Category: Poetry

Christmas Poems

Inspired by Alison Bernhoft.

On a Dubious Tradition
For any mass of mistletoe
The answer still is “no, no, no.”

Strategy
Since stockings yield such limited loot
This year I’ll hang a red jumpsuit.

Strategy II
I left three dozen cookies for Santa’s midnight snack –
He might be coming down but he’s sure not going back.

Twice a Year
Some people only go to church on Easter and on Christmas
It’s easy to forget that’s not the only time God’s with us.

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Synonym Poems

Inspired by Alison Bernhoft.

An Unscrupulous Used Car Salesman
He’d sell you a rusty dustbin on wheels
And claim it’s the very sweetest of deals.

News
“FEAR, FEAR, DEATH and LIES”
Each front-page headline loudly cries.

Dylan Moran
A tousled frown, a tipsy grin –
This Irishman’s as fun as sin.

Work
If only activities occupational
Could somehow be more recreational.

Writer’s Block
A glowing page of purest white,
This Word file is zero kilobytes.

Pothole
I see a cavern gaping wide
And steer my tires on either side.

J.S. Bach
A musician fanatical
Writing music mathematical.

Night Owl
I stay up early and wake up late;
Before noon my brain can’t computate.

Our Dog, Frank
With his mix-and-matched looks and a need for sedation
It’s no wonder he’s named after Shelley’s creation.

Ten
Twice five is the number of fingers and toes
And the year Wang Mang outlawed the use of crossbows.

About the Exercises

The following exercises are writing assignments from Stephen Fry’s excellent book The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within.  Some of them were very challenging and it took me about half a year of procrastination to finish.  Reading Fry’s examples for each exercise was very entertaining and I looked around on the internet, expecting to find many examples written by others.  Sadly, I didn’t have much luck finding any, which is one of the reasons I’ve posted my own writings in the hope of entertaining/encouraging other readers of Fry’s book and inspiring other poetry lovers to give it a try.

NB.  I’ve included abbreviated summaries of the assignments, but the book has much more detail.  Also, please excuse the poor formatting on several of the poems; this free WordPress blog doesn’t give me the ability to include the indentation that I would desire.

Exercise #2 (pages 16-18)

Exercise #1 was an exercise in reading aloud and marking accents.

This exercise was to write twenty lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter, using unpolished, contemporary English in about 10 minutes.  From Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within, Gotham Books 2006.

  • I have already thought of many lines.
  • This book is good – I shouldn’t be surprised.
  • I hate tomato soup and tuna too.
    One guess what food was served for lunch today…
  • To read good poetry fulfills the soul.
  • The house is full of mess that is not mine.
    I’ll make the kids clean up before they eat.
  • Both dogs need walking every single night.
  • My tummy isn’t feeling very well.
  • Her hands were old and wrinkled like a prune.
  • My can of Mountain Dew is very cold.
  • The hike up Pilchuck made my legs so sore
    The lightest touch upon my calf caused pain.
  • Please stay, don’t leave me here alone and sad.
  • Procrastination is my favourite vice.
  • Her face was turned to stone by Gorgon’s stare.
  • It’s smart to be an optimist sometimes.
  • The fork was cruel and glinted with sharp tines.
  • I find it easiest to write these words,
    When looking anywhere but on the page.

Exercise #3 (pages 31-33)

This exercise was to write five pairs of blank iambic pentameter in which the first line of each pair is end-stopped and there are no caesuras, followed by five pairs with the same meaning but with enjambment and at least two caesuras.  Should take no more than 45 minutes.

Subjects for the pairs:

  1. Precisely what you see and hear outside your window.
  2. Precisely what you’d like to eat, right this minute.
  3. Precisely what you last remember dreaming about.
  4. Precisely what uncompleted chores are niggling at you.
  5. Precisely what you hate about your body.
  1. Outside the Window
    The sun and shade transform my neighbors’ wall
    and fall like spotlights on my lawn as well.
  2. What I’d Like to Eat
    I smell spaghetti cooking on the stove
    and can not think of any better dinner.
  3. A Recent Dream
    Last night I dreamed that zombies swarmed around.
    I made my house a fort and hunkered down.
  4. Pesky Tasks Overdue
    “Five Hebrew Songs” were not that hard to learn
    Which makes them easier to practice less.
  5. My Body
    I pack sufficient weight for two or three
    And also hate my hairy, scaly feet.
  1. Outside the Window
    The world’s a stage!  The sun and shade behave
    Like spotlights.  Lawn and wall must take a bow.
  2. What I’d Like to Eat
    A promise made, that’s how I view the smell
    Of dinner.  Ah, spaghetti tastes so good!
  3. A Recent Dream
    So glad to wake before undead can take
    My fort of dreams.  It was a close escape.
  4. Pesky Tasks Overdue
    Fear motivates, it’s true.  I wish I feared
    Whiteacre’s songs, and thus would practice them.
  5. My Body
    About myself, it’s feet I hate, not just
    The kind in shoes, but width around my girth.