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poems, etc.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: poem in short lines

Zelda's Inferno: write a poem using either all short lines of seven or fewer syllables, or long lines of more than seven.

An optional wordlist to get started: empathy lugubrious pacification budding lilliputian empowerment book-learnin' reflection

upon reflection
it seemed that
she might not have
made the right decision
when she pulled out the gun

but there she was
and there was no going back
like driving over
a tire damage strip --

no backing up now
without getting torn up
so only go straight, don't know
like the zen master said

so she held her aim steady
finger on the trigger

in a minute she would see
how it all worked out

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a writing exercise

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a writing exercise. Sort of recursive but fun.

Write a poem or series of poems in which you accomplish the following:

1. tell your secret name in the form of a series of riddles
2. provide the specific and articulable facts that lead to a reasonable suspicion that the universe is, from some perspective, beautiful
3. love your words
4. i mean, select twelve words at random from a newspaper, magazine, book, or street signs, and fall in love with them. Madly, deeply. Let them haunt your dreams. If those words reject you, contemplate suicide -- but do *not* carry it out. Just get righteously stinking drunk and slip into a months-long depression. (For extra credit, let your failed relationship with these words inspire major life changes.)
5. use iambic pentameter, or other meter than Iambe might dicate. (For extra credit, use a meter approved by Iambe's father, Pan.)
6. explain where the flowers are before they bud upon the tree
7. provide a schematic diagram of the starry dynamo of the machinery of night
8. Americans and Europeans see a man's face in the light and dark patches of the moon. The Japanese see a leaping rabbit. Give another interpretation.
9. weave a net to capture a dragon.
10. write the poem that will lure the dragon into the net
11. write the poem that will free the dragon from the net.
12. end your poem with a reflection of the glorious crystalline structure of space-time that will trigger the satori of at least one reader. if you can't manage that, end with a deliberate obfuscation so that everyone ends up equally confused.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: a spring pantoum

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a pantoum

I hear distant rumors of spring
in between the warnings of winter
and this is both fact and metaphor
as politicans threaten and promise

in between the warnings of winter
visions of despair and of hope
as politicians threaten and promise
the same cycle, again and again

visions of despair and of hope
flowers will come again
the same cycle, again and again
it is enough to make me believe

flowers will come again
and this is both fact and metaphor
it is enough to make me believe:
I hear distant rumors of spring

a spring haiku

inspired by this morning's e-mail:

third-hand report of crocuses
is enough
to believe in spring

Connect those lines!

Zelda's Inferno exercise: Connect those lines! Given two lines, write the poem that goes between them.

When the sun rose lowest on
The horizon, & the bitter winds blew, I
Settled my mind in for the winter
like a tree settling sap into its roots
The time of quiet withdrawal
of inward movement, of storing
To sleep
To await the message of spring

We await that message
But where now is the messenger?
Fleet-footed Hermes, when will you bring the word we await?
The word of Persephone's return?

But Hermes is delayed
For he is the God not only of messengers but of thieves

Caught in a caper up in the Pleiades
He's doing five to ten in the Olympic pen

And so we are left waiting for the word of spring
And the bastard child of Zeus was bested by life once more

timed writing from phrases

Zelda's Inferno exercise: timed writing from phrases selected from the New York Times:

1) the radius of movement

anchored at one point, the here-now, the mind swings an arc, like a geometry student's compass constructing a perpendicular bisector, or like a dog running at the end of a rope tied to a tree.

2) his direct contribution

poetry obstacle course

Zelda's inferno exercise: the poetry obstacle course, about mundane objects and actions

an empty plastic grocery bag floats on the harbor
muddy water flows down the storm sewer
the streetlight flickers, flickers, flickers, then comes steady on
my car tires slowly grind away into dust
a thousand things do not happen
the light bulb in the lamp on the mantle in my living room burns out
another junkie ODs in a back alley
another kid gets shot
another girl gets HIV
another baby is born
another man falls in love
another woman writes a poem

hurrah for spring!

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write from a wordlist on the theme "water": non-electrified harbor soft sprinkled erosion frozen effervescent infusion blood crystallize fall living

the frozen blood begins to melt
as warm weather arrives
the rains fall down and ground goes soft
the living green revives

again we turn our hemisphere
toward the distant sun
which infuses heat and light
and now spring has begun

hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! for spring!
we all can give a cheer
but, without the winter's chill,
we would not hold spring dear

Zelda's Infero exercise: "I fell in love with a librarian again today"

Zelda's Inferno exercise: writing from a list of theme words. I choose "book", which connected with what i wanted to write about anyway.

I fell in love with a librarian again today -
it's not the first time

twenty years, since that elementary school platonic crush
on the woman who kept that safe and quiet space of knowledge
and let me take her books home

and when I finally learned to ride a 10-speed bike
there was the Rosedale libary
and I, too shy to speak
would sometimes hang around reading boring magazines
just to watch a girl who worked there shelving books

and high school, mornings when it snowed and schools opened late
my father would have to drive me in before he went to work
and I'd have an hour or two to wait
I'd spend it in the school libray
just the librarian and me, homey,
almost a 50s sitcom scene, me sitting reading the newspaper, she hustling around

once driving through Connecticut
lost hundreds of miles from any place I knew
I stopped in a library to get directions
I could think of nowhere better

Alexandria, I would have died for you

So this pretty girl today - I didn't even get her name
but she renewed my library card and
let me take her books home

and these days, I tend to buy books
feed my specialzed knowledge-hungers with the exotic beyond library fare
I'm already thinking up excuses to go back during her shift

Zelda's Inferno exercise: iambic pentameter on new beginnings

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a poem using some lines in iambic pentameter, on the theme of beginnings or commencement

and so the new year rolls around again
bringing thoughts of reflection to mind

where have I been? what have I done?

and has it been enough to satisfy
that longing deep inside to mark the world
with proof that I once walked here for a time?

words I've written - will they be remembered?
the things I've seen - are they just fading dreams?
and those I've loved - will that love be requited?

as I look back at life as lived so far
at years I've traded for experience
and knowledge sought - both outside and within
the things I've seen and done appear to me
as if a montage on a movie screen:

"Previously, in the life of Tom Swiss..."

it all seems prelude to what's yet to come

so now the stage is set, the players prepared
the characters have introduced themselves
the setting sketched and mapped in time and place
preliminaries all have been dealt with

we're ready now -
     the story starts to roll...


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