Monday, August 28, 2006

Poem Spark Aug. 28-Sept. 3 - Animal poems

Greetings fellow poets!

This morning as I checked my email, I was interrupted by the incessant meowing of my cat Sparkle nudging my legs and scratching at the cabinet. She does this every morning in the hopes that I will pet her. Or possibly she wants to be fed. Or maybe she just feels she deserves more attention than my computer, who knows? Her sister, Snow, is too haughty to beg that early in the morning and sat a few feet away, watching us contemptuously.

Idly, I wondered how many poems have been written with animals in mind, since so many of us share our lives with pets, and this, of course, made me think of the poem spark, since it is Monday. I thought that I would have to do a lot of searching for examples of poetry about animals, but in fact, I turned up far too many excellent poems to include in one little spark. I even found an interesting essay on the subject at Poems for Animals and Pets.

There seem to me to be so many different kinds of poems that that are about animals: poems about our pets, poems about wild animals, poems that speak with an animal's voice, poems that make a metaphor for some human experience using an animal. There are many more, too many to count. Here are this week's examples:

Ted Kooser An Epiphany

Jane Hirshfield Heat

Philip Levine Dog Poem

Mary TallMountain The Last Wolf

Jane Kenyon In the Nursing Home

Deborah Digges Darwin's Finches

William Carlos Williams Poem (As the cat)

This week's spark: write an animal poem. It may be about any animal, any experience. Be creative and have fun!

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Yesterday, with words,
I drew a map of the heart,
avoiding such terms as maudlin,
vulgar, and inertia. Because
the heart moves and the body
twists around it, this way
and that, walking through dreams
and remorse. Because there is
mutilation and denial,
people ignore the road signs
to drive headlong over euphoria
into ignorance. Maps
are needed.

But even maps have a will,
it seems, to twist against
the compass rose’s certainty
that north always points up.
Because some things are too rare
to waste on such recklessness,
words like forever and sorrow
carve their own roads on the heart,
where love is written, a most
important and ordinary

© 2006 Christine Klocek-Lim

Monday, August 21, 2006

Speaking of the rain

There is that sense of loss
in the rain, the knowledge
that nature likes to hide,
crooked and lonesome,
beneath the eaves.
Nearly imperceptible,
those slow drops of water,
that torqued wilderness of form,
this stubborn and graceless
endurance of weather.

You can’t crack the rock
open. Nothing can make
stones split except water.
See how the gutters clog
again and again with leaf-fall,
twigs, the occasional acorn
squirreled in the mess
as the rain moves outside
the path which was made
for its flow, indifferent
to the slap of lightening,
the slow blur of thunder.

Loss walks unsolaced,
near-at-hand with a slim,
ceaseless patience.
The rain wets everything.
That which cannot be
remembered is lost
in the sound,
the everlasting funnel
of liquid descending,
deepening all around.

© 2006 Christine Klocek-Lim

Poem Spark Aug. 21-28 - Words

Salutations fellow poets!

Today I began thinking about the poem spark while the power was once again broken in my house. Everything was quiet, except the bugs, the birds, and the wind. Obviously, I had no access to radio, tv, or the internet, and it made me think about one of the things that first interested me in poetry: the power of words. What does one do when the power goes out? What does a writer do when the power goes out?

It's simply a blast to create unique phrases, verbs, images, etc. that support your poem and transport your reader into a new conversation with the world. Many of my favorite poems use phrases and words in a way different from ordinary conversation. So this week, we will concentrate on the words of a the poem. Here is a random list of words from the Favorite Words topic in the Just Conversation Section of's forum:


If you'd like to know the meaning of some of these words, here's a link to an online dictionary:

This week, write a poem using one or more of the above words OR make a list of your own favorite words for a day, then write a poem with them. Please list the words you use along with your poem.

Along with the usual sampling of poems that I include with the poem spark, I'd like to also include some quotes by poets who are speaking about words and the language with which they use to write poems:

William Stafford wrote:
I have this feeling of wending my way or blundering through a mysterious jungle of possibilities when I am writing.

Mary Oliver wrote:
I looked at words and couldn't believe the largess of their sound—the whole sound structure of stops and sibilants, things which I speak about now with students, until they don't simply look at the word in terms of sense but also in terms of body, in terms of sound.

Sylvia Plath Morning Song

Claudia Emerson Bone

Barry Seiler Pincushion

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Poem Spark Aug. 14-21 - the Haibun

Greetings fellow poets!

Lately I've been reading a great deal of haiku, tanka, haiga, and other traditional forms in their new incarnation in English. A lovely form that I just recently stumbled upon is the haibun. This traditional Japanese form is distinguished by the inclusion of one or more haiku within poetic prose. The haiku can be anywhere in the prose: before, after, or in the middle. In Western poetic sense, this is the combination of a prose poem with a very short free-verse poem. The most important part of what makes a haibun successful is the ability of both the prose and the haiku to stand on their own as a complete piece. In other words, the haiku must not depend on the prose to be a successful poem, nor should the prose depend on the haiku.

Here are some links to an explanation of haibun:

Simply Haiku -click on the link, after the ad, click on Contents, then click on Editor's Welcome under the Haibun section.

Haibun by Contemporary Writers

Here are some examples of haibun:

Basho The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling

Bill Wyatt A Fistful of Frost

Louise Linville A Death in the Family

This week's poem spark: write a haibun. Don't worry about making the haiku adhere to the strict syllabic form. Instead, be creative, and have fun!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mt. Washington, New Hampshire

Train number ten is dangerous.
Outside its cars, a precipice hides
in the mountain’s shadow
and I am small as a pebble.
On this train all of us shrink
in the ominous fog and wind
but the conductor is oblivious:
he does pull-ups on the railing,
throws a few shovels of coal
on the boiler, poses for pictures.
He’s thinking of his girl down the mountain.
He’s remembering their date last night,
the cold beer and billiards game.
I’m thinking this train is a fallen horse
about to slide backward like a lost star
to crash at the bottom.
I know the Diapensia on the slope
is two hundred years old.
I know that cairns mark the way
for hikers and train escapees.
I shouldn’t worry about the wind.
I shouldn’t worry about the ravines
I know are there.
The conductor is dozing up front
and does not see the fog clear when I do.
He doesn’t see land appear, or the clouds
strewn on a luminous, vast horizon
that makes me grasp for my useless
small camera just as the train halts
on the top of the world.

© 2005 Christine Klocek-Lim