When Less Is More

An SCP Poetry Challenge

by James A. Tweedie

In a recent email exchange with a poet friend, I found myself typing the following sentence:

“Poetic forms, such as sonnet, etc. force poets to trim their words down to the minimum for maximum effect.”

This raised a question in my mind as to whether a poem can be more effective when it allows readers to use their imaginations to fill in the gaps rather than spelling it all out for them?

A sonnet, for example, severely limits what a poet can say. Thoughts, feelings and ideas must be concentrated insofar as the form demands that each word be chosen carefully to generate the desired effect when bound by the additional limitations of meter and rhyme.

Even so, a sonnet utilizes a lot of words compared to a haiku. Indeed, the severe limitations of a haiku challenges poets to find a way to contain large thoughts and images in only a few, carefully selected words. This, for me, is an essential skill for a poet to learn—to effectively create large thoughts and images in as few words as necessary.

To test this, I spontaneously jotted down a set of somewhat random images as a haiku and then pondered what larger thoughts and images were suggested by the poem without spelling them out—gaps that would require the reader to “fill in the blanks,” so to speak.

Here is the haiku I wrote:


Sunlit frozen pond;
A thousand diamonds glisten.
Will you marry me?


If you—and I mean you—were to expand this haiku into a prose paragraph, where would your imagination take you? What story would you tell? And—to carry this one step further—how would you take your expanded thoughts and express them in the form of a sonnet?

I took my own bait and, in a surprisingly short amount of time, answered my own question by filling in the gaps with the following sonnet:


Like lovers in a tightly held embrace
The winter sun plunged deep into the pond
And probed the depths with gentle, luminous grace
As I pursued an even deeper bond.

As diamond-scattered sunlight ricochetted
From off the water’s rippled-frozen sheen
I knelt with proffered ring in hand and laid
My hopes and dreams before my love-sought queen.
In making her reply she took my hand,
And with a smile she raised me to my feet.
“In love,” she said, “as equals we will stand,
And side by side our joy will be complete.”

As diamonds flashed like sun-fire from her ring
Our kiss turned frozen winter into spring.


My sonnet expanded the original idea tucked into the haiku by filling in details that could just as easily been filled in by the reader’s own imagination.

My conclusion? A poem doesn’t have to say everything and—especially in formal poetry—it is often the case that less is more.



1. Write a haiku on any subject, and then
2. Expand the haiku into a sonnet by filling in the gaps.

Write the haiku first, and then the sonnet. And while you are allowed to base your sonnet on a previously written haiku, it defeats the intent of the challenge to use a previously written sonnet!

When done, place your effort in the comments. Note that there is no prize and there will be no winners and losers. This is a challenge, not a contest.

Have fun! And good luck!

(And please don’t point out that the word “diamonds” has three syllables, not two. Sometimes I “write ‘em the way I speak ‘em.”).




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The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

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52 Responses

  1. Roy Eugene Peterson

    This is an amazing challenge. You have set the bar so high for us with your extremely beautiful love sonnet. I am like you in writing like you pronounce words as almost every American would. I will give another example: almost all of us pronounce “business” as “bizniss.” I have one question: If we write a haiku and post it here, does it mean we cannot use it for Margaret Coat’s annual Haiku Competition that comes in late June or early July? Writing the sonnet would take out the mystery and various interpretations that could be ascribed to it. Maybe only Margaret can answer this.

    • James A. Tweedie


      Choose a haiku that you wouldn’t plan on submitting to the contest! It’s that simple!

      The haiku does not have to be very good at all. The trick is to expand and weave the unspoken image(s) into a sonnet. The end game is the sonnet, not the haiku.

  2. Diane F Robertson

    The following is my attempt at the challenge.

    Pretty blue eyes spy
    Brand new home in mid-July-
    Sixteen winters pass

    Within a bustling shelter you stood out,
    As cotton clouds are spotted in late June-
    When sunshine blazes overhead and draught
    Conspires to dry the ground on time at noon.

    But there you were as cool as gentle rain,
    And purring softly as a drifting stream;
    We took you home and quickly you became
    A family friend; contentedly you beamed.

    We counted seven toes on each front paw,
    Though you were wispy, downy, light as air;
    When you came back from your fight with a car
    You stayed indoors, your life had fewer cares.

    Now sixteen years have passed, my, how time flies;
    Nine lives are spent, blue eyes have waved goodbye.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Diane, Very nice! You caught the challenge and met it head on with a subject that is clearly close you your heart. You filled in more details than I could have possibly imagined from your haiku. I particularly liked the phrases, “And purring softly as a drifting stream” and “blue eyes have waved goodbye.” I remember when our beagle passed on with her eyes “waving goodbye.” A sad and memorable day that you caught well in your sonnet.

  3. fred schueler

    here’s and old haiku (from before I was into 5-7-5), the basis of – Schueler Frederick W., and Aleta Karstad 1996. Terrestrial Amplexus in the Northern Leopard Frog, Rana pipiens. Trail and Landscape 30(2):68-69 – and a current expansion – 16 April 1993 – Canada: Ontario: Grenville Co: Oxford-on-Rideau: County Road 18, 2.8 km NNE Bishops Mills. 44.89595° N 75.68732° W . TIME: 11:30. AIR TEMP: 18° C, sunny. HABITAT: causeway between flooded swampy forests. OBSERVER: Aleta Karstad Schueler. 93/004a/m, Rana pipiens (Leopard Frog) (herp). 2/20 ca in copulation, DOR, haiku. terrestrial amplexus, M tibia 36.2 mm, F tibia 41 mm. This pair hit by the car following Aleta. Bright sun after rain, dry roads. Pair heading from N Branch towards S Branch of Kemptville Creek, quite a lot of DORs [dead on road] from last night on the road here (ca 20), though not as many as N of deButtes (ca 100).

    Grease-spot frog love ends
    Under the steel-belted radial.


    Two branches of the creek run parallel
    But only one with winter oxygen
    That’s where the frogs can winter well,
    but cross the road in peril once again.

    Some springs are calm and simple
    Warm rains come, as ice is fading fast
    the population ripples
    in one wave to the breeding marsh.

    In complex springs of cold and ragged rain
    pairs may form before they start to roam
    across the road – death is the pain
    from lunchtime autos heading home

    The saddest science – road ecology –
    Crushes its beloved suddenly.

    • James Albert Tweedie

      Fred, You’ve risen to the challenge and filled in the gaps marvelously. I can say that because I have twice seen the same phenomenon, once in Oregon, and once not too far from my home in southwest Washington State. Both times were at night with rain falling on warm asphalt on which the multitude of frogs created the appearance of the roadbed undulating/shivering/very much alive. I slowed down to prevent sliding off the road and probably ran over dozens of them on each occasion. A very creepy experience.

      Your iambic pentameter breaks down in your final two quatrains but the gist of the sonnet is there. Thank you for completing the challenge and for having raised my creepy memories from the mental cemetery in which I had buried them!

      • fred schueler

        yes, the imabics suffered from a certain amount of time pressure.

        “Calendar-bound traditions usually have a macabre holiday on a fixed date in the fall…. In the seasonal ritual calendar for eastern Ontario naturalists, the corresponding autumnal ceremony is “Burn Henry Ford in Effigy Night,” a festival of revulsion and disgust at the slaughter automotive transportation imposes on the populations of any animal that needs to move across the landscape. The date varies from year to year, and is the night when Leopard Frogs make their major movement from the fields where they spend the summer towards the waterbodies where they hibernate.” – https://ngtimes.ca/burn-henry-ford-in-effigy-night/

  4. Linda Marie Hilton

    this is an excerpt from my chapbook written more than 10 years ago,
    i wrote an opening poem, and then three sets , each a haiku, a tanka, and a sonnet on the same subject, the purpose of which was to see which was the most expressive. form forces the poet to be economical in the choice or words. form is like a sheet of paper that a drawing must fit upon. if one spends a good amount of time writing in a form, in sense it sets one’s imagination free.


    An exercise to form


    Mellow honey colored liquid rolls off my tongue,
    tingles going down.


    Daniel’s fragrant mellow honey colored
    liquid rolls off my tongue,
    tingles going down,
    warms my innards,
    So my taste buds say aaaahhhh!

    Daniel’s Ode

    A sip of jack makes my lips smack,
    Even better than a pat on the back
    A taste with which my taste buds agree.
    I am now content to lean against my pack,
    Leant against an outstanding old tree
    My hat on my head, how far can I see.
    My legs outstretched on a soft blanket
    Soon totally mellow will I be.
    Am I drunk? Well not quite yet
    I need to catch up with the jet set.
    At least the amount of bourbon they swig
    Enough to pickle one’s favorite pet.
    Now I’ve drunk enough not to place a vig
    But plenty to allow me to dance a jig.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Linda, it seems that you have had thoughts similar to my own, including a similar poetic exercise. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Julian D. Woodruff

    Intriguing idea. My 1st try at anything like it.

    We are not amused

    1. The elm in the park
    bids me to expound on it.
    Mine too its silence.

    2. A wise but nonetheless frustrated wag
    once asked, “Sonate, que me veux tu?”–a question
    that, lacking answer, made his spirits sag,
    and possibly played hob with his digestion.
    Likewise, the writing prompt just leaves me stumped.
    While others praise the
    elm that crowns the park,
    most often at my desk I’m sitting slumped,
    despairing of the least inspired remark.
    Said elm, the mysteries of love, the game
    of darts or draughts, the windows in a church
    in silence prove my own–it’s all the same:
    the lot of such things leaves me in the lurch.
    My vocal cords, echoing my mind, lie dumb,
    while on a stringless theorbo I strum.

  6. James A. Tweedie

    Julian, What a fine effort! But one that definitely lies outside any box that I can think of! And in answer to your wag, I don’t know exactly what either of them mean, either your poem or the sonata! Unlike the notes in a piece of music, the words in your poem hint at meaning of a sort but they bounce about in my mind like a load of ping pong balls pouring out of a bucket!

    In short, I love every misbegotten word of your sonnet as it references philosophy and poetry along with both music and a silent repartee with a parkland elm tree (something which I should think will appeal to C.B.) Not to mention (by which phrase I defy myself my mentioning it) your whimsical reference to a stringless theorbo wins points with me since I recently shared with a fellow SCP poet that the theorbo is my favorite peculiar Baroque instrument.

    And how you found perfect iambic pentameter in that infamous French quote and segued it into a slick enjambment is more than worth the price of admission, so to speak.

    And now I conclude with an even shorter summary comment than my previous short summary comment:

    “Clever good.”

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      The wag, James, was expressing a doubt common in 18th-c. literary France about the import of the Sonata, or instrumental music in general. The question was revived 2 centuries later by Pierre Boulez, upon the completion of his 3rd Piano Sonata. PB may have felt a bit lonely among his avant-garde confreres, who were evincing little to no interest in the composition of sonatas.
      As to my sonnet, your perplexity, it might be said, underscores, or is at least related to, its jist. I tried this a.m. to recall an effort of several years ago that maybe speaks to the matter more plainly:
      My most unpleasant mem’ries of the halls of academe
      Inevitably focus on the dreaded essay test:
      When asked. “Please spill some ink on Raphael’s use of symmetry,”
      I’d see my fellow students filling two blue books or three,
      While I’d reach barely past the middle of just one, at best.
      I’d hand it in, fearing what grade would climax the bad dream.

      Anyway, great, and unmisbegotten, challenge!

  7. Gigi Ryan


    Farmer laments weeds
    As he scatters summer seeds.
    “Beauty,” poet breathes.

    The farmer (bent and weary) scatters seeds,
    Lamenting of the plethora of weeds.
    The wrinkles deepen further in his face,
    Weeds! They’ll ever be a man’s disgrace.”
    His daughter quickly rises up in arms.
    “Oh, Daddy, dandelions don’t cause harm!
    In fact, they have a power that can heal;
    Their presence isn’t going to hurt your yield.”
    His son, out on a tractor, tows a plow.
    He isn’t contemplating troubles now.
    Instead he’s breathing in the sounds and sights
    That seed his mind with words that sprout delight.
    This evening he will put his thoughts to verse
    And beauty will redeem the garden’s curse.


  8. James A. Tweedie

    Gigi, How clever of you to end your haiku lines with two rhymes and one near rhyme. And your couplet sonnet has a lovely lilt to it that keeps the whole tale of planting a field from getting either too “lament”-ful or too silly (although much of it is really, laugh-out-loud silly!

    I love how you involve the famer’s family, with the daughter’s marvelous argument on how having dandelions in the field is actually a good thing! And the son composing a beautiful sonnet in the evening after a long, hard day’s work in the fields.

    You’ve net the challenge and defeated it! Both well done and fun.

  9. Roy Eugene Peterson


    Fragrant early spring,
    Apple blossom wedding scene.
    Dreamers dreaming dreams.

    Guests felt fragrant fumes wafting in the air.
    Apple blossom scent swirled everywhere.
    The venue with view looked out on the lake.
    The scene was superb. So much to intake.
    Crystal sky was blue on that afternoon.
    Wedding taking place in the month of June.
    Preacher took his place on the podium.
    White baskets festooned with phyllodium.
    The groom dressed in black with tuxedo tail.
    The bride dressed in white peered beneath her veil.
    Attendants arrayed stood on either side
    Wearing green garb and looking dignified.
    Perfect picture, memento of the scene.
    Of new wed dreamers dreaming dreamy dreams.

    • James A. Tweedie

      A nice sentiment wrapped around a compelling scene in your haiku, Roy. My imagination ran off to an outdoor spring wedding at a lakeside apple orchard as the two lovers dream their dreams into reality.

      Your couplet sonnet fills in the details and meets the challenge nicely. I was particularly captured by the marital pairing of “tuxedo tail” with the bridal “veil.” I like that kind of detail as I also like the repetitive “dreamers dreaming dreamy dreams.”

      • Roy Eugene Peterson

        Thank you so much for your gracious comments especially the one about details and the last line.

  10. Patrick Murtha

    Brevity’s wit’s soul.
    Parrots ape wise-seeming words.
    Source? Fool-king’s chief fool.

    Be brief, I’m told, for that’s the soul of wit!
    In such a spirit, quick, curt, blunt, brief-sounds
    Now fill the bill of wit when one says, “Shit”
    Another, “Jerk” and another, “God” or “Zounds.”
    The briefest words and terms I know are crass,
    Like quips or slogans on a slick-as-shit slope,
    And flump the bloke on his “fool’s head” or ass.
    Balance is the soul of wit, the right-weighed word,
    Not logorrhea, neither brevity.
    Some say, “From Shakespeare’s mouth these words I heard,”
    but it’s Polonius’s verbosity.
    And so if less-is-more becomes wit’s rule,
    Then wisdom’s Prof is a fool-king’s chief fool.

  11. James A. Tweedie

    How true, Patrick. Most crass and cussing words are of shorter stature, and I’ll acknowledge your argument that wit is best served by words neither too long nor too short, without necessarily agreeing with it lol! On the other hand, your fitting the words “Polonius’s” and “verbosity” back-to-back in an iambic pentameter line deserves some measure for measure or at least a pound of flesh for creative originality!

    You met the challenge and have earned two four-letter words: Well done.

    • Patrick Murtha

      James, I’ll keep my words of this challenge brief–or less, but take my appreciation of it as more: thank you!

  12. Morrison Handley-Schachler

    Others have tongues. So
    Why do I talk constantly?
    So no-one else can.

    Others have mouths with palates, gums and teeth,
    With lips and fitted, made-to-measure, tongues,
    With windpipes, throats and larynxes beneath
    And their supporting diaphragms and lungs.
    Others have noses, too, and, if you like,
    A fine November’s ballad they could sing,
    Or resonantly state their views on Mike
    With knowing hums and all that kind of thing.
    So why do I talk constantly, forbear
    To breathe between my sentences and wear
    The day to rubble with my wordiness?
    I chatter more so I need listen less
    To rattle on and on is all my plan,
    So no-one else, while I am speaking, can.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Enjambment in a haiku? Who’d-a thought! Such fun, Morrison. The haiku is compelling, the same way the windup of a major league pitcher is compelling to the waiting batter. What will be coming? A curve? A sweeper? A four-seam fastball? A splitter? Fortunately, for all of us, your follow-through delivered a perfect strike at 102 mph right down the pipe. Clever and funny and spot on throughout. “…resonantly state their views . . .” what a nice phrase. And the closing couplet not only sums the whole thing up but throws in a dramatic pause at the end to set the final word apart as a perfect denouement.

      In other words, a complete success! I only wish you would contribute to the SCP more often. Twice or thrice a year is not nearly enough!

      • Morrison Handley-Schachler

        Thank you for your encouraging comments, James, and for coming up with the challenge. I will certainly try to contribute more often in future.

  13. Paul A. Freeman


    The Weekly Meeting
    sucks any joy from the air.
    Roll on Saturday.

    The boss turns up, not late, he’s been delayed.
    We fidget in our seats, adjust our ties;
    of PowerPoint displays we are afraid,
    they indicate we’re not go-getting guys.
    Our sales are down, the forecast isn’t bright,
    the CEO’s on video-conference call;
    we’re sat beneath the screen, our faces white,
    we’re yelled at for our shares’ continual fall.
    Each one of us feels dutybound to speak,
    to offer up a lame or just excuse;
    to sulk or stew in silence, or act meek
    will merely feed our management’s abuse.
    We tread with care, we sing the corporate song
    and rue the weekend’s only two days long.


    • James A. Tweedie

      Paul, if you are anything like me, you know when you’ve rattled off a good one. And this is a good one. From beginning to end it flows like melted butter. Here in the USA there has been a long-running comic strip called Dilbert. If you aren’t familiar with Dilbert look him up on the internet. You captured the Dilbert world to a tee and I’m left squirming nervously while laughing out loud at your description of a world and human nature with which I am all too familiar. Thanks for taking up the challenge.

      • Paul A. Freeman

        Rattled off is certainly the term, and yes, I felt that the unfamiliar topic helped the sonnet become a bit different.

        A subject that came up at work this week was the workplace, particularly at Google. This sonnet is based on the more traditional workplace model. The Google model served for a short story.

        I do indeed know Dilbert, syndicated to many newspapers I used to read in the Middle East. Office satire has never been better.

        I’m glad you found the piece entertaining.

  14. Roy Eugene Peterson


    Wishing at the well.
    What fortune would the well tell?
    Wasted coins again.

    Our town had a hole called the wishing well.
    Toss a nickel in, hear what it would tell.
    It was in the park with walls made of stone.
    One would wait for answers standing alone.
    When I was a teen, I wished for a girl,
    The perfect one with hair done up in a curl.
    I tossed a nickel, wondered if twould work.
    I heard the clink as it fell in the murk.
    I waited awhile, silence all around.
    No girl came to meet me, none to be found.
    Maybe it took time. Fate can be like that.
    I met several girls who were out of whack.
    I tossed more coins and waited for a spell
    Wasted coins again at the wishing well.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Roy, I agree . . . a lot of wasted coins in a wishing well! Even so, I tossed a coin over my shoulder into the Trevi Fountain some years ago when I was in Rome . . . just in case. I came back alive and intact so it must have worked!

      I can tell that you had fun with this one. Witty and clever as always. Thanks for the smiles and thanks for doing double-duty in my challenge!

      • Roy Eugene Peterson

        I also tossed one into the Trevi Fountain in Rome. I remembered the song about “Three Coins in the Fountain.” I appreciate your comments immensely on this and my previous effort.

  15. Roy Eugene Peterson


    Flailing flags of fern.
    Dragonflies alight and yearn.
    Fishing in my pond.

    When I lived on our farm I made a wish,
    While sitting by our pond, I’d catch a fish.
    I would dig up worms and use them for bait.
    I would watch dragonflies while I would wait.
    I used to fish midst flailing flags of fern.
    I watched dragonflies flit, alight, and yearn.
    They killed mosquitoes, and insects that flew.
    Dad said, “Don’t hurt them.” They’re protecting you.
    Slender blue bodies seemed harmless to me.
    They flew close, maybe thought I was a tree.
    Since I stayed still, they looked me in the eyes,
    I sat there hoping I was not their prize.
    Those dragonflies must have been Blue Dashers
    Common around ponds in Midwest cow pastures.

  16. James A. Tweedie

    Interesting. A haiku with a rhyme. Nice. Dragonflies “yearn”? Hmmm.

    A little bit loose in the rhythm and syntax in the sonnet and the near rhyme in the closing couplet ends it with a distracting bump. I did this one time and got away with it without comment because it was so “near” as to trick the ear into thinking it was a true rhyme:

    Forsaken land; yet Tweed and Pool remain
    As witness to the still-proud family name.

    Even so, near rhymes, while they might squeeze by in a quatrain, are to be studiously avoided in a closing couplet.

    Also, this is three couplet sonnets in a row. It’s just as easy to write them as English or Shakespearean sonnets with an abab cdcd efef gg scheme, a form which “reads” better.

    Roy, in any case, you made me smile again. And that means your effort was success. Thanks.

    • Roy Eugene Peterson

      Thank you for the critique! I will strive to improve. At least I made you smile. For that I am thankful.

  17. Carol C.

    Hello Mr. Tweedie. I am not a member of this site but an occasional lurker that stops by to read poetry. Your poetry challenge sounded intriguing and well…………..challenging. I decided to give it a try. Below is my effort. Thank you for hosting this fun exercise.

    Under a gnarly oak
    her digging efforts unearth
    Grandpa’s worn Bible.

    Two months after his death she found the note,
    Sounded like a true grandfatherly stunt,
    For in his shaky writing grandpa wrote,
    That for her, this would be a treasure hunt.

    She wondered if there would be jewels rare,
    Perhaps some heavy bars of solid gold,
    Shimmering trinkets quite beyond compare,
    oh, such possibilities to behold!

    Mystery revealed, she gave a start,
    The weathered Tome caressed by trembling hand,
    A piercing glimpse into her grandpa’s heart,
    Now her enlightened mind could understand.

    Of lasting riches, God,
    without doubt spoke.
    Through Grandpa’s Bible, ‘neath the gnarly oak.


      • Carol C.

        Thank you so much for your kind comment, Mr. Freeman!

    • James A. Tweedie

      Carol, Like the treasure in the field for which a man gave all that he had your lovely haiku and sonnet reflect the parable of Jesus in a parable of your own. I’m glad you found this challenge to be a “fun” one! Keep writing and when you’ve got one with promise (as I suspect you already have) send it in so we can all enjoy it!

      • Carol C.

        Thank you for your kind response concerning my poem. I hadn’t even considered my poem being similar to the parable of the field, but I can see how one could think that. I just had in my mind a grandfather wanting to pass down his special treasure to his granddaughter. I may try again, time permitting. If you’re interested in doing a When More Is A Lot More Challenge, writing a crown of sonnets would be in order. That was a really challenging one that I did a few years ago. Again, thanks for allowing me to participate in this fun challenge of yours. Blessings always.

  18. Mia

    Dear Mr Tweedie, thank you for this excellent challenge.

    I think in my case less is definitely better than more, but I tried
    I sincerely hope though that my trying is not tiring for you!

    Joyfully transform
    Sand, grit and pain into pearls,
    World is your oyster.

    sonnet 1

    Oh how to transform each nebulous thought
    When as fine sand my thoughts jostle for words
    Waiting to be polished to lustrous pearls
    Instead they pound my brain to no avail.

    They pine and fill my tired and aching brain
    With grit even as I resist they stubbornly remain
    Demanding poetry to move the hardest heart
    And lift those thoughts to heavenly realms above.

    But oh, alas, sand and grit does not transform
    To shiny pearls for me to show, forlorn
    I wonder round the house my head in clouds,
    Poetry I must accept it’s out of bounds.

    Creating pearls is not my special gift
    It’s been fun though wrestling with sand and grit.

    sonnet 2

    Whatever your skilful hands find to do
    You set to with hopefulness and faith,
    No matter if it’s unrelenting, poor
    And often brings to you such meagre gain.

    It bows the shoulders, bends the back and knee
    Toiling beneath the scorching sun all day,
    No time to sit awhile beneath a tree,
    No time to rest under its dappled shade.

    At last when dusk descends and you are back
    You find them all awaiting at the gate
    Your full heart lifts your weary footsteps up
    As each young, tender sapling you embrace.

    Every precious pearl fills your heart with joy
    They eat, you smile and bless each girl and boy.

    sonnet 3

    It rained hailstones on the day you were born
    And ever since you’ve weathered every storm
    Thunder and lightning pounded on the roof
    That leaked to wet the cold bare floor and you.

    But when the sun came out you went outside
    Felt the creator’s joy and you survived
    Barefoot you chased the birds and then the geese
    When you were chased you climbed the olive tree.

    In summer when the scorched earth did burn
    You worked in fields to harvest and preserve
    And when an earthquake did demolish
    What was left of that rickety cottage

    You moved on, your heart did not harden
    You didn’t quit because of pain or sadness.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Mia, you are clearly a poet and your haiku is nicely filled out by what follows. While some might call them sonnets (since they are shaped with three quatrains and a couplet totaling fourteen lines), I would use the phrase “near sonnets” to describe them, in the same way that many of your lines end in “near rhymes.” You are so close to shaping your lines as iambic pentameter, which would raise your efforts to the level of being blank verse sonnets (sonnets that don’t rhyme). And your attempts at rhyme are also very close.

      I did enjoy reading what you wrote and particularly enjoyed the final line of your final poem, “ You didn’t quit because of pain or sadness.”

      This, for me, captures the essence of who you are as both a poet and as a person. I encourage you to read the SCP sidebar article on “How to Write a Sonnet.” It takes extra effort to put it all together, but , because you are so close, you don’t have far to go!

      Thanks for taking on the challenge. You did it and did it well!

      • Mia

        Thank you Mr Tweedie for your very kind response, the reason I I have improved is entirely due to these kind of challenges and the SCP. It is strange how at times I think I understand ideas, such as sonnets for example but there is nothing like trying to compose one to find out the truth. Feedback is invaluable to me as I tend to use the trial and error method a lot!
        Thank you and congratulations on your very well deserved success. Best wishes on your holiday and your feedback is even more appreciated knowing that you are on holiday meeting with some of SCP’S English poets. Kind regards Mia.

  19. Roy Eugene Peterson

    By Roy E. Peterson

    Wine on my table.
    Something buzzing around it.
    Fireflies are lit.

    Wine on the table on the patio
    Hearing the oldies on my radio.
    Evening breezes salute the setting sun.
    Darkness arriving when the day is done.
    I flip the switch for the light overhead.
    Quiet in the evening, not much is said.
    Home is where the heart is and I’m okay.
    Wife even peaceful on a Saturday.
    Out in my garden roses are in bloom.
    I can smell the fragrance of their perfume.
    May beetles dancing on the table top.
    Whatever can I do to make them stop?
    What’s with the wine? Something’s buzzing round it.
    It appears to me fireflies are lit.

    Note: I risked another haiku with rhyme.

    • Linda Marie Hilton

      isn’t it wonderful how the simplest
      haiku can blossom into a panoramic

      • James A. Tweedie

        Linda, I think “blossom” is a wonderful way to describe it!

  20. Roy Eugene Peterson

    By Roy E. Peterson

    One cannot escape
    The attention of a hawk.
    What will befall me?

    One can’t escape attention of a hawk.
    Anywhere you walk, he will surely gawk.
    Hawks make me nervous sitting in a tree.
    Wonder what the hawk is thinking of me?

    “I think it’s too big. I’ll stay on my twig.
    I don’t give a fig. Maybe it’s a pig.
    It looks to be tall like a walking wall.
    Hope it will fall then I can eat it all!”

    “In times like these I wish I had a sack.
    What if I attack then will it fight back?
    It looks real ripe, ready for the picken’
    Does it taste like chicken that’s talon licken?’

    As we watch each other, the hawk and I,
    He turns his head and flies up to the sky.

  21. Roy Eugene Peterson


    Hiding in the weeds,
    Tiny little mustard seeds.
    Faith is all one needs.

    Jesus said mustard seeds are the least of seeds.
    He knew they were tiny hiding in the weeds.
    One would think the weeds would prevent their growth,
    Yet in a mustard seed faith is an oath.

    These small mustard seeds grow a big green plant
    Producing plenty when you think they can’t.
    Mustard plants can grow two meters in height.
    From tiny seeds they demonstrate their might.

    This parable of Jesus one should heed.
    We should have the faith of a mustard seed.
    We could move mountains if we had such faith.
    These are the wise words that our Lord saith.

    Jesus said faith is all that you will need.
    Just look at the faith of a mustard seed.

  22. Roy Eugene Peterson

    By Roy E. Peterson

    Music in the bushes
    While I am picking berries.
    Jamming in the spring.

    Going berry picking, nature shushes.
    Still I hear the music in the bushes.
    While I am picking berries, birds are too,
    Hidden in the bushes out of my view.

    I eat some berries as I fill my pail.
    I feel the fanning of the birdy tails.
    The cacophony of the birdy trills
    Sounds like a sonnet while my tummy fills.

    The blackberry thorns, oh how they do sting.
    Birdies laugh at me. That is why they sing.
    My pail is full, I hum my melodies.
    Happy to have a pail of blackberries.

    Boiling the berries for the jam they bring.
    Filling my jars, I’m jamming in the spring.

  23. Roy Eugene Peterson

    By Roy E. Peterson

    Drinking oolong tea.
    Jasmine wafting over me.
    Spring, too, loves dreamers.

    Uncle Reno was a missionary
    Sent to China as an emissary.
    He was a doctor of medicine.
    His care for the Chinese was genuine.

    He learned Chinese and spoke it handily.
    He went in the ‘30’s with family.
    Two children were born and they spoke Chinese
    Before World War II and the Japanese.

    They had to leave; the Army rescued them.
    After the war they all returned again.
    He sent us Christmas gifts of oolong tea.
    It smelled like jasmine wafting over me.

    Mao ascended in nineteen forty-nine.
    He sent us oolong tea for the last time.

  24. Roy Eugene Peterson

    By Roy E. Peterson

    Joker at the court.
    Wayward wanderer of wit.
    An autumn ball fall.

    Joker at the court of the castle king,
    An entertainer emotes everything,
    A wayward wanderer of wit and whim,
    A jaunty juggler, naught can bother him.

    The joker dare not poke fun at the queen
    For he would quickly disappear from the scene.
    He must play the fool and merriment make.
    He could be beheaded for one mistake.

    He entertains at the annual ball.
    Every autumn he must take a fall.
    His jokes may be bawdy with entendre
    The king will laugh, because he makes his day.

    He does no politicking, plays it cool.
    So, tell me now, who is the greatest fool?

    • Roy Eugene Peterson

      Correct to the haiku: Last line should read: An autumn ball fall.

  25. Roy Eugene Peterson

    By Roy E. Peterson

    Brown blossoms falling.
    Autumn silence deafening.
    What will winter bring?

    Flowers fall asleep with the autumn wind.
    Brown blossoms falling as if they’re chagrined.
    The last rose of summer has lost its hue.
    Brown blossoms falling is its residue.

    There’s no more flower camaraderie,
    No more excitement from the bumble bee.
    The autumn silence becomes deafening.
    When autumn is gone, what will winter bring?

    Oh, rest well my roses where roots still grow
    Even covered with a blanket of snow.
    So, save up your strength for a springtime fling.
    When your greater beauty returns in spring.

    Like humans on earth who have gone away,
    They’ll be seen again on some sunny day.

  26. Roy Eugene Peterson

    A special thank you to James! This challenge jump started my creative processes again. I needed that!


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