March Madness–Round 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend I participated in the second round of Ed DeCaria’s March Madness Poetry Tournament. I had 36 hours to write a poem using the word exertion, a truly ugly word in my opinion. The first thing I did was sleep, giving me about 24 hours to actually write. I kept my notebook by my bed, and first thing in the morning I wrote the poem I entered in the tournament:

 

Hitting the Snooze Bar

I lie back down across my bed.
I pull the pillow over my head.
I desperately need these minutes of sleep
After the exertion of stopping that

BEEP!

 

That’s pretty much how it came out. I agonized a little over these minutes of sleep, ten minutes of sleep, more minutes of sleep. I went with these because it seemed to work well with need. I liked the poem, but it felt light to me. It’s a moment, familiar and funny, but not much more.

My next move was to consider possible rhymes. Assertion and coercion leaped to mind.

I also started thinking about sloths because sloths are known for their lack of exertion.

Thus I found myself writing this couplet:

 

Swaying Sloth

The swaying sloth makes no assertion—
Standing up entails too much exertion.

 

The couplet has more going on than the snooze bar poem, but dare I enter a couplet? It’s so minimal! Also, no one I showed it to seemed to get the double meaning of the swaying and the standing up. I felt I needed something more.

So, for hours and hours, between kids’ activities, meals, chores, etc., I worked on this poem:

 

Sloth’s Weekly Exertion

 

Languorous sloth lives a life of ease,
Hanging around in rain forest trees,
Nibbling on leaves between long naps,
Moving so slowly nobody sees.

Yet, once a week the sloth must creep
Down to the ground to find some relief.
Exhausted by her great exertion,
She climbs back up and goes to sleep.

 

I really liked the first stanza, but the second one bothered me. I didn’t like the rhyme, and it didn’t seem to match the first stanza.

I kept at it, and hours later I wrote this draft:

 

Sloth’s Weekly Exertion

 

Languorous sloth lives a life of ease,
Hanging around in rain forest trees,
Nibbling on leaves between long naps,
Moving so slowly nobody sees.

But even a sloth can’t hold it forever,
So down the tree he must endeavor.
Exhausted by his great exertion,
He creeps back up to sleep whenever.

 

I still didn’t like it. It just didn’t seem to polish up nice and shiny the way I wanted it to, so I threw it back in the drawer and went with the snooze bar poem. Though the snooze bar poem doesn’t do as much, it does seem to do it well.

I was trounced by Dave Crawley and his clever poem about clichés. I am out, but the madness continues! There are many more poems to enjoy and votes to cast.

For more Poetry Friday visit Greg at GottaBook.

I’m going on vacation next week and I’m not taking any electronics! See you in April.

(c) 2013, Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved

Tailgaters

photo-146

 

Whose woods these are I think I know,
Which is why I think I better go.

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
All I can say is you’re hotter than May.

 

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Scream and cry and beg for light.

 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
One for the nights. Two for the days.

 

Because I could not stop for Death—
He sent a snake to steal my breath.

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Beastly creatures sat beside me, hissed my verse, and left me teary.

 

I ask them to take a poem,
Ball ‘em up and throw ‘em.

 

The art of losing isn’t hard to master—
All you have to do is race someone faster.

 

Earlier this week J. Patrick Lewis posted a poetry challenge on David Harrison’s blog. The challenge was to write a “tailgater,” a couplet that begins with the first line of a famous poem and ends with an original second line, in the same meter, which puts a quick end to the poem. The form would appear to take its name from the metaphorical slamming of the back gate of the pick-up truck before any more words can get in. A number of us found the challenge both fun and addictive.

For more Poetry Friday, please visit A Teaching Life at http://tmsteach.blogspot.com.

As you can see, I’ve moved to WordPress and reinstated the name my parents gave me. Thanks for following me over here and for bearing with me while I get used to my new home.

Four Animal Couplets


Burrowing Owl by Squeezyboy at flickr

 

Never disturb a sleeping owl.
Their waking thoughts are always fowl.
Want to pet a porcupine?
You can be the first in line!
If you try to question a horse,
She will answer neigh, of course.
Think you can be a strong as an ant?
Think again. You can’t.

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

My poet-friend Sharon Barry shared a brilliant couplet in our poetry critique group this week. It reminded me of Ogden Nash’s wonderful couplets about cows and mules. I wanted to try, too. I wrote them all week. These are my favorites.