Poetry Challenge #88-What They Said . . .

I am a shameless eavesdropper. So bad in fact, that I’ll often shush Curtis (who does not talk much anyway) so I can focus on other diner’s conversations. Yes, I’m that bad…

New Haven Train Sign

Which may be why an old sing-along-in-the-car song, called Humoresque aka Passengers Will Please Refrain, has long been one of my favorites. Set to the tune of Dvořák's Humoresque Number 7 it’s begins with a New Haven Railroad toilet sign ends with If Sherman’s horse can stand it so can you and in between are snippets of conversation.  

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and Yale law professor Thurman Arnold take full credit for the “Bawdy Song.”  In his autobiography, Go East, Young Man (pp. 171–72), Douglas notes, "Thurman and I got the idea of putting these memorable words to music, and Thurman quickly came up with the musical refrain from Humoresque."  Because I know you’re curious, here are the abridged lyrics:

Passengers will please refrain
From flushing toilets while the train
Is in the station. Darling, I love you!
We encourage constipation
While the train is in the station
Moonlight always makes me think of you.
If the woman’s room be taken,
Never feel the least forsaken,
Never show a sign of sad defeat.
Try the men’s room in the hall,
And if some man has had the call,
He’ll courteously relinquish you his seat.
If these efforts all are vain,
Then simply break a window pane-
This novel method used by very few.
We go strolling through the park
Goosing statues in the dark,
If Sherman’s horse can take it, why can’t you?
— https://lyricstranslate.com/en/oscar-brand-humoresque-passengers-will-please-refrain-lyrics.htm
Your Poem Could Be A Song, too!

Your Poem Could Be A Song, too!

Poetry Challenge #88

What They Said . . .

Go somewhere crowded (preferably public) with a pen and paper. Jot down snippets of conversations. Or. If you can’t do that, brainstorm greetings—all the ways/languages/terms we use to say hello, goodbye or thank you. Arrange and rearrange the terms to create a poem with a melodic, interesting—maybe surprising order. Title your poem “Conversations” with the location and date. For example: Conversations at Starbucks May 22.

Go Forth and Eavesdrop.

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge more than 3 years ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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Poetry Challenge #87-How's This for an Idea?

thinking-outside-the-box.jpg

Sometimes, my head is full of ideas. But sometimes . . . At those times a little prompting is in order.

Poetry Challenge #87

How’s This for an Idea?

Choose one of the prompts below as your first line and write as fast as you can. If you get stuck, try another prompt. Or: How’s this for an idea: Write a 4 line poem using each prompt for one of the lines.

  • No one knows I’m here…

  • Here’s a neat idea…

  • I’m scared of…

  • I wish I could remember…

Pick a Prompt

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge more than 3 years ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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Poetry Challenge #86: Riffing Chicago Style

On a flight from Chicago, munching Garrett’s Popcorn (the best part of O’Hare layovers), my bygone Chicago Blues popped into mind—specifically one night I heard Albert King play Crosscut Saw*. It’s nicknamed “that dirty blues song” but, it doesn’t have to be. That’s the challenge!

The Garrett’s Kiosk at O’Hare, opposite gate B8

The Garrett’s Kiosk at O’Hare, opposite gate B8

Poetry Challenge #86

Riffing Chicago Style

Chicago Style Blues started as musical improv, performers creating on the fly, riffing off each other, daring each other, challenging each other and themselves to come up with song verses that fit the pattern. A performer starts with one line that fits a beat. That line is then repeated. Then a third longer line finishes the stanza with a word that rhymes with the previous two. Simple as that—if you’re a smokin’ guitarist.

Here’s the opening stanza of Tommy McClennan’s Crosscut Saw as Albert King played it:

Crosscut Saw
I’m a cross cut saw, Baby/ just drag me ‘cross your log I’m a cross cut saw, Baby/ just drag me across your log I cut your wood so easy, you can’t help but say ‘Hot dog!’
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crosscut_Saw_(song)#Albert_King_version
Albert-King.png

It’s said, one reason the second line repeats the first, which is so much a part of traditional Blues, is to give performers creating on the fly, time to think of a rhyming last line. For fun, blues players toss the song around, challenging each other by taking turns coming up with new stanzas.  Let’s give it a try. Here’s a template to get us started:

I’m a something or other, name,  just doing something somewhere.

I’m a something or other, name,  just doing something somewhere.

I verb the noun so easy, I’ll say or do something that fits and ends in a rhyme

My Effort: 

I’m a green frog, Henry, just sitting on a rock. 

I’m a green frog, Henry, just sitting on a rock.

I’ll hop and croak so loudly, I’ll blast you off your dock.  

Now that you’ve set a pattern, try stringing 2 or 3 stanzas together—or 5 for your own blues song.

Grab your air guitar and get Bluesy!

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*From Wikipedia: "Crosscut Saw", or "Cross Cut Saw Blues" as it was first called, is a dirty blues song "that must have belonged to the general repertoire of the Delta blues".[1] The song was first released in 1941 by Mississippi bluesman Tommy McClennan and has since been interpreted by many blues artists.

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge 1100-ish days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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Poetry Challenge #84: To Be or Not To Bee

hamlet.jpg

I’m no Hamlet—never played one, don’t live in one—But . . .  I do know the beginning of Prince Hamlet’s Act 3, Scene 1 Soliloquy in To Be or Not to Be. And now, if you didn’t, you do too. Thus primed, prompt on fair Prince/ess:

Poetry Challenge #84

To Be or Not to Bee

 “The verb "to be" is one of the shortest and most important—yet oddest—verbs in the English language. It is an irregular verb; indeed, it is the only verb in English that completely changes form in every tense. The verb "to be" is probably the most important verb in English.”—from “Thoughtco.” By Richard Nordquist:

Below is a list of past and present forms of the verb “to be.” And, just for fun, a fuzzy black and yellow buzzy bee. Write a Bee poem using as many forms of the verb “to be” as you can. One way to begin is to write each form of the word be on a line and take it from there.

Past and Present forms of the verb “to be”:

bee.jpg

I am                 I was

You are          You were

He/She/It is     He/She/It was

We are             We were

They are          They were      

And if you want to try perfect tense:  have/has/had been

Be bold! Be silly! Be—gin!

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge 1100-ish days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. (This one is Cindy’s.) If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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Poetry Challenge #82-Diamond in the Rough

 In the same way diamonds—the “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” gems/rocks/stones— come in many shapes, colors and sizes, diamante poems can be about anything.

Poetry Challenge #83

Diamond In the Rough

A Diamante is a diamond-shaped poem, simple as that. Diamante poems begin with a one word or syllable line. Each subsequent line grows longer by one than the previous line. The longest line is the mid-point of the poem. From there, the lines decrease by one until reaching the last one word line. The shortest Diamante has three lines of one syllable words.

Here’s a Diamante Frame if you prefer structure.

Here’s a Diamante Frame if you prefer structure.

One

Two words

One

Write a diamond-shaped Diamante about something you value.  

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge 1100-ish days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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Poetry Challenge #81 Don't Bother Checking Twice

Santa still snoozing at some sunny warm spa, recovering after the busy holiday season. So, while he’s otherwise occupied, no need to bother about checking twice—unless it’s to be sure you have ink/lead in your writing implement of choice—thus clearing the way for this prompt:

Poetry Challenge #81

Make a List

Although at first glance you might not notice, soooo many poems are list poems: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I Love Thee”, Billy Collins’ “Bread and Knife,” Shel Silverstein’s “Eighteen Flavors” to name a few.

In a list poem, you can list things you like (animals, colors, kinds of cars, playground games), signs of a season, tasks you have to do, items in a category, or what you’re going to do today.

Once you have your list, play with the order.

Choose better words that sound the same (maybe rhyme, or use alliteration).

Can you make the poem sound like it has an ending? 

Try writing a list poem. What are your plans for the day today? Or use one of the ideas above.

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge 1100-ish days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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Poetry Challenge #80-Scribble Something

Really, would the tike in this pic do a naughty thing like that?

My love of writing can be traced back to when I was two-ish. As the story goes, I used my mom’s black mascara and lipstick to write on the neighbor's car! (And maybe blamed it on my brother… although he says I blamed it on him.) Nevertheless, a scribble is a scribble, and so we celebrate:

Poetry Challenge #80

Scribble Something

In honor of National Scribble Day* celebrated every March 27th,  scratch around for something colorful to write with: crayons, markers, colored pencils . . . lipstick—whatever you can find—and a piece of paper. Hold the writing implement in your non-dominant hand, close your eyes, take a deep breath and focus on whatever comes to mind. Then open your eyes and scribble—preferably on the paper.

A Nothing Scribble--or not…

Try scribbling whatever came to mind. if it was nothing, then scribble nothing. Scribble with 2-year-old abandon for as long as you can—at least 30 seconds.

Now, hold your scribble arm’s length away. While squinting like an artist (a beret might come in handy here), look beyond your scribble to what you drew. Write a poem about it.

*Not to be confused with National Crayon Day (March 31st).

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

Scribble Resources:

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge more than 1050 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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Poetry Challenge #79-Fibonacci Awakening

Hurrah! It’s spring! Take a close look at the way the leaves on a plant and petals on a flower grow. Notice how they often grow in a pattern: One in the center; next row 2; third row 3; fourth row 5; fifth row 8 and so on. This pattern, which allows each leaf/petal to have maximum exposure to light and moisture while maintaining a tidy spiral pattern, called is the Golden Ratio, is the Fibonacci Sequence in action! Pure poetry, right! Which leads naturally to today’s prompt:

Fibonacci Sequencing Succulent

Fibonacci Sequencing Succulent

Poetry Challenge #79

Fibonacci Awakening

Number sequences are fun ways to create a form for a poem in that they pose a puzzle without too many rules. You could write a poem with using your phone number, birthday or another important date to determine the number of words or syllables on each line. For instance, this year the first day of spring is March 20th or 3202019 which would be kind of weird or maybe fun as the zeros could be stanza breaks. Get mathematical and write a poem based on the first six digits of pi: 314159, or have some spring fun with Fibonacci.

A Fibonacci sequence begins with 0 and 1. Each number is the sum of the two previous numbers. The third number would be 0+1=1. The fourth number is 1+1=2. And so on.

Write a poem matching the number of syllables or words on each line with the first six numbers in the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.

In celebration of Spring Awakening, let the theme of your poem be Springish!

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

When you finish step outside and find the Fibonacci Busting out all over!

If the Fibonacci has you fired up for More MATH! Here’s a fab Math Challenge game!

*Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge more than 1050 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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