May 31, 2023

Catena Rondo Verse Form

This form is not as simple as I first thought it was. Serves me right for just skimming over the descriptions instead of reading them fully. LOL

The Catena Rondo is another form invented by fellow Canadian Robin Skelton. He got the name by combing catena, meaning chain, with rondo, meaning circle. The quatrains making up this form repeat, bringing it full circle.

This a stanzaic form, which lends itself very well to longer poems because of the repetition of lines. It’s written in quatrains (four line stanzas). The first line and the last line of each quatrain are the same. The second and third lines rhyme. The second line of each quatrain becomes the first line of the following quatrain until the final quatrain, which is the first quatrain repeated.

Your Catena Rondo can be about whatever you wish. And there is no set syllable count, which makes it a little difficult to create a schematic, but I’ll do one using a six syllable version. The capital letters are the repeated lines:





I swear, it took me longer to come up with a start to my example than to write the example itself. Could the well be running dry? Oh, look, that could be the subject for another poem. I should write it down. :-D

Anyway, once I got going I found I really enjoyed writing in this form. I like the way the verses flow into each other because of the repetition. Seriously, you should give it a try!

Magic’s Price

Magic flows like water
within the circle of stone.
When I am all alone
magic flows like water.

Within the circle of stone
there is no escape for me,
I look to the stars and plea
within the circle of stone.

There is no escape for me,
I’ve brought this on myself
defying time itself—
there is no escape for me.

I’ve brought this on myself
for trying to change my fate
and knocking on hell’s gate—
I’ve brought this on myself.

For trying to change my fate
I’m taking my last breath.
My punishment is death
for trying to change my fate.

Magic flows like water
within the circle of stone.
When I am all alone
magic flows like water.

May 29, 2023

Sounding Off

Nights can never be real and enjoyable without the croaking of frogs and the chirping of crickets.
― Michael Bassey Johnson

The crickets usher in a softness that smooths the harsh edges of a day now passing. And if their song does not somehow lull us to a softer sleep, then we have become deaf to things that matter in the process of listening to all that does not.
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

One day many years ago a man walked along and stood in the sound of the ocean on a cold sunless shore and said, "We need a voice to call across the water, to warn ships; I'll make one. I'll make a voice like all of time and all of the fog that ever was; I'll make a voice that is like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like trees in autumn with no leaves. A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore. I'll make a sound that's so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns. I'll make me a sound and an apparatus and they'll call it a Fog Horn and whoever hears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.
― Ray Bradbury

When I was at a writing retreat last fall, I woke up one morning to the sound of a fog horn. Such a lonely sound, but it made me nostalgic. I tried to remember the last time I heard a fog horn, but I couldn’t. With all the advances in technology, ships no long need the fog horn to warn them that they’re getting too close to the shore.

Another lonely sound I miss are train whistles. We don’t live close to the tracks, but when I was little we could still hear the train whistles as they sped by to destinations unknown. Since that time there’s been a lot of development in our town, with houses filling in all the spare land right up to the tracks. Then the people who moved into these houses complained about the train whistles until the trains were silenced.

When I was a kid, we owned a big chunk of property behind our house, and where this property abutted onto our back yard was a low spot that filled with water every spring. And where there’s swampy water, there are bullfrogs, who are rather vocal when it comes to trying to attract a mate.

This time of early is a little early for the frogs and crickets, but the dawn chorus has been going on for a few weeks now, getting earlier every day. The dawn chorus starts when the first glow of sunrise appears on the horizon, and continues until the sun is fully up.

Of course the birds don’t magically stop chirping and singing once the sun is up, but the noise is greatly reduced in volume. Mind you, I’m just guessing it’s the sun being fully up that quiets them down. All I know is that it starts with the first hint of light, and then about an hour later it doesn’t seem as intense.

I didn’t grow up with air conditioning, so I’d fall asleep with my window open, being serenaded by the frogs and the crickets, the train whistles and the fog horn when the day started out foggy.

Now, we have central air, which means we sleep with the windows shut and there’s no lullaby save for the hum of the fan. If I sit outside at night I can hear the crickets, and if I’m really lucky a frog might have made its way to the pond in our back yard. And during a hot summer day I might hear the long, whining violin note of a cicada.

But things change, towns grow. These nostalgic sounds of summer have been replaced by revving motors, loud TVs and radios, and the sounds of construction. Just one more reason to miss the good ‘ole days.

May 24, 2023

The Octo Verse Form

Usually when I settle on a form of the week, I like to try and find several sources of information about it and then distill it all down to something that makes sense. I have to tell you, wording really matters when it comes to this form.

“Octo Verse Form” gave me a couple of hits, one of which was a WiX site with a totally different version of this form. There were several sites listed with a definition for an Octastich, which is basically an eight line poem. And if you leave off the word “form” from your search, you get a pile of listings for an Octoverse software.

So then I tried to do a search for the creator of it, James Neille Northe, and I discovered he’s an American educator who also invented the Cinquino (another poem I could find very little about).

Anyway, as the name implies, the Octo Verse is an octastich, which means it’s an eight line poem. As well, all of the lines are eight syllables each. The nice thing about this poem is, it doesn’t rhyme. However (you just knew there had to be a catch, didn’t you?) at the same time, if you do a schematic it kind of does rhyme, because lines are repeated. The first line repeats as the last line, line two repeats as line seven, and line three repeats as line six. Lines four and five are kinda just there.

Here's a schematic:


Despite all the confusion surrounding this poetry form, I kind of liked it. Which is why I wrote two examples. :-)


Do poets love as others do?
This is something we can ponder
when the candle burns low at night
and words lie still upon the page
while the restless dreaming fills us.
When the candle burns low at night,
this is something we can ponder –
do poets love as others do?

The Greening

The greening has begun again
as it does each year at this time,
when spring slides into the summer
and the days grow longer, brighter,
and the air begins to warm us
when spring slides into the summer
as it does each year at this time.
The greening has begun again.

May 22, 2023

Inheritance Hoarding

At the end, all that's left of you are your possessions. Perhaps that's why I've never been able to throw anything away. Perhaps that's why I hoarded the world: with the hope that when I died, the sum total of my things would suggest a life larger than the one I lived.
― Nicole Krauss

Hoarding can never end, for the heart of man always covets for more, its raging appetites can only be quenched by the heavy sands of the grave.
― Bangambiki Habyarimana

The more space they, hoarders, have available, the more space they fill. Perhaps this is actually the goal--to fill space.
― Randy O. Frost

Once upon a time I thought I was going to be an artist. My father and friends thought so too. I even had the school I was going to go to all picked out. But for one reason and another, I didn’t. I never lost my love of art though, and I have a closet full of art supplies to prove it.

On the weekend I helped my father-in-law clean out the room holding my baker’s rack – I was happy to do it because it means I’ll be taking possession of the rack as soon as his neighbor with the truck is available. Anyway, this room was the one my mother-in-law used as her art studio.

As well as stacks of paintings, there was a great deal of art supplies – some of which had never been used. Since the point was to get rid of stuff, I ended up bringing a large box of it home.

This is the box I brought home, not the stuff I kept. I kept a set of unopened oil paints, a book on tips for painting with acrylics, and some brushes, and patted myself on the back for showing such restraint.

Some day, my daughter will have to go through my art closet and I’m sure she’ll be appalled at the amount of art supplies I’ve been hoarding – most of which have never been used. Which begs the question, if I’m not using them, why am I keeping them?

This is a question every hoarder faces at one time or another. And the answer is, because some day I might. Every once in awhile I find myself doodling, which leads to sketching, but I haven’t actually painted in several years, mainly because I don’t really have any place I can do it. I just took over one room for crafts, I can’t take over another for art.

And speaking of crafts, another thing he gave me was the mother-in-law’s sewing box:

It needs a bit of repairing, but it’s a still a nice box. I’m not sure if I want to keep it or just fix it up and pass it to someone else. But it didn’t come empty:

I’m not sure how well you can see from the picture, but there’s all kinds of thread and some needles, zippers and elastic, and all kinds of other sewing notions. I don’t need any of it, but I’ll still have to go through it to see what’s useful and what’s not.

Again, I’m going to have to try and overcome my hoarding tendencies and keep only what I can actually use. I already have a large stash of sewing supplies (as opposed to needlework supplies).

What I’m really looking forward to is having the baker’s rack in place so I finally have some place where I can work at my crafts, like my jewelry making, within easy reach of my supplies.

Maybe I’ll finally be able to start reducing my hoard.

May 17, 2023

Breccbairdne Poetry Form

Oh, look! Another Irish form. What can I say, I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment. On the other hand, as Irish forms go, this one’s not too heinous.

The Breccbairdne is a very old Irish verse that is written in any number of quatrains (four line verses). But of course it can’t be that simple, can it?

First of all, it’s syllabic, meaning it has a set number of syllables. Line 1 is 5 syllables, and lines 2, 3, and 4 are each 6 syllables. It has a rhyme scheme of a-b-c-b. And just to make it a little different, each line must end in a two syllable word.

Here’s a schematic to help keep things straight:

x x x (xa)
x x x x (xb)
x x x x (xc)
x x x x (xb)

If you wish to make your Breccbairdne a little more challenging, you can add a dunadh. This is where the first word, phrase or line of your poem is repeated at the end, framing the entire poem. But this is purely optional.

I have to tell you, I thought the short lines would be hard to work with, but it was the two syllable end words that I found difficult. Short lines, rhyme scheme, and two-syllable end words? Yeah, this wasn’t what I’d call a fun form.


At night, when dreaming
my thoughts begin swirling,
chaotic and shadowed
while moonlight is whirling

my subconscious stirs,
a dreamscape emerges –
my thoughts soon unwind,
I’m filled with strange urges

to roam and wander
to dance by the seaside
to climb up a mountain
to sleep on a hillside

serious, absurd
my musing keeps streaming
anything is likely
at night, when I’m dreaming

May 15, 2023

Confessions of a Shopaholic

When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it's not, and I need to do it again.
— Sophie Kinsella

When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking.
— Elayne Boosler

The craving for the thing is rarely met by the satisfaction of getting it. And so we crave more. And the cycle repeats. We are encouraged to want what will only make us want more. We are, in short, encouraged to be addicts.
― Matt Haig

I was kind of at loose ends yesterday, and I thought maybe I should sit down and read one of the writing magazines I bought a while back. Apparently I’ve bought a few of them that I haven’t got around to reading:

This is a bad habit I’ve developed over the years – buying magazines that have an interesting article or two, but instead of taking them home and actually reading them, I let them pile up. Apparently, just having them is enough for me.

And it doesn’t stop with magazines. Have you any idea how easy it is to buy books online? I don’t even have to leave the comfort of my home to over-indulge in books. Here’s a picture of just one shelf of my “to-be-read” bookcase.

Yes, that’s right, I said bookcase. That shelf is just one small part of the books I have that are waiting to be read. And as you can see, it’s a pretty eclectic selection, too. What can I say? I like books. All kinds of books. And I never know what I might be in the mood to read.

But my shopping problem doesn’t stop there. I’m like a magpie, attracted to shiny things. And when you combine that with the ease of internet shopping . . . it makes for a dangerous combination.

One of the jewelry supply websites I surfed to a while back had been sending me weekly emails showcasing their products. I don’t need any more jewelry supplies, but they wore me down. Next thing I know I had these delivered to my mailbox:

I didn’t even remember ordering the mermaid scale pendants, but there they are, nonetheless.

Another thing I’m a little to susceptible to is the power of suggestion. There are a couple of stitchery sites that have found their way to my Facebook page, and I spend a lot of time admiring the work these crafters do. And oh, look! Most of this work has been done from kits.

So I turned to my good friend Amazon Prime and started browsing for kits. The fact that I have oodles of patterns and thread doesn’t even enter into my head. I want a kit.

The stitchery kits came in a package of four, but the needle felted gnome is in a package by himself. And you notice the stitchery books I couldn’t resist. The one on the upper left is the one I'm using to find stitches for the sampler I’m working on.

We’re not even going to discuss the stock pile of beads I keep picking up at craft stores and don’t use. Or the bin of needle felting supplies that is sitting in the top of my craft closet.

I could go on, but why bother? Seriously though, I do intend to use all of this stuff.

One of these days.

May 10, 2023

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza

This form was created by John Berryman and used in his fifty-seven verse poem, Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, which he wrote as a tribute to his life long study of the poetry of W.B. Yeats.

The stanza is an octave (eight lines), and was never particularly popular. It has a rhyme scheme of a-b-c-b-d-d-b-a, and a syllable count of 10-10-6-8-10-10-6-12. Other than the rhyme and syllable count, there are no other rules to this form. You can write about whatever you want and have as few or as many verses as you like.



I have to admit, I didn’t take a close look at this form when I picked it as my form of the week, I chose it because it looked short – only eight lines. But between the rhyme scheme and the shifting syllable count, this form turned out to be a little tricky.

When I was at a stitchery guild meeting, one of the other ladies and I were talking about how crazy we all were, and I’m not exactly sure how the subject of poetry came up, but I jokingly said I should write a poem about this. And so I did, for my example. :-)


The needle slides in and out of the cloth,
one exquisite stitch after another.
The emerging pattern
is never like any other –
each image, once caught on fabric by silk
is unique, with no others of its ilk,
a gift for another
foredoomed to become a meal for a moth.

May 8, 2023

P.A. Day Fun

Well, I figure if you're gonna screw things up by skipping school, the day better be worth it.
— Katie Klein

Skipping school isn't a crime. It's an infraction. They're totally different.
— Cory Doctorow

One afternoon when I was 9, my dad told me I'd be skipping school the next day. Then we drove 12 hours from Melbourne to Sydney for the Centenary Test, a once-in-a-lifetime commemorative cricket match. It was great fun - especially for a kid who was a massive sports fan.
— Hugh Jackman

I mentioned last week that the granddaughter recently had a P.A. day, which meant I got the pleasure of her company for an afternoon. One of the things we enjoy doing together is crafts, and it just so happened that I had seen a craft on the internet I thought we could have fun with.

They looked simple enough, so I took myself to the nearest dollar store to pick up some of the supplies we’d need. Well, turned out the dollar store didn’t carry the glass stones any more, and at least I was able to purchase a couple of vases (for the stems) and clear glass bowls.

Seeing as they’re being really slow opening the Michael’s craft store in our town, I was forced to drive to the one all the way in Peterborough to get the rest of the stuff I needed. Or at least most of the stuff.

The glue proved problematic. I wanted to be able to use our toadstools outside in the fairy gardens, but what glue would glue glass to glass, was safe for children, dried clear, and was water-proof.

I found some silicone sealant that would work, but it was a little hard to get out of the tube and it took a while to dry. So, since Grappy was going out to run errands anyway, we told him to pick us up some better glue. :-)

While we waited, the granddaughter shared a craft she’d learned at school that week, and we made several God’s Eyes.

When the hubby came back with the new glue, the granddaughter spotted a warning label on the tube telling us the product was toxic. So we soldiered on with the silicone, and I think we did pretty good.

The granddaughter wasn’t as generous in her application of stones, so she ended up painting the inside of the toadstool she made with the clear glass bowl. We also had to fill the vase she was using for the bottom with stones because it was a little top heavy.

The granddaughter did the two in front, and I did the blurry red one in the back.

We had so much fun with them that I’d like to try again, this time using different sizes of bowls and better glue.

Maybe I can find the right glue online . . .

May 3, 2023

Viator Poetry Form

This poetry form was invented by Canadian author and poet Robin Skelton. It does not have an apparent meter or rhyme scheme, but it relies heavily on the continued repetition of a refrain throughout the poem.

The viator uses the first line of the first stanza as a refrain – it becomes the second line of the second stanza, the third line of the third, etc. It concludes as the final line of the final stanza.

The length of the poem will depend on the number of lines in the first stanza. For example, if you begin with a four-line stanza, your poem will have four stanzas, with the first line descending in each stanza until it becomes the fourth line of the fourth stanza.

You need to take care with how you utilize the refrain. A poorly chosen one can ruin the poem. But the refrain can also showcase things like thoughts or obsessions, and lend themselves very well to topics about everyday life. It helps if you’re able to create a refrain that can be a stand-alone line.

Rhyming is tricky because you have to take into consideration the placement of the refrain in each verse. As well, you may want to avoid a lengthy Viator – each extra line of the first stanza adds that many more stanzas – and lines – to your finished poem. If you start with a 10-line first stanza, that’s going to lead to a 100-line poem (10 stanzas of 10 lines each). You’ll find the refrain can become very repetitive very quickly.

As much as I would have liked to try to write a Viator that rhymes, it just wasn’t happening for me. Maybe I’ll try again sometime. I’ll just think of it as a challenge.

Slave to the Muse

The pen dips into the bottle of ink,
black marks appear on the blank page.
The first step is taken, the story begins.
All is quiet as the muse looks on.

The flame in the lantern flares as
the pen dips into the bottle of ink
and words begin to form on the page,
written in the darkest night.

The words do not cease to flow,
the hand writing does not tire as
the pen dips into the bottle of ink
and words flow one into another.

Pages turn before they are dry.
The hand holding the pen falters
but the muse will not let go, and
the pen dips into the bottle of ink.

May 1, 2023

Happy May Day!

The month of May is the pleasant time; its face is beautiful; the blackbird sings his full song, the living wood is his holding, the cuckoos are singing and ever singing; there is a welcome before the brightness of the summer.
— Lady Gregory

At last came the golden month of the wild folk-- honey-sweet May, when the birds come back, and the flowers come out, and the air is full of the sunrise scents and songs of the dawning year.
― Samuel Scoville Jr.

The world's favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.
— Edwin Way Teale

To be honest, I was all set to write about the crafts the granddaughter and I did on Friday (it was a PA day), but then I realized it was the first of May. And with all the April showers we’ve been getting lately, things are really getting green outside, so it’s time to celebrate spring!

First we have one of the signs of spring we haven’t seen in a couple of years:

Yes, that’s right, the ducks are back! We haven’t seen a duck in the pool since we got the bigger pool, and I was kind of missing them.

Another returning friend to the back yard was this guy:

I’ve heard the cardinals a few times, and I saw the female when I put a seed bell on the shepherd’s crook in the front garden, but I haven’t seen the male cardinal in a long time. Guess I’d better be more vigilant about putting seed out for the birds.

Also, to my surprise, I spotted this guy:

Not the squirrel, the bunny. I’m not even sure how he got into the backyard. We haven’t seen much of the bunnies in the last few years because of the coyotes and foxes, but I know the coyotes have moved on, I guess the foxes have too. Which is a shame, because I liked seeing them too.

We also have some of these springing up randomly in the lawn:

I’m not sure what they’re called, but my neighbor has a thick row of them along the side of her house and they’ve been steadily migrating to our yard as well. Not that I mind, I think they’re pretty.

And the other day I glanced out the window into the back yard and a flash of yellow caught my attention:

This is one of the two little clumps of miniature daffodils I bought last year and forgot about. I’ll need to remember to plant some crocus in that garden in the fall to join them.

I really wish I’d got the bulbs I bought a couple of weeks ago planted, but then again, with all the rain we’ve been having lately they might have become waterlogged and started to rot.

If it ever stops raining I’ll have to get my vegetable garden planted.

Meanwhile, anybody got blueprints for an ark?