Your Smart Device

a rondeau

Your smart device was strange and new;
It learned your voice and habits too;
It played the songs you liked to hear;
It answered your requests with cheer,
And spat out facts without ado.

You didn’t know what would ensue:
You need it now and can’t eschew
What has become to you quite dear—
Your smart device.

Your memory’s outside of you,
For in your aid it grew and grew;
Your knowledge will not reappear,
For now you worship and revere
(An act that isn’t now taboo)
Your smart device.

 

The World Belongs to Him

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14 NASB)

The world belongs to one who’s grim;
Though Lucifer’s his pseudonym,
His light is dark, his up is down,
And those within his worldwide town
Recite a grisly requiem.

The evil one sought to condemn
A Savior born in Bethlehem;
To him who struck the Servant down
The world belongs.

The second coming will bedim
The dark light of the interim;
He’ll be our light and take a crown;
On earth, He will attain renown;
The Lord has come, and now to Him
The world belongs.

 

 

Dealing with Death

a parallel sonnet*

Some people fear the reaper’s ashen face;
This terror haunts them as they plan their lives;
Suppressing fear, they try to run their race,
But all the while they know that none survives.

Some people court the death that is their fate;
They dress in black and don the Gothic style;
Despite their fears, they tend to gravitate
To death and doom, and greet them with a smile.

Some people feel that life goes on and on,
That death is just a door to longer life;
They neither seek nor shun, when time is gone,
That open door that ends their days of strife.

Some fear their fate and fight against the night;
Some flirt with death and try to face their fright;
Some feel that life’s forever filled with light.

 

*The above poem is an example of a new type of sonnet that I invented called the “parallel sonnet.” It is structured like the Shakespearean sonnet, but it ends with a triplet instead of a couplet: abab cdcd efef ggg. The three quatrains introduce three distinct yet related ideas, and the three lines of the triplet summarize, in the same order, the three quatrains.

 

Alan Steinle is a writer, editor, and Spanish translator. He lives in Washington state. His website is https://alansite.net


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19 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    Rhyme? Check. Rhythm? Check. Form? Check. Creativity? Check. Originality? Check. Clear expression of cogent thought? Check. Misspelling of “aide?” Check. Good poetry? Check. Pleasure to read? Check. Well done? Check. Thank you, Alan? Check.

    Reply
    • Alan

      It seems that I passed… unless there are unchecked items that you did not list, or that someone will note later.

      Reply
  2. Alan

    If anyone is interested, I posted an exercise called “Ad Lib Sonneteering” in the Workshop section of this site. It’s not an official contest. It’s just for fun.

    And for the admin, there seem to be some spam posts in the Workshop section.

    Reply
  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    The rondeau is one of my favorite forms and you have done it every justice in the first two poems. I particularly like “The World Belongs to Him“ – the end rhymes and the message are spot on – “one who’s grim/pseudonym is perfect! The parallel sonnet is an alluring challenge that I must rise to. Alan, thank you for your inspiration.

    Reply
    • Alan

      I would like to see someone else write a parallel sonnet. Maybe they’ll catch on. I’m sure it will be a breeze for you. Sometimes, the hardest part is coming up with a topic.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Alan, after an inspirational trip to Brazos Bend State Park near Houston, I decided to take on the challenge of a parallel sonnet. It’s a wonderful form and I hope I have done it justice.

        Beneath Brazos Bend Beauty

        I mull upon lime lily pads so vast
        Blue herons loom aboard them on the lake,
        As coots and hooting gallinules sail past
        And pollen-powdered bees buzz in their wake.

        Seduction spreads white wonder under gold
        With alabaster petals, pale and pure:
        The grace of sun-laced, aqueous blooms unfold
        To lemon-stamen, siren-scent allure.

        But in their shadows ‘neath the murky swamp,
        Dark peril lurks in thick, reptilian skin
        With juts of jagged teeth designed to chomp
        On things with fur or feather, shell or fin.

        Sweet creatures unaware of Nature’s price;
        In Texas, Monet’s floral paradise
        Conceals a nip that grips with deadly vise.

      • Alan

        Your poem is definitely an original take on the form, but I’m used to writing primarily about abstract ideas rather than about concrete objects. I’m having a hard time separating the three ideas of the poem. Maybe they could be the following: Some creatures are naïve; the park has many beautiful flowers; there is danger lurking underneath it all. If these represent the three ideas, how are they connected or related? By all being about the park? That seems like a kind of tenuous connection.

        I guess in my parallel sonnets, the three ideas have contrasted with each other rather than being more sequential. There’s nothing wrong with your sonnet, but it is a bit different from what I had in mind. Like I said, I tend to think abstractly, and just use concrete details as examples of my abstract statements. Maybe your ideas are more implicit or inductive.

        Perhaps you could write a second parallel sonnet (if you feel like it) with ideas like these (or similar to these): nature can be naïve; nature can be beautiful; nature can be sinister. That way, the three ideas are all about different aspects of nature. Maybe I am too explicit and straightforward at times, but that’s just the way I think.

        Some other things: You do use a lot of adjectives. In my experience, a “nip” is a small bite—nothing to be worried about. I attended Texas A&M, in College Station, near the Brazos River (quite a while ago). I see the park is south of Houston.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Alan, thank you for your in depth instructions. I can see I’ve missed the point entirely. I wrote my sonnet as a conceit – an extended metaphor for an artist’s view of a world, bought by the naive, with a demon lurking beneath. It’s woven with a thread of humor – hence the reference to Monet with the ornate description of Waterlilies and the laughable (or so I thought) “nip”. I tried to sum it up with a smile at the end. I usually leave a little room for the reader’s ideas – this time, I fear I may have left far too much room. Thank you for the challenge. I enjoyed it.

      • Alan

        I guess I’m not very good at perceiving other types of humor, although I do have a dry or deadpan sense of humor myself. I’m also not very well versed in the visual arts. But we can’t be experts at everything. I was also going to tell you that your poem reminds me of a sonnet I wrote called “Nature’s Paradox,” which contrasts the harmony and ugliness of nature.

  4. Margaret Coats

    Three good 15-line poems! The rondeaux are well developed, especially “The World Belongs to Him,” where “To him who struck the Servant down” requires a careful second reading to be sure of the meaning. The initial uncertainty of the central portion makes it a good transition between first and third parts of that poem.

    The structure of the parallel sonnet is quite clear even without explanation, which means that it is highly imitable. To my mind, that is what you want for a form you’ve invented. Success with the form comes as examples of it increase in number, and though you have probably written more yourself, more authors is even better.

    As far as my collection of sonnet types goes, you are in fact the inventor of this one. There is just one early poet (Barnabe Barnes) who uses a number of quinzains as sonnets; I checked his secular sequence, and he never uses your rhyme scheme but has an 8:7 proportion always ending in a couplet, with rhyme scheme abab cdcd efeff gg.

    Your requirement that the parallel sonnet triplet should refer back to the three quatrains should help to keep it a recognizable subgenre. Sonnet critic John Fuller suggests that new variants work best within a sequence of standard sonnets; that may be a useful opinion if you already have others, but I wouldn’t create them just because Fuller says so. Best wishes!

    Reply
    • Alan

      Thanks for the comments. I have written only five parallel sonnets so far. The first one I wrote is called “What Is a Tree?” and I invented the form “accidentally” while writing a Shakespearean sonnet. You can find my parallel sonnets by searching for “parallel” on my website. I tend to write only when I have some inspiration, so I cannot guarantee that I will ever write another. There are so many forms that I haven’t tried yet.

      Reply
  5. C.B. Anderson

    Nice work, Alan. I especially appreciate poems that develop an idea within the structure of a fixed form. No wasted words here — not an ounce of flab. Your control of these disparate forms is impeccable.

    Reply
    • Alan

      Thank you. I try to keep improving.

      I find it interesting that no one has commented much on the content of the poems yet.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Alan,

        The let me be the first. As for the first poem, I’m not a big fan of techno-poetry, thought it is often wry and rueful. Let me show you a poem by Don Paterson, published in 2003, that really got my juices flowing:

        Web

        The deftest leave no trace: type, send, delete,
        clear HISTORY. The world will never know.
        Though a man might wonder, as he crossed the street
        what it was that broke across his brow
        or vanished on his tongue and left it sweet

        The second poem, a very interesting meditation on the interplay of light and dark, is right up my alley. You keep going back and forth, but finally the Prince of the world is dethroned by the King of heaven and earth. It’s a very complicated telling, as it should be, for the theology behind it is also very complicated. I wish I could refer you to my poem titled “Our Father” but if I tried to pull up a link, then all I’ve written so far would be erased.

        In the third poem everything is spelled out, so it would be hard to add anything to what has already been written. If it has a flaw, the flaw is that you leave nothing to the reader’s imagination.

      • Alan

        C. B. Anderson,

        I have a contact form on my website. You can send me the link to your poem there if you want.

  6. Alan

    C.B. Anderson,

    Thank you for your additional input. “Your Smart Device” was partially inspired by these verses:

    “What profit is the idol [or graven image] when its maker has carved it,
    Or an image [literally, a cast metal image], a teacher of falsehood?
    For its maker trusts in his own handiwork
    When he fashions speechless idols.

    “Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’
    To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’
    [Calls to mind the wake words: “Alexa,” “Hey, Siri,” and “Okay, Google.”]
    And that is your teacher?
    Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
    And there is no breath [alt. trans.: spirit] at all inside it.
    (Habakkuk 2:18-19 NASB)

    Reply

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