Poetry Week, Day 7, Song Lyric: "In Redondo"

In Redondo

Walking on a windy beach with headphones on
I've got a beat up iPod full of Elliot Smith songs
Foaming waves run up the sand in the shimmering heat
The cool polluted water feels good upon my feet
In Redondo

In the hazy distance mountains rise above the sea
Coming slowly closer, a runner on the beach
We smile and wave to each other when you get near
You pass by and say hello, but I cannot hear

Sometimes nothing is exactly what it seems
Pick up a spiral shell and then, wake up from a dream
In Redondo

I shake the sand out of my shoes and walk in the door
You left another note but I can't read them anymore

We try to hold on to a ghost of everything we once knew
Someday I may lose the memory of you
In Redondo

- Instrumental interlude -

Nothing lasts forever, now I know that's true
Someday I will lose the memory of you
The memory of you
In Redondo, Redondo
You and me in Redondo
In Redondo

*               *               *

All the best songs have snappy, direct and hard hitting lyrics; a great example of this is Bruce Channel's smash hit (on Smash Records!) "Hey! Baby", which topped the charts at #1 for three weeks in 1962. The first verse of that song is:

"Hey, hey baby
I wanna know woh oh
If you'll be my girl"

And the second verse is:

"Hey, hey baby
I wanna know woh oh
If you'll be my girl"

Doesn't get more direct and to the point than that, and success speaks for itself. The songs that come to me aren't close to being in the same league, but we do have fun playing them anyway. 

Song lyrics need music to be complete, and "In Redondo" has an accompaniment, with liberal use of fragmented and vague sounding chords neither major nor minor, that might help convey some of the feeling of isolation, uncertainty and loss that we were going for. But although incomplete without the score, do the lyrics by themselves have any poetic value? Maybe.

It's set in a mythical, imaginary place called Redondo, located somewhere and nowhere. I've always liked the sound of that word or name, which my sister says means "fat round one" in Spanish or Portuguese. (And no, it's not Redondo Beach, which is also a poetic place but in a daytime nightmare kind of way) Wow- a fat round one... Hey, hey baby, roll me a Redondo, would you?

Thanks to David for the beat up iPod, without which this song, and poem, wouldn't be possible.


Poetry Week, Day 6, Refrigerator Word Magnet Poem: "Bridget, Midge, Gidget, Rutledge, Rodger, and Madge"

Bridget, Midge, Gidget, Rutledge, Rodger, and Madge

Bridget cadged a ride to the lodge with a badger in a Dodge

And trudged to put wedges of fudge in the fridge

Midge was a lodger on a budget with a ledger and a gadget:

A hodgepodge of kludges and widgets made by a hedgehog named Gidget

Rutledge, a fidgety curmudgeon with knowledge of didgeridoos

And Rodger the judge, a full fledged midget with a badge and a grudge

Nudged budgerigars with cudgels and pledged not to budge

Not even a smidge

From a smudge on a hedge made of sedge on the ridge

But Madge grabbed a sledge from a ledge by the kedge of her dredge

And bludgeoned both drudges off the edge of a bridge…

Into sludge


*               *               * 

A fairly new form of poetry came along a few years ago: the really fun Refrigerator Word Magnet Poem. In a family or roommate or visiting friends setting, a poem or story created becomes ever evolving; anyone who comes to the fridge can be an instant editor or co-creator, just by swapping or rearranging words.

As a writing tool, the basic premise is intriguing: starting with a preset limited, finite vocabulary, move those few words around until some sort of narrative emerges. During a period of reading mostly murder mysteries set in the UK and written by British authors, I noticed how many words and names there were that had the consecutive grouping of three letters: d, g, and e.

With an initial gathering of 39 "dge" words, combined with a bare minimum of others thrown in, a very short story emerged. Eventually this became 56 words, in one of which the grouping occurs twice; every time a new dge word was added, the plot changed a bit. The funnest part was creating and describing the villains, and the heroine that saves all in the end, using only those few words.

Probably there's a lot more "dge" words in our basically English language, and as they make themselves known this pretend word magnet poem done on an imaginary refrigerator will grow.

Poetry Week, Day 5, Limerick: "Love, Geometrically"

π Are Squared,

A young man from Greece named Pythagoras
Was feeling philosophically amorous
To his love he said "I
Have made you a Pi,
'Though its form and its function aren't obvious!"

*               *               *

A Limerick, according to Oxford, is "a humorous, frequently bawdy, verse of three long and two short lines rhyming aabba, popularized by Edward Lear". Why this poetic form is named after the Irish city or county of Limerick is unclear. Possibly because a high percentage of its residents are humorous and frequently bawdy?

Poetry Week, Day 4, Broadside Ballade: "Near Crystal Lakes"

Near Crystal Lakes
Being a Broadside Ballade in 14 1/2 Quatrains,
By Frederick Roy Thomas and James Aoyama
Half term project assignment
Grade 11 Creative writing class, room 218, Mr Warfield

*            *            *

Near Crystal Lakes where the tall trees grow
A mounted horseman rides
To meet his love ‘neath a shady grove
And there to be his bride

Ride, ride, ride
Your lover does await
And from her eye doth fall a tear
Long awaiting your arrival

The high road is long and the way is hard
Over vale and sward
Strong beats the heart of an honest man
Riding ever onward

His thoughts did dwell on a lady far away
In that shady grove
He longed for her lovely face to see
And her hand to hold

Ride, ride, ride
Your lover does await
And from her eye doth fall a tear
Long awaiting your arrival

In a misty copse appeared three desperate men
Of allegiance unknown
Fled from the field of honor they be
Fugitives of the Crown

They cried out “For your money we have stopped you here,
Give us all your gold!”
The honest man replied “I’ve naught but silver in my pouch,
And I sleep out in the cold!"

He sprang from the saddle and unsheathed his sword,
Saying "Come! Who e'er thou art!"
An arrow from behind, and the horseman fell
The bolt had pierced his heart

The varlets rushed forth to where the rider lay
To rob while his life ebbed out
In her anger and grief his steed reared up
To bring the shrieking cowards down

One knave crawled away, to walk again no more
The others paid in blood
Mighty blows of iron shod hooves did leave
Them broken and dying in the mud

His faithful mare went to her master then
With lowered head she stood
His last breath came slowly as he bid farewell
And she departed through the silent wood

Miles away in the shady grove
His true lover cried
In that same instant her own heart had gone cold
She knew he would never arrive

Ride, ride, ride
Your lover does await
And from her eye doth fall a tear
Long awaiting your arrival

Near Crystal Lakes where the tall trees grow
A mounted horseman rides

Ride, ride, ride
Your lover does await
And from her eye doth fall a tear
Long awaiting your arrival
Long awaiting your arrival


*               *               *

Instructor's grading comment:
Overall, a good piece of work, and shows a lot of time and effort put into it. I'll have to deduct a couple points due to your occasional slipping between Elizabethan or Shakespearean idiom and modern English, and I believe that a quatrain is a form of verse, so the correct term should have been "14 1/2 stanzas". Also your depiction of the action scene was a bit too detailed and could be considered blood-thirsty; on the other hand I'm pleased your telling of the protagonist's longing for his bride-to-be wasn't quite so lurid. Good work boys! A solid A-.
Note: Your titling this as a "Broadside Ballade" would imply a song form, and you might consider performing it for the class on an upcoming Free Form Friday session.

Me to Fred: "A-minus?! I think Old Man Warfield needs to wake up!”
Fred: “Hey Jim - we could toss a firecracker in his trash can on Free Form Friday!"
Me: “Let's do it!"
Narrator: This did not end well.

Poetry Week, Day 3, Free Verse: "Wondrous Things"


Wondrous Things

Late as usual, rushing through the square on an unsettled morning
There, ahead, an almost familiar face-
Perched on the edge of a park bench
A someone who could be me
But for wild hair, bent spectacles, undone buttons, mismatched socks
Staring about, or listening

I should stop, I'm thinking
Say hello, maybe talk awhile
Of whatever wondrous things this someone sees or hears:

About god -like rumbling threats from yet-unseen clouds
Tortured eyes staring from wooden fence boards
The baroque languages of dogs
Leering demon faces grinning up from puddles of rain
The unbearable shrieking pain of newly mown grass

A fantastic world easily entered, impossible to leave
I should not ask where the doorway is, and yet
I would

But not this morning, I must hurry on
For I also imagine
Many things to do, places I must go
And meetings
With important people

*               *               *

100 years ago and more, this would not have been considered poetry, since there are no rhymes, and a cadence only an insane person could sense. Until recently, when there were such things, organized poetry recitals and beat poet slams were occasions to hear or declaim thought worthy bits of free verse. Now we can only go around muttering stuff to ourselves while most are staring into their portable entertainment devices as they walk into oncoming traffic. So who actually are the crazy ones?

Poetry Week, Day 2, Haiku: "Sakura Haiku"

Storm at Lake Ashi

Sakura falling on snow

We bid sad farewell


Bright red umbrella

Down the lane past Temple Hill

Fading though snowfall

Brushed ink on paper

Cherry tree near my window

Sakura Haiku

                                                      *               *               *

No comment needed. Everyone's heard of Haiku. Oh, you haven't?- well...

Poetry Week, Day 1, Small Poem: "Randy and Rhonda"

Randy and Rhonda

Randy Biddle was hidden
His acquittal

Rhonda Smittle was smitten
By the spittle
On his mitten

And a little yellow kitten
Who told a riddle
Was bitten!

*               *               *

Most, but not all, poetry considered "small" or "little poems" are written for small or little people - that is, children. One definition is a poem of nine or less lines, and this one barely qualifies, as well as being too strange to be in a Little Golden Book.

In the '00s, my business was repairing rural folks' satellite TV systems, almost anywhere and everywhere throughout Oregon. In the same day, I had a pair of customers with rather poetically complimentary names: Randy Biddle and Rhonda Smittle. One of them lived in the wild woods near Elmira, and the other just off the scenic highway between Cottage Grove and Lake Dorena, that runs alongside the now-defunct Skunk Line railroad that played a prominent role in two classic films, Buster Keaton's "The General", and Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me".

Besides trying not to run off the road while gawping at the scenery, or avoiding head on collisions with drivers high on legal psychotropic medication, there wasn't much to do between jobs besides drive while mentally writing odd bits of poetry and snatches of song lyrics or melody. A normal person would have listened to the radio and absorbed other people's hallucinations, whether in song or rant. I instead would make up my own.

*               *               *

It's been almost a year since there's been a new post on this blog, and it seemed like a good way to celebrate an entire year of inactivity by having an event. Especially since although spring hasn't yet sprung, at least here in western Oregon it's definitely springing. Also it's the final week of Time As We Know It, and in just a few days most of us in this otherwise fine country get to engage in our yearly mass societal delusional temporal displacement known as Daylight Savings Time.

So I'll hereby declare a blog-wide Poetry Week, with a daily posting of verse in various styles, starting with the bit of absurdism above.