I Taught a Lesson to My Toes

I taught a lesson to my toes,
They’d overstepped the mark,
Escaping time and time again
From nylon prisons dark.

I warned them of the consequence
Should they destroy more socks –
I’d bare them to the public gaze,
Like prisoners in stocks.

With feet made bare, exposed to air,
I bid their soles repent;
And without ends to tunnel through
Their wiggles proved misspent.

But as the winter chill approached
I softened my resolve,
Declaring: “My offenders ten,
With fresh socks I absolve!”

 

Watershed Moments

Rivers stay where they lay, night and day they obey
Those decisions of nature made higher than they;
And their catchments extend beneath limitless sky
In attempt to avoid a demise bleak and dry;

And they go with the flow rain and snowfalls bestow
As they follow a path that is fast, sometimes slow –
But the trouble they have (and it isn’t their fault)
Is dependence on weather for running result.

For when rays fairly blaze and the haze of heat stays
There is nothing a river can do which allays
A reduction in volume, the slowing of speed,
A course to stagnation, the encroachment of weed.

Then the fish dearly wish not to swish in drought’s dish,
As they find themselves scale-over-tail in a squish;
And the animals drinking dab mud on their snouts;
And the farmer, dependent, grows nothing but doubts.

Fields of wheat bow defeat, and the heat casts a sheet
Over landscape and countenance almost complete;
And the townspeople moan of restrictions in place,
And the country, in short, wears a serious face.

But when sun ends her run, clouds new-spun are begun,
And the rivers, replenished, delight in their run;
And the farmers all shout, fish make frolic about,
Every animal drinking departs with clean snout.

 

David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He is Winner of the 2018 Friends of Falun Gong Poetry Competition. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.

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26 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    What fun these both were, David! They should each be entire picture books for children . . .both entertaining and witty! I especially love the four-rhymes-per-line of the second poem. So delightful!

    Reply
  2. Amy Foreman

    Oh, and I failed to mention . . . I think you should take out the “the” before encroachment in the fourth line of the third stanza of “Watershed Moments” so that your meter continues unimpeded. 🙂

    Reply
    • Monty

      I must tell ya, Amy: When I encounter certain poems, I’ve got a (sometimes irritating) habit of counting the syllables in the first 2-3 lines . . before I even start reading the poem.

      Upon doing so with the above piece, I absorbed the syllabic-equality . . 12 per line. So I assumed the author had placed his emphasis on syllabic-equality (as opposed to meter) . . in which case, the “the” must necessarily remain; even if detrimental to the meter. I agree that the line would read equally fluidly without the “the”; but is the meter not also “impeded” in the first 3 words of the same line?

      Your description of the ‘Toes’ piece hit the nail on the head: it is indeed seriously “witty” . . what a breath of fresh air. I’m sure it’s the wittiest piece I’ve read on SCP since your ‘Fear’ last easter.

      Reply
      • Amy Foreman

        Thanks for the kind words about “Fear,” Monty! And you are right about the syllable count, absolutely. Maybe a way to get the metrical “beat” in and stay true to the 12-syllable line structure would be to say something like, “On a course to stagnation: encroachment of weed.” (?) Something like that, . . maybe. Or not. 😉

  3. David Watt

    Thank you Amy, Monty, William, and David for your appreciation.
    In regard to the fourth line of the third stanza, your observations are on the mark. This is the line in which I was of two minds whether to precede the word encroachment with ‘the’, or not. I chose, as Monty picked up, to maintain the consistent 12 syllable line structure. Amy’s suggested revised line would work quite well in maintaining meter.

    Reply
    • Monty

      I should say, David and Amy, that for one who plays the drums (to a limited standard), I’ve always been a tad surprised at how little emphasis I place on the meters/beats contained within poetry. I only seem to seek syllabic-equality and strict end-rhymes . . and that’s enough for me.

      Thus, I’m sometimes easily confused with meter (or, more specifically, the ‘placing’ of stressed and unstressed syllables). For example, with the line in question, I imagine the stresses to be: ‘a COURSE to stagNAtion, the enCROACHment of WEED’ (‘cos that’s how it’d sound in speech). If that’s the case, there’s an unequal amount of unstressed between the stressed (1,2,3,2); is that how it’s meant to be? This is where I get confused when trying to discern metric placings.

      Educate me . .

      Reply
      • Amy Foreman

        You are reading the metrical placements correctly, Monty. So that’s why changing it to something more like “On a COURSE to stagNAtion: enCROACHment of WEED” makes the meter come out equally: two unstressed syllables and then one stressed syllable (anapestic meter).

        Anapestic meter, like dactylic meter, is a triple meter, which for you, as a drummer, would be found in songs written in 3/4, 6/8, 9/8, or 12/8 meters. Da da DUM, da da DUM . . . . like that. Dactyls would be more like DA dum dum, DA dum dum. . . . and so on. Hope that makes sense. Not sure if I really explained it understandably or not. 😉

  4. Trevor Siggers

    Fabulous, witty and perceptive and above accessible.
    Great Lessons learned at this Watershed Moment.
    Congratulations on your 2018 Falun Gong Poetry Award

    Reply
  5. David Watt

    Thank you James, Monty, and Trevor for your kind words. We definitely shouldn’t neglect our souls, or soles. Overlooking either will step-by-step lead to regret.

    Reply
  6. C.B. Anderson

    David,

    You can do better than this and write poems where no one would question your technique. From my perspective, the repeated flash rhymes come off as overkill, as though you were writing Rap lyrics.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Thanks for your thoughts C.B. I am not a fan of Rap, and don’t want any of my poems to come across as seeming like Rap lyrics.
      In any case, my aim is always for improvement, especially in clear technique.

      Reply
      • Amy Foreman

        David, if your repeated internal rhymes make your verse sound like Rap lyrics, then you are in the good company of other famous “rappers,” like Kipling (“Pink Dominoes”), Coleridge (“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”), and Poe (“The Raven”).

        The fact that some rappers enjoy using internal rhymes does not bring internal rhymes down to their “Rap level;” rather, it elevates the technique of their rapping. And the internal “flash” rhymes of your poem, “Watershed Moments,” make it all the more witty, eye/ear-catching, and fun. That’s my perspective, anyway. Internal rhymes always make me stop and take notice.

        Years ago, I encountered one of the cleverest uses of internal rhyme I have ever seen, done by a little-known Rockabilly band, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, in their even more little-known song, “Time Warp.” Their verses were ingeniously built around important internal rhymes within the second and fourth lines of each stanza. Just for fun, here they are, in all their panache:

        {Like Houdini in the river with a lock he couldn’t see
        When you think you hit the bottom, then you better find the key
        Like Custer at the Horn when he turned around and said
        “When you think you finally got ’em, you’re just as good as dead.”

        Like Ponce de Leon speakin’ Spanish in the swamp
        “I was lookin’ for a fountain, but it’s water that I want.”
        Like Pike at the top and every other freak
        “I was lookin’ for a mountain, I took a little peak.”

        Like Buddha at the sermon when he didn’t say a word
        If you think you hear a flower, it’s a flower that you heard
        Like da Vinci on the roof with his arm in a sling
        “A man’s got the power, but a bird’s got the wing.”

        Like Vincent Van Gogh when he chopped off his ear
        “I’d like to give her twenty, but I still gotta hear.”
        Like Crockett at the wall lookin’ back to Tennessee
        “The livin’ costs you plenty, but the dyin’s still for free.”}

        So, in defense of repeated internal rhymes, I say, “Keep up the good work, David!” 🙂

  7. Monty

    So, Amy, if that’s the case.. am I to assume that eachline of the 1st stanza of ‘Watershed . . ‘ should sound as follows:
    da da Dum da da Dum, da da Dum da da Dum . . ?

    Hence: ‘rivers STAY where they LAY, night and DAY they oBEY’.

    What’s confusing for me is the feeling that if I was to say that line in (my own) speech, it would naturally sound thus: ‘RIvers STAY WHERE they LAY, NIGHT and DAY THEY oBEY’.

    Hence: Dum da Dum Dum da Dum, Dum da Dum Dum da Dum.

    D’ya think that this could just simply be the difference between British spoken-english and US spoken-english? Or is it the case that when reading a poem, one has to sometimes forsake their own speech-patterns to acquiesce with the given meter?

    Reply
    • Amy Foreman

      Well, I don’t know about other readers, but I do tend to forsake normal speech patterns at times to fit a given meter . . . but, I think your natural reading of the poem with the “Dum da Dum Dum da Dum, Dum da Dum Dum da Dum” is equally as valid as the anapestic meter I was ascribing to it.

      So, yeah . . . I guess it’s not completely cut and dried all the time. Interesting. 🙂

      Reply
      • David Watt

        Hi Amy, the lyrics by the “Ozark Mountain Daredevils” were quite good. Thanks for posting these words, and for your support of internal rhymes. The four rhymes per line was just something I came up with at the time, and that I considered beneficial to the ‘flow’ of this river themed poem. As anapestic meter was my intention, your suggested fix for line 12 definitely helped maintain the meter.

  8. Mark Stone

    David, Hello. Here are my comments on “Toes.” 1. This is my kind of poem: light and fun. 2. In L1, I would change the comma to a period or semi-colon, because currently L1 is a sentence and LL2-4 is a sentence, and together constitute an improper run-on sentence. 3. For this same reason, I would put a period or semi-colon at the end of L6. I am gratified that you have a semi-colon in similar circumstances at the end of L10. 4. I enjoyed the double entendre with “soles repent.” 5. The word “without” is normally stressed on the second syllable. In L11, with the iambic meter, the stress falls on “with.” You could fix that by changing “And without” to “Without the”. 6. The poem is so strong in concept and execution that I would invest the time to make the first and third lines of each stanza rhyme, such as by changing “chill approached” to “neared again.” 7. Excellent poem!

    Here are my comments on “Watershed.” Several articles (a, an or the) are missing, such as with “In attempt” and “when sun” and “for running result” and “with clean snout.” These detract for me, since trading natural speech for metrical precision is never a good deal, at least according to my taste. However, these things are easily fixable, and they don’t negate the fact that the poem, overall, is well-crafted, clever and fun.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Mark, I appreciate that your suggestions are always made in a positive manner. In regard to articles, I will be more conscious of my Aussie tendency to shorten phrases. For “Toes” I may investigate making the first and third lines rhyme as an option.

      Reply
  9. Kim Cherub

    David, I thought your poem was clever, funny and well-written, a very good combination. Do you have a website or a collection of your poems online? I’d like to read more.

    Reply

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