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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Clerihew? Achoo!

Pardon me, but whenever I see the word “clerihew” I think somebody’s just sneezed. Either that, or I picture a shell-shaped danish pastry or a new fangled brass musical instrument.

But all you poetry aficionados know very well that a clerihew is a cheeky four-line rhyming poem invented back in the late 19th century. Its sole purpose? To make fun of a famous person. In case you’re looking to liven up your President’s Day celebration on February 16, better check out Bob Raczka’s new book, Presidential Misadventures: Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in Charge (Roaring Brook Press, 2015). 

Officially released just last week, this smorgasbord of historical and hysterical verse features 43 juicy tidbits about each of our Presidents with clever caricatures by award-winning illustrator and cartoonist Dan E. Burr. All based on fact, some poems point to an important achievement or event (Louisiana Purchase, Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny), but most highlight a quirky personal habit or idiosyncrasy (Harding’s size 14 feet, Pierce’s vanity, Van Buren’s pet tigers, John Quincy Adams’s early morning skinny dipping).

In keeping with the clerihew’s rules, the first lines of these poems end with the person’s name, and I like Raczka’s spot-on descriptions: “Toothache-prone George Washington,” “Fashion-conscious Chester Arthur,” “Electric-shock victim Benjamin Harrison,” “Fresca fanatic LBJ,” “Cover-upper Richard Nixon.” Best zinger of all? “Relaxer-in-chief George W. Bush.” Did you know he took more than 900 days of vacation while in office? :D

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It’s no secret we’re more than a little mad for Paddington here at Alphabet Soup.

The resident bears were extremely excited about the new movie (have you seen it yet?) and Michael Bond’s latest novel, Love from Paddington. The lovable bear from Darkest Peru is fast winning new fans on this side of the pond, marmalade sales are booming, and plush Paddingtons are flying off the shelves. Yay!

Recently, we happily read about a Paddington Bear who’s been in the same window of a home in Maidstone, Kent (about 35 miles SE of London) since 1970. He was purchased by the Waite family a month after they moved into the house, and has been charming and cheering up passers-by ever since. I can easily imagine myself purposely walking by the Waite house in Sittingbourne Road whenever possible just to catch a glimpse of him. :)

Now an adult, Sittingbourne resident Tracey Cooper first saw Paddington when she was six. Through the years he made such an impression on her that she decided to write a poem to thank him and the Waites for the joy they’ve brought to the community. There’s nothing like a beloved bear to warm your heart.

PADDINGTON BEAR — a poem about myself as a child

Bundled into the car again, this girl of six,
Travelling from Lordswood, Chatham (out in the sticks).
Cutting through Boxley and fields stretching wide –
A regular car trip, our “Hospital Ride”.

Turning left at Penenden Heath and heading straight on,
We approach Sittingbourne Road, on the outskirts of Maidstone.
Swinging right at the end, we start to roll down the hill,
Past neat rows of houses with empty window sills.
Then all of a sudden, we look and he’s there-
Standing dutifully in his window, it’s PADDINGTON BEAR!

Dressed in his outfit that is suitable for the day,
Our little furry “weather forecaster” gives up his time to play.
He proudly does his duty with his shoulders pulled back,
Awaiting some eager faces to notice his shorts or plastic Mac.

I can’t help but feel affectionate towards this wee brown bear,
And dread the thought of passing by and finding him not there.
It’s thirty years later, and I am still looking with my Son,
Through a steamed-up car window, (I’m a sentimental mum!)
To find Paddington still standing there, in clothes all shining bright,
Has his jumper now got holes in? Or his Wellingtons feel too tight?
Does he have the same family, with children now all grown?
Is he tied into the deeds so that he will never lose his home?
Has he ever been photographed, his story put to print?
If you find a few minutes would you kindly try to fill me in.

Transferred to Medway Hospital, my trips are more remote,
But I still look out for my old, old friend, with his smile and duffle coat.

~ Copyright © 2010 Tracey Cooper, reposted by permission of Kent Online.

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Naturally Paddington answered Tracey with a little poem:

I watch for my friends

As I look from this place,

So as you pass by

I’ll know your kind face.

*

The bear in the window is so well known, that should the Waites ever move, they’ve decided Paddington should remain at his post. You just never know when someone might need to see his friendly furry face. :)

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Help yourself to tea and a world peace cookie.

When is a cookie more than just a cookie?

In Jeff Gundy’s chewy list poem, we are invited to look at ourselves and ponder questions about life and faith. Despite our fortunes and failings, and the many labels we might use to separate ourselves from others, we are beloved by a benevolent being who delights in us all just as we find joy and grace through him.

via Makoto Kagoshima

THE COOKIE POEM
by Jeff Gundy

“Here are my sad cookies.”

The sad cookies. The once and future cookies.
The broken sweet cookies. The cookies
of heartbreaking beauty. The stony cookies
of Palestine. The gummy and delicious
olive and honey cookie. The pasty
damp cookie trapped in the child’s hand.

Sad cookies, weird cookies, slippery
and dangerous cookies. Brilliant helpless
soiled and torn cookies, feverish and sweaty
cookies. Sullen cookies, sassy cookies,
the cookies of tantrum and the cookie of joy
and the sweet dark cookie of peace.

The faithful cookie of Rotterdam. The wild-eyed
cookie of Muenster. The salty Atlantic cookie.
Cookies in black coats, in coveralls,
in business suits, cookies in bonnets
and coverings and heels, cookies scratching
their heads and their bellies, cookies utterly
and shamelessly naked before the beloved.

Cookies of the Amish division, cookies
of the Wahlerhof, cookies of Zurich and
Strassburg and Volhynia and Chortitza,
Nairobi Djakarta Winnipeg Goshen.
Cookies who hand their children off
to strangers, who admonish their sons
to remember the Lord’s Prayer, cookies
who say all right, baptize my children
and then sneak back to the hidden church anyway.
Cookies who cave in utterly. Cookies
who die with their boots on. Cookies
with fists, and with contusions.
The black hearted cookie. The cookie with issues.
Hard cookies, hot cookies, compassionate
conservative cookies, cookies we loathe
and love, cookies lost, fallen, stolen,
crushed, abandoned, shunned. Weary
and heroic cookies, scathingly noted cookies,
flawed cookies who did their best.
Single cookies, queer cookies, cookies of color,
homeless cookie families sleeping in the car,
obsolete cookies broken down on the information
highway. Sad cookies, silent cookies,
loud cookies, loved cookies, your cookies,
my cookies our cookies, all cookies
God’s cookies, strange sweet hapless cookies
marked each one by the Imago Dei,
oh the Father the Son the Mother the Daughter
and the Holy Ghost all love cookies,
love all cookies, God’s mouth is full
of cookies, God chews and swallows and flings
hands wide in joy, the crumbs fly
everywhere, oh God loves us all.

~ from Rhapsody with Dark Matter (Bottom Dog Press, 2000).

via Gourmet Mom On-the-Go

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via AHA

PRODUCE AISLE
by Rebecca McClanahan

The artichoke keeps her distance.
She has been taken too many times. Now
the armadillo armor hides her secret heart.

Everyone counts on the onion, staple of stews
and pottage. But deep in the crowded bin, her skin
is thin as moth wing. It peels away before their eyes.

Green peppers are modern women who take
their muscles seriously. They hunch their shoulders,
broad, shiny beneath a fluorescent sun.

Close by in cellophane the carrots keep for weeks,
the last to lose their figures. All legs,
tapering to slim ankles–and above,

wild profusion of hair. They gather in knots
of conversation and whisper about the apples,
those aging showgirls who didn’t know when to quit,

redheads buffed an unnatural blush, a shine
that shouts forever while inside the white flesh softens.
In the center aisle, bananas in bunches

curl like firm young girls in sleep. Soon they will turn
like their half-price sisters, learn the bruise,
dark print that begins beneath the skin and grows.

Oh to be the avocado! She ages so well.
Time makes love to her daily, finding her sweeter
the softer she grows. Beside her the potato,

peasant woman in brown, comes into her own slowly.
She stays in the shadows, blindly remembers
her place. Come to me! I will make you whole!

coos the eggplant mother. And from the corner bin
a chorus: Oranges, Oranges, Oranges, Oranges.
We are what we seem. We speak our own name.

*

~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 1989 Rebecca McClanahan, from Mrs. Houdini (UP of Florida).

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Well, grocery shopping will never be the same. I mean, who knew? :)

Love the whimsy in this poem, but also the relatable truths. What lies beneath, when you peel away the layers? Many of us are simply not what we seem. Since the items described here are all female, do you think women conceal more of their true selves than men do? And what interesting statements about aging — for sure, I’d like to be an avocado.

I can think of someone I know in real life who matches each of these fruit and vegetable personality types. Which do you most identify with?

While you’re contemplating that, enjoy this little gallery of reimagined fresh produce:

Portraits by Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive

Cafe M Food Sculptures by Carl Kleiner

via Techno Crazed

 

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Rebecca McClanahan’s tenth book is THE TRIBAL KNOT,: A MEMOIR OF FAMILY, COMMUNITY, AND A CENTURY OF CHANGE. She has also published five books of poetry and a suite of essays, THE RIDDLE SONG AND OTHER REMEMBERINGS, winner of the Glasgow prize in nonfiction. Her three books of writing instruction include WORD PAINTING: A GUIDE TO WRITING MORE DESCRIPTIVELY, which is used as a text in numerous writing programs. For more, check out her official website.

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HAPPY NEWS

Big Congratulations to Diane DeCillis! Her debut poetry book, STRINGS ATTACHED, was just named a 2015 Michigan Notable Book! Hers was one of 20 books selected for this honor by the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Education. You may remember when I shared “Music from Another Room” and “Last Night I Dreamed I Stole the Croissants” from this book as well as Diane’s hummus recipe. If you still haven’t seen STRINGS ATTACHED, treat yourself to a copy to celebrate the New Year. It’s a rich, sumptuous feast of words, impressions, and ideas sure to satisfy your literary palate.

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poetryfriday180The lovely and talented Irene Latham is hosting the Roundup at Live Your Poem. Is she an onion or an orange? Stroll over to peruse the full menu of poetic goodies being served up in the blogosphere this week. If you go grocery shopping this weekend, be sure to pay close attention to the tomatoes.

Yours truly,

Miss Potato, née Banana
xoxoo

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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AFTER THE HOLIDAYS,
by Barbara Crooker

the house settles back into itself,
wrapped up in silence, a robe
around its shoulders. Nothing
is roasting in the oven or cooling
on the countertops. No presents
are waiting to be wrapped, no cards
fill the mouth of the mailbox.
All is calm, all is bright, sunlight
glinting off snow. No eggnog, no yule
log, no letters to be licked
and stamped. No more butter
cookies, no more fudge, just miles
to go on the treadmill, another round
plate added to the weight machine.
All our good intentions pave the road.
We stride out into the new year,
resolute to become firm, to define
our muscles, to tighten our borders.
The thin tinsel of the new moon
hangs in the dark sky, a comma
dividing the sentence between
last year’s troubles and this year’s
hopes. The calendar ruffles her pages,
a deck of shiny cards, deals out
a fresh new hand.

~ from Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014)

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Happy New Year!

It’s nice to be back after a relaxing holiday break, and I can’t think of a better way to welcome 2015 than with two lovely poems by the inimitable Barbara Crooker.

As a longtime fan, I’ve shared more of her poems here than of those by any other poet. And with good reason: time and again, I am stunned by the lyrical beauty and emotional resonance of her work, its reassuring accessibility and seamless architecture.

A new Barbara book is always cause for celebration, so imagine my delight when I learned she has not one, but TWO new books out — Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (Future Cycle Press, 2015) and Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014), which  includes today’s poems.

The 50+ poems in Small Rain explore the cycle of the seasons: Corvid (Winter), Passerine (Spring), Tangerine (Summer), and Amaryllis (Fall). Each beautifully crafted gem brims with Barbara’s keen observations of the natural world. Intimate glimpses of bird, flower, tree and sky elucidate the heartening aspects of wonder and reverence in the presence of loss, regret, and aging. I especially appreciate the gentle reminders to stop, look, and love our world despite what we are doing to it, and to strengthen our resolve to embrace joy.

I thought of my own mother when I read “Dianthus.” She showed me my first Sweet Williams, and I’ve liked them every since. Enjoy today’s poignant bouquet. May the fragrance of sweet remembrances and renewal grace your days this new year.

Pink Dianthus by AnnA Eckstein

DIANTHUS

My mother comes back as a dianthus,
only this time, she’s happy, smelling like cloves,
fringed and candy-striped with a ring of deep rose
that bleeds into the outer petals. She dances
in the wind without her walker, nods pinkly
to the bluebells. She breathes easily, untethered
to oxygen’s snaking vines. Lacking bones,
there’s nothing left to crumble; she’s supple,
stem and leaf. No meals to plan, shop for, prepare;
everything she needs is at her feet, more rich and moist
than a chocolate cake. How much simpler
it would have been to be a flower in the first place,
with nothing to do but sit in the sun and shine.

~first published in Louisiana Literature

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via bhg

Dianthus Plumarius via Annie’s

Dianthus “Chiba Cherry Picotee”

Dianthus “Sugar Plum” via Garden Drum

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Barbara on “Dianthus”:

Someone (Mom was a little foggy towards the end) brought her a pot of Sweet Williams when she was in the nursing home (it was probably one of her hospice visitors), and she wanted me to take them home and enjoy them. With some trepidation, I planted them outside, and the fact that they’ve come back every summer for the past six years makes me feel (irrationally) like this is keeping her alive, which, of course, she is, in my heart.

About the first poem:

‘After the Holidays’ was written some years ago, but I think I feel the same way every New Year — I love the holidays, but by January first, enough is enough, and I also love getting back to clean living and a healthier lifestyle, plus I love putting my house back in order. It’s all good.

♥ Thank you, Barbara, for granting me permission to post your poems. I’m looking forward to reading and sharing something from Selected Poems too!

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poetryfriday180The always warm and welcoming Tabatha Yeatts is hosting the Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week and have a good weekend!

 

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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