“Award-Winning” Poem 2

Author’s note: it’s been a very long time since you’ve last heard from the author. The author (Arthur) is feeling the itch again, and is catching up on that by sharing some treasured poetry from the past little while.

The poem below helped me win the “Grand Prize” in a 2020 poetry contest. 2020 is not even close to over, even though it feels like it’s already been about four years. Regardless, the seasons have changed, and this poem tries to capture that. It is a Shakespearean sonnet as a dialog between a winter spirit and a spring spirit whose relationship is coming to an unfortunate end. This poem, more so than my previous “award-winning” poem, I believe was justified in achieving “Grand Prize”.

It started as raw material capturing the romantic angst and yearning present on earlier entries of this blog. That was potent crude oil. In fact, I read those posts and old journal entries for inspiration and motivation for one of the sonnet’s character’s. Dozens of drafts and revisions, and several peer reviews, are to thank for its final, refined form.


Anyway, here it is.

VAIL (a spirit of winter)
A glacier crawls more quickly than the dark,
When all my waking thoughts surround your flame
I’d break my cracking chest and sighing heart
To know just one more day could stay the same

VERNA (a spirit of spring)
A new day dawns, I must now flee to grow,
To fly like wind, unbounded, free, and true,
To taste the dew, see all there is to sow
By letting go, the sky turns gray to blue

Let go? I feel I’m frozen in the past

Be gentle with yourself, the present’s there

I cry to see no way our future lasts
But want for you to fly in warmer air

I see your heart as hearth, and mine the sun
This is to say, goodbye, my wintry one

“Award-Winning” Poem 1

Author’s note: it’s been a very long time since you’ve last heard from the author. The author (Arthur) is feeling the itch again, and is catching up on that by sharing some treasured poetry from the past little while.

Well, hello there. It’s me, Art. I’ve missed you. Let’s catch up.

Below is a poem that won me the “Grand Prize” in a poetry contest in 2018. It’s provided with the judge’s assessment of the poem for full gravity.

The Grand Prize Winner:

As blue bark unthaws
Steam rises into gold rays
And the dawn path clears
Such a beautiful and effective haiku! The imagery of the first two lines calls on me to imagine such a vivid image, I see the frozen blue bark, the steam, and it rising into the golden rays of the sun. Then the third line challenges me. Since I have such a vivid scene already painted, my instinct is to try to picture what the “dawn path” is, visually. For me, the challenge of the third line is magic. I would love to hear what others imagine when reading it.

Now for my own commentary. I wrote this haiku for my long-dead Twitter account as part of a series in 2015, where I intended to write a haiku on Twitter every day. (For those who remember, I got 301 out of 365 days.) I do like the haiku, but I’m honestly surprised it won the contest. But the judge liked it, and getting the judge to like you is part of why I ever got a “1” in the Solo & Ensemble Festival where I grew up. (I played trumpet.)

A Sonnet about Writing Poems

I wrote a Petrarchan Sonnet in Iambic pentameter as part of an application for volunteer work at a writing center. It is below. I am now a volunteer there.

They say it’s difficult to write a rhyme/
That meter’s ticking like a metronome/
And one’s organic voice is now a drone/
How can a writer feel in marking time?/
In freeform I respect a blob of nouns/
But I don’t know which ones I should display/
I might just throw a dart at what to say/
But no, it lands on one I can’t pronounce/
I know! I’ll pick up my guitar and sing!/
Then words will have to come out to the beats/
And I’ll pretend I had them all along/
Well, shoot, guitar’s one thing I didn’t bring/
But in my heart there’s one line that repeats:/
“Write from myself, and then those words belong.”

Wreturning to Writing,

Rhyming Haiku

If you didn’t already know this, I write at least one haiku once a month. I have to be careful, because haiku are supposed to mention seasons but mine never do. Are they pseudo-haiku, then? Sudoku?

It’s always been odd to me that haiku don’t rhyme. I think rhyming works well with even-numbered stanzas in poetry. With the haiku, we are left with three lines. If two of the lines rhyme, then the third line seems out of place, possibly put there to be ironic. (I’m not a fan of irony for irony’s sake, whatever that means.) If all three lines rhyme, it seems like there should be a fourth rhyming line, like it’s some sort of grocery store sale. I thought about these constraints and came up with a few ways to make haiku (or sudoku, because they don’t mention seasons) rhyme.

This first one’s a little self-referential.

Haiku can’t rhyme, right?
Where’s the meter? Don’t repeat,
Or it’s quite a sleight

It’s a little bit of a stretch, because if the final line’s “Or” completes the eight syllable couplet of line 2, then the final line has only four syllables, whereas the first line has five, so whatever attempt at meter I tried doesn’t work. It doesn’t help that 5 + 7 + 5 = 17.

This next one forgets about meter in the second line.

Late night burger binge
Grease on fingers, it lingers
Health is on the hinge

I think the second line is the culprit of oddness, so I just accepted that its couplet would give one part four syllables and the other part three syllables.

This next one follows the same structure as the second haiku.

Heart rattles ribcage
It will clamour, pour amour
Trapped for all its days

I think the comma separating the “couplet” in the second line makes the meaning a little ambiguous. British spelling was thrown in to be cheeky.

Are haiku supposed to rhyme? Aren’t they difficult enough to write given the brevity restrictions? I’ll refer to the excellence of Claude Marot, whose famous 18 line poem rhymed with every pair of lines, each being three syllables. Ah! That’s one new way to make haiku rhyme, keeping one syllable off at the end just to be funny (or, heaven forbid, ironic).

Haiku, you’re
A star, your
Words are true
Ask whereto
Map’s ajar?

The italicized text is a rhyme for every couplet of three syllable lines. (The last line can’t be three syllables because it’s a 17 syllable poem.) The underlined syllables are where I stressed a rhyme in the other haiku above. Now, depending on how the syllables are organized, this poem can rhyme in two ways! The ultimate challenge would be to make a haiku entirely of rhyming words, so that no matter the arrangement of syllables per line, the creator could have a rhyming structure. That’s a challenge for another day.

Let’s go no farther,

EDIT 2014-07-24: I changed “haikus” to “haiku” throughout (even the title), having learned from my writer friend A.W. about the more “Eastern” pluralization.