battle with alcohol, though it was finally a drug overdose that took her out. Always a feisty kid, I think she would have loved a swig of bootleg booze.

Evangelical Christians have always leaned heavily toward idealism, thinking they know what’s good for the rest of the country. But there’s a whole ‘nother world in their midst – my own non-religious people – that Protestant Evangelicals haven’t really been able to acknowledge. And when those citizens rise up and start following their inclinations, idealism will crash.

Bootleg booze, rum-runners, organized crime: the Christian Women’s Temperance League never foresaw how these would flourish.

Now for a secular example…

Breast-feeding Is A Natural Act

Definitely it is. However, there’s a reason why North American women have been hesitant – some may say “inhibited” – from breast-feeding openly in public places. In fact, one weekend in Saskatoon a group of zealous women set up a display in the Midtown Mall promoting the natural act of breast-feeding. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” they claimed, “Nursing a baby should be allowed openly anywhere with no embarrassment or legal questions.”

In an ideal world, it would work. In this awfully real world…

In the course of shopping, I passed by their display several times. They’d set up a prominent booth and hung huge posters above it showing mothers nursing their babies. Lots of posters and pamphlets displayed around the booth. But reality lingered in the shadows. Each time I noticed a number of fascinated men strolling, or lingering by walls and in corners, so obviously drinking in the visual stimulation.

Yeah, it’s awful – but are you surprised? In a society where respect for women, consideration for motherhood, respect and decency in general, ran the show, this blatant display of lechery wouldn’t be. Pardon me, but I hope those ladies so inspired by their rosy ideals had their eyes opened to the reality of lust. Nursing openly may work in a different, more accustomed, less sex-focused society. But in ours, I believe this peeping is something nursing mothers in our society will deal with if they start to bare it all in public places.

Goals and ideals are great, but a person — especially a leader — needs a clear understanding of what will actually work in our imperfect world.

Capricious Climate

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SECURITY

The calendar may say Spring starts March 21st, but here in the northern clime we have no security in that. Today is gray, gray, and a frigid blast from the northwest is driving small snowflakes past our window, sometimes lots, sometimes less. My phone tells me it’s -9 C at 11 am. So not spring!

As I looked out this morning I thought of a poem I read in an old IDEALS magazine. Apart from the autumn sky it fits well. This poem, full of personification — at least I think that’s what it’s called — was written by Oliver Herford. (See bio below.) It was included in a poetry book titled An American Anthology, 1787-1899:

BELATED VIOLET

Very dark the autumn sky,
Dark the clouds that hurried by;
Very rough the autumn breeze
Shouting rudely to the trees.
Listening, frightened, pale, and cold,
Through the withered leaves and mould
Peered a violet all in dread—
“Where, oh, where is spring?” she said.
Sighed the trees, “Poor little thing!
She may call in vain for spring.”
And the grasses whispered low,
“We must never let her know.”
“What's this whispering?” roared the breeze;
“Hush! a violet,” sobbed the trees,
“Thinks it 's spring,—poor child, we fear
She will die if she should hear!”
Softly stole the wind away,
Tenderly he murmured, “Stay!”
To a late thrush on the wing,
“Stay with her one day and sing!”
Sang the thrush so sweet and clear
That the sun came out to hear,
And, in answer to her song,
Beamed on Violet all day long;
And the last leaves here and there
Fluttered with a spring-like air.
Then the violet raised her head,—
“Spring has come at last!” she said.
Happy dreams had Violet
All that night—but happier yet,
When the dawn came dark with snow,
Violet never woke to know.

And here’s one I think we can all identify with:

To Music
Here's to Music,
Joy of joys!
One man's music's
Another man's noise.

This bio comes from publicdomainpoetry.com

Oliver Herford, 1863-1935, was a British born American writer, artist and illustrator who has been called “The American Oscar Wilde”. As a frequent contributor to The Mentor, Life, and Ladies’ Home Journal, he sometimes signed his artwork as “O Herford”. In 1906 he wrote and illustrated the “Little Book of Bores”. He also wrote short poems like “The Chimpanzee” and “The Hen”, as well as writing and illustrating “The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten” (1904), “Cynic’s Calendar” (1917) and “Excuse It Please” (1930). His sister Beatrice Herford was also a humorist.

Gr-Gr-Uncle’s Sad Fate

Our Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was WIDOWMAKER. I’ve never heard of this word, though I grasped the idea soon enough. Still, what might I might write in response to this prompt?

About ten minutes later our cat, Angus, came around the corner of the house with a mouse in his jaws. He rushed up the steps, intending to bring his prize inside, but that’s not allowed. The creature’s tail hung limp and lifeless, but you never know. They can fake it until the chance comes to dash under some furniture.

Anyway, my mind went back to the prompt and I thought, “Okay, here’s a tale…”

Widow-Makers

“”Quiet, children! Did you hear that sound?” Our mother trembled. Most of us froze, ears alert to the faint sound coming down through our tree stump.

Some of our siblings were still tumbling around, pulling each others’ tails. “Stop squeaking,” she hissed, reaching over to box their ears. “Everyone listen.”

The plucking, rasping sound was louder now and we all trembled a bit, wondering what it could be. She started shoving us into the corner farthest away from the door, whispering, “Don’t any of you dare squeak, or put so much as a whisker out the door.”

We all huddled in the corner until the sound stopped. Still Mother wouldn’t let us move around for a long time after.

“Mother, what was that sound,” one of our sisters finally asked.

“That, little ones, is the sound of THE CAT, a furious beast, sharpening its claws on a tree nearby. We must be silent whenever it’s near because if it hears any rustling, that monster will be over here in a flash, reaching in to snag whoever it can.”

By now we were all trembling. We’d heard many fur-raising tales about “THE CAT.”

Mother’s whiskers twitched wildly as she described the beast. “Its claws are viciously barbed. We call them widow-makers. Few mice ever escape those clutches. THE CAT has massacred dozens of our relatives.” She began wringing her hands “I do hope your father and brothers are safe. Snitching grain from the harvest field won’t be worth it if they lose their lives doing it.”

After awhile Father and our brothers came back and we could all relax. They told us all how they’d seen THE CAT and had hidden in another stump until the beast had moved on. Our brothers described THE CAT for us: a big furry monster with fiery golden eyes, HUGE paws and a long tail that it whipped around constantly. Oh, we were glad they hadn’t fallen prey to a beast like that!

But the sad news went round that evening when we mice gathered among the trees to visit our clan. We’d lost our great-great-uncle to THE CAT. Our great-great aunt is years younger than gr-gr-uncle and has perfect hearing; she shuddered as told us how she’d squealed a warning to him, but gr-gr-uncle hadn’t understood it. He’d poked his head out to see what was making that noise and spotted the cat. He’s kind of slow in his old age and didn’t duck back inside soon enough. THE CAT spied him and dived toward their hole, reaching in to snag gr-gr-uncle with its vicious barbs and carry him away in its jaws.

The mouse clan offered many sympathies to great-great-aunt, another widow in the daily battle for mouse survival. We’re all twice as cautious now. None of us want to be caught by those widow-maker claws.

Painting Pizzazz

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is PIZZAZZ, and I will add my little contribution to the collection.

“Paint with PIZZAZZ,” the book instructor encouraged. “Be BOLD and BOHEMIAN! Don’t let yourself be bound by the need to render realistically.”

So I slashed, swirled and daubed bold colors on the canvas — and it was so much fun! I whipped up a sea of wild waves and whitecaps, then swizzled in a sky full of menacing clouds. Lastly I added a small sailing ship in the distance, plowing its way through this terrible fury.

I proudly showed my painting to my first art critic.
“Are those white things supposed to be fish?” he asked.
“Fish? Those are whitecaps.”
“They look like white fish trying to jump into the boat.”
Back at the easel, I tried to make the waves more realistic.

I proudly showed my stormy scene to the next art critic.
“Your ship is too level. The bow should be dipping into the trough of that wave.”
“Maybe,” I replied.

Concluding I don’t possess enough pizzazz, my next effort was a vase that looked like a vase and flowers that looked like flowers. Someday I’ll try doing the boat-on-stormy-sea again – with proper whitecaps – and dip its bow down into the trough of a big wave.

Curiously enough, that painting is one of my favorites. Maybe because it looks WILD — and was FUN. I may just do wild and fun again sometime. 🙂

Inspiring Verse

I wonder if this verse was Mr Guest’s answer to Rudyard Kipling’s famous verse, IF? Read IF here.

DUTY

by Edgar Guest

To do your little bit of toil,
to play life’s game with head erect;
to stoop to nothing that would soil
your honor or your self-respect;
to win what gold and fame you can,
but first of all to be a man.

To know the bitter and the sweet,
the sunshine and the days of rain;
to meet both victory and defeat,
nor boast too loudly nor complain;
to face whatever fates befall
and be a man throughout it all.

To seek success in honest strife
but not to value it so much
that, winning it, you go through life
stained by dishonor’s scarlet touch.
What goal or dream you choose, pursue,
but be a man whatever you do!

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company