Sunday, November 20, 2011

Odd Notions

Odd Notions

Grey clouds, rockface of sky
quartz linen folded high
holds the rain that pebbled falls.
Land beaten dry to wet
will take what it can get
unaware what runs or crawls.
Ants digging think they shake it.
Humans think they make it
yield under plough, uphold walls.

Odd Notions

Grey clouds make up the rockface of the sky
all cracks and faultlines, massed linen folded high
holding the rain that froze and pebbled falls
upon a land that sways from dry to wet
who’s learned to wait and take what she can get;
to pay no mind to that which runs or crawls,
to let ants scatter mindless here and there,
to let humans laugh or pull out all their hair,
to give beneath the plough, or uphold walls.

Unconscious of wishes, dreaming out a need
land's tongue speaks without a word for greed.
Each spring she shakes out malachite in shawls;
fields, gardens, woods and meadows all in lace,
green designs cogged into every interface
of a rogue cell which turning feeds and trawls
all that matrix made without a thought,
takes what earth's meticulous labor bought,
till metastasized, it dies by its own faults.

November 2011

This is a little form piece, something called the Balassi Strophe, for Kerry O'Connor's 

Sunday Mini-Challenge  over at Real Toads

The rhyme  scheme is cited as aa b cc b dd b, per stanza (or strophe) for as long as the poem goes. The syllable count isn't specified, but the example in Hungarian seems to follow a 6-6-7 pattern (as much as someone who can't speak Hungarian can tell) as does Kerry's poem here, so I took my much wordier effort below and slimmed it down, but thought I'd post both, just for fun and contrast.


  1. the rain that pebbled falls..great imagery in this...and a variety of textures...i like the long form better personally as i feel it give a more full tale...but that is just me...the malachite in shawls is a nice touch as well...

  2. Cool poem. I really like that form - will have to give it a try sometime. Love the picture too!

  3. Thanks, guys. I like the longer one best also--mostly though, because it was absolutely hellish cutting it down to the short one. ;-)

  4. @FB: Two hours on yer damn toads, and that's all I get--how much for the car? Yeesh. Girl, if you can get the vines off it, it's yours. (You may have to go to England though)

  5. I also like the longer version, but they're both good. Yes, I can imagine how hellish it must have been to cut to the bone like that.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  6. Fire's got good taste in music...
    Hedge, I love what you did with the metrical version. -Q

  7. My vote's for the short version - though I itched to make the penultimate line "Human beings think they make it" for the sake of the rhythm. Either way, they're both great.

    Having a job commenting: this is my 4th attempt!

  8. I love your longer version, but have to say that the strict syllable count forced out some damn fine stream-lined images:

    "Grey clouds make up the rockface of the sky
    all cracks and faultlines, massed linen folded high"
    "Grey clouds, rockface of sky
    quartz linen folded high"

    In my opinion the six syllable lines are pure poetry, with all the grammatical connectives pruned away.

    Thanks for allowing some discussion here on the two versions of a fine piece of work.

  9. I like the original, myself, very much, though the short one is a fine tight piece. Your gorgeous imagery, combined with your ironically and humorously turned phrases and rhymes that end in that punch of metastasized is top notch, as always.

  10. "Balassi strophe"? gesundheit!! Nice job of compressing down the original, but you know me ... why say a little when you can say all it in a bigger space? The gold I loved most was in the second stanza, especially, ayeeyah, those last 3 lines ... Difference between a drizzle and a downpour, though you do the watercolors fine both ways. - Brendan (p.s. that car looks like the old Datsun I rode to death, a coach filled with cigarette butts & empties & spent rubbers & ets. not a thing working on it any more - no heater, no a/c, no brakes, windows permanently frozen in the rolled position, engine coughing its last and coasting to the side of the road where I got out and walked away. My DUI mobile.)

  11. Thanks all.

    @viv: Sorry about the commenting--Internet Explorer is especially prone to comment error--the cookie thing usually works, though.

    @Kerry; I enjoyed the prompt, but it's very hard for me to write short, hence both versions.

    @B:Yeah--no way I was going to cudgel my brain to turn that second stanza into 6 and 7 syllable lines.(!) I may like form, but not torture. I drove many a Datsun back in the day, though it was my microbus I ended up leaving by the side of the road, after my first husband *rebuilt* the engine using the VW Idiot's Guide. Ah, the wrecks we have known...(in all senses of the word.)

  12. I think you did a great job condensing the poem into that form... I know it's hard to do. They each stand on their own-- excellent!

  13. i like the shorter one. sure, you had to kill some babies, but i'm a sucker for compact stuff, including that compact hosting all that life.
    brendan's story is so iconic.


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

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