Archive

Tag Archives: acrostic poetry

20220125_094948

My friend Patty W sent me a link to a YouTube video “to occupy your mind.” I welcomed the distraction. Bad news of many kinds has been quite blustery lately.

But Gary Lachman, proponent of what Ralph Waldo Emerson called “New Thought,” offers far more than mere distraction. In the video he did a brilliant analysis of how Donald Trump’s disregard for facts, and action on behalf of “alternative facts,” is an example of the effective use of what Lachman calls “Chaos Magic.” The real-world example Lachman gave was when investors were checking what was happening at one of Trump’s construction sites, back in the day. Though literally nothing constructive WAS happening, knowing the investors were checking, Trump had an earth-mover methodically digging a hole on one side of the site, and depositing the dirt on the other. The investors, satisfied that work WAS being done, went away.

Long ago a dear friend of mine warned me about my pessimism. “Thoughts are things.” Lachman repeated that wise advice in his video. He says we are all capable of Magic, but must beware of how we wield it.

2022 0117 risk disk

Though it is undated, and may be reworked at a later time, this drawing is essentially done as of today, January 17, 2022. Today is Betty White’s 100th birthday. Betty is no longer with us but her legacy of empowerment for women–she led by superb example–and reverence for animals is alive and well.

Two days ago I briefly served as a Docent for the Glendale Arts Council, spending the afternoon at Sahuaro Ranch Park welcoming visitors into the Fruit Packing Building, where the Council’s 58th annual Juried Fine Arts Show was in progress. After I had done my duty I took a long hike to my friend Martin Klass’s house. Before I had gone a mile I was walking past a mini-flock of sheep, and I stopped to take pictures, and some of them left the flock and came up to the fence, thus:

2022 0115 sheeps

I was subsequently compelled to write this about our encounter:

no baa, no humbug

out the gates of sahuaro ranch park
and east on mountain view
west of fifty-first ave
reside livestock
including sheep
who were clumpingly champing on grass
bout fiddyfeet from the chainlink

and were so bored
that a pedestrian with a phone cam
was a welcome distraction

and three nay four
came up to the fence
to say hello
and mouth-grab dry leaf from the links

they were mellow
matter-of-fact
and i hope not disappointed
that i gave them only
murmurs

Two days later, rereading the poem, it seems to me that it sounds eerily similar to the “voice” of William Carlos Williams in his famous poem “This Is Just To Say.” I gratefully acknowledge his influence.

As for my own poetic voice, in the form of the acrostic poem in the image above, here it is, transcribed:

risk disk

ruminate in fleece array’d
indolence: it’s toujours gai
sacrificial-lamming desks
keep it pesky–add some pesk

And the image, which was sketched and calligraphed on a card approximately 3″ by 5″, is a rather muddled blend of at least three faces. the central face is that of the ewe in the photo, the one on the right. It is flanked by a couple, one of whom has one hand on top of the other’s, though that is nearly impossible to see, what with the superimposition of ewe-face and poem. There MAY be a duck’s profile helping the ewe’s right ear do double-duty, and there MAY be a grinning clam doing the same with the left ear. (In this surreal Image-Universe, clams are every bit as sentient as were the oysters in Lewis Carroll’s famous poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter.”)

I say MAY be, because this image is preliminary to a much larger drawing on the same type of paper, but with 32 times more square footage. (Inchage? [smiles]) I hope to spend at least a week on the larger, more elaborated, less murky drawing. It is inevitable that I will find new things to say and draw to honor Betty White and her love for all creatures, which is ancillary but vital to this image. (Notice how the sheep is saying “Happy Heavenly Birthday, Betty White!) I love the idea of having some small part in continuing the divine Ms. White’s earthly mission. And so, inspired by the example of mypoet and professional-organizer friend Michelle Frost, today I made a modest donation to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Friends, I urge you to make some donation to some animal-advoicacy group today.

2022 0117 aspca donation

2022 0103 tough crowd

A few days ago I got on the stage of a Phoenix bar, Gypsy’s Roadhouse, to perform seven minutes of poetry, at the request of, and in celebration of the birthday of, my friend Russ K. I was happy to be there, and honored by the request, but the superb performers who had preceded me could not get a rise out of the audience. And I did worse than they did.  The ONE time I got the faintest rise out of this tough crowd was an ad lib. I was in the middle of a set of words about cats, in one of my series of “CATastrophic Cat Acrostics,” and I came to the word “Anhedonia,” and I stopped. Looked at the crowd. “Raise your hand if you know what Anhedonia is.” No one raised a hand. “It is the Inability to Experience Pleasure.” Waited a beat. “You know, kind of like what you guys are going through now.” And I got a micro-laugh.

Other than that, it was zilch, zip, zero, and I psychically limped off the stage, yielding it to the next victim. Some nights are going to be like that, if you dare to take a stage.

But it was a valuable experience, humbling and character-building.  And it inspired this page. Please note that the things I have people say in my cartoon above did not happen at Gypsy’s Roadhouse that night. But I have heard the equivalent of every single one of them in my four-decade experience in bars, grilles, nightclubs, and lounges. Bar ladies DO get hit on rudely. People DO verbally abuse family members over the phone. Other people talk incessantly during a person’s act; so on so forth.

And some bars are magnets for extreme behavior. One of my favorites, not too far from my apartment, has been known to have crime-scene tape around it more than once.

TOUGH Crowd

They eschew the esoteric
Ostracize the sweater wearer
Upsy-daisied Jericho
Goes the Confidence, laid low
Having thus been woh’d, whoaed, woed

2021 1220 michelle frost omg

Soon after I began soliciting nominees for featured poets in Volume III, returned Valley resident Michelle Frost threw her hat into the ring. So I met her at Jarrod’s, an arts-friendly coffee stop in Mesa between where she lives and where I live, and in two minutes I was enthralled. She spoke of her way-back-when involvement in the Valley poetry scene, her move to Oregon and involvement in Great Northwest poetry, and changes that led to her return to the Valley. She also mentioned some other work she’d done, which I’ve highlighted in the note I made left of the acrostic above, and when she told me she was a professional organizer looking for more clients I said, “I’ll hire you.”

You see, I have been overwhelmed by living-space chaos for months now, and I am more disorganized than the Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes fame. Here is what Michelle was going to be dealing with:

And, long story short, here’s the view from where I’m sitting after Michelle worked her organizational wizardry:

20211220_191034

Here’s a transcription of the note by the poem:

“C. Michelle Frost, known to some of her friends as Frosty, is a poet and a professional organizer. She has been in her journey a teacher, a caregiver, a team member at a nursery, and the manager of the Children’s Books Department at a Barnes & Noble. Today she helped me organize my living space. Let’s add ‘Miracle Worker’ to her curriculum vitae. 🙂 “

Yesterday Michelle wrote an Abecedarian poem, which is an acrostic involving all the letters on the alphabet in order. I asked her, after she worked her magic and before she left my apartment, if she had something in the poem that would serve as an exemplary quotation for my page. Upon her recitation of the poem, which doubles down on the abecedarian acrostic with specific-letter alliteration, she got to the Fs and found three words that she said applied to her: Frolicking, Friendly, and Forgetful. But when I was calligraphing those words on the page, Forgetful somehow became “forgetly.” “Whoops!” I said and started to erase. “No, that’s GOOD!” she said abruptly, so “forgetly” remains. That micro-collaboration thrills me.

Here is the poem:

Michelle Frost OMG

Making waves beware a reef
It may be a lacerator
Chafing skin and giving grief–O
Harbors harbor alligators
Ecstasy may make verklempt
Latitude may stir a dog–O
Lyrical as Eminem
Easy as an Epilog

 

The last line alludes to how easy I found it to converse with this poet, C. Michelle Frost. I met her this autumn, yet I can talk to her as easily as if I’ve known her for years. She has the gift of being welcoming. 

This is at least the second time I’ve used “Into Each Life” as a triple-acrostic spine. Curious readers may find another one in my November 2014 archives. Fun fact: Georgia O’Keeffe is featured in the other one as well.

2021m 1219 into each life

Into Each Life

Introspection keeps us healthy. Won’t you stick around A. Weil
Notwithstanding automation he’s alive as you and I
Thanatopsis is no way of circumnavigating grief
Onomatopœia pops to haten us to G. O’Keeffe

“Won’t you stick around A. Weil” is my first Bad Pun of the day. Andrew Weil is a highly respected and knowledgeable expert on Health. His discussions on nutrition go right down to the chemical-interaction level. He is a valuable resource, but is not the easiest read in the world, because the subject matter itself is complex; but I think anyone serious about their health would benefit from hearing what he says.

Georgia O’Keeffe is a valuable resource as well. She lived one of the fullest lives possible for a woman born in her time, and she left us some incredible images. One of the big thrills of my life is that I was once in the same room with her and Ansel Adams.

If you find this poem, this page, and my intentions hard to fathom, it is not your fault. The first line, pun notwithstanding, is fairly straightforward, and the second line, “Notwithstanding” notwithstanding, isn’t too obtuse. But “Thanatopsis is no way of circumnavigating grief”? Thanatopsis means “a meditation upon death.” Circumnavigating means “sail or travel completely around a thing, especially the world.” What I try to say in this line is thinking about and expressing philosophical notions on the subject of Death is not going to help anyone deal with the grief associated with a particular death. It may be a way of avoiding that grief. And I think it’s important to give grief its proper station, in proper moderation.

The last line has an element of word-playfulness to it. When I say “Onomatopœia pops” I am exploiting a loophole in our language rules to make Onomatopœia itself onomatopoetic. At the same time, my use of “automation” in line 2 finds a faint, twisted echo in “Onomatopœia pops.” and the line as a whole, “Onomatopœia pops to hasten us to G. O’Keeffe” carries an implication of synaesthesia, which is “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense by stimulation of another sense.” hearing light, seeing sound, smelling touch are all synaesthetic phenomena. Don’t Georgia’s flowers pop? 🙂

 

20211210_100121

This card started with a freeze frame from a movie that had a cityscape. I sketched from the image on screen till I had about 40% of the scape in rough form, then I watched the rest of the movie, went back to the sketch, and faked and finished the rest. It needed a foreground, so the woman showed up and said she needed age, wine, and a drone recording her rooftop solo soirée. I obliged best I could. “Now the Crostic. I am a Crone, no bones about it. And you made me look too good, but I’ll take it. Make the bookends DRONE and CRONE, and put a big tasty Ampersand in the middle. Good. Now keep the words to a bare-bones minimum. Use some dichotomy and some complementary. –You’re done for now, but if you make this into a large-scale painting choose better words. For now, though, just adjust the background a bit for consistency and balance. –That’s enough. –I SAID, that’s ENOUGH!!”

Drone & Crone

Daydreams & rhetoric
Recorders & survivor
Omnivore & seraglio
Nonetheless & deposition
Ecstasy & testosterone

WordPress wished me a Happy Anniversary today. Nine years ago I made my first blog post. By the end of Year Ten, I hope to have done blog post #2000.

Today I offer an unflattering portrait. But it is not to humiliate. I hope it will motivate me to spend 2022 becoming a much fitter version of myself. We’ll see what happens.

This is also a nod to my former co-workers at SSP America. Often when someone would see me coming in and ask how I was doing, I’d say “Not bad for a fat, old guy.” “Oh, stop it,” some would reply. But I kept saying it, because I wanted to own my age and fat and still hold my own in the food-service milieu, where the average age and weight for the worker bees are much lower than 67 years and 238 pounds. Of course, before the pandemic I was both younger and lighter. Time to swing the pendulum back toward fitness and health!

20211203_132012

Fat Old Guy

Fall out of bed and shake a leg
For Life would take you down a peg

And flail and fry and fricasee you
And hear the White Lie “Nice to see you”

Time was I’d be considered Hunky
Today it’s Open Wide For Chunky

.

Note: When I was growing up and much of my focus was on Candy, there was a product called Chunky that was a biggish, ziggurat-shaped chunk of milk chocolate. Their television commercials always ended with a bass voice singing the four-word jingle “Open wide for Chunky.”

2021 1114 know this

Know This

Keepsakes are not vainly kept
Nothingness has zero depth
Out of Love came You and I
With Caresses meeting Sighs

This image and double-acrostic quatrain is from a remembrance of my favorite book, The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. The way I read Bridge, Wilder presented five different kinds of human love as an argument that the Universe did in fact make sense. I try to conduct my life as if that were true.

2021 1103 offset

I am a disbeliever in miracles, though I have some sympathy for my late, great friend Karen W’s Course in Miracles definition of a Miracle as “a change in perception.” But Childbirth does seem miraculous, and holy, to me. It is an essence of hope. It is that fabled Death-Defying Act

That said, if a potential parent doesn’t want to have children, case closed as far as I’m concerned: they absolutely ought not to have children. There should be zero pressure from relatives, and especially there should be zero pressure from significant others, for someone who doesn’t want children to have them anyway. And Contraception ought to be vigorously employed in such cases. The “be fruitful and multiply” edict was initiated when the world population was far fewer than one billion. The more billions we add, the more overall quality of human life goes down.

Sorry about the preaching. May all the childbirths in your life be cause for joyous celebration!

off (offset) set

offspring nascent in the throes
ferment verdant purple rose
fellow mellow friend or ghost

20210929_151019For the entire month of September I had display space at Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, a charming emporium just north of the Northern Ave Light Rail exit, and on the 29th I was the “Meet the Artist” artist, doing free sketches and demonstrating Acrostic Poetry construction.

The 29th also coincided with my publication of Volume II of my Lives of the Eminent Poets of Greater Phoenix, AZ series.

I also drew free sketches for customers. This lady wanted the “S” Superhero symbol. I was glad to try. When I asked her name she said “Superwoman.”

20211002_093324

I also offered for sale merchandise that included postcards and refrigerator magnets of my artwork.

I didn’t make much money with this venture, but I think I made a ton of FUTURE money if I act on what I learned. Next time an arts or crafts fair nearby has a call for vendors, and there are no scheduling conflicts, I may just take another flying leap. 🙂