Archive for October, 2006


Ringing of the Bards XVI – Serial Poetry

October 9, 2006

It’s time, once again, for the Ringing of the Bards. Last time, you may remember, we were left wondering if anyone would ever find Terry’s missing submission. Billy was left, at the end of last week’s episode, hanging from a virtual cliff, wondering if he would ever be rescued.

Well, in good serial form, we return now to this week’s episode, only to find that the cliff was only 5 feet high, and Terry’s submission was never lost anyway (all of that in the first two paragraphs)! But back to the action!

Serial stories and episodic fiction is the hallmark of great storytelling (I am rereading Oliver Twist now, where every chapter leaves you hanging for more), and poetry is no exception. Where this works best, you rush from poem to poem, waiting to see where the theme or story takes you. Bill Piety mines this feeling of movement in his latest poem from his “?” series entitled “?, no. 5” (I also recommend his lost series, found on the same pages!):

there is a man, sitting on my kitchen floor, tucked into a
corner, tossing flour up on the air, making words that float
and make a chatter that i can not understand, and his face

is hidden by this ghostey clamor, so i can not judge his eyes,
or have his lips been kissing mother, has he brought some
solace to her days, for he must know she’s buried deep in


Episodic stories can also be revealed as a story gets told and retold, each time adding new details and new twists (see the many versions of Cinderella as an example). MadKane gives us a modern (do I dare?) fairy (I dared) tale in her poetry series on the continually unfolding Mark Foley scandal. The latest of these is entitled “Dirty Denny” (the entire series can be found here):

There once was a House Speaker Denny,
With character not worth a penny.
He failed to shield teens
From a boy-obsessed fiend.
Family values? He doesn’t have any.

While we are on the subject of family values, Jo Janoski does an excellent job of dissecting the intertwined values of love and hate in her submission for the ringing, entitled “Serial Heart” (the poem is written in a series of stanzas with 3-5-7-9-7-5-3 syllables):

Your utterances
pepper my soul with contempt.
Pitchfork devil dancing in my heart.
Silence! I demand you go!
Leave me gentle peace.
You rile me.

I was riled a bit by finding Terry’s submission right where Billy left it, under my pile of superhero comic books, themselves serial entertainment. In Terry’s submission, Human Cardinal, which is (he says) part of a larger series, we meet one of these characters:

Human Cardinal
Spreading out his bright red wings
Defending pure peace

Hero of us all
Fighting those evil creatures
From deep outer space

Blue Tornado Boy
His faithful sidekick nephew
Speeding at his side

Champion of Earth
Coming out of the future
Human Cardinal

Sometimes the true “Superheroes” are just simply you and I, travellers together down the same road, a paradigm which Abhay explores in his series, “You and I” (part I can be found here, and part II here):

What stays with me
Is me
You came and went away
What stayed with me
Is me

From serial to circuitry is not a far leap, and Bob (the not-so Average Poet) offers us an insight into the world of circuitry theology in his stirring “Cyberphim“:

Metallic wings calmly poised
head bowed in contemplation
my circuits tingle pleasantly
with the flow of information
ascended high above the rung
of my virtual incarnation
dutifully I kneel and pray
Man can grasp salvation.

The serial nature of life is always on display at HouseMouse, as is salvation. Shirley writes, in “Born Again“:

It seems like the first things we learn in life are also the first things we forget. Like how to use the big potty and tie our shoes. We forget what a fork is for and are just as content to eat with a knife or our fingers. We experiment by putting our food in our milk to see if it will float. We have to be told when it’s time get up, time to eat, time to go to bed and must be reminded every day to be careful. Our bodies revert to the fetal position and we babble rather than make conversation. Our hand is constantly reaching out for another to hold and we doubt our ability to move on our own without training wheels.

The more I see of death and its process, the more I see the beginning of life. It’s like watching a plant wither and break down putting all of its energy into producing a seed that will live again only through its own death. It gives me cause to wonder…

Well. while I certainly don’t know the answers to the ponderous questions you all have raised, nor can I predict what the serial nature of the Ringing will bring in the coming weeks (especially as we have no host for the coming week), I do know what kind of food to put in your milk to see if it floats. As my entry to the Ringing, I offer “Breakfast Food“:

Your lucky charms entice me –
Too, your dulcet, “Cheerios“,
when your sugar smacks surprise me
you should hear my honey nut “ohs”.

Evidently, I wasn’t the only one thinking about breakfast foods this week. While my mind was on cereal, Billy’s was on “Cold Pizza for Two“:

Wake up in the morning
the light hurts my head,
stumble to the kitchen
for my daily bread.
The cupboard is empty,
the cabinets are too,
but in my ‘frigerator
cold pizza for two.

Until we meet again my friends, have a slice for me!!


Breakfast Food

October 9, 2006

Your lucky charms entice me –
Too, your dulcet, “Cheerios“,
when your sugar smacks surprise me
you should hear my honey nut “ohs”.

It’s my total admiration
for what I call your “Special K
they’re the smart start celebration
to my life most every day.

No trix, I mean your kisses
with my morning Frosted Flakes,
They’re my all bran plan delicious,
I’m the fruity loop your love makes!


Ringing of the Bards XVI – call for submissions!

October 2, 2006

It’s time again!  Time for another Ringing of the Bards.  And I certainly hope you will stand up and be counted.

To keep things interesting (and I do like to keep things interesting…) I will be adding a theme to this week’s ringing:  what I like to call “serial poetry.”

Here’s how this will work.  If you are at work on a series of poetic pieces (like the Tarot series I am working on), choose one of the pieces (your first, your last, your most current?) and send me the link.  Also send me the link for the entire series (if there is one) and I will highlight that as well.

If you are not currently working on a series, or want to try something else, trying writing a poem which itself features a “series” — perhaps a series of vowels or images or colors or rhymes.  Anything “serial” works for me.  Along those lines, you may want to take a look at the serial poetry of William Gillespie.

Of course, you could also send a poem on any theme, from breakfast cereal to “sear”ing attack on “eel”s (Get it?  Sear-eel?)

Anyway, have fun, and send your submissions to dbarkowitz(at)rcn(dot)com by Saturday at midnight to be featured in the Ringing.