UPDATED WITH WINNER: Workout Your Brain: Write a Sonnet (& Win!)

Let’s get one thing straight—I am not a poet. But I am a writer, and let’s face it, poetry takes the best that language and grammar have to offer and elevates it to divine status. Even though I know poems are the result of a lot of hard work, a good one can read like a miracle.  That said, I am now going to advocate writing a poem, potentially a very bad poem, a sonnet to be exact.

Why am I telling you to write a sonnet? Because it’s hard. Because good sonnets are REALLY hard. Because there are a lot of rules you have to follow. Because it rhymes. Because, chances are, you’ve never written a sonnet, and you never plan to write one in the future. Because you need to burn more calories.

It seems like every time I look at the news, there is some new health kick. Lately, the “experts” are saying that everyday exercise is important, but doing the same exercise everyday can yield diminishing results. Your body gets used to it, so it stops burning as many calories. You have to change it up in order for your body to constantly be challenged. Well, the same goes for your writing muscle. When you write day after day in the same genre, you can get stuck. But, if you throw in a few new exercises, you will challenge it to burn more, stretch farther, and get stronger. Can’t hurt, right?

What makes a poem a sonnet?

Contemporary poets don’t write sonnets anymore. If they do, it’s to either pay homage to the poets of yestercentury or to poke fun at the archaic form with some sort of ironic twist. Serious, modern poets have so many more tricks up their sleeves than their predecessors—forms created on the fly, internal rhyme schemes, and layers of allusions so deep you might need to drill a well to plumb the depths. Yes, they are ridiculously talented people. But, if you read poems written before the avant garde movements really shook things up in the beginning of the 20th century, you will see that those poets, more often than not, used prescribed forms for their creations. The sonnet is one of those forms, and it was incredibly popular.

The sonnet came from Italy, but it was so successfully co-opted by the English in the early 16th century we hardly remember its Italian origins. It is, traditionally, a love poem, so most older sonnets are written on the subjects of love and lust. The sonnet is a fourteen line poem written in iambic pentameter that uses an intricate end-rhyming pattern. There are two basic types of sonnets: the Italian/Petrachan sonnet (named after the 14th century Italian poet Petrach) and the English/Shakespearean sonnet (named after some guy I am pretty sure you have heard of). There are many variations of each type, but I am going to use the English/Shakespearean sonnet as the model for our little experiment here.

The English Sonnet

Like all sonnets, the English sonnet has fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter (more about that in a moment). What makes it unique from the other sonnet forms is the rhyme pattern and stanza breakdown. A stanza is a section of a poem like a paragraph is a section of a story. Like a paragraph, it has a topic, a beginning/middle/end, but it also plays a part in the story/poem as a whole. The English sonnet has four stanzas. The first three stanzas are quatrains because they have four lines each. The last stanza is a couplet because it has only two lines.

Rhyme

In each quatrain, the last word (or words) of the first and third line must rhyme. Also, the last words of the second and fourth line must rhyme. We call this rhyme scheme a/b/a/b.

Here’s an example from William Shakespeare’s sonnet number 18. This is the first quatrain.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?              (a)
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:            (b)
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,    (a)
And summer’s lease hath too short a date;            (b)

Note the rhyme pattern here. This pattern will be similar in the following two quatrains, but with different rhyme sounds than appear in this quatrain. The rhyme scheme for the second stanza will be c/d/c/d, and in the third stanza, it will be e/f/e/f. In the last stanza, a couplet, the last word of each line will rhyme. That rhyme scheme is g/g. Let’s see it all together:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?                          (a)
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:                        (b)
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,               (a)
And summer’s lease hath too short a date;                       (b)
 
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,                  (c)
And often in his gold complexion dimmed;                       (d)
And every fair from fair sometimes declines;                    (c)
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed;         (d)
 
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,                             (e)
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;                      (f)
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,            (e)
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.                      (f)
 
     So long as mean can breath, or eyes can see,           (g)
     So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.               (g)

Note that there is a slight indent in the last two lines of the poem. The break between the 12th and the 13th line is called the turn, and it usually indicates a shift in tone from the more expository sections of the poem to the final summing up of the poet's point. It’s kind of like a kicker, or a conclusion. It takes the ideas of the body of the poem and makes a final point. Also note that each stanza has its own particular topic that builds on the idea of the previous stanza. Then it all culminates in the couplet at the end. If I were to be so bold, I might paraphrase the entire poem like this:

Stanza 1: Should I compare you to a summer’s day? No, you are far better than that.
Stanza 2: In fact, “a summer’s day” is pretty sucky; it’s hot, and my stuff gets faded and dried out.
Stanza 3: You, on the other hand, do NOT fade. In fact, you are ageless, perfect.
Stanza 4: And what’s more…you are immortal because I have written a poem about you.

I won’t continue to analyze this poem—that’d be a whole other article—but I wanted you to get a sense of the format of the sonnet as performed by one of the masters of the form—Mr. Shakespeare.

Rhythm & Meter

Ok, that’s easy enough to emulate. Now let’s talk about iambic pentameter. Poetry is music, and like music, it capitalizes on the way we say certain words in order to create a rhythm. Even though we don’t use accent marks in the English language, words with two or more syllables are pronounced with specific stresses on certain syllables.  For example, we stress the first syllable of the word po-em, the middle syllable of the word per-for-mance, and the last syllable of the word a-sleep.

When we talk about poetic meter, we are talking about how these words are put together to create a certain rhythm pattern using the stressed and unstressed syllables. For example:

Writ­-ing a ­ po-em is hard-er than it looks.

If you were to take a line of a poem and break it into equal parts, regardless of breaks between words, each part would be called a foot. Depending on the meter, each foot will have a particular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. An iambic foot has a unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Let me attempt to represent the rhythm as an onomatopoeia:

ba-bump

The word pentameter means that in each line of the poem, there are five of these feet strung together in a line:

ba-bump || ba-bump || ba-bump || ba-bump || ba-bump

Iambic pentameter will always have ten syllables regardless of the number of words. Let’s take a look at Shakespeare’s first line:

Shall I || compare|| thee to || a sum || mer’s day?

Unlike some other meter patterns, iambic pentameter is a popular choice for poets because it mimics the natural rhythm of English speech patterns. Some meters can come off too bouncy to read naturally, but iambic pentameter is considered subtle, an unobtrusive form. If you don’t believe me, try reading a sonnet next to one of those nursery rhymes that you learned as a kid. The nursery rhymes are written with meter that is NOT meant to sound natural. It is supposed to sound sing-songy in order to become memorable. And it works…because now you are probably thinking in your head:

London || bridge is || falling || down

Which is trochaic meter, the opposite of iambic. Anyway, getting the meter down is the hardest part of writing a sonnet, but it’s worth the effort because it forces you to really pay attention to your wording and the sounds of those words. Also, you can break the rules occasionally to make a point like inverting the stressed syllable on a word in order to make a particular idea stand out. Similarly, you can drop a syllable or add one as needed to make a line 9 or 11 syllables, but only if it’s done to enhance meaning or understanding.

Why this is an important exercise

Phew, that’s a lot of information, but that’s the idea. The sonnet has a lot of rules attached to it—topic, format, rhyme scheme, and meter are all prescribed parameters that limit the writer. Even if you veer away from the traditional love poem topic, the remaining boundaries still present enough challenges to work your brain into a healthy sweat. Furthermore, attempting a sonnet forces you to do certain things that you should always do when you write:

  1. Pay attention to word choice. When all your words have to fit a particular rhyme and rhythm, you will be forced to choose wisely. Not only do your words have to fit a particular syllable limit, but you’ll need each word to work overtime because you only get a limited amount.
  2. Listen to the sound of your words. Poems are meant to be read aloud, so picking words that sound interesting together heightens the level of your writing, whether it's prose or poetry.
  3. Present ideas logically. The set of three stanzas is not just pleasing to the eye, it’s pleasing to the brain. The progression from topic to point to counterpoint is a tried and true method for constructing a solid argument.
  4. Come to a conclusion. The form of the sonnet is laid out specifically to force the writer to make their point. The turn and the final couplet are in place to ensure that all that explaining in the previous three stanzas is actually going somewhere. It makes you write a strong ending.

Write a Sonnet & WIN!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a sonnet--14 lines of iambic pentameter (as best as you can manage) with the rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg.

Post your entries in the comments below. The best sonnet (as judged by me...) will win a sweet LitReator Swag Pack with a Chuck Palahniuk bonus! The winner will get:

  • LitReactor T-Shirt
  • LitReactor Pins
  • LitReactor Stickers
  • A copy of Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Damned pin

Post your entries by midnight on December 6th and I'll post the winner the next day. Have fun!

Image by Gregory Eanes

And the winner is... Ann Gasser

My oh my, this was a hard choice. So many wonderful sonnets. I was so pleased to see what an amazing crowd of poets we have here on LitReactor. Congratulations to everyone for making the effort!

I chose Ann's poem because it sang. If you don't believe me, read it for yourself!

ARCHIBALD, YOU WERE WRONG!

 
“A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit...."
ARS POETICA by Archibald MacLeish
A poem NEVER EVER should be mute,
its every word should pulsate, throb and sing--
trill like an aria, or mountain flute
across a crystal lake in early spring.
 
A poem should speak music--violins
vibrato, passionato, tremolo;
it should be pulsing as its sound begins--
a symphony of words that gleam and glow.
 
A poem's music should be buttered air
that slips through honey with a soul-deep moan
to soothe the sick at heart, those who despair,
and those who face each empty night alone.
 
A poem may be simple or astute,
but poems NEVER EVER should be mute!
Taylor Houston

Column by Taylor Houston

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer and volunteers on the marketing committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education. She has a BA in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College and attended Penn State's MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. She has taught writing at all levels from middle school to college to adult, and she is the creator of Writer’s Cramp, a class for adults who just want to write!

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Comments

Roy Hudson's picture
Roy Hudson November 28, 2012 - 12:51pm

"A Sonnet to November" by Roy Hudson

Of all the months in all of the year
I dread the second to last the most;
“NaNoWriMo” I so hate to hear,
Especially when winners start to boast.

Almost seventeen hundred words each day
Is the mission through ev’ry November.
That’s more words than I often daily say;
More words than I even remember.

“One thousand words a day,” said Bradbury,
And swore he would ‘til the day he’d die.
Talented was he, and so very,
He had far more words to say than I.

Prob’ly the goal of 50K I’d reach,
If I’d not wasted time to bitch and preach.

N.L. Vaught's picture
N.L. Vaught from Charlotte, NC is reading All sorts November 28, 2012 - 1:35pm

"The Lethargic Sonnet" Nicky L. Vaught

A sonnet in the face of lethargy,
Sunken eyes, tiring limbs, and working hands,
Scribing all the signs, the lack of energy,
And how the mind needs rest from each demand.
Can I sleep? Please give me just one brief hour,
Or just one third of that to rest my eyes,
For this zombie state would have less power,
If spent feigning energy than to rise
Up from a slumber of complete cycles.
To lay and rest and dream would prove supreme,
And cure the head behind these spectacles,
Replace the throbs and aches with nonsense dreams.
But sleep seems dull in the light of what’s real,
For you, my love, do more than sleep could heal.

gravelface's picture
gravelface from Knoxville, IA November 28, 2012 - 2:24pm

 era of an end

lady, in dress of dark and dreary night
stay lost on stone and pouring streets i pass
should hours fade and newborn sun still light
from shadows reach i'll beg more shadows cast
 

no better has, but doomed to try they dreamt
with hands of gold, whole hearts and eyes left cold
a touch of dark shade not a souls contempt
when love she spoke beyond such hands can hold
 

my friend, whose breathe too held such dying weight
come forth to join her crooning heart in pain
with shame we take remains of days grown late
and soon reflect on night and shared distain

this night, our true and tested path to free
the eyes that view the gloom yet plead to see

Andreea Mihai's picture
Andreea Mihai from Bucharest, Romania is reading Dance Dance Dance - Haruki Murakami November 28, 2012 - 2:50pm

God

There is no saint,
No sound, no fear,
No white, no paint,
It hurts my spear.

There is just wish,
Just lust and trash,
My soul I squish
And burn the ash.

There are no words,
No hope, no dream,
Except the herds -
They only scream.

I wish for God,
But He is flawed.

Jov Ati Ram's picture
Jov Ati Ram from Manila, Philippines is reading Greek Drama November 30, 2012 - 3:08pm

the in-bread cat meme*

a little cat would probably resent
the piece of bread that went upon its head
it was a ploy, a shaming fully meant
athwart its pride, the humiliation said

a little boy would surely turn aside
if he were made to dance and sing for you
the cutest violation of his pride
the crudest wrecking of his point of view

but even if you taunt me and i cry
i pick me up and do my little song
i eat the bread that hangs near my right eye
and finish, then i make you sing along

    as cats and boys both have nine lives to live
    the finest thing to do is to forgive
 

Cait Spivey's picture
Cait Spivey from Portland, OR is reading I Don't, a Contrarian History of Marriage by Susan Squire November 28, 2012 - 6:38pm

And here again we have fallen in love,
a third time charmed into each other's arms
through passions shy at first, uncertain of
the strength of hearts still soft from lovers' harms. 

But love won out for us, we two so flush
with ardor that we cannot just be friends. 
It came, a revelation in the hush
that always twain we shall be in the end. 

At last the winding journey's led us home,
at last we've found love deep and true and right;
no longer are we left alone to roam
the dark and lonely landscape of the night. 

Together now we face it all and more,
standing beside the one we each adore. 

pinky_obiwan's picture
pinky_obiwan November 28, 2012 - 7:05pm

"So Bi-Winning"

Charlie Sheen is not crazy, no not at all
Thinking him to be a drugee; what shame.
They quickly attack like a fireball.
They are jealous you don’t have a normal brain.

Flowing with tiger blood, the chosen mage,
A totally bitchin’ rock star from mars.
Stories will be told, throughout modern age,
For more you can buy his awesome memoir.

Unfortunately your dugs’ too intense,
My face would melt and my body explode.
So to steer clear of you makes total sense,
The drug known as sheen is simply for bode.

If I prayed to God, I would pray to you,
A God among men, you are my guru.

Barbarella La Estrella's picture
Barbarella La E... November 28, 2012 - 7:58pm

a friday in spring


Perceptions change with a new day
,

A glass of red wine to calm the sense
.

Catching what was hunted and gets in the way;


No space for meat that is condensed.


From bottom to top, astonished by extremes
,

Jumping thoughts thinking about one single thing
.

Some days are hot causing burning dreams,


The coffee is black; it's a friday in spring.

 

Milk goes sour when standing in heat.


Remembering A.; it is what it is, isn't it
.

The outcome wasn't sweet


Like a bright shining day, I'm suffering a bit.


    The feet hit the ground,
    I turn around.

twinkletoes3106's picture
twinkletoes3106 from Phoenix, AZ is reading The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall November 28, 2012 - 7:11pm

Exhaust my heart and drink her wine to dregs
For never will our shallow hearts be one.
Your brilliant, heady summer lust reneged
New hearts to yield, her eyes to come undone.

A pretty girl, so you are not to blame
For yearning her eyes fall to your apt grace.
I once was privy to the gazing game
But like a fool, I couldn’t keep your pace.

In hurried haste you found my weakness and
In feast and folly fell we to the quick.
When I grew weary, wanting heart and hand
You quit the game and left me cleaved and sick.

You look, she melts; the game is bourne anew
Yet you will grow bored, love ‘tis but a mask;
A waning pleasure you have thrice outgrew
As hearts of conquest’s past grow cold in cask.

     I watch as you begin again, this game
     With eyes that vary simply by a name.

Jazzy J's picture
Jazzy J from Minnesota/Missouri is reading Ransom Rigg's "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" November 28, 2012 - 8:09pm

A Winter Sonnet:

`Should I dive aside from winter's spray!?
      I feel already cold  and desolate:
`Though danger lies in frozen  delay!
      Frost may hold  me through time immaculate.

`Sardonic eyes in my visage shine;
      Focused now through often sun-swept mind.
`Thoughts turned stately, toward Divine;
      But leaping like the frightened hind.

`Days grown short, with crisp finales.
      Warmth is grasped in shivering hands.
`The snow now patrols our lonely alleys:
      Grasping for whomever upon which it lands.

       ` I will keep burning still; despite the cold.
         Lending warmth where winter's left withered old.

Arsine Morrison's picture
Arsine Morrison November 28, 2012 - 7:40pm

A Sonnet for my Habebe

 

Alluring From afar, the most enchanting mystery.
Are you an angel or just from my minds own decree?
Unwavering from your faith regardless of my history.
Bewitching without effort; are you my truth? I had to see.

Through oceans of time I had to find you and so we do.
Surprise me with tenderness and virtue softer then morning dew.
Language and religion did bind you and so we overcame that too.
I fought to be free of my darkness and then our love grew.

Your adoring passion never left me for any fashion.
Accepting our flaws utterly, unconditional love of thee.
You overwhelmed me with your yearning compassion.
I am your damsel in the tower and only you had the key.

Without your perseverance I could never be free.
You are the only prince who could have saved me.

mtkahn's picture
mtkahn from Los Angeles is reading Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis November 28, 2012 - 7:48pm

 

Sonnet for a Sleepless Night:

 

Forget the red that slides on down the walls,

And fills your goblet mind with notes of past

Anguish echoed in the deserted halls,

And drips until it overflows at last.  

 

Forget the silver, clattered on the floor;

Forget the metal dragon, breathing smoke;

Forget its silence, announced with a roar;

Forget the stone, beneath the shady oak.

 

Remember yellow that drifts like a ghost,

And is absorbed by walls and empty halls,

And hides alone like an ungracious host,

Leaving you with red, sliding down the walls.

 

While lit is memory's dying ember,

Don't forget those things you must remember.

gsg13's picture
gsg13 November 28, 2012 - 8:05pm

"An Honorary Sonnet for A Bee-Hived Bonnet"

I stole the last glass of kangaroo red,
The cold bottle told of shiraz-shivers,
Mourn'd Amy's passing from aces to zed,
Redonn'd the mantle of holey livers.

Hurrah, syrah! The first sip flow'd just fine.
So, kiss the snifter's lip like past lovers'.
Nepenthe is empty: bring me more wine!
Bask in the florid daze while it hovers.

Table the carafe and consume the draft.
Alack! Kerplunk! Swirling 'round and I'm sunk!
Far from shore, surely floor'd, missing the raft.
Hope is lost, signals cross'd. Feeling quite drunk.

Oh, Siren! Sweet Siren! Posthumous guide,
Sing me to madness. Along for the ride.

Islandminded's picture
Islandminded November 28, 2012 - 8:26pm

A Sonnet for Anyone Recently Born.

Taken from womb and strewn before the lore.
Given a self from them and soaked in old.
Ask what to do they say, "you find a chore."
"Be good, stay low, and do as you are told."

But look there is one who stands is a bind.
Contradiction, you feel this thing's friction.
They shout to God, or the truth one can find.
"Should I strive for fair share or distinction?"

But there is no answer so you try hard.
Give it you best shot and sometimes you'll fall.
Don't give it up you know you've come this far.
Don't think too much, you'll never know it all.

             And yet, as one is of eternal flame,
             I am sure we will get to try again.

Robert Morrison's picture
Robert Morrison November 28, 2012 - 8:27pm

Jealous Rage

I've never been more eager to reply,

Than when I found your gaze locked into mine.

It saddens me to think of reasons why

You'd let another see your eyes so shine.

 

The note you left broke all I thought was sure

Of wheres and hows, there's nothing left but doubt.

Yet still I wander nightly, all impure,

With hopes there would be a better way out.

 

With nothing else to do but pull and squeeze,

I heard the shot ring out my desperation.

This trigger and bullet killed my disease,

Else I'd have to live with separation.

 

And as I stood and watched your blood flow down,

I saw that it had soaked your wedding gown.

Alpha Centauri's picture
Alpha Centauri November 28, 2012 - 8:51pm

Space is made in a cascade
A rhetorical bomb to threat!
Chim-chime challenging charades
Because we thrive off of our disconnect.

Row Row Reconnaissance
The youth that needs a tow
Calm Compliance for the innocent
Education from a television show.

Pre-made Campaign to explain
The sorry support for sympathy
Improvement disarranged to distain
In self-sustained conspiracies.

Truth of the youth aimed to confuse
Because life we will continue to abuse.
 

Alabama Alabama's picture
Alabama Alabama from Philadelphia is reading Tweak December 8, 2012 - 11:38pm

Vast  in view across the bridge

Tonight on earth my heart's astray.

Out of the wind the wool is rich.

It seems as though the other way.


As though you might In thought,

Portray that it's nothing in hand,

I hold onto what I've got,

My dreams most are more grand.


They take on a tour of Palace

Streamlets Persuade what we know.

This chest has a coin filled chalice,

Pouring round Pillars, right into my hole

 

As the rich scent of winter gives touch

A seasoned night yet sleepless love

 

 

 

 


 

Alabama Alabama's picture
Alabama Alabama from Philadelphia is reading Tweak December 8, 2012 - 11:44pm

I MADE A DOUBLE COMMENT, AND CANNOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO DELETE IT--- SO HERE IS ANOTHER POEM OF MINE... ONE MY FAVORITES.... also i only have one litreactor friend... so hit me up!  :-P eace

 

Quiet,

Crickets stopping the time

The fireflies whisped away with powerA trace of love touches her lips

Flawed red all over his hands

Flattered with Ignorance

The Dragon Breathes

Deep in the night a vision, accepting shade and prism

Into a valley of mystery

A charming dimple sighs

Follows through the chutes of the partner in crime

Holding your hand tonight

Look into these shaded eyes

Holding you like the end

The Bridge in the distance

No conversation,

we just run mad

Life has sprung up from amongst

As they float he fills her

With a stare that keeps her

From Impatience yet eager

Whispering sweet nothings

Gracefully moving her hair

A charming dimple sighs

Follows through the chutes of the partner in crime

Holding your hand tonight

Look into this dented holeHolding you like the end

Towering over me and tommorrow

The last cars lights have sounded off

mamewhit's picture
mamewhit November 29, 2012 - 12:26am

single thought sonnet

single thought carries infinite power,
the greatest secret conveyed of all ages,
watch the energy grow hour upon hour,
can we find lost wisdom of the sages?

dare i compare the brain to the universe?
to think we are star stuff is mind blowing.
electrical fire sent out  to traverse,
fractals repeating, folding and flowing.

beautiful structure in a feedback loop;
pure power network creating one thought;
grey matter from dark, imagine a group.
future life for a global conscience, sought.

a sweet dream within a dream came alive.
the growth of human mind, adventure high.

 

Raz's picture
Raz is reading Troubled Sleep November 29, 2012 - 12:21am

New York

 

New york is a cunt, a man once told me.

First you see beauty glittering in might

your heart beating in the arms of the moon.

But then as your eyes adjust to the sight

and your fingers separate day from noon

you can see the feasting rats dancing with

junk fueling lives with means to escape

suffocating on an old stripper´s tit

hidden beneath the city´s golden cape

 

Then, you hear the sax chant from Alphabet

   dispersing the haze of the burning tea

rising above a poet´s final set

and though there are other places to see

there is no where else, you would rather be.

Ionut Popa's picture
Ionut Popa November 29, 2012 - 3:01am

If only...


If only you could draw in every night
like stars drew beauty on the vicious sky
your glance in shapeless thoughts and say “delight,
I grew in pain with eyes beneath your eye”.

Then throw your sorrow from your soul to mine,
but never try to stare beyond a blade,
and give me hope when quivers must combine
all pity corners where I’m just a shade.

If only I could read in heart and mind
the best solution to an endless breeze,
I would reveal the secrets of mankind
through my perception of its pure disease.

My peace, your peace and our peace remain
with love in life when life is now in vain.

Crazyae's picture
Crazyae November 29, 2012 - 2:29pm

My love is lost on you

Day by day I watch him as he walks
His beautiful smile as bright as the sun.
Down the hallways I wish to me he talks
But he will never see that I’m the one.

To him i am invisible, a ghost,
His big eyes wander through me not at me.
With the pretty girls around me, I’m toast
I’m like a shipwreck lost at sea

No matter what you do or how you act,
In dreams you are my King and I the queen.
But reality hits hard with impact,
Because our chemistry is like xanthine

Suddenly I see you coming this way,
And you open your beautiful lips to say....

Crazyae's picture
Crazyae November 29, 2012 - 2:29pm

My love is lost on you

Day by day I watch him as he walks
His beautiful smile as bright as the sun.
Down the hallways I wish to me he talks
But he will never see that I’m the one.

To him i am invisible, a ghost,
His big eyes wander through me not at me.
With the pretty girls around me, I’m toast
I’m like a shipwreck lost at sea

No matter what you do or how you act,
In dreams you are my King and I the queen.
But reality hits hard with impact,
Because our chemistry is like xanthine

Suddenly I see you coming this way,
And you open your beautiful lips to say....

MatthewandAlayna's picture
MatthewandAlayna November 29, 2012 - 2:29pm

Our zoo is the best zoo in the whole world,
we have crocodiles and big fat wild cats.
Our oysters are cool, we like them best pearled.
We even have anteaters and white rats.

But we cannot find our small baby lion,
we looked for him but we cannot find him,
I guess we will just have to keep trying.
we looked in the water but he can’t swim.

We miss our little peanut, where is he?
We sang his favorite song, but he can’t hear.
We looked in the snow and looked in the tree.
Hope we find him, why did he disappear?

We found him resting by a little lake,
We had looked everywhere for heaven’s sake!

-Matthew Phan and Alayna Voiselle

Crazyae's picture
Crazyae November 29, 2012 - 2:30pm

My Love is Lost on You

Day by day I watch him as he walks
His beautiful smile as bright as the sun.
Down the hallways I wish to me he talks
But he will never see that I’m the one.

To him i am invisible, a ghost,
His big eyes wander through me not at me.
With the pretty girls around me, I’m toast
I’m like a shipwreck lost at sea

No matter what you do or how you act,
In dreams you are my King and I the queen.
But reality hits hard with impact,
Because our chemistry is like xanthine

Suddenly I see you coming this way,
And you open your beautiful lips to say....

By: Emma and Amanda.

Tanjamaltija's picture
Tanjamaltija November 29, 2012 - 2:38pm


Silly Sonnet

When eyes are closed and sleep descends so sweet,
The demons of the night, they like it not.
They bid my Guardian Angels to retreat
And hinder their fine works with all they’ve got!

I try; I strive to be the best I can;
Yet strife and doubt beset me all day long.
Each wee success is but the flash-in-pan
Each tune a mournful dirge and not a song!

Each time I laugh, there’s bitter tears in store
For each success, a failure’s sure to come.
I will get less, for I dared ask for more –
I’m bound to fail, when all is said and done.

Welcome insomnia, wakefulness at night;
I cede my sleep – though not without a fight!

Casey Rose's picture
Casey Rose November 29, 2012 - 5:45pm

What if I forgot you tomorrow morn?
Can I forget you that easily though?
Spaces when you departed have been born.
Ever since you disappeared my spirit's low.


But every day the memory can fade.
I stop remembering you sometimes now.
Only what I forget you my day's made.
Entering my head I can't let allow.


My happiness has started to grow high,
Although the memory of you still sinks.
Your name escapes my lips with a small sigh.
With your forgotten life our hearts still link.


But I could never really forget you.
I love you even if you never knew.

bachunderground's picture
bachunderground from DC is reading tea leaves November 29, 2012 - 6:11pm

The Poet Tree

There is a tree within a wood near York
Where stands a sight for certain eyes to see
No peer has it from London up to Cork
Alone i’the world it stands, the Poet Tree.

Alas! Years past, a lass so young and fair
Had caught th’intrepid eye of a lonely bard
To the glen they went and loved in secret there;
He wrote love songs, which in their tree he carved

But soon enough the girl’s cruel husband found
His wife round with another’s bastard child.
She would not kill the babe, so he struck them down
The bard, gone mad with grief, took bane and died.
       
        But long as stands the sacred Poet Tree,
        It gives its life to heart-broke bard and she.

Taylor's picture
Taylor from Portland, Oregon is reading 'The Book Thief' by Marcus Zusak November 29, 2012 - 6:43pm

Holy iambs, Batman, you people are on Fi-YAH! Hey, look down. Are your feet "Long-fellers"? I didn't know we had so many poets among us.

Keep it coming. If we hit 40 entries, I'll even post the (probably terrible) sonnet I wrote as a freshman in college. Heck, I might post it anyway.

 

Bernardo Hernandez's picture
Bernardo Hernandez from Los Angeles is reading Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned November 30, 2012 - 8:11am

How I chose you
by:  H. B. Hernandez

It bites so slow, appears, and so it goes.
Attached by karma it decides to stake.
My name it picked, enamouréd it chose,
To play with hearts and heads that ache and ache.

Progress is slow but I have not faltered.
The coarsest beast, inspir'd by you and grace.
It waits for signs that hope can be altered.
A flop, a turn, perchance a river's ace.

I will make you my own so help me god,
Or Gods, Pagan, made-up or otherwise.
I seek from you the ultimate of nods,
To be a friend, lover in your mind's eye.

So given chance, the story will unfold,
A wond'rous tale to tell when we get old.

bonthebuilder's picture
bonthebuilder November 30, 2012 - 12:17pm

Jaden's Dilemma

Oh little brother, cute little munchkin.

All day, everyday, you stuff your cute face.

All that food, too much can be a sin.

When i see that look, I know what's the case.

Walking to a corner, your face turns red,

And shades of purple too. "That's gross", I say.

You groan. To look at me, you turn your head.

I beg, let there not be a lot today.

Running from the corner, you smell funky. 

You waddle and move, trying to tell me, 

What's in your diaper, crazed like a monkey,

Saying words like "wet" and making me see.

I clean you up and now you're squeaky clean.

What a good sister I am, not so mean. 

Christopher Provost's picture
Christopher Provost from Nashua, New Hampshire is reading The Zombie Survival Guide November 30, 2012 - 4:31pm

To My Deadbeat Stepdaughter (The Time Has Come)

The time has come for thee to leave the nest,
To spread thy wings and to the world be known,
And take with thee the babe suckling thy breast
Thy fertile soil produced when seed was sown.

The time has come for this charade to stop;
No longer can this masquerade endure.
Renounce thy role of lazy spendthrift fop
And, like the fruit upon the vine, mature.

The time has come for thee to find a job,
To cease thy never-ending mewl and cry
For cash which makes my temples pulse and throb
And my fists shake at heaven shouting "Why?!"

     Indeed, would my poor heart be overjoyed,
     Were thee to become gainfully employed.

toddbrabander's picture
toddbrabander from Portland, OR is reading and re-reading my own stories November 30, 2012 - 11:42pm

K by Todd Brabander

She was a jagged jigsaw puzzle piece.
Nothing else could ever fill that empty.
The prayer for my broken hearts release,
Unanswered, sad and damned, eternally.

I want and wish to tell the world my pain.     
I hurt and hate, "You have my heart," she said.
I fear that I will never feel again,        
The way I felt for her, inside I'm dead.

The cruelest trick, is you, my dearest friend,
Are the one person that I can't run to.
I don't want this to be the end.
With my misery, I won't burden you.

  I'm at your mercy. Ruined and undone.
  Our time has passed, and now I am no one.

Tiffany Nelson's picture
Tiffany Nelson December 2, 2012 - 10:26am

A Bond by Tiffany Nelson

Silent as the moon on the darkest night,
always hiding in the deepest shadows.
Can't stand up to the tallest of all heights,
she always watches but never follows.

Chocolate eyes, but without any shine,
bites her nails to the point of no return.
Her hair is as straight as a single line,
trusting people is a skill she long yearns.

Can't admit to making many mistakes,
sarcasm laces her every word.
Her chances are slipping, they won't stay long,
she has clipped her own wings like a caged bird.

But however far she may choose to stray,
deep inside her heart, I will always stay.

Tatjana Bulovic's picture
Tatjana Bulovic December 2, 2012 - 1:34pm

Leave Your Fires Burning Unattended 

Leave your fires burning unattended 
To give you warmth even out of season 
When summer rules have to be ammended
Using powers overgrown by reason 
That makes you look away from all the stalls
Where she is selling trinkets of the past
When climbing highest of the city walls
Was done with ease meant to never last
She is charging nothing for her virtue
But you know that, as you're getting older
You would purchase everything of value
Just to catch one last glimpse of her shoulder

In all the markets, below and above
She alone is offering just love

LingStevenson's picture
LingStevenson December 6, 2012 - 11:16pm

Tiny Creatures

Saran Cling Plus held taut across the glass.
Tiny openings give a means to dine:
For those tiny creatures who now can pass,
Drawn by the smell of the laced, red wine.

Dish detergent breaks down surface tension,
Slowly they each descend into the drink;
And are caught now beyond comprehension:
They came to feed but soon, they all, do sink.

Lovers of fruit have met a liquid grave,
Moved by instinct and trying to survive;
How could they in anyway else behave?
No more banquets for them on which to thrive.

  We each, in life, come face to face with gaps,
  The trick is to avoid the deadly traps.

  

   

  

 


 

DanielJamesCross's picture
DanielJamesCross from Reading, England is reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy December 3, 2012 - 7:08am

A Sonnet for the End of the World

To live a life with you is living well,
To die a death with you is one of pain,
I think of all the times we’ve been through hell,
Nevertheless, you’re in my arms again.

And now we rest upon this hill and pray,
That somewhere we will hold each other more;
We watch as skies above us turn to grey,
And like our love, the blazing arrows soar.

I wish that if we do not cease to be,
If we are not as one beyond the stars,
Our love swims on within this rising sea,
Just as it was inside our beating hearts.

   And as they always told, the end is nigh;
   But not the love that lived in you and I.

Joe Whitten's picture
Joe Whitten from Alabama is reading Martin Chuzzlewit December 4, 2012 - 8:47am

December Memories of Things She Loved

It’s been two years, yet there are days I can’t
believe that Gail’s not here—is really dead.
Today the shadows fall December-slant
across last summer’s withered flower bed,

where songbirds glean for seeds. Gray squirrels take
black walnuts from the neighbor’s yard and rush
back to their cache. Hawks wheel above the lake.
A train’s long cry breaks through the Sunday hush.

She loved these winter days when Christmas time
came close—the tree a-twinkle blue and white,
and on the mantel, tiny bells that chime.
This house will glow again for her tonight.

Get down her decorations, find the tree;
celebrate the season, embrace love’s memory.

Joanne Cage's picture
Joanne Cage December 3, 2012 - 11:32am

My lover’s lips

My lover’s lips are thin and rather cruel.
He’s pale and fat, instead of dark and tall.
He gives me neither flower, book nor jewel–
He never brings me any gift at all.


I can’t help noticing a man with curls,
For my dear love has hardly any hair;
His teeth, if pearls, are simulated pearls;
His nose, as noses go, is good to fair.


His beard is scratchy as a bed of thistles;
His speech is rough, although his heart is pure.
He snores all night, and all day long he whistles–
It’s almost more than hearing can endure;


And though when we’re apart I dream about him,
I still enjoy the peace and calm without him.

Jareth Caelum's picture
Jareth Caelum December 3, 2012 - 4:36pm

The Soul of Touch

Please come and touch my hand.  What do you feel?

My skin, the flesh beneath, my pulse, my bone,

You feel the soul of touch, of all that’s real.

Our skin brushes, taste it, it’s all you’ve known,

As though all your skin has touched all of mine,

And you enter the very heart of touch.

A shiver runs through your body and spine.

Sense deeply, handle lightly.  Don’t cling or clutch.

Can we ever touch each other complete,

Every last inch of my skin to all yours?

Then what is love?  My flesh is the mercy-seat,

The universe seethes under my contours.

Can your consciousness touch all of mine?

Yes, when you have, you’ve touched all the divine.

Vivi H. Brown's picture
Vivi H. Brown December 3, 2012 - 10:07pm

Response to Shakespeare's Sonnet 50

   by Vivi Brown

Go Back

Your grief lies onward, sir, your joy behind.
Perhaps your healing lies in going back
to save your friend from possible decline
while still the road behind you bears your track.
The plodding beast beneath you, glad to turn,
will hie without the bloody spur’s harsh prod
which he has, groaning piteously, borne.
Repent! Request forgiveness, not from God,
but from the injured friend from whom you flee
reluctantly, with heavy heart and head
bowed down.  Return!  Strong comrades can agree
to leave their bitter, cutting words unsaid.
Your weariness with newfound vigor shifts.
The miles between you shrink, your burden lifts.

AssholeAmerican's picture
AssholeAmerican from America (CO, NE, NC, AK, NY, WA) is reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Portable Atheist by Hitchens, 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill December 4, 2012 - 4:43pm

Red v. Blue
By Wes Ford

One side or the other is your one choice,
Either all of this or completely that,
Once labelled as such it’s your only voice,
To be a mongrel dog or a fat cat,

Do you lean to the left or to the right?
Are you of my faith or some other lie?
In battle are you one to flee or fight?
Are we to let the unborn live or die?

Logic escapes us all when choosing sides,
Support one thought and you are bound to more,
Shush and lily-liver no longer hides,
Speak and Judas is quickly shown the door,

A self-discovered mind can often see,
Resolution lies not in A or B.

JessiD19's picture
JessiD19 from Toledo, Ohio December 5, 2012 - 6:44pm

Misplaced Productivity

I’ll satiate my creativity
To focus on the paper I must write
A poem to calm hyperactivity
How will I keep my words from sounding trite

I turn to the internet for advice
Once there my motivation slowly dips
Sites of procrastination do entice
There are just so many amusing quips

If this effort to school I could devote
I wouldn’t have such a bloody struggle
No tweets or filters, NOT ONE MORE UPVOTE
I’m doomed with this vice plus work/school juggle

  This exercise has proven quite futile
  I fear my grade will be brutal

Goombuh1's picture
Goombuh1 December 6, 2012 - 4:02am

Two Dolphins.

Two dolphins were running through the forest,
while one ate grits, the other ate porridge.
They danced, they sung – They ate too much,
The poor things…they seem to’ve spoiled their lunch.
At nap time; they slept for hours on end,
Awakening to find the day’s light’s been spent.
Night’s starred twinkle tempts them to stay awake.
But difficulty strikes, for whisky lullaby’s sake.
Night caps as sweet as black raspberries,
Still, they don’t forget which heart to carry
And as they drift to dream, this whisper is heard,
Between the porpoises – Between the birds… 

Just as the moon was lit, and the sun was too,
“I love to swim through the trees with you.”

 

-Ryan

Taylor's picture
Taylor from Portland, Oregon is reading 'The Book Thief' by Marcus Zusak December 6, 2012 - 4:31pm

Crap! Now I gotta post mine. Please hold while I go find that piece of paper.

By the way, you guys are amazing. I'll post the winner tomorrow! (Yes, you can still post until midnight tonight--and let's make that midnight in New York City, ok?)

Taylor's picture
Taylor from Portland, Oregon is reading 'The Book Thief' by Marcus Zusak December 6, 2012 - 4:31pm

Double post, oops!

iliannayetti's picture
iliannayetti from Arizona is reading "Slaughter House Five," by Kurt Vonnegut December 6, 2012 - 4:44pm

30 to 60 mg's of Sonnet 

When you haven't been sleeping, clocks lie.

"Take what you want, the doctor upped my dose."

A pleasure to have anxiety-ridden friends slightly richer than I,

I always keep them close.

 

Mariana's Trench resides where my stomach used to be,

Oh, just look at the time, it's so late, just stay here.

I could eat, drink, take another dose, but I'd prefer you sleeping with me.

A temporary fix to the lonelieness I fear.

 

If I could get my hands on Clonazepam, maybe Trazodone, I could sleep.

You say you understand, but you look so well rested.

If it's my company you want, my company you can keep,

Just promise not to get too invested.

 

I'm training myself not to care,

Since it's the loneliness I cannot bear.

 

-ilianna M.

 

Ann Gasser's picture
Ann Gasser December 6, 2012 - 5:06pm

                                       ARCHIBALD, YOU WERE WRONG!

                                                                         --by Ann Gasser

“A poem should be palpable and mute

 As a globed fruit...."

 ARS POETICA  by  Archibald MacLeish 

                                                 

                                    A poem may be soft, but must be heard,

                                    its every sound should pulsate,  throb and sing--

                                    trill like an aria  with every word,

                                    a crystal flute across a lake in spring.

 

                                    A poem should speak music--violins                                                                                

                                    vibrato,  passionato, tremolo;

                                    it should be pulsing as its sound begins--

                                    a symphony of words that gleam and glow.

                                    A poem's music should be buttered air

                                    that slips through honey with a soul-deep moan

                                    to soothe the sick at heart,  those who despair,

                                    and those who face each empty night alone.

 

                                    A poem may be simple or astute,

                                    but poems NEVER EVER should be mute!

Joe Whitten's picture
Joe Whitten from Alabama is reading Martin Chuzzlewit December 8, 2012 - 12:24pm

Would someone tell me what I click on to find who won this contest. Thanks.

Alabama Alabama's picture
Alabama Alabama from Philadelphia is reading Tweak December 8, 2012 - 1:37pm

YEAH! who WON!?