Horseplay

A cut-out poem, from twenty-two horse clichés

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So thinks the horse: don’t like; can’t look.
Blind Horse.
Own horse were horse enough but if you could put
the flogging horse off…its hobby is to eat of me.
Horses stalking a Trojan make sense:
horses pack lead in your town; eat beggars.
I’m hungry…Horse it! wild horse wishes.
Ride a horse; choke a horse;
drag a horse to Dead Horse Mouth.
Wouldn’t a doctor as a gift get high as a horse?
I would spare a good horse to cart a horse.
You can colour the heaviest horse.
Horses wink the dark drink away.
One horse don’t water the horse.
Nod before every different horse.

***

This poem is rather dark for a lighthearted poetry blog, but it was an accident, I swear!

Cut-out poetry is a really easy way to create poems: take any text, print it out, then cut out the words you want to use. In this instance, I took twenty-two of the twenty-five horse clichés I found here, and played around with them until I had used all the words. (I ignored three unfamiliar idioms, and changed ‘beat’ to ‘flogging’, as that’s how I know it.)

The words you have in front of you will direct your poem to a certain extent – hence the dark tone of mine – and that’s really helpful if you’re struggling to write.

You are allowed to use your own punctuation. Subtle changes can help e.g. I capitalised ‘dead/horse/mouth’ to make them a name/place.

If you have a go, using my suggested or your own found text, do please share in the comments. I’d love to see them!

***

To compensate for today’s miserable offering, I will post another horse poem tomorrow, much lighter in tone. It was written about ten years ago, when I was in a better mood 😉

A Piku on the Writer’s Vanity

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I see red
when
I go unread.

***

The piku poetry form is a blend of haiku and the first three numbers of pi:

Three lines
Eight syllables, broken down 3-1-4

It doesn’t have to rhyme but I like the challenge.

If you fancy having a go, the easiest way is to write a prose sentence and then whittle it down to its bare essentials. Please do share in the comments if you try it.

Create a piku chain by keeping your sentence intact, but remember – 8 syllables: 3-1-4.

I’m Late for a Palindrome Date

22/6/22

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Yesterday’s: two-
two-six-
two-two. I forgot; did you?
June is
done; the

next one’s
in July.
I will try to recall them
all from
now on.

***

Did I mention I love palindrome dates? I forgot all about yesterday’s however, so I wrote this by way of apology.

If you count the words on each line in each stanza, you will see they add up like this: 2/2/6/2/2.

You can have a lot of fun when writing poetry; the words are only the beginning.

New Word Mystery

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To solve a crime
take the time
to hire an investigator,
also known as a scrutator
I kid you not one jot.

Thank me later
when your crime is solved
and I’m absolved
of inventing new words –
aka neologisms
which sound absurd.

I will accept your apologisms.

***

Dictionary.com:

scrutator
[ skroo-tey-ter ]

noun
a person who investigates

neologism
[ nee-ol-uh-jiz-uhm ]

noun
1. a new word, meaning, usage, or phrase.

Concert of Cats

No image today – ironically (see below) – because of copyright issues. However, if you hit this link, it will take you to the image which inspired the poem, a lithograph by Breugel.

***

One plays the cornet
One considers the violin
One looks dementedly
At the old mandolin
All can read music
Though some think, Why bother?
We’ll just croon along
To the noise from our brothers

They are cats having fun
Just one’s on the fence
There’s also a mouse
Looking dreadfully tense
Back in the mouse house
(A faux music stand)
Do those cats even know
Lunch is so close to hand?
No matter. They’re singing
They’re singing, and how –
It’s clear those cats know
They are the cat’s meow.

***

The act of creating art inspired by another work of art is known as ekphrasis, from the Greek word meaning ‘description’. One of the most famous examples of ekphrasis is ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ by the Romantic poet John Keats. This poem isn’t that, nor does it aspire to be; it’s just me having a bit of fun.

Using art/poetry/fiction/TV/movies/articles/music, etc., as inspiration is one of my favourite things to do. The umbrella term is ‘intertextuality’ i.e. one text inspires another text.

If you are new to writing poetry, a good way to get the juices flowing is to find an interesting image and make as many notes on it as you can. Jot answers to questions like these: what is happening in the picture? How many characters? How are they related? When is the image set? What about colours/objects/background? What is inside the bag/pocket/box, etc.? Any obvious emotions? What about smells? What are they saying to each other?

You get the idea. Now pick out what interests you from your notes, and just start writing.

Do please let me know if you have a go.

An Interesting Fact About Goldfish

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He is green around the gills;
He is floating on his side.
You can see that he is ill;
You assume that he has died.
An ordinary mistake
Goldfish owners often make.

He can be resuscitated:
He is merely constipated.

A garden pea, minus shell
Rescues him from goldfish hell.
Soon, he’s swimming round the bowl,
Can’t recall his bunged-up hole.
Little fishy’s full of beans.
Moral: always eat your greens.

Today Is World Limerick Day

Photo by Luciann Photography on Pexels.comI’m guessing this is the actual town of Limerick, Ireland

They say on the twelfth of May
It will be World Limerick Day
If the whole world would write
Five fun lines, I’d bite
But read 7 billion? No way!

Dear Reader, I’m challenging you
I hope that you won’t misconstrue
Won’t you please have a go?
If you didn’t know
Limericks are such fun to do

***

They’re a doddle to write:

  • Five lines
  • Lines 1+2+5 rhyme
  • Lines 3+4 rhyme
  • Usually funny, but no pressure here (you read mine, didn’t you?)

My First Love

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We were eleven.
Our love lasted a week.
His ex complained I had ruined her life.
She grew beautiful; grew up; got legs; got over him.

We were sixteen.
Our love lasted one sweet afternoon,
trading saliva on my mother’s couch.
He was the coolest boy in school; I was flattered.

We are middle-aged.
Our love is a comfortable memory.
Now he is a bingo caller
and I am number eight.

***

I’m not sure if that last line makes sense outside of the UK. In Britain, many bingo numbers have designated call signs. Here are some examples:

11 = Legs 11; because the number 11 looks like a pair of legs. Nobody said it was a cerebral game. Incidentally, whenever 11 is called, the players wolf whistle because, you know, sexism is fun 😉

21 = Key of the door, 21; twenty-one used to be the legal age of adulthood in the UK. Segueing into another British tradition, ornamental keys or items decorated with keys are still given as gifts on 18th and/or 21st birthdays in this country. Does that happen elsewhere?

22 = Two little ducks, 22 – for obvious reasons. Players all respond, ‘Quack, quack.’

The more I think about it, the more I suspect we Brits are weird.

76 = Seven and six; was she worth it? 7/6d (seven shillings and six pence in old money) used to be the cost of a marriage licence. Nobody said we Brits are romantic.

88 = Two fat ladies…now you get it 😉

If you’re interested in learning more about our much-loved bingo calling tradition, check out this page.

In The Valley of a Thousand Hills, Zululand

This postcard shows the actual witch doctor we spoke to

I visited a man of the witch doctor genus.
I have only one memory:
his dangling penis.

***

This is absolutely true.

Okay, not absolutely true: I have more than one memory; but there was definitely a dangling penis. The witch doctor half-crouched as he rolled the bones and much that should remain hidden was on superb display.

I was 21 – that very day – and we took a drive out to the Valley of a Thousand Hills from the campsite where we were staying in Durban. I doubt that Africa has a more beautiful sight than those thousand hills in glorious sunshine. If you ever have the opportunity to visit it, you should.

We stopped at a tourist village and watched the gumboot dancing (another fantastic sight) and decided to pay the few rand to visit the witch doctor and have our fortunes told. Both of us being broke, Paul asked him to accept one fee for the two of us, telling our joint fortunes. He very kindly agreed.

Half of what he said came true and perhaps that was because we each paid half the fee; who can say?

Gumboot dancing began in the gold mines of Johannesburg.

From Wikipedia:

The gumboot dance (or Isicathulo) is a South African dance that is performed by dancers wearing wellington boots. In South Africa these are more commonly called gumboots.

The boots may be embellished with bells, so that they ring as the dancers stamp on the ground. This sound would be a code or a different calling to say something to another person a short distance away. This was used to communicate in the mines as there was strictly no talking otherwise there would be severe, drastic punishments at the discretion of their superior. The mines were very noisy workplaces, with pneumatic drills at work most of the time; in those days (until the mid 1970s) ear-defenders did not exist in South African mines.

***

This poem is from my third (unpublished) collection about my time in South Africa, during and after Apartheid.