Pestilence Killed Them

by James Sale

The Pestilence killed them
So the Proverb said,
And with that happy thought
They laid down in their bed.

The Pestilence killed them—
Who else could it be?
They were not responsible:
He came like destiny.

The Pestilence killed them,
Disease like death is certain;
No complaints, just deep low moans
And swish of one black curtain.

Oh yet, another Witness says,
Ten thousand victims then;
But ten times more as Fear
Reaped women, children, men.

 

 

“D” is for . . .

by James A. Tweedie

The term, “Black Death,” a somber derivation,
A reference to Europe’s denigration
When deadly plagues brought death and devastation
To populations doomed to decimation.

Infested bodies suffered desiccation
As kings and vassals fueled by desperation
Abandoned hearth and home to desolation,
Succumbing to despair and dissipation.

A death within a church brought desecration.
A boil on the skin met deprecation
Red crosses were a plague-house designation,
And victim’s graves bore little decoration.

All history is marked by deviation.
Of this, the plague provides a demonstration.

 

 

No Tomorrow

by Susan Jarvis Bryant

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
awaits its fate as dates are put on hold.
An unseen foe of sling and poisoned arrow
has murdered time and rendered marrow cold.
I’m sitting in a pit of isolation
just looking at the ever-changing sky
for scorching, scarlet flashes of damnation
and answers to the ancient question, “Why?”
Yet birds still croon and preen as sunrise beckons.
The moon still beams its magic through the black
of twilight’s veil, festooned with starlight’s blessings
in scenes that don’t look forward or look back.

Perhaps I ought to ask not “Why?” but “How?”
I overlooked the reverence of Now.

 

 

A Stir-Crazy Sonnet

by Susan Jarvis Bryant

A rare occasion warrants something chic:
a plush ensemble swishing in the breeze—
a sassy, silk sensation in a sleek
and smooth cerulean blue that flows with ease,
embellished with a natty little hat—
its brim trimmed with a graceful wisp of lace;
and shoes, spike-heeled, not practical and flat,
but teeteringly wild, not commonplace.
This jaunt’s a chance to flaunt just what I’ve got—
such outings have become so very rare,
I’m tearing out my hair and fit to trot
my driveway’s length with mesmerizing flair…

I’m aiming for a flash sartorial splash
when taking out my weekly bags of trash.

 

 

The Quarantini

(a pandemic spirit-lifter)

by Susan Jarvis Bryant

A must for isolation is a curative libation
demanding that it’s shaken, never stirred.

This virus is a meanie, but it quakes if a Martini
is quaffed in measures vast and undeterred.

A tot of gin’s the fixer with a lot of tonic mixer—
let quinine in the cocktail do its trick.

Just gulp until you’re slurring and your crystal vision’s blurring
and breathing’s interrupted with a “hic.”

It’s Agent Bond’s prescription for each dark and dire prediction—
the evils of the world and all that’s vile.

Its side effects of laughter make you happy ever after
while staving off disaster with a smile.

 

 

 


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48 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    James,

    “Laid,” the past tense of “lay,” requires a direct object. The past tense of “lie (to be or place oneself in a flat position) is “lay.” So it’s, “They LAY down in their bed.”

    Reply
    • James Sale

      Not always, CB, not always: ‘If the hens don’t lay there will be no eggs for breakfast’ or ‘Whole fields of wheat have been laid by the wind’. No direct object there. I prefer laid here – it eye-rhymes with ‘said’ and keeps the tense in the past, which is what I want. The distinction you make is purely a grammarian’s distinction, but it swims against the tide of popular usage, so as a poet in this instance I’d prefer to be idiomatic. But thanks for the thought.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        James Sale,

        I read the same dictionary entry that you must have read, because I agree with the exceptions you cite. But your line has nothing to do with eggs or fields of wheat. It’s about placing oneself in a horizonal position. If by “popular usage” you mean incorrect usage, then I can’t argue with you; and what you call “idiomatic” is merely idiotic and uneducated, suitable only for dialect spoken by an ignorant narrator. I shoor hope I ain’t done you no wrong, but for me the misuse felt like a splinter in my thumb or a grain of sand in my eye.

  2. C.B. Anderson

    James Tweedie,

    Somehow you managed, except for desiccation/deprecation, to avoid the common rhyming faux pas of repeating the stressed rhyming syllable, as in vacation/imprecation. Let’s see, you have:

    va
    gra
    sta
    ma
    ca
    ra
    la
    pa
    cra
    ca
    na
    ra
    a
    stra

    It’s not easy doing that fourteen straight times.

    Reply
  3. C.B. Anderson

    All I can say, Susan, is that you must get up very early in the morning to be able to churn so much cream into sweet butter. All the cows in Texas seem to come running home for you, and to produce great quantities of fresh milk at your beck and call.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., this is Moosic to my ears. I am udderly over the Moooon. Thank you very much.

      Reply
  4. Peter hartley

    These were all very funny and Susan’s contributions the funniest of all. If women’s brains really were as vacuous as she of the stir-crazy poem would have us believe we’d have a lot to worry about. Read these two poems fast enough and they could have been written by W S Gilbert on a good day. Very impressed with James (Tweedie’s) avoidance of repetition in all those lines. Unfortunately James (Sale’s) “laid” down is indisputably “Lay” down in the context, at least in UK, this usage still only being contranatant among the illiterate.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Peter. I appreciate you reading and commenting on my poems. To be compared to W S Gilbert is a great compliment, in my book. I am going to disappoint you now – I seriously contemplated putting out the rubbish in my finery! LOL

      Reply
      • Peter Hartley

        Susan – You’d have disappointed me if you hadn’t. There can be no more noble motive to get dressed up than to empty the rubbish, (“trash”, as you call it, which is an infinitely more useful word than rubbish to the poet as it rhymes with ungrash, snash, counter-frash and disencash). And last time I mowed the lawn my elegant raiment comprised a bile-green ball-gown with top-hat and tails, waistcoat, Paisley-design squirrel furbelows and a pair of size 15 Krakows. And do you know the man next door but one came out to water his bulbs in the same outfit! I could have screamed.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Thank you for your hilarious comment; my sides are aching. The image conjured is priceless. My next trip to the dustbin begs for furbelows and Krakows. My neighbor’s Stetson and alligator skin cowboy boots will pale into insignificance when I burst forth with my rubbish bags.

  5. James Sale

    I have always objected to pedantry, Peter, and once you go down that route, it’s endless. Please, don’t you know that Hartley is spelt with a capital H – it’s a proper noun! It really is illiterate to put your name as ‘hartley’. But actually, does anyone care? Is the meaning obscured? We think we know who you are. If the meaning were compromised by the grammar, that would be a different matter. We have a pretty analogous situation with words like me/I and who/whom and whilst there are so-called rules, these do not prevent anybody understanding exactly what the meaning is. Why not stick to literary criticism instead of trying to be a Fowler or Partridge, which is really a patronising form of elitism.

    Reply
  6. Peter hartley

    “Does anybody care?”, you ask rhetorically. Well obviously many many people do, and when you commit a solecism like that (I’m not talking about typos) it can make you look either stupid or uneducated or both.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Thank you, Peter. Who ever said that poetic license entailed grammatical licentiousness (except the deconstructionists), or gave a flying f*** about a putative sight rhyme with “said?” As writers of English words we need to know this stuff, for otherwise the language will devolve into mere jargon. Although grammarians and lexicographers must accede to common usage, this doesn’t mean that they must be blind to formal (constitutive) rules. I’ve written this before: Just because mistakes are repeated over and over doesn’t imply that they become, as if by magic, automatically correct.

      Reply
      • Peter Hartley

        CBA – A single example to illustrate your last point. At one time the word contemporary used to mean existing at the same time (as something else). Now of course its meaning has been debased to present-day, modern or current. It is an example of how repeated ignorant mis-usage suddenly makes its new meaning correct and OK. But it isn’t OK. Because now if we are talking about Gobelin tapestries, and then in the next breath we mention “contemporary” painting nobody now has a clue whether we are talking about the Ghent Altarpiece, Jackson Pollock’s Untitled Dribble Number 476 or perhaps something more cutting-edge. The word contemporary no longer serves any distinct and useful function.Language really doesdevelop partly through the repeated mistakes people make. But it is only to be deplored when those mistakes work to the detriment of understanding and communication.

    • James Sale

      No, I mean anomalous, that’s exactly what I mean. And by way of passing, it makes you look stupid or uneducated – your inability to use capital letters for proper nouns. That’s where we are with pedantry – please, get that lower case h sorted! Of course we care; we care where meaning is at stake, but in this case, as I have made clear, it is not. One example I gave of this kind of usage – ‘Whole fields of wheat have been laid by the wind’ – I see no response to, yet it clearly contradicts what is being asserted about the need for a direct object; and this is to be found in a reputable book of grammar. ‘Laid’ here means ‘flattened’ by the wind and actually that sense hovers in my usage of it. All we are getting are ‘rules’ but no connection with expressiveness or meaning. As Dr Johnson would have said, ‘These are the petty cavils of petty minds’. We are The Society of Classical Poets, not The Society of Classical Pedants. If we imagine – metaphorically – every poem is a house or a building, then some – Paradise Lost, for example – might be considered a palace, a haiku might be a garden shed, and so on. But in estimating the building we look at the whole structure first and we examine it entirely. What we don’t do – if we have any critical nous at all – is to walk straight up, study one brick, and from that extrapolate a condemnation based on it. That would be ludicrous, but that is exactly the pedantry and lack of imaginative awareness that characterises CB Anderson’s approach and your all too-willing, lemming-like rush to join in. We are not trying to strait- jacket people here – remember, Homer nods, and Shakespeare, ‘would he had blotted a thousand lines’, cried Ben Jonson. What, then, for lesser mortals? Perfection is always the enemy of progress; we need to be encouraging poets to take risks in their writing (not modernist risks, of course, since we think that is nonsense), and not to be enslaved by a mechanical conformity. Indeed, mechanical conformity – a too rigid adherence to meter and rhyme – is the major defect of CB Anderson’s poetry (as my generous review of his collection intimated). I don’t know but it is probably true of yours too: people imagine they are writing poetry because it has meter and rhymes perfectly, when in fact they are simply creating verse. When you have this mindset, you experience doubts about yourself and what you are doing, and to compensate, you seek to make every one conform to your idea of what ‘it’ is. But basically, Classical/Formal poetry is much bigger than you – or me – or what we ‘think’ it is. Frankly, you are stuck in the past, but the classical poetry that needs to be written needs to come from the future! This is my third post on this, so I am not going to say anymore. Let others say what they feel. Too much self-justification is unbecoming. May your iambics slip sometime, for your sake.

      Reply
      • Peter Hartley

        And ANAMOLOUS is EXACTLY what I thought you meant!!!

      • C.B. Anderson

        James Sale,

        Your iambics often slip — but for whose sake?

      • C.B. Anderson

        Your example “Whole fields of wheat have been laid by the wind” is in the passive voice. It could be rewritten in the active voice as ‘The wind has laid whole fields of wheat. So there’s your direct object! In the passive voice the subject of a sentence functions as the object of an action.

  7. Mike Bryant

    I love all the poems on this post, especially Susan’s. Everyone knows that I am not biased at all.
    As for “laid”… it lies inside my “ancient sub-reptilian brain”. It conjures x-rated images that adds an extra shade of delicious meaning to the poem and to the discussion, or maybe it’s just me.
    Thanks C. B., for the quote.

    Reply
  8. Evan Mantyk

    For “laid,” I imagined it was within the poet’s right to elide or omit “themselves” as in

    They laid (themselves) down in their bed.

    But why do so? Perhaps because the inclusion of that final “d” sound is so dreary, deplorable, and deadly in the English language, which incidentally is a theme in Mr. Tweedie’s following poem.

    Mr. Sale’s poem, to me, catches the epic sweep of current events and diseases and plagues in general. I especially like “the swish of one black curtain,” a metaphor that illuminates the way in which history and world events are like an ongoing play, as Shakespeare wrote:

    “All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances;”

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Evan,

      I’m not quite sure whether or not it is valid to ellipse a direct object. In any case, adhering to standard English usage would have eliminated any controversy. The sweeping current events have nothing to do with conventional modes of established diction, unless it is shown that one of the symptoms of the Wuhan flu is general grammatical dysfunction. No one has challenged Mr. Sale’s poem on the grounds of relevance to our current situation. At issue is only whether he speaks the Queen’s English.

      Reply
  9. Joseph S. Salemi

    One of the most devilishly difficult things to teach students in a composition class is the complex distinction between /lie/ (to tell an untruth), /lie/ (to put yourself in a recumbent position), /lay/ (to place an object down), and /lay/ (the vulgar term for having intercourse). Too much precision in the matter can drive one crazy, and even highly literate speakers of English frequently get confused.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      No kidding, Joe. But here, on this site, those of us who demand precision do not think ourselves crazy. You are one of us, and I do not envy your devotion to the task you have undertaken to educate a select sample of the illiterate masses.

      Reply
  10. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I have read with interest the comments here and must say I agree to a certain extent with both sides of the argument. My qualifications amount to a BA Honors in English Literature and no more, so maybe my words are not weighty enough. I know I have a lot to learn from you all, and that is why I am on this site.
    I love James Sale’s poem. It dips into death perfectly, and it’s a shame the overall wonder of the poem has been overlooked because of the word ‘laid’. As a reader, I took it that “laid” was in the context of death – “laid to rest”, which is in complete keeping with James’ message. I do believe that perfect grammar counts, especially in these days when we’re told it doesn’t, and for that reason I appreciate the fine eye of C.B. and Peter.
    I always feel the final say should lie with the poet, but only if the poet is fully aware of his/her intent, and only when the poet is familiar with all the intricacies of literary device, grammar etc. This doesn’t mean that pointing out a seemingly obvious deviance from the course of literary purity should be overlooked, and I admire C.B. and Peter for their passion. I always benefit from these erudite observations. If someone pointed out a ‘fault’ of mine, it doesn’t mean I’d agree, and James certainly didn’t. In this case, James knows exactly what he means and his explanation for his choice resonates with me.
    The beauty of this site is that it is a platform for this type of discussion. I have belonged to sites where this type of robust interaction is frowned upon. I love the way we can disagree, even heatedly, and remain friends. Afterall, we are seeking the same goal – the revival of awesome poetry and the freedom to achieve that marvel.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      My only issue with your analysis was when you you wrote “laid to rest.” This implies a passive voice sentence such as “His body was laid to rest” wherein the direct object is “His body.” So James Sale is still on the hook. And if “James knows exactly what he means,” then why can he not express his thoughts in standard English?

      Reply
  11. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    James Sale and James A. Tweedie, it is a huge compliment to share this page with both of you. Your poems rock!

    Reply
  12. Monty

    Of the four poems below, I wouldn’t normally have commented on the first (which seemed rushed to me), but I found it to be deliciously ironic that one of the poem’s several faults was inadvertently highlighted by Mr Mantyk when he expressed a liking for “the swish of one black curtain”; because the word ‘the’ is missing in the poem: “And swish of one black curtain”. The fact that Mr Mantyk innocently added the ‘the’ in his comment is testament to the fact that the ‘the’ should naturally be in the poem. And now I’ve started, the “several” faults are:
    L10.. should read:
    ‘Disease, like death, is certain;’
    L13-14.. Given that the words “another Witness says” are separated by commas from the rest of the sentence.. if we extract those words, we’re left with “Oh yet ten thousand victims then”. What is “Oh yet”? And what is “then”? When is “then”?

    The 2nd poem . . . is as well-written as one would expect from Mr Tweedie: and has been cleverly constructed with its rhyme-repetition. It also contains a forceful closing couplet, which alone would be a worthy entrant in a Corona Couplet competition. The only snag for me was . . before I’d finished reading the whole piece, I was already starting to feel that the rhyme-repetition was becoming a tad over-dominating, with the potential to detract from the poem itself.

    The 3rd poem . . . is also well-written, and is fairly philosophical in the way it shows how the current crisis can oblige us to re-evaluate things which we might’ve once taken for granted. For one who can rhyme words effortlessly, it was mildly disappointing to note the author’s use of beckons/blessings. Regarding the closing couplet: I’m no expert, and I’d be interested to hear CB’s views if he’s reading this . . but I feel that question-marks should never be used in the middle of a sentence: only at the end. In this case, capital letters would’ve easily sufficed in conveying the meaning:
    “Perhaps I ought to ask not Why but How
    I overlooked the reverence of Now”.

    The 4th poem . . . is poetry of the highest order, written with such style and such a light touch: and some sumptuous turns-of-phrase such as “a plush ensemble swishing”.. “a sassy silk sensation in.. cerulean blue”.. “a flash sartorial flash”.. pure quality. In contrast to the first of these four poems, which refers to Corona in a direct and unsubtle way, this poem gives a completely different take on the Virus, showing how different folks are enduring and coping with their own personal house-arrest.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Monty, as you well know, I had decided to remain silent. I also said I was all about poetry, and I appreciate your considered and honest observations. Thank you. These are just the sort of comments I make an exception for.

      To answer your concerns, on the 3rd poem, my “No Tomorrow”, I agree with your points. I too wrestled over the beckons/blessings endings. I think blossoms/blessings may be preferable. It allows me to stay true to the meaning without taking an awkward liberty with the form. I’ll most certainly consider a possible change.

      The question mark issue had me treading the same paths of thought as you. I wanted to emphasize the questioning aspect of the poem. I tried capitals, but the capitals seemed too weak to make my point. The questioning aspect of this poem is of the essence. Of course I know my chosen arrangement is grammatically incorrect, and I know I am open to criticism, but I think my choice achieves the desired impact. However, I’m still open to further suggestion. I’m always open to suggestion.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Susan,

        Regarding beckons/blessings, I see that you were out of good options. The best I could come up with were lifts/gifts, but this is not good enough. Another possibility would be beckons/sequins, but this would not make Monty happy either. When I am faced with intractable rhyming problems, if the rhymes are important to me, I tend to restructure the lines in question. I’ve never regretted doing that.

      • Monty

        You’re right, Susan: I did “well know” that you no longer wished to converse with me. As such, I initially pondered for several minutes over whether or not to comment on the poems of someone who’d rather not receive my comments. Eventually, I decided that it’d seem vindictive to comment on only the first two poems, and that I should comment either on all four, or none. I chose all four. But in doing so, I decided – as can be seen – not to mention any author by name (which is alien to me; I normally always address authors directly, and by name), in the hope that you wouldn’t feel in any way compelled to reply. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise when you did.

        Anyroad, to the matter at hand – and the following is also for CB’s consideration as well as your own:

        In view of CB’s example of ‘To be or not to be’ . . in the poem itself, there’s no question-mark after the second ‘be’, for the simple reason that the narrator’s not actually asking a question, but merely stating that THAT – ‘to be or not to be’ – is the question he would ask if he chose to ask it. (If it was worded differently: ‘Tell me, is it to be or not to be?’.. or to paraphrase: ‘Are we to be wed, yes or no?’ . . that’s a direct question, and, as such, would contain a question-mark.) That’s why there’s no question-mark in that line: ‘coz there’s no question. Whereas in Liz Browning’s opening line: ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’ there IS a question-mark, ‘coz she’s asking a direct question, even if only to herself.

        In this sense, in your two lines . .
        “Perhaps I ought to ask not why but how
        I overlooked the reverence of now.”
        . . you’re not actually asking a question, but merely stating that perhaps you SHOULD ask yourself that question. Hence, for the same reason that there’s no question-mark after ‘To be or not to be’.. I feel there shouldn’t be one anywhere in your two lines – not even at the end of the second line.

        I’m confused, CB, over your claim that ‘why’ and ‘how’ – in quotes – “represent a sentence (or the beginning of an implied sentence).” For a start, Susan’s two lines above don’t contain either a quote or a question: they only tell us that she’s pondering to herself whether she should ask a question. The reason I’m confused (apart from being unfamiliar with your word “intralinear”) is because it seems like you’re saying it’s permissible to write: ‘He decided to call the garage to ask why? the car’s not ready yet’. Surely not! Surely I’m reading your words wrongly.. yeah?

        Of course you’re right, Susan, in saying your choice (the ?’s) “achieved the desired impact”, it did so abundantly; but at the same time, you seem to be equally sure that its “grammatically incorrect”. I wasn’t so sure, that’s why I initially asked CB’s advice. I was merely going by feeling.. it ‘felt’ wrong to me. If it was me, I think I’d favour CB’s suggestion of using italics (if only I knew how to find them on my i-pad!). Other than that, I think I personally would just use apostrophes – as I often do to highlight a word:
        Perhaps I ought to ask not ‘why’ but ‘how’
        I overlooked the reverence of ‘now’.
        But I feel that using capital letters is just as effective, and maybe visually neater on the page.

        Regarding the beckons/blessings thing: I can only offer a weak and tenuous suggestion:
        ‘Yet still the sun exudes its bright fluorescings;
        The moon still beams its magic through the black . . ‘

    • C.B. Anderson

      “Why?” in quotes, just as “How?” represents a sentence (or the beginning of an implied sentence). Both are objects of the verb “ask.” One could accomplish the same thing by putting Why? and How? in italics. It’s kind of like writing, “To be or not to be” is a famous line from Shakespeare, Here the line is the subject of the sentence. So in this type of usage intralinear punctuation marks make sense.

      Reply
      • Susan J B

        C.B. and Monty, I have found your observations and suggestions interesting and helpful. I really like the beckons/sequins. It adds to the image I wanted without taking a horrible liberty on the rhyme front. Thank you, C.B. I also like the idea of using italics or single quotation marks for the why/how issue. Thank you for bringing this to the fore, Monty.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Monty, I noticed that you’ve reference four poems. There are in fact five. I do believe you would enjoy the fifth.

      Reply
      • Monty

        Well, I dunno how I missed the fifth! I’m sure there were only four there when I initially commented.

        I’ll have to wait till I’m on a plane before reading it. I’m currently at Delhi airport, and I’ve just managed to wrangle my way onto a mercy-flight to Frankfurt which leaves in an hour’s time. Lufthansa have laid-on the mercy-flight to repatriate German nationals only, but a German friend of mine pretended that I lived with her in Germany, so they let me buy a ticket. Phew! What a relief. There are no flights to France until next week, so I would’ve been stranded in India till then. My only concern now is getting from Frankfurt to Nice (where I live) tomorrow. 900kms, and as far as I know, there are no flights, trains or coaches. But, for now, I’ll be happy just to be in central Europe. Never a dull moment . .

      • C.B. Anderson

        Susan,

        In response to your positive response to Monty’s suggestion about single quotes, please be advised that single quotes have very narrow and specific purposes in standard American English: A quote within a quote is one example. Another has to do with standard botanical nomenclature. For instance, cultivars of species are set in single quotation marks. One example is Picea glauca ‘Conica’ which is commonly known as Dwarf Alberta Spruce. The point is that single quotes (not apostrophes, though they look the same in most typography) cannot (or at least should not) be used at the whim of a writer. So it’s double quotes, italics or some heretofore undiscovered means of differentiation between normal text and the highlighted elements.

      • Monty

        I duly found the fifth poem when I was at Delhi Airport, so I tried to keep that page on my phone, thus I could read it when I was on the (no wifi) plane: but, alas.. the page somehow disappeared.

        But now, after nearly 50 hours of travelling through lockdown from Goa to Nice – via Delhi, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Zurich, Geneva and Lyon (one leg of which entailed a 5-hour stint in the back of a lorry) – I’m finally in the comfort and the wifi of my own abode; and have since duly read and enjoyed the “pandemic spirit-lifter” (with the delightful double entendre of the word ‘spirit’).

        Regarding its merits: I’d rather not repeat the same words which I attributed to ‘Stir-Crazy’, for fear of sounding repetitive, but I’m left with no choice, Susan; they’re the exact words I’d use for this poem if ‘Stir-Crazy’ didn’t exist: “written with such style”.. “with such a light touch”.. “some sumptuous turns-of-phrase” (in this case, “breathing’s interrupted”.. what a brilliant way of describing a ‘hiccup’; and “quaffed in measures vast and undeterred”.. I especially like the use of ‘undeterred’, as in: ‘I ain’t lettin’ no virus stop me from getting smashed.’). For me to try thinking of different words to avoid repetition would’ve been pointless, ‘coz the above words are the ones which best convey how I feel about this poem, especially the “light touch” bit, which is the overriding feature of all your poetry.

        Whenever I use the words ‘light touch’, I mean them to describe how utterly unforced a poem seems to be, without any sense at all that the author used a word or two that we wouldn’t normally use in that way, just ‘coz they couldn’t think of another; or, as I often see on these pages, authors writing such as ‘enough I’d had’ instead of ‘I’d had enough’, for no other reason than ‘had’ rhymed with a nearby word. There’s not a hint of such corner-cutting in any of your three pieces above; not one instant where I might’ve stopped and thought: ‘We wouldn’t normally say it that way when speaking’ . . your words just glide along so naturally, and exactly as they would in conversational speech. And your consistency in achieving this is owing to how effortlessly you write. Those for whom writing’s an effort never achieve that lightness of touch.. ‘coz it’s an effort! They may write really well, but without that light touch. But for those as lucky as you, for whom it’s so natural as to be NOT an effort . . that’s how it’s achieved.

        It’s for these reasons that I now hold you in the same esteem as I do Amy Foreman. Ever since I’ve been affiliated with SCP, I’ve felt that she’s been the best female poet here by a country-mile, for all the reasons I listed above. I now see it as Amy and Susan.. and then the rest of ‘em! Even those ladies on here who’ve got books for sale on Amazon: or those whose poems/books have been nominated for some chummy, flimsy award . . they’ll never achieve that lightness of touch that you and Amy have.

        Stay light . .

  13. C.B. Anderson

    At the end of the day, Sales’ poem sucks wind. He shoulda stuck to ducks.

    Reply
  14. Monty

    Does anyone reading this (if anyone is) know if there’s an ‘italics’ facility on an i-pad?

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I don’t know, Monty, but sure as hell there’s no such facility on this comment program. The only other option is to write your comment in a word file, and then copy and paste it. “intralinear” means nothing more or less than “within a line.” Imagine “Why” or “How” as italicized or otherwise set apart from the main text. Consider, then, a sentence such as this:

      The question I put to the executioner was WHY? not HOW?

      Does this help any to dispel your aversion to punctuation marks in the middle of a sentence? If not, then I should give up trying to explain. How to effectively manage such implied interrogations is an issue writers of poetry AND prose must struggle with in the course of any sufficiently complicated exposition. The best solutions always depend on how well the idea is communicated. This is where rhetoric meets orthographic praxis.

      Reply
      • Jan Darling

        Dear CB – a question this, certainly not an implied criticism: I would have said (or written) “Intralinear” means nothing more NOR less ……. Are the two equally acceptable? I am still in the grip of Nuns who gave me such a grounding in English grammar that when I left the convent and went to a state school, at 13, I was ahead by nearly two years. But they punished me by complaining about my Latin pronunciation as “that’s Church Latin”. With a “dead language”….on what, with which or invoking whose authority could my Latin and Mathematics teacher claim to speak?

      • Monty

        I’m sorry to tell you, CB, but you’re wasting your time offering such options to one as computer-illiterate as me. I don’t know what a ‘word-file’ is, and I don’t know how to ‘copy and paste’ something. I really am that ignorant.

        Regarding the question-mark thing, I still don’t feel that I could ever put one anywhere in a sentence except at the end; ‘coz I just can’t countenance the visual aspect of seeing a question-mark NOT followed by a capital letter . . it seems alien to me. That’s just the way I feel about it; and we can’t change our feelings, can we? We can change almost everything about ourselves if we so wish: but we can’t change our feelings . . they just happen. Hence, with the suggestion you gave above of . .

        The question I put to the board was WHY? not HOW?

        . . I personally would render the last two words into a new sentence:

        The question I put to the board was Why? Not How?

        On reflection, I think it’s best to leave the matter in the hands of your astute observation above: “The best solutions always depend on how well the idea is communicated”.

  15. Joseph S. Salemi

    To Jan Darling —

    Strictly speaking, that is correct. The adversative conjunction “nor” should be used when both elements in a sentence express negativity (e.g. “Neither John NOR Roger was present,” “She did not speak to him, NOR did she write to him”).

    The problem is that we have an idiom (“more or less”), which Kip Anderson was employing in his sentence. It’s good policy in writing not to vary an idiom, and I assume this is why Kip did not use “nor.” It’s not a mistake, but we need to keep in mind James Sales’s observation about too much over-precision.

    Like you, I took some flak in school from teachers who wanted everyone to use the modern Germanic pronunciation of Latin rather than Church Latin. So you had to pronounce “vicissim” as “We kiss ’em.” This example is also mentioned in the novel “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.”

    Reply
  16. Granny

    Many thanks to the talents of all who have contributed poems about this pandemic. I am just a lonely grandmother looking for poems to send to my granddaughter to remember her quarantined 18th birthday and high school graduation. With dramatic flare and her gift of gab, she will have many stories to tell to her children and grandchildren about this nightmarish experience.

    I am sharing poems by Jan Darling and Susan Jarvis Bryant – many, many thanks – The Roll of Pandemic Poetry, No Tomorrow and A Stir-Crazy Sonnet.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dear Granny,
      I am thrilled you were able to find some sunshine poetry here on SCP to send to your granddaughter. She sounds like a young lady who appreciates the wonder of words and I’m pleased to hear we may be able to make a difficult time for her a bit better.

      My own grandmother had a huge influence on my life with her love and guiding hand. I’m certain your dear granddaughter appreciates all you are doing for her during these tough times. I wish her a beautiful and successful life ahead.

      Reply
      • Jan Darling

        Dear Granny – thank you for the compliment you make to my poem. Your grand daughter’s ‘coming of age’ makes me want to ask what was the general societal ambience and where were you on your 18th birthday? Grannies have a very special place in the hearts of their grand-daughters. And thank you for placing me in the awe-inspiring company of Susan, whose work I greatly admire.

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