The written word is magical
And not just something clerical.

You scratch some marks into the sand;
I see the marks and understand
What you are thinking in your head
Without a single word being said.

Like channeling or ESP
The thought goes straight from you to me.

And as you read this poem you will find
That, just like magic, you have read my mind.



A Preposition Proposition

A preposition is a word
You should not end a sentence with.
To do so would be quite absurd,
An insult to both kin and kith.

But more germane and the point to:
I’ve traveled the whole world about,
Lived trials and tribulations through;
And what I found it all throughout,

Is, “Neighbors you must do unto,
What you would have them to you do.”



Similes and Metaphors

All similes and metaphors
Are similar. But similes
Are “like a plate of petit-fours”
While metaphors “are vintage cheese.”

A simile is to compare
Two things as being much the same.
A metaphor is when a chair
Is “solid as a window frame.”

Though, “Allegory, metaphor
Are much alike,” makes sense to me.
I must admit that at its core
The phrase itself’s a simile.

But, “Simile, analogy
Walk hand in hand,”—if we explore
The phrase—we find that it must be
Acknowledged as a metaphor.

This subject, though well worth exploring,
Will, nonetheless, leave most folks snoring.




Tetrameter’s a funny thing,
Iambic or trochaic.
It’s useful if you want to sing,
It’s modern, yet, archaic.

Some lines may end with feminine
And some with masculine;
(Two words that rhyme with “Bedouin,”
And “eight-string mandolin.”)

This poem’s not what should be-known
As a full-on “4-beater.”
The 3-beat lines make it full-blown
C.M., or Common Meter.

“There is a house in New Orleans”
Is C.M. through and through.
“Amazing Grace” and “Auld Lang Syne”
Are Common Meter, too.

Four beats in all four lines, you see,
In music, that’s L.M.
“A poem lovely as a tree”
Is typical of them.

Tetrameter and basketball?
It helps if you are taller.
Four feet turns out to be too small.
(Four hands is even smaller.)

Erato and Calliope;
Each one I’d like to meet her.
They’d speak pentameter to me,
I’d speak in tetra-meter.

So, write a sonnet if you dare,
But if your words are few,
Don’t try to pad it with hot air—
Tetrameter will do.



James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.

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36 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley

    James – I have recently written a poem whose first two lines are virtually the same as the first two lines of your second. If there should be any problems over copyright infringement mine was written with a porcupine quill on chain-laid paper with a clearly visible watermark used only between 1563 and 1571. It may of course be ESP. My poem, like yours, is also highly convoluted and brain-sappingly involved but yours beats mine because it rhymes, scans and reasons. A very pleasant and amusing diversion for a Wednesday afternoon.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Peter, the second was written on a clay tablet in cuneiform, the third in runes, the fourth on papyrus and the first, of course, was never actually written at all. Imitation is flattery and you have the right to copy, right?

  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    Mr. Tweedie,
    Thanks– these are great fun, as is the banter you and Mr. Hartley engage in.

  3. James A. Tweedie


    I had never thought of “Abracadabra” as form of abecediary before. I am glad that my casual use of the word lends support to your well-formed and well-expressed argument in support of alliteratively-inspired, full-brain poetry! In these divisive times, it is refreshing to find something that two people can agree on!

    And, yes indeed, “Magic” and “Muse” go well together in more ways than one!

  4. Margaret Coats

    James and Peter, you are quite remarkable poets, having written works that are centuries or millenia old, yet still in copyright, as you are both clearly alive. James, “Similes and Metaphors” would make a good essay test for students to prove how well they understand the difference! Peter, I hope you used Secretary hand on your chain-laid paper, or your claim will hardly withstand scrutiny. However, I have a suggestion. Among the learned books I read for my dissertation, one spent a full chapter discussing the historic transition from singing and hearing poetry to writing and reading poetry. Much was made of the fact that writing materials have edges, beyond which neither writer nor reader can proceed. This was supposed to have caused a certain mental blockage, thus shortening poems. Do you not have something in that Tudor desk below your computer about the limits or boundaries of our current media? It must be short, for you know that the longer it is, the more likely it will deform itself or disappear into an electronic black hole.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Don’t you hate it when you reach the bottom of the page and there is not enough paper left to

    • Peter Hartley

      Margaret – You say we are both clearly alive. In the case of James I fear you may be making an unwarranted assumption based on spurious evidence. He is scarcely constrained by the edges of his writing materials as he has been known to inscribe the entire works of Shakespeare within the bounds of a second-class postage stamp and still leave room for the complete text of his Middle English / Polish grammar and his alphabetical concordance to the OED. And once James really gets going he could sonneteer for Western Europe. He got round this business of the copyright infringement by composing his poetry in Demotic and then translating the entire text into Portuguese. I believe copyright laws operate slightly differently over there. Faking an Elizabethan manuscript is easy if you learn “command of hand” before you start, where you make the ascenders and descenders of your letters turn into little scrolls and curlicues at their tips. `You MUST have seen examples of Elizabeth I’s signature. I believe her head was supposed to be enneacuneate or shaped like nine wedges, but don’t get me started on the shapes of people’s heads.

      • James A. Tweedie

        The legal matter of maintaining copyright while still alive offers new insight into the phrase, “Dead to rights.”

  5. C.B. Anderson


    I love words about words and phrases about phrases. It is a very good idea to get all of our terms in order. Was it not Winston Churchill who said, as a wry refutation of the premise of your second poem, “Bad grammar is something up with which I will not put.”? This is formally correct, but it isn’t English!

    • Peter Hartley

      CBA – Churchill was merely demonstrating the ridiculousness of the rule about not using prepositions to end sentences with. `In the example he used, the word “with” does not act as a preposition but is part of the phrasal verb “to put up with,” and Churchill would have known that better than anyone. What you should try to avoid, however, is ending a sentence with “with.” Ending a sentence with two prepositions is a trifle excessive.

      • C.B. Anderson


        Is that not exactly what I just wrote?! But please give me an example of ending a sentence with two prepositions.

      • Peter Hartley

        CBA – please refer to my above communication where you will find my penultimate sentence ends with two prepositions. Perhaps you blinked at the wrong moment while you were reading it

  6. Jeff Eardley

    As a newcomer to SCP, I find all these verses and the following linguistic discussion highly amusing and most entertaining. It reminds me of the day at school where we were tasked to insert the word “and” into a sentence five times in a row. It is possible.

    • Mike Bryant

      Jeff, here’s my tricky attempt:

      There are at least three different ways to pronounce the word “and” – and, ând, and änd.

      • Mike Bryant

        This is the one that’s all over the internet:

        The landlord of a pub called The Pig-And-Whistle asked a signwriter to make a new sign. When he saw it he thought that the words were too close together so he said to the signwriter “I want two hyphens between Pig and And, and And and Whistle”.

        But wouldn’t the sentence, ‘I want to put two hyphens between the words Pig and And, and And and Whistle’ have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before Pig, and between Pig and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and Whistle, and after Whistle?

        I stole both of the above examples. 🙂

      • Mike Bryant

        I’ve just realized that an infinite number of “ands” can be strung together in a sentence. However, I don’t want to read that sentence.

      • Peter Hartley

        Mike and Jeff – the whole question of how many consecutive “ands” you can legitimately have in a sentence was exhaustively discussed by Monty and me under my Great War poems (where else?) published here on 25th April 2019, in which I managed six, but since then I have rather cleverly managed to fit seventeen “ands” all rhyming perfectly with flawless scansion in a single haiku.

      • Monty

        . . . and I can tell you, Pete, that I shall never forget our exchange on these pages last year when you introduced me to the ‘Pig and Whistle’ thing. What a revelation that was. I was utterly shocked to learn that the word ‘and’ could be legitimately used five times consecutively in a sentence.

        I’ve since surprised numerous chums with it, always beginning with the same-worded question of: ‘D’you think it’s possible to legitimately use the word ‘and’ five consecutive times in a sentence’. And, like me last year, they’ve all gave a resounding “No, surely not”. And once I’ve showed them the example, they’re as shocked as I was initially.

        D’you remember earlier this year (or maybe last year) when Mr Sale launched a scathing attack on you because you wrote your name as ‘Peter hartley’ (without a capital ‘H’)? He was literally apoplectic! With that in mind, I found it both ironic and amusing that in his initial comment (above) in this thread, he’s omitted to begin either his first or second name with a capital letter.

    • Monty

      These are all very clever pieces, James; both humorous and educational at the same time. They remind me of a similar-themed poem on these pages a cuppla years back about a composition teacher addressing his class. As with that poem, these ones of yours have, in my opinion, as good a chance of educating others on the given subjects as it would if they were trying to educate themselves from official learning-books . . purely because some would find it easier to absorb the lessons in the humorous way that you’ve demonstrated above.

      I must say that your second piece is exceptional, because of the playful and imaginative way in which you’ve constructed the poem to coalesce with its subject. Again, such humour greatly enhances the educational effect of the piece. Also, the closing couplet of the third piece is a real capture!

      A minor quibble: In L6 of the first piece, you may or may not concur that the word ‘single’ might be better substituted for the word ‘sole’, just to even-out the metre:
      ‘Without a sole word being said’.

      • Peter Hartley

        Monty – welcome back after a short absence from SPC’s discussions. I do very well remember the heinous incident and I even remember making the conscious decision to leave the grave blunder as it was and not to waste my time correcting it. With superb ratiocination I decided that whether I used a small pee as in peter or a big p as in Peter most people would be able to reason out exactly what I meant in far less time than it would take me to correct it. I do also remember crossing swords with Mr Sale over his apparent belief that spelling and grammar and punctuation don’t matter .Those who have poor spelling, grammar and punctuation often think along the same lines. I always look forward to your contributions on this site and to the ineluctable logic of your remarks.

  7. David Watt

    James, these are a most entertaining set of poems. You sum it up perfectly by saying in Abracadabra: “the written word is magical”

    • Jeff Eardley

      Mike, your second example has set my brain spinning. Wonderful stuff!

    • James A. Tweedie

      You’re welcome, Cynthia. Your smile makes it all worthwhile…and, by the way, welcome to the SCP.

  8. James Sale

    All they clever word stuff reminds me that we mustn’t forget punctuation either. What is the difference between a kleptomaniac and a literalist?

    Think about it before going on-line

    The answer is: a comma!

    The kleptomaniac … takes things, literally


    the literalist… takes things literally

  9. James A. Tweedie

    Cute. Consider letting the muse extract a poem on the subject–half from each side of your brain!

    Good grammar aside, would the comma be necessary if the word order was changed?

    The kleptomaniac literally takes things.
    The literalist literally takes things.

    • James Sale

      No, I don’t think so James. The sentence The literalist literally takes things does not make him/her a literalist but a kleptomaniac; however, were you to reverse word order: The literalist takes things literally, then you would achieve the semantic contrast without the comma!

    • Jeff Eardley

      In England, we have “maniokleptics”, people who steal from stores, regret it, and carefully return items back to store. Ha Ha.

      • Mike Bryant

        Jeff, what do you call someone who carefully disassembles his Airfix Sopwith Camel… removes the paint, decals and glue, places it back in the box, surreptitiously returns it to the store, and then returns later to purchase it because he thinks he paid too little the first time? Just asking for a friend…

  10. James A. Tweedie

    You’re welcome, Cynthia. Your smile makes it all worthwhile…and, by the way, welcome to the SCP.

  11. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    James, thank you! Not only are your set of poems educative and highly entertaining, the observations and conversations they have generated make me realize why this site is so darn great!

    • Jeff Eardley

      To Mike’s question, sounds like an Amazon Prime customer to me, apart from the bit about re-purchasing!


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