Thank you, Ben


Thank you, Ben,
for 201 again,
for the assignments tough,
for the meeting place (great stuff!),
for such detailed contents
and your snappy comments,
for fellowship sweet —
reading others: what a treat!

And now that we’re done,
after all the fun,
to our own blogs we’ll go
(with a cuppa joe)
to practise what we’ve learned
and hopefully return
to 201 again
with our beloved Ben!


Well, there it is:  Writing 201 wrapped up.
The two weeks (ten days really) went by so fast.
Thanks to Ben Huberman, our assignment-giver, encourager, guide and word-wielder.

I had trouble posting everything on time (internet woes and mad work schedule)
but the assignments were challenging and informative.
I will return to these assignments and explore them in more detail 
(and with, perhaps, more compliance).
And the best part:  I made some new friends and met some great poets.
Salani kahle, everyone!  (Stay well.)

O, Cross


You, just a tree, merely beams of dead wood,
More than any other lifeless part
Elicit response as rightly you should,
Challenging each mortal’s immortal heart.

Weeping some will find sweet release.
Others meet with anger and great scorn.
Some will know a deep and lasting peace.
For others the proverbial nagging thorn.

With you cussing rapper adorns his chest.
Also snow-white dress-clad confirmands.
Some see red while others cry they’re blessed.
A curse-raised fist or praise-lifted hands.

O, Cross, you tool of cruel and brutal death,
That I should find in you eternal breath!


Writing 201: Poetry
Assignment — Day 7:

Form: Sonnet
Device: Apostrophe

The term sonnet is derived from the Italian word sonetto (from Old Provençal sonet a little poem, from son song, from Latin sonus a sound). By the thirteenth century it signified a poem of fourteen lines that follows a strict rhyme scheme and specific structure. There are several ways to split a sonnet into stanzas, though the most common ones are 8-6 and 4-4-3-3.  Various rhyming schemes are employed in sonnets, like ABAB BCBC CDCD EE, ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, or ABBA ABBA CDC DCD.

Apostrophe (Greek ἀποστροφή, apostrophé, “turning away”) is an exclamatory figure of speech. It occurs when a speaker breaks off from addressing the audience (e.g. in a play) and directs speech to a third party such as an opposing litigant or some other individual, sometimes absent from the scene. Often the addressee is a personified abstract quality or inanimate object. In dramatic works and poetry written in or translated into English, such a figure of speech is often introduced by the vocative exclamation “O”. Poets may apostrophize a beloved, the Muse, God, love, time, or any other entity that can’t respond in reality.

Ummm, “pleasure” and “the cross” are two things that I would not normally put together.  But there is often paradox in the Kingdom of God, who confounds the wise and makes wise the simple.

 God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:20






Writing 201: Poetry
Assignment — Day 9:

Prompt: COLD
Form: Concrete
Device: Anaphora/Epistrophe (Epiphora)

Generally speaking, any poem that’s typographically arranged to represent a specific shape (recognizable or not) is a concrete, or “shape” poem.

An anaphora (Greek: ἀναφορά, “carrying back”) is a rhetorical device that consists of repeating a sequence of words at the beginnings of neighboring clauses, thereby lending them emphasis. In contrast, an epistrophe (or epiphora) is repeating words at the clauses’ ends. The combination of anaphora and epistrophe results in symploce.


I always have fun with concrete poetry, although it isn’t easy to post.

Cinnamon Love

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Shivering, chilly drops of pool water running down
our backs, between our legs, dripping from noses,
calloused towels bundled around our frozen limbs,
flip-flops slapping arrhythmic beats across grey concrete,
we’d slide onto the grey leather Buick seats
pushing the pea before us, being pushed by the next.
Teeth chattering, snoots sniffling, arms embracing self.

Back home we’d peel the bathing suits from blue skin,
depositing wet elastic togs on the nippy, smooth white-tiled floor,
sliding bodies into a hot sudsy bath. Toes tingling.  Fingers corrugating.
Then into fleecy fluffy fabric-softened-scented towels twice our size
followed by amiable fuzzy flannel pyjamas.
We’d shuffle our slippered feel into the benevolent kitchen
for hot buttered toast upon which sat a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

To this very day, the scent and flavour of cinnamon
enfolds me in love and warms me inside and out.


Writing 201: Poetry
Assignment — Day 8:

Form: Elegy
Device: Enumerato

The elegy can trace its history all the way to ancient Greece. It started out as a poem that could be about almost any topic, as long as it was written in elegiac couplets (pairs of verse, with the first one slightly longer than the second). Over the centuries, though, it became something a bit more specific: a first-person poem on themes of longing, loss, and mourning. A moment, a place, a person, a feeling — your elegy can be about anything, as long as it evokes a thing that’s irretrievably gone.

As its name might suggest, enumerato basically means constructing a list, a successive enumeration of multiple elements in the same series.

The scent of cinnamon sends me to my grandparents’ home.  And the taste deposits me at their kitchen table where I spent some of my happiest childhood moments.
I don’t think I caught the meter of the elegy in this piece.  And the enumerato went by the wayside.  But I faced a lot of memories in the writing.  Miss you, Gramma and Grampa!

Neighbourly Entertainment

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This property used to be
much larger than you see.
Somebody subdivided it
And from one they made three.

To our right is Mrs Gwala
Widowed, pensioned gran.
And on our left is Engelbrecht,
A self-assured young man.

On Saturday dissonant chords
from Gwala’s house did rise.
The family’d come to commemorate
Mr Gwala’s sad demise.

From the break of dawn it poured forth
A strong, heartsore refrain.
Mr Engelbrecht with disconsolate head
rose from his rest again.

“Shut up!” he yelled through marbled glass,
“Wees stil!” then back to bed.
But all the louder rose the tune
and thundered in his head.

Later that night when darkness fell
The Gwalas all turned in.
Then Engelbrecht’s weekend party
was ready to begin.

Bass beat thumping through thin walls,
The Gwalas could not sleep.
“Turn it down! Icishe, stupid man!
You’re such a selfish creep!”

The weekdays are quite quiet
in my neighbourhood.
The drama starts on Saturday —
I wouldn’t miss it if I could.



Writing 201: Poetry
Assignment — Day 7:

Form: Ballad
Device: Assonance

Ballads are dramatic, emotionally-charged poems that tell a story, often about bigger-than-life characters and situations.  Ballads had their roots in danced songs, and were traditionally composed using ballad meter and ballad stanzas.

Assonance is subtler than alliteration, but can have a profound cumulative effect on a poem.  It is the strategic repetition of vowel sounds in close proximity to each other

Hmm.  Writing in a given form is rather difficult for me.  A good challenge.  I will have to return to these assignments sometime and practise the discipline of metered lines and ending rhymes!  And assonance.  

Africa: Heart of Africa






Writing 201: Poetry
Assignment — Day 6:

Prompt: FACES
Form: Found Poetry
Device: Chiasmus

Found poetry, today’s optional form, is the language-based variety. Like a blackmail letter in a sordid crime novel, a found poem is made up of words and letters others have created. It’s up to you, the poet, to find them (hence the name), extract them, and rejig them into something else: your poem.

At its simplest, a chiasmus is essentially a reversal, an inverted crossing (it got its name from the greek letter chi – X). How can we use it? Let Snoop Dogg show us the way:

Laid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind

From a fairly straightforward reordering of words — where A and B are repeated as B and A — a chiasmus can develop into more complex structures: instead of words, phrases. Instead of phrases, ideas or concepts. Chiasmus is effective in poems because it’s a form of repetition — and by now we all now how crucial repetition is for poetry. But the reversal injects the repeated words with freshness, and allows us to play with (and radically change) the meaning of a line.

This is what I could come up with in the 30 minutes I had to come up with something.
I want to play around with these words and get the chiasmus going!

An Ode-less Ode (a lament)


Takes brains, you say, to go against the rules,
buck the system and stand against the imagined divine.
“Irrational, unscientific, the nightcap of fools.”
You quote Hawking and Dawkins and with them align.
You are a wild predator, sights on me. Why?
To disprove what you say you can never receive?
The path is well signposted though the travellers few.
Why does it bother you, to see that I
have faith and purpose, that I believe?
Why would you be happier if I were lost with you?


Writing 201: Poetry
Assignment — Day 5:

Prompt: MAP
Form: Ode
Device: Metaphor

The ode started out as a fairly fixed form in ancient Greece: a three-part stanza written in specific meters. Over the centuries, however, “ode” has become a more general term for any poem celebrating the good qualities of people, objects, places, animals, and personal traits.
A metaphor brings together two terms that aren’t normally connected, yet make sense once they are (its greek roots mean “to carry over”). Unlike its less subtle cousin, the simile, metaphors don’t need connectors like “as” and “like” to link the two things together. They just smash them into each other and hope for the best.

I didn’t do it.  I didn’t write an ode!  It’s got an old ode rhyming scheme.  It looks like a ode.  But it is not celebrating a good quality of anything . . . rather QUESTIONING motives.  It is actually the opposite of an ode, whatever that is.  A dirge?  A lament?
No matter how many times I tried to go back to the ode I started, I came back to this.  I suppose because it was an encounter I had today which left me a bit sad and perplexed.  I can’t understand why someone would fight so hard to disprove something that doesn’t matter to them.

I shall return to the not-so-humble form of ODE someday, maybe this weekend.  But for now, I will retire with this lament on my lips.  🙂  Sigh.

Paul’s Answered Prayer


I begged for release from this thorn
embedded in flesh it has torn.
The answer is tough.
“My grace is enough.
In your weakness my great strength is born.”


Writing 201: Poetry
Assignment — Day 4:

Form: Limerick
Device: Enjambment

The traditional rhyming scheme of a limerick is a a b b a — the first two lines rhyme, then the next two, and the final verse rhymes with the first couplet.
Today’s poetic device is all about the arrangement of words on the page, and how that arrangement affects the pace of our reading: enjambment. It may sound like a mouthful. But what it describes is a really simple phenomenon: when a grammatical sentence stretches from one line of verse to the next.

This really took up most of my free time today.  And now I am walking around with a voice in my head narrating everything in LIMERICK!  

This Skin


This skin, which holds me in,
creates a water-proof barrier between us.
Here I end.  (full-stop)  (capital letter)  There you begin.
No overlap, no bleeding into you, no dissolving one into another.

This skin, which holds me in,
defines me like an afghan over an old sofa, preventing you from seeing my innards —
— heart rapping on a marimba ribcage,
— blood racing vascular streets until it hits capillary traffic jams and takes a roundabout home,
— lungs filling like a cluster of raisins plumping with juice only to deflate into wrinkled dryness seconds later.

This skin, which holds me in,
hosts an intricate web of lacy nerves which constantly inform me of outer spacial conditions
(hot, cold, soft, prickly, smooth, rough, moist, dry)
and allow me  (in the middle of nightmare darkness) to find you and feel your comforting arms surround me in warm safety.

This skin, which holds me in,
is  T H I C K , well covered with age-acquired calluses.
My first defence against bad bacteria, vigilant viruses and nasty names thrown at me by mean menschen,
like Superman, the bullets bounce right off this skin.




Writing 201: Poetry
Assignment — Day 3:

Prompt: SKIN
Form:  Prose Poem
Device: Internal Rhyme

A prose poem is any piece of verse written using the normal typography of prose, while style maintaining elements of poetry, like rhythm, imagery, etc.  A prose poem, by definition, has no fixed rules. Internal rhyme adds a level of sonic complexity and playfulness without calling too much attention to itself the way end rhymes do.

I had fun with SKIN!  Seems once I started I just wanted to go on and on.  Part of this is because I love the freedom of prose (and I am so darned ‘wordy’).  But mostly because skin is such an amazing thing!  I am rather attached to mine.    🙂    (Did I just hear you groan?)


The Gift of Life


Many octillions of scattered stars whiz across the vastness of space.
Intently a tiny blue dot pirouettes like a dancer around a sun.
Racing at 1500 kilometres per hour, this inconsequential point is
Actually home to seven billion breathing bodies, each containing one hundred trillion
Cells, and each of these cells comprised of two hundred trillion atoms.
Lifting his hands, God twirls with all of creation as he
(Existing from sub-particle to quasar) keeps life spinning in stillness.


Writing 201: Poetry
Assignment — Day 2:

Prompt: GIFT
Form: Acrostic
Device: Simile

An acrostic is any poem in which the first (or last) letters of each line combine to spell out a word or a phrase, or follow the order of the alphabet;  they’re a creative way to give order and convey multiple meanings at once while staying fairly subtle.
A simile makes a connection or introduces the idea of similarity between two concepts that aren’t intrinsically connected using the words like or as in the comparison.

The miracle of life and the enormity of creation have been hounding me for quite some time.  The fact that all things are in constant movement and yet we can perceive absolute stillness is amazing to me.

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