Friday, September 9, 2011


A Pantoum

When you’ve made a three piece suit from your fear
it’s hard to learn to go naked.
When you’ve screamed so loud stones can hear
its hard to admit that you faked it.

It’s hard to learn to go naked
when you weave your own lies at the loom.
It’s hard to admit that you faked it
when you love your own prophecy of doom.

When you weave your own lies at the loom
your tongue wears them often and well.
When you’ve written your bible of doom
you have to keep preaching the sell.

Your tongue wears it all often and well
because truth has become too complex.
You have to keep preaching the sell
since it has what you want to come next.

Your mind will forget how to flex
and the soul will forget how to see,
because it’s all about special effects
making horseshit of reality.

The soul will forget how to see
when you’ve cried wolf so loud stones can hear.
You’ve beggared reality
when you make a three piece suit from your fear.

September 2011

Posted better late than never for   FormForAll   at dVerse Poets Pub

where Gay Cannon does an informative and impossible to resist exposition on the Malay poetry form known as the pantoum. It's a cascading form which uses repeating phrases, and you can find the full definition laid out clearly and succinctly with examples, including a great pic of Baudelaire with a cigar, at the link above.

(I've taken a few liberties with not reproducing the repeating lines word for word.)


  1. What a fantabulous pantoum! This form intrigues me. I love its rolling lilt. I so admire "when you've made a three-piece suit of your fear", and "screamed so loud stones can hear." Sigh. You write so wonderfully, kiddo. Write on!

  2. Good to see you, Sherry. Thanks for reading, as always.

  3. the attitude of your lines...making bullshit if reality, yes, i may know a few like this, dressed in their three piece hair suit of woe is me likes...

  4. So you're going to take up speechwriting for Rick Perry ... Taut and wicked smart on the rhymes and rhythms. Interesting substitution of the fig leaf of guilt with fear. (Easier to rhyme, and far more dappled/duplicitous.) You sang the pants off this pantoum. - Brendan

  5. I don't think you're even a citizen. This sort of elitist, atheist, mongrel poem is a perfect example of how pantoums are all up in our grille. Why, I bet you've never even shot a coyote on the way to church.

  6. @B: That's President Perry to you. (And actually, the first two lines are an intact dream fragment fear fig leaf and all.)

    @FB: No, but I slept with a preacher who was coyote ugly, does that count?

  7. When you found that 3 piece suit, metaphor, you went to town! Not only did your poem please, and protest, you stayed very close to the form (for sure closer than I did). And again here the form accelerates and enhances the message, the repetitions in this case emphasizing the important points, casting lights and shadows.

    And as enjoyable as your poem were, there was great fun in reading others' comments. OMG there are a lot of smart folks around here! Excellent, Joy, always. G.

  8. Thanks Gay--we try to keep it real--this place isn't called Escape for nothing. ;-) I really enjoyed yours as well.

  9. This is great! A three piece pantoum suit! I love the metaphor of the suit made of fear and not being able to take it off. So apt for so many people.

  10. i always say you should try to get into politics and make them look naked with your verse...loved it

  11. nicely done with your three-piece suit. I prefer blue jeans and a t-shirt.

  12. A great original idea hedge - you stripped it from there on in - i hate those smarmy egotist bastards - politics what a load of old horse shit. Preacher men - card board cut outs! capatalist democracy is a faulty concept on shaky ground - wind of change any one?

    You massaged the pantoum into a killer - i hadnt heard the pant before yesterday but now i love it.

    the final line is a bullet!

  13. Love it..the three piece suit...just another excellent write!!!!!!

  14. You weave a suit ot of lies, sooner or later all you end up with is that thread you started with Joy, articulate clear and meaningful write.

  15. Ah what a three-piecer of a pantoum. I linked one just now (late...)

    great work as always Joy

  16. It’s always best to outfox the foxes. In your case you’ve beat them to the horse pucky (for pelting them with), made their special effects look as archaic as Turtle Graphics, and their screaming prophesy of doom muted to the level of a gnat fart. It made me wonder what else they’re faking. Boy, you know how to get a girl riled up – I’ll have to go march around the living room gnashing my teeth.

  17. @Anna: Don't be messin up your dental work over a pile of useless rat scum, dear. Put them in a poetic hell of some kind instead--lots more fun and better for the blood pressure. ;_)

  18. This is freaking brilliant (despite it being obviously pinko communist).

  19. @MZ: Sorry about that...NOT. Thanks.:P

  20. I think this is wonderful! And as I understand it, it is acceptable and even encouraged to have slight variations in the wording of the repeating lines.

  21. Absolutely loved this. Great form in the pantoum, really brings your message home forcefully, which the form can do very well. So many striking lines. Great write :-)

  22. Love the general feel of this one, the attitude. Fantastic job with the form as well.

  23. Oh wondrous!

    I was daunted (in fear) by the pantoum, but here you are making it fall like water, easy and lovely (deceptively easy in your way). Your choices of rhyming words are terrific, especially "naked" and "faked it." Ah yes, the alternate universes of the realities we create. Learning to be authentically naked comes easier at my age, but every day I have to flex my soul instead of my mind to keep at it. I really loved this.

  24. @Ruth: Thank you--so glad you enjoyed it. Cascading forms like this *can* be relatively easy if you can once get them going.The trick is in picking your repeating phrases--you only have half the original writing to do in a pantoum, that is instead of in this example having to write 24 unique lines, you have only 12. Also, I always feel like I'm cheating when I write in a simple sing-song abab rough iambic stressed meter like this as I could recite it in my sleep about a cereal box or something. ;-) This one took maybe twenty minutes to write, as opposed to my free verse stuff, which normally takes several days worth of hours-long agony sessions.

  25. Wow, it took you only 20 minutes to write this.. I stayed away from this form exactly because of its pattern. My free verse comes out naturally... I don't agonize on it for days long as opposed to fixed forms like this.

    I do appreciate your efforts though. The message is clear with the 3 piece suit and the need for honesty, if we still remember how it was.

  26. i love repetition, especially when used as exquisitely as you do here, Joy. TWENTY MINUTES!? you are a freak of nature!!! an Einstein of poetry! i grovel at your feet, Goddess of iambic stressed meter. ♥ dani


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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