Readers Reply with Hue and Cry!

In response to my little rant the other day about rhyme, I received the following poems, the first from 10000hoursleft (also known as Mek):

After looking up the meaning of profundity
I came to the conclusion you’d likely be
Lumping me in
Oh for my sin
With those in the 98 per cent
Who keep aiming for ascent
To the lofty heights of the minority
To be a 2 percenter my priority
Joys of creative expression
Need not get a mention
Now, I’ll have to stop rhyming


And the second from Mike Allegra over at heylookawriterfellow:

Master sculptor, bearing chisel,
Paused his work so he could wizzle.
And so the marble had to wait,
For sculptor to evacuate.


(Drops mic and strides purposefully toward the exit.)


So I offer here as an apology a sloppy English sonnet. It’s got the rhyme scheme, but I dropped that whole iambic pentameter thing because I am tired after a long day’s work, and iambic pentameter would just be too much on an empty stomach at 7:41 pm.


I pick up the mic dropped there by Mike

And scanned the sky for ascended Mek.

They used dread rhyme in a way I like

Unlike those whose Yules get decked.

You see, the Food Network is to blame

For my Poetry Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Their December hacks of Clement Moore

Send me screaming to the border.

It seems that rhyme may perhaps have uses

For getting the poet’s ideas across.

It’s not just used by silly gooses;

Sometimes its users are just the boss!

So I will try to embrace the rhyme,

But please, Lord, please, not all the time.

Colonialism Day


It seems a bit strangely appropriate that, on the weekend when we celebrate a bunch of Europeans getting lost on their way to India and making the most of it by taking custody of the land, I will be grading papers. Thirty-six of them, to be exact.

Here is a poem for today by the Coeur d’Alene poet Sherman Alexie. Refer back to my post about the problem-solution nature of sonnets if you have trouble seeing how it is a sonnet.

Totem Sonnet #3


Crazy Horse

Sitting Bull

Captain Jack

Black Kettle






Anna Mae Aquash

Wilma Mankiller

Tantoo Cardinal

Winona LaDuke

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Maria Tallchief


Alexie, Sherman. The Summer of the Black Widows. New York: Hanging Loose Press, 1996.

The Pearl of English Poetry

Most people know what a sonnet is because in addition to simply hearing about them in English class, they are exposed to lots of examples from Shakespeare and even get to watch Snoopy act out Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s famous “How Do I Love Thee” on Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975):

There are basically two rules to sonnets, depending on whether you take the English/Shakespearian or the Italian/Petrarchan:

  1. Fourteen lines in iambic pentameter (five feet, with each foot an unstressed and then a stressed syllable)
  2. Rhyme scheme: English ababcdcd efefgg OR Italian abbaabba cdecde

Note that both types have an octet (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines); these are generally used as a sort of problem/solution setup. This how Sherman Alexie can get away with calling this next example a sonnet of sorts. If you know the format, you get the joke.

Steamed Rice

Whole Wheat Bagel

Egg White

Baked Chicken

Tomato Soup


Cheddar Cheese

Garlic Clove

Grape Nuts and Non-Fat Milk



Ice Water



Alexie, Sherman. The Summer of Black Widows. New York: Hanging Loose Press, 1996.