Wisdom Speaks–dVerse Poetics

Silence is the language of god; all else is poor translation.” Rumi

Shhh! Listen to your heart





Photo Credit: David Slotto

Photo Credit: David Slotto

Travelers, it is late. Life’s sun is going to set. During these brief days that you have strength, be quick and spare no effort of your wings.


Dance, my old friend, sing, fly.

Death is your



Photo: waragainstwork.com

Photo: waragainstwork.com


Who could be so lucky? Who comes to a lake for water and sees the reflection of moon.



Looking within I find

still waters,



Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto


Bear with me as I continue to play with the micro-poetry form developed by Kelvin S-M, a fellow dVerse blogger. These are written for the Poetics prompt offered by Mary. The prompt is to write a poem using a quotation as inspiration.

Tilus by the Dozen–dVerse Meeting the Bar

Micro Poetry–a form created by Kelvin S. M. that is the prompt today for dVerse Meeting the Bar. I’m hostess and hope you will drop over and share one of your own. It’s fun. Each stanza is a stand-alone poem but when I got going, I couldn’t put the brakes on!

Photo: betchaitluc.com

Photo: betchaitluc.com



night falls; moon hides behind

cloud cover


— faith.



croaking frogs lie in wait

wanting to





smiling dandelions

dot the lawn—





toking deep breaths of out-

side freshness—





predators spill blood on

forest floors—





morning stillness hovers,

waits to greet





river trickles eastward






finches chant morning lauds

four A.M.—





slather me in sunshine,

warm my heart,





weeds have taken over,

nestle in





Shhh! Listen to crickets’






desert cacti blossoms

bringing us



Playing with Poetic Form–Monday Meanderings

Today I’m sharing a post from Heidi who blogs at http://biggerthanalasagna.blogspot.com/ A few weeks ago, Gay Reiser Cannon, hosting dVerse Meeting the Bar, gave us the challenge to create our own form. Here, Heidi sends a Thank You to Gay, along with a brief explanation of her response. It’s so much fun, I thought I’d share it. Thank you, Heidi and Gay.

An Open Thank You to Gay Reiser Cannon

Dear Gay,

For the April 10, 2014 dVerse Meeting the Bar post, you challenged us to create our own form.

I created the Geburstag, which uses the writer’s birthday to determine lines and either word or syllable count. In my comments, you wrote that it would also be a good ways to write poems for other people using their birthday. Your challenge and comment opened a whole new way of celebrating my friends for me. I have been using it for birthdays and to commemorate any other special day. (I don’t know if my friends like it as much…) But it has been such a fun way for me to remember and appreciate people who are important to me. I just wanted to thank you for the cool inspiration!

With Gratitude,


If you’d like to read Heidi’s original post with a sample of her poem, find it here.

I hope you’ll give it a try. Maybe you’ll share it in comments or by adding a link in comments. In the future, perhaps we can deal deal with some more ideas that this prompt generated.

And here’s mine.

Photo: David Slotto

Photo: David Slotto



smooth jazz on a warm night in the california desert



i heard

smooth jazz

played under stars, palms and a silver slivered moon.


i dream of desert skies dancing to saxophone riffs,

drums, a bass guitar,

tasting your kisses.

Gay Cannon Gay Cannon is a Published poet, (she majored in English Lit.) author of children’s stories, musician and lover of music, artist and lover of art, figure skating judge,- covetous of dancers, founder of Stars FSC in Dallas (she minored in Political Science) supporter of the arts, an aesthete but not an atheist She’s a loyal friend, mother of three, grandmother of eleven. She loves to travel, meet people, go to museums; She loves good food and good conversations. She tries to find the music in people’s voices and the poetry in their souls.

Photo: Gay Cannon, Published Poet Photo taken from dVerse Poets

Photo: Gay Cannon, Published Poet
Photo taken from dVerse Poets

Wordsmith Wednesday: Guest Post by Vivienne Blake

I’m delighted to invite fellow poet/blogger, Vivienne Blake, as hostess for this week’s Wordsmith Wednesday. Originally from the UK, Viv blogs for us from France at http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com/  I’ve been impressed with Viv’s creative spirit, her avid response to various prompts and the fact that her poetry is well-crafted. In addition to poetry, Vivienne shares her beautifully crafted quilts.

Vivienne Blake

Today Vivienne discusses the role of poetic form and its usefulness is tickling your creative muse:

Thank you, Victoria, for allowing me the space to sound off on a subject close to my heart, poetic form, despite it being a bête noir for many poets. I’m hoping to persuade them at least to try.

During my final course of degree studies, in 2009, we were introduced to formal poetry. The straightjacket of poetic form was not my scene, I thought, but resolved to try. As Bill Greenwell says, struggle is essential to writing poetry.

A revelation awaited me. The liberating effect of obeying the rules of strict poetic form went to my head. I had enormous fun with the Villanelle. Having written and discarded several villainous examples, I came across the words Duality Dichotomy, Debate quoted in The Ode Less Travelled (Stephen Fry p227): This inspired me to write about the rebellious mood induced by trying to write such formal poetry.

‘Duality, dichotomy, debate’
wrote Jason of the Villanelle,
confusion we must deprecate.
Do I hear you say to wait
and see what’s what? It’s just as well
duality, dichotomy, debate
are such a part of life, too late
their unseen influence dispel
confusion that we deprecate.
Now is the time to get this straight.
This vicious form’s a prison cell.
Duality, dichotomy: debate.
Subdue the power to create,
cause wilful poets to rebel
against confusion; deprecate.

Into your poem re-instate
the dreaded words that work so well:
duality, dichotomy, debate.
Confusion no more deprecate

That excitement was the epiphany which led me to a passionate period of experiment with poetic forms provoking me to search for examples, leading me to play with other forms such as ballade and rondeau. I found a site which has stood me in good stead: A guide to poetic form http://www.volecentral.co.uk/vf/index.htm . I resolved to work my way through them all – a long way from achievement, but many forms have been tried and from each I have learned something, and exercised the thought muscles.

Last Post, a villanelle in iambics with alternating tetrameter and trimeter in each tercet was written from a prompt, I heard a footstep at my gate. A story clamoured to be told, despite accepted opinion that villanelles are not suited to story-telling. We are also advised when using narrative in poetry to keep it sparse, leaving something for the reader to work out.

This poem fell naturally into two halves: yesterday, irritation; today sadness. Most of the lines are end-stopped, reinforcing the story-telling aspect of the poem. With hindsight, I should have preferred more subtle rhyming, as in my first example, and I have since learned to use enjambment more effectively.

Last Post

I heard footsteps at the gate
and raised my eyes to see
the postman was, as ever, late.

I stepped outside to remonstrate
and take the letter brought to me
by shaking hands across my gate;

a symbol of the world awaits,
a letter from across the sea.
The postman was, as ever, late.

Today a stranger at the gate
knocked twice and asked for me,
with sorry news of someone’s fate;

so sad, you will appreciate,
he’s gone too soon, you see,
that postman, now forever late.

I turn away, disconsolate
then back again to see,
a woman mourning for her mate,
the widow of the postman, late.

I then tried a pantoum, but the result was a trite piece of doggerel – another of those going-round-in-circles forms. My difficulties seem to be a hazard of the prescribed form: I found Wendy Cope’s Your Mother Knows, (1995) from her collection Two Cures for Love, Faber. Her Pantoum is similarly circular doggerel with simple rhymes.

Political Pantoum

I am repulsed by politics
hypocrisy, cant, and worse, lies.
we should all believe in kindness
as such we keep the truth.

Hypocrisy, cant and worse, lies
prevent us reaching happiness,
by the antithesis of truth,
all partners to aggressiveness.

We never will reach happiness
if we pursue with selfishness
those partners of aggressiveness
hypocrisy, politics, and lies.

We must be done with selfishness
and live our lives in kindliness
care, honesty and goodliness
and be repulsed by politics.

The sestina – a spiral mathematical form, invented by French Troubadour Arnaud Daniel in the twelfth century – holds an idea captive, unable to break out from the rules. Six words, chosen empirically, fail to develop the idea. They remain static, handcuffed to a specified order, immutable. Arnaut Daniel wrote I am Arnaut who gathers up the wind,/ And chases the hare with the ox,/ And swims against the torrent.

I gleefully took up the challenge to experiment with variants of the chosen words, but without swimming upstream. I made a template with the key words inserted in the correct order, and this has proved a useful and repeatable tool. For a more comprehensive article on the sestina, see the dVerse Poet’s Pub at http://dversepoets.com/2011/08/25/formforall-sestina/ It is a good idea when writing a sestina to choose words which have homonyms, and can be adapted to form noun, adjective or verb. Breaking the strict rules in this way is part of the fun.

My sestina, again about poetry is in unrhymed iambic pentameter. I played with the core words, and avoided too many end-stopped lines, in an effort to disguise the repetition. The sestina is a meditative, spiritual form and with that in mind, this sestina reflects on my progress as a poet, and my commitment to poetry.

Sestina – A Love Story

I started reading poetry to learn,
re-awaken my old interest in words,
and found a subject I have grown to love.
The distillation of mere words into a poem
has aroused in me a passion which will shine
for ever in my life: a treasured gift.

This unexpected blessing, this small gift
is something that in future I will learn
to handle like a lamp, somehow to shine
its brightness on my wilful way with words,
illuminate them to create a poem
that by chance someone will come to love.

Greeting each new verse like a lover,
playing with it. Thank God for this gift,
this unrhymed effusion of a poem,
far from perfect yet. But I am learning
to choose, to blend, to manage all the words
until the form that suits them starts to shine

through the dross. The meaning has to shine,
brought to life with skill and care and love.
Meaning is a tool that hones the words,
a talented, sharpened chisel; it is a gift –
essential as a means of shaping. Learn
to use it prudently to make a poem.

My ambition is to write a poem,
shrewdly polish words to make them shine.
Metaphor, form and rhythm must be learned;
strict rules used with skill and love
until the infant poem is a gift
to move you, calm your fears with words.

Gratefully offered, sublime recompense, words
must be melded, moulded and teased for a poem
to emerge. Poems call for many kinds of gifts –
assonance, metaphor, images, synonyms – shining
brightly, all to be mixed in the cauldron of love.
To emulate this pleasure I will learn.

With these words I pray that light will shine
on poems shaped for you with love –
my gift to you is all that I have learned.

For today’s discussion, I’d like to suggest that you share your own experience with form poetry…perhaps a form that had you stymied but then resulted in a break-through of sorts. I am including a Mr. Linky for you to share your work, or, if you prefer, use the comments section of this post.

Thank you, Vivienne, for your enlightened post!

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–a Rant

Yelling Man

Image by Orange Steeler via Flickr

Life brings its moments of joy and it often seems easy to write about those: romance, the beauty of a moment in nature, children, pets.

It seems those experiences are highlighted when contrasted with events that are filled with frustration. You only have to open a newspaper to understand what I’m talking about.

For today’s writing prompt, I’d like you to zero in on something that you find frustrating or even anger-provoking. Write an essay if you will, a short story in which someone vents his spleen, or try this poetic form known as a rant.

A rant is usually written in free verse and so may tempt even those of you with poetic-phobia to give it a try. The topic should be kept to one (preferably exasperating) subject and explored from all angles and in excruciating detail. The writing is usually in the present tense.

I hope you will participate and invite some newcomers to join in as well. Remember that you can write poetry, essay or a short story and there is no deadline. Please post a link to your work in the comment sections of this post.

Here is my effort. Although rhyming is not part of the rant form, this is how it happened. This needs editing, so your input and suggestions are welcome.

Love Song to TSA

A Rhyming Rant


“Now, take off your shoes, jacket and hat.”

I take a deep breath, prepare for a pat-

down—here, there, all around—

(love being touched by some arrogant clown)

Keepin’ us safe, invadin’ our space.

Can’t take much more. “Hey, open that case!”

Shoulda stayed home and read a good book.

“Back through the x-ray; I want a good look.”

Next time I travel I’ll fly in the nude.

Just makin’ it easy, not tryin’ to be lewd.


Wordsmith Wednesday–A Potpourri of Thoughts about Poetry

Quill etc

While Wordsmith Wednesday tends to focus on fiction writing, from time-to-time I find it compelling to write an article about poetry. This is because many of the people who visit my blog are from the poetry communities I participate in, but even more so because poetry is the handmaiden of superb writing, whatever the genre.

For today’s post, I would like to reflect on a few reminders that can serve poets as well as fiction, or for that matter, non-fiction writers.

  • Don’t shy away from poetic forms. The discipline of adhering to prescribed forms such as those that define rhyme, meter and syllable count can serve as an aid when you run up against a brick wall. I turn to a haiku, an etheree, a quatrain, tercet or any number of “recipes” for writing when it seems as though my muse has gone into hibernation. This has never failed to help me jump-start my writing. There are a number of Internet references to teach you about form. Try Luke Prater’s Word Salad at http://lukepraterswordsalad.com/
  • Write quickly but revise with care. Poetry deserves the same careful attention as prose. Often, words and ideas rush in at you and it pays to jot them down as they come. First drafts of poems will often pour out in mere minutes. I’ve dragged myself out of bed in the middle of the night and jotted down almost-illegible epics that I don’t recognize in the morning. But then the work begins. I once read about a poet who excused himself from a writing conference because he had to revise a poem. He returned hours later and when asked how it had gone told his colleagues that he spent a few hours before deleting a comma and then, a few hours later, added it back in. I hope my days will be a bit more productive than that, but you get the point. I belong to an online poetry critique group and the advice I receive is invaluable. But, as with fiction, remember that you have the final say.
  • Sensory details make your writing come alive. Many beginning poets use their craft to probe emotion, to champion causes, and to express their opinions. Indeed, these are functions of poetry. But to be more effective, it behooves you to pepper your writing with devices such as metaphors or similes that employ those delicious sensory observations that you have picked up in the course of a day. I strongly suggest that you keep your senses, all of them, on high alert and then in the evening, take a few moments to jot down a dozen or so things you remember in your writing journal. You will be amazed at the inspiration you can cull from this exercise–for poetry or fiction.
  • Don’t quit your day job. Most likely you will not get rich selling poetry. You will not find an agent to represent your tome or make the NYT’s best seller list. You will find joy in the writing process. You’ll find that your prose takes on a literary quality whatever genre you dabble in and you can build up a platform for marketing your work if you engage in Internet poetry communities. There are a myriad of these that invite both seasoned and budding poets to post their work. A few of my favorites include Poetry Potluck: http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/; One Stop Poetry: http://onestoppoetry.com/ and Poetic Asides: http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/  All of these sites offer prompts and a forum to post or link your work. I also post a writing prompt on Monday morning which invites both poetry and short fiction.

Untitled Octain–One Shot Wednesday

Jean Jacques Henner, Solitude

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s another attempt at an Octain, a poetic form created by Luke Prater and linked to One Shot Wednesday: http://onestoppoetry.com/

Untitled Octain

How many lives are spent in vain,
too conscious of the voice of fear,
thoughts muddled so that sight’s unclear.

They creep through days avoiding pain
or, warped by hate, they learn too late
to trust that love should ever deign

to visit them and draw them near.
Too many lives are spent in vain.

The Call of Spring–An Octain

Photo: David Slotto April 2011

This poem is in response to One Stop Poetry’s invitation to write an Octain, a poetic form developed by fellow poet/blogger Luke Prater. Visit their site to learn about Octains, read other emerging and seasoned poets and, perhaps, write one of your own. http://onestoppoetry.com/

As I was pondering a subject for mine I glanced out the window of my treehouse/office and a hummingbird was hovering–I guess to thank me for putting out the feeder. He’s still here! I couldn’t resist using this photo of the Leucistic Hummingbird that frequented our feeder while we were in Palm Desert over the winter.

The Call of Spring
An Octain

Outside my window, should I look,
a hummingbird has taken wing
while nightingale begins to sing.

A quail emerges from her nook
for her dirt bath beside the path
that moseys down along the brook.

Attending to the call of spring
to go outside, I close my book.

Wordsmith Wednesday–12 Sources of Poetic Inspiration

Illustration from the cover of Christina Rosse...

Image via Wikipedia

Today I’ve been considering the sources we poets turn to for poetic inspiration–so today’s Wordsmith Wednesday is for poets although I’m sure that it can be useful to prose writers as well. I’m going to short-list some of the sources I turn to to be inspired in my writing. I’m hoping that you will add to it in the comments section.

  • Nature–look for details, metaphors, lessons that are present all around us. When stuck, it often helps me to take a walk. I’m blessed to live in a place that is replete with nature’s offerings.
  • Reading–read other poets. Their work often tickles my creative muse. I’ve mentioned some of my favorites in my list of recommended reading.
  • News sources–look for the seeds of story-poems hidden in the newspaper, on the Internet or on TV news broadcast.
  • Poetic Forms–do an Internet search and check out poetic forms. For me, the discipline of a form can jump-start and idea.
  • Spirituality–look to metaphysical/religious ideas and writings such as the Bible or holy books of other spiritual traditions. Look within at your own spiritual experience.
  • Relationships–these evoke emotional reactions that are often begging to be expressed.
  • History–check out historical events as well as your own history. There are stories to tell.
  • Mythology–although this is not an area of expertise for me, I’ve read much poetry that draws on the classical myths, stories that transcend time.
  • Science–a wonderful well-spring of poetic inspiration.
  • Art–Use painting, sculpture, photography and translate your experience into words.
  • Writing Prompts–those of us who participate in writing communities have a wealth of material tossed out at us on a daily or weekly basis. Check out some of the sites on my blogroll. I’d love to see you link up to my own Monday Morning Writing Prompt.
  • Political issues–need I say more? My personal viewpoint is to stay away from personal attacks and stick to the issues.

I hope these will be helpful to you, especially if you are feeling stuck right now. There are more–help me expand the list if you will!

Pre-Op Holding

Victor Dorantes in a hospital gown

Image via Wikipedia

NaPoWriMo Day 1 http://www.napowrimo.net/

Submitted to Big Tent Poetry: http://bigtentpoetry.org/  BTP offers 7 weekly prompts for the month of April to celebrate National Poetry Month. This poem is written to the prompt of undressing in a place other than a bedroom or bathroom.

Pre-Op Holding
A Rondeau

Have others died naked in this place?
I strip my clothing in disgrace
as cold consumes my body head-to-toe.
What will come next? They haven’t let me know.
I wait, imprisoned in a fear I cannot face.

No loving arms to hold me, no embrace
to sooth my shattered nerves, to dread, erase.
Have others died naked in this place?

Penetrating chill invades my inner space.
Ah, here’s the doc who’ll force me to erase
the thoughts that make me, me. Panic grows.
A needle prick and now the world slows.
Have others died naked in this place?

This is my first attempt at writing a Rondeau–a French poetic form that focuses on a rhyming scheme and a refrain. The rondeau is comprised of three stanzas:


a/a/b/refrain (the first word or phrase of the poem becomes the refrain)


The title “Pre-Op Holding” refers to a location where patients are prepared for surgery. For those of you lucky enough never to have experienced an operation, this is where they take away your clothes, garb you in an attractive hospital gown, make sure everything is in order for your procedure, start IV’s. The surgeon and anesthesiologist stop by and go over everything with you, and you may receive the first doses of meds that help you to drift into la-la land. Unlike in my poem, in this country they do explain everything to you, your loved one is allowed to wait with and you are accorded privacy.