Poetry Wednesday: A Short Ode to Small Poems, or Vice Versa (and a Contest)

I love poetry—you might have noticed—but sometimes I’m not in the mood for a lot of it.

Sometimes, I don’t have time to wade through  fancy language or symbolism or archaic references or, you know, words.^

And while I love me some haiku,  there are time when I’d rather not pay attention to form or count syllables on my fingers.

Sometimes, I just want to read a couple lines, smile and get on with my day.

HovelPeople who write novels
Often live  in hovels.

—Anne Lamott

One liners are good, too—even when they aren’t terribly true:

Passes GlassesMen seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.

—Dorothy Parker

doughnut cushionAnd of course, when they really, really are:

Thoughts after a 50 mile bike ride:
(Roy Wesson*)

My feet and seat are beat.

But not all supershort poems are funny, or meant to be.

Insomnia, old tree, when will you shed me?

—William MatthewsTrees

And not all are without symbolism, either, or opportunities for quiet reflection.

a dixie cup floats down the Nile

—Cor Van den Heuvel

But all of them capture a single thought or philosophy or mood as quickly as possible.

t w i l i g h t b l u e & p a l e g r e e n l e a v e s e v e r y w h e r e s c e n t o f w a t e r m e l o n s

—Anita Virgil

And some remind us that, for whatever reason, a single word can be powerful enough to upset a nation:


—Aram Saroyan

Mr. Saroyan, who was experimenting with minimalist poetry at the time, supposedly knocked off this one on the way to a night out with an impatient friend, but I suspect that most short poetry takes more effort.

Let’s test that theory with a contest, shall we?

The  rules are, as usual, simple:

Write me a one or two-line poem, fifteen word maximum.  Doesn’t have to rhyme, but it should be a poem, not a quip.

Post it in the comments of this post or e-mail it to me—the address is at the top of the sidebar.

If you accept the challenge, your name goes in the Pink Cowgirl Hat of Win** for a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, sent to the e-mail address of your choice.

You have until Friday midnight,
Chicago time—go forth and write!***


^Smaller amount of poetry can be safer, too.  This morning at the library, I shifted a lot of the 800s to make room for a new section of bookcases,  and the Little Book of English Poetry slid off the shelf and bounced off my forehead.  If it had been the BIG book of English Poetry, it would have killed me.

*My brother-in-law.  This poem was previously published in Sports Illustrated for Kids and a few other publications in the early eighties.  It’s totally autobiographical, by the way.

**Found it!  It’s sort of the Pink Cowgirl Pancake of Win at the moment, but I’m working on it

***That wasn’t meant to be a poem . . . and it probably isn’t.