Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentine's Day 2006 I've been counting down the hits.  Now, for something new.  I won't add any poetic scansion until next year, so enjoy it:

Valentine's Day 2006: The Martyrs

The fourteenth day of the year's number two
Has ushered in something much like a coup.
Invading insiders swell through the ranks.
Suggestions whispered then shore up the flanks.
The movement came in secret, under foot,
But slowly gained speed where romance took root.
Shadow economies supersede trade,
So kisses are assets making the grade.
And lobbyists peddling influence for cash
Give way to Teddy Bears who aren't so brash.

They're called St. Valentine's Martyrs Brigade
To honor a Saint's debt not yet repaid.
This army takes aim with heart-piercing charm,
And melts through defenses with words so warm.
Much like Ulysses, they come bearing gifts
They use as siege engines till your heart shifts;
Pray not to Hera, but Venus instead,
For Cupid to rain down arrows rose red.
These rebels, gods favored, now overrun
Societies' norms before they are done.

But just as evening to sunrise gives way,
The Martyrs fade, till next Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

V Day...Almost Here

While I've been remarking on my use of ballad measure, iambic pentameter, etc., I haven't spoken of the verse form I actually use the most in my other poetry.  It's my own twist on ballad measure.  I start with the normal 8 6 quattrain, take the 1st and 3rd tetrameter lines, stick a hard caesura in them, and then make the diameter lines rhyme.  I've searched high and low throughout English Literature, just to make sure no one has done it before.  So far, I still haven't found any poet who has used it as a stanzaic format.  I can understand that.  That's a lot of rhymes to deliver, and usually that means a poem can turn into sing-song doggerel.  I can't say I'm always successful in ensuring my poems don't descend to that level, but at least I try to make it fun and entertaining.  Some of you know I've been working on long form poem that uses this stanzaic format (yes, it's still not finished...1100 plus lines into it okay?).  2005's Valentine's Day effort takes this form, a short and sweet little ditty.

Taken to Task, Valentine' Day 2005

This day of days,
Beyond the craze
Of chocolate, bears, and cards,
Should be much more
Than how to score
Some points for Love's rewards.
Who tallies up?
Who says "Ayup"
When it's enough for Love?
Is Cupid there?
Is he aware
When push has come to shove?
Or is it she
To some degree
Who deems the effort true?
An inner wink
That lets us think
That Love received its due?
Us guys don't know.
But on we go
This quest for Valentine.
It is this task
For which we ask,
"Oh would you please be mine?"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

V Day...Turning the Corner

Ah 2004...sometimes ballad measure is great for stories, especially funny ones. Rhyme and meter are so easy to write. Plus, the sing-song nature often invites the most outrageous rhymes, making a quirky tale into a memorable one. Not too much going on with this poem besides the plot set to verse, but of the V Day poems I've shared with my friends, this one is usually the one they point to for their favorite, often asking how I'd come up with it. Dunno, just had a picaresque style tale to tell that year.

A Surreal Valentine's Day 2004

"Ah Valentine! Come do your worst!"
I used to taunt the day.
I'd hide my head, and scoff and sneer,
But never had to pay.

But then this year I was ambushed,
Completely caught off guard.
The Fates decreed sweet irony.
My sentence would be hard.

I'd be sent on the blindest date
I'd ever had to bear.
I didn't know when we would meet
Or even what she'd wear.

The terms were that a stranger would
Approach me with a rose.
And only she would know the plan,
To add more to my woes.

The weeks went by without a word;
I thought it was in jest.
I should have known they'd pick this day
To be my greatest test.

Out doors I was, on Valentine's,
Unwary of the date;
And then before my eyes appeared
The rose that meant my fate.

A comely lass came with the rose,
A sparkle in her eye.
But I'd soon know what mischief gleamed
Upon me, by and by.

Before I had the chance to ask,
Or even hem and haw,
She took my hand without a word
And led me to her car.

We drove in silence for a while;
I was too stunned to speak.
But then I knew what day it was,
And never felt so meek.

We then pulled in to this strip mall,
As bland as it could be
Save for the Hallmark's, center stage,
Which was in store for me.

Would she make me read every card?
I wondered inwardly.
But hardly any cards were left,
A fact she saw me see.

At random she then picked a card,
For her I had to buy.
A dollar forty-nine it was.
Not more? I puzzled why.

Across the street was Dominicks;
She led me by the hand.
And there I saw the candy, gone,
One box left on the stand.

I bought this, too, and fifteen bucks
Was all that it was worth.
She saw the quandary on my face,
And barely hid her mirth.

The deli had some fresh-made fare,
A sandwich and some soup.
She gestured that it be 'to go',
Six more bucks flew the coop.

"What now, then, flowers?" She shook her head
While holding up the rose.
I little knew that love could cost
So little more than those.

We then drove back to where she had
First hijacked me that day.
And still she never spoke a word,
What more was there to say?

As I got out, she pecked my cheek,
And, smiling, hugged her loot.
Her way of saying thanks, I think;
It made her look so cute.

How weird, I thought; I waved at her
As, mutely, she drove on.
I shook my head at such a date
Where words were so far-gone.

So this was what the Fates adjudged,
To show I was naïve.
It punctured misconceptions old,
And shattered my belief

That Valentine's was nothing more
Than economic hype.
But I forgot in all of this
That I should live a life.

The date, no matter how surreal,
Was simply not that bad.
And Valentine's is much like this;
For that I should be glad.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

V Day...Only 6 days to go...

I've talked about ballad verse earlier. A funny thing happens when you write 4 3 iambic quattrains, and only line 2 and 4 rhyme in the stanza. Consistently use enjambment (that's a fancy way of saying that the context of a line doesn't finish up until the next one), and suddenly you think to yourself, "Why can't I just write this poem using fourteener couplets?" Okay, okay, maybe you don't think to yourself like that, but the v.i.m.h. (That's Voice In My Head, for those who haven't been following along) says stuff like this to me all the time.

A fourteener, quite descriptively, is a line with fourteen syllables. English poets trot it out sometimes when they want to play with 3 syllables in the foot. They'll mix throchaics, anapests, dactyls, and iambs all in one line, just to make it sound like stilted oratorical speech. Tennyson did this kind of stuff all the time, and that seems apt for a poet who wrote well into the Victorian Age. Think of movies like "Age of Innocence" or "A Room With a View" or "Howard's End", all that Merchant Ivory piffle, and you get the idea. See, now I'm talking like that! Anyway, me, I stick with my iambs. Jes keepin' it real, na'a'mean?

Oh! And just for fun, I ended this poem with an Alexandrine couplet. Gotta love the hard caesura in the middle of that particular 12 meter line.

The Offering: St. Valentine's Day 2003

What do we owe the Goddess Love and her cute cherub son?
How can we reconcile their due with martyrdom undone?
A mythic saint did give his life to wed a holy few.
We solemnize his sacrifice by honoring these two?
Upon the bier we lay their gifts: Bouquets, and chocolates wrapped,
And bear cubs slain, their innards stuffed, and maudlin verses apt.
Then Hallmark sold its corporate soul to get into the act.
So now we drown in merchandise and thus fulfill their pact.
What can we do to mark this day and calm this muddy brew?
Resist the call to spend and splurge, and sing out, "I love you!"
Empty rites of quid pro quo only make us churn.
Express your heart instead for nothing in return.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Beat Goes On...V Day 2002

So 2002, I admit it, I was little uppity, a little pretentious. After putting my own spin on the Shakespearean sonnet form, I wanted to write as pure a Petrarchan Sonnet as I could on the subject. Now, it isn't impossible to write a petrarchan sonnet in english, following abba abba cde cde rhyme scheme. But it is hard not to sacrifice metaphor, analogy, alliteration and other word choices while being a slave to such a rhyme structure. The Earl of Surrey, and Sir Philip Sydney might have been the best in English History at imitating/translating Petrarch in english, but even they had to fudge a little. Shakespeare, we know, had to invent his own rhyme scheme, otherwise genius might have suffered. So, I don't feel so bad about going abba cdde efg efg. That's about the best you could hope for in english if you want to write a lot of sonnets. Thus, here we have a rather artsy V day 2002:

Valentine's Day 2002

When winter's crush yet chills fond lover's breath,
  And hope of spring is but a budding dream,
  One random day cracks like a thawing stream
To wrack all men in fates far worse than death.
This dawn breaks out in crazed vermillion hues,
  While thorny blooms reward with prickling touch
  Unwary beaus. Tho' forced to pay too much
They gladly part with what they deem their dues.
Deep-rooted in a martyr's sacred rite,
  These arcane customs slack the drooling jaw
    Of all believers bound and under sway.
So teddy bears bound forth into the light,
  And candies, flowers fought for tooth and claw
    Are shed, with relief, on Valentine's Day.