Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tu BShevat and Sonnets

My daughter asked me if I knew any words that rhymed with "lost." Other than using a rhyming dictionary, the most obvious method is to go through the alphabet: bossed, cost, dossed. Is dossed a word? I think it is, and an online dictionary says that it means going to bed. Which is perfect for poetry where the subject might want to bunk down, perchance to dream. And what about "dost?" The Internet says it is an archaic form of "does," I do, he dost. OK, yes, that sounds familiar, very "Prince and the Pauper." It turns out that she was writing a sonnet.

The main thing that I remembered about sonnets was that Sylvia Plath had science class anxiety, and she got her counselor to excuse her from having to enroll. But she found the atmosphere in study hall to be something like Mark Twain`s description of a Lacrosse game: two armies beating each other with sticks, with a hard missile occasionally denting someone`s head. So she asked the chemistry teacher if she could audit his class, and spent the sessions looking up to smile sweetly at him while writing sonnets and villanelles.

There are roughly three styles of sonnet, with the Shakespearean form being the favorite of ninth-graders. Maddy showed me a few well-known examples, all of which I recognized. I tried reading one out loud, and she said that I was not following the soft/hard pattern of iambic pentameter. Her English teacher recommends "head banging" to get the rhythm right. This rhythm can also be achieved by channeling Bela Lugosi, or the Sesame Street Count, or any Italian speaker. Also, each line must have ten syllables.

Your teacher said that you should bang your head
But I prefer to wave my arm instead

Yes, incorporating movement really did allow me to get into the sonnet groove. And as I shall be going to a service tomorrow where everyone has been asked to bring a rock or a feather or a quotation
It seems only fitting to appear with my first ever Sonnetic effort.

today we mark the new year of the trees
wet sap awakens, hidden within bark
in two months the stubborn leaf buds it frees
shall burst knifelike and pallid in the park

soon greenish fronds seek sun to synthesize
added mass of stems, that bloom and set seed
winter shards cover up in springtime guise
avian creatures weave a house of reed

plantlike, sometimes emotion hibernates
when weather harsh restricts love`s easy flow
until hormonal heat initiates
capillary action`s flowery show

red rose hips in a scape barren of sprigs
a lone preserve: fall`s fruit upon stark twigs

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


(Sing this to the tune of Rainbow Connection by Paul Williams)

Why would I write a second
Song about LOLCATS
And places that they like to hide?
LOLCATS are characters
That live on the Internet
We try to take them in stride
Sneaky and saccharine
yet somehow alluring
With them we identify

Soon they will mass for
A LOLCAT convention
In a hotel of one mile high

LOLCATS are on your couch
Shedding on your cushions
They say it enhances decor
Now at your computer desk
One opens your browser
Soon they have altered your
Co-op shopping list
Pasting in cream over soy

LOLCATS just may achieve
Perhaps I should send an envoy

It`s easy to see that they
Are primal and clever
Feral, ferocious and sweet
LOLCATS are not afraid
To face adversaries
LOLCATS don`t shirk to compete
Daily I tune into news of disaster
Will major countries collide?

Somewhere the LOLCATs plot world domination
Let`s go along for the ride!