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Unread 06-17-2021, 03:10 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
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In the spirit of the thread, I hope, and inspired by Fliss's latest, I will now go ahead and post a sheep poem that once graced these boards sometime around 2019. It's been edited lightly since. I'm not sure that I wear my heart on my sleeve in it, but I do describe my approach to schoolwork aged about eleven, in Thanet.


Better Grass

The sheep are in the meadow at attention.
Beneath a low cloud, rain comes glistening
from Heaven onto hedge and sheep and grass
like some slow punishment. The sheep do not
appear to notice or to care. A clump
of rain-wet sheep – an archipelago
of those who’ve wandered off to where the grass
has spoken to them – this is pretty much
how sheep appear to live. And yet, a lamb
bolts leggily across the grass as if
it danced on flowers and the sun were out,
and life were worth the living. Could it be
that we might see the sheep stir into life
like this young lamb – that in the rain-swept field
there might be celebration? I do not
hold out much hope. And so, the heart constricts,
to see that lamb’s tomorrow – all the days
it will not frisk or frolic, all the hours
in which the rain will win and with its fellows
it will graze on and endure. And when I think
of my time upside-down on the brown couch
translating Greek, of days when I was young,
I feel that rain upon my shoulders – all
the weight of things – and I am moved to bow
my head to graze, my eyes to better grass.
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Unread 06-18-2021, 01:32 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 921


This is great, John. I do emember it because on first sight I liked 'upside-down on the brown couch' particularly; and I love sheep, of course. You describe them so well here, and the contrast between sheep and lamb is very well drawn.

Here's my poem inspired by yours on Met. It takes the 'planet' theme and goes a bit loopy with it, one might say. Well, I'm in mourning for lovely Zelda at the moment (see Art) and in need of some cheering up.

I don't think this is quite right for the planet prompt thread, but I'm working on a poem about the eclipse of '99 at the moment.

Planet F.

A mini-Earth, a tiny blue/green dot
of little islands in a crystal sea
some might dismiss as just a bobble-blot,
but sharp observers scrutinise with glee.

A trip to F. requires a certain craft
to enter through the force field, which is firm;
but if one's ship is friendly, funny, daft,
one may succeed and thrive here for a term.

The landing pad is on the Greeting Isle;
arrivals travel to the Isle of Coo
aboard the billow-birds of steam and smile
and soothing song of Woo-be-do-be-do!

Coo Isle is forests, woods, savanna, beach,
accommodations made of wood and cool,
the trees are fruity, plum and pear and peach,
and everybody has a private pool.

The other isles are accessed via flight:
and once again, one boards a billow-bird,
resplendent in their rainbow, black to white,
as practical as they might seem absurd.

It's hard to leave; so don't! Enjoy your space
and mingle with the fanciful and fun;
though close to Earth, this is a different place
within the world, five f-thoms from the sun.


Tomorrow: something about the Sun?
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Unread 06-19-2021, 02:48 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 5,339

Hi Fliss,

I'm glad you liked my sheep poem! Yes, the brown couch. I still recall it, it belonged to the retired father-in-law of our prep school headmaster, who served us a glass of squash and a biscuit for our Greek classes, long ago. We were two in number. I think your poem is splendid, and am moved to be reminded of how I'd thought the Eratosphere might be something along these lines, back in 2017 when a friend invited me to join. Planets, eh? Your planet seems worth a visit! What a splendid poem to dash off in an afternoon.

I am now going to look for my old Penelope poem, inspired by mignon. Ah, here it is!


As Close as Tails on Coins

The winds come to me from the fields of sleep
it says in Wordsworth’s “Intimations” ode.
I’m in bed writing, and before too long
I’ll sleep, just as the poet said. We close
our eyes and leave the ordered shores of reason –
as surely as the ever-busy day
gives way to night, as land gives way to sea,
unplumbed and pathless, and our fragile bark
drifts with the lunar tide like any leaf.

Or maybe sleep is like a field of some
unseen crop which we may yet remember
when we reach it; while the wind, that blows
where it listeth, comes from there to us
as we grow sleepy, touching eye and cheek,
stirring the mind to a new train of thought.

For sleep is close – as close as tails on coins,
or what we view in mirrors when our hands
rest on them. And my wife is sleeping now
beside me, even breathed, a little restive
as I write on. And yet, she is as far
from waking as a fish that never once
comes up for air, as far as truth from fiction.
All that we dreamt comes undone, writes Octavio
Paz. But like Penelope, we do it over.


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Unread 06-19-2021, 12:25 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 921


It's a great poem, John. I didn't have the opportunity to learn Greek during my school years, complete with squash and biscuit, lol.

Thanks for enjoying my poem; I hadn't thought about the 'sphere in connection with it. Yes, Planet F mght not be entirely without attractions, not least the billow-birds :>)

I enjoyed reading your latest poem too. I know the ode by Wordsworth and I like your description of embarking on sleep. S2 is also strong and I love 'close as tails on coins' in S3. It's nice you include Mrs I, and I like the Octavio quotation and reference to Penelope at the end.

The poem about the sun turned out to be a little thing, so I'm posting one of my dream-poems too. It's from my dream diary :-)

If Sun be faith, my sun is Coo,
my little colombine,
who often likes to cheer, 'Woo-hoo!'
in tones that sound divine.

She neither burns nor freezes me –
my heart is always warm;
she smiles and shines tenaciously
through wind and rain and storm.

And in my darkest hours of pain,
she shimmers at my side
to soothe my ills, my anxious brain,
bright beaked and twinkly eyed.



I wake up
in bed

and find my legs
have been replaced
with large yellow rubbery constructions,
ending in orange duck-feet.

I'm puzzled,
but really rather pleased;
the rubber-legs are heavy
yet very flexible
and I think
I might be able
to boing.

I get out of bed
and boing head first
into a wheelie bin.

😵 ...woken by pseudo-sensation of headbang.

- - -
Tomorrow: another dream-poem.
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Unread 06-20-2021, 02:32 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 921


i am on the landing
in the family home.

I glance out of the window
and spot
John Lennon
making his way
across the field.

He's wearing his white suit
but no shoes
and his hair
hangs over his face.

He enters the garden
through a hedge
and continues walking
towards the greenhouse.

I really want to meet
John Lennon,
so I rush down the stairs
and try to find my slippers
so I can go outside.

Where are they?
There they are,
under the table
in the lounge.

I'm pleased.
I shout:

😵 ...woken by silent shouting,

Tomorrow: bird-themed sonnet.
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Unread 06-21-2021, 12:48 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 5,339

Hi Fliss,

I think I particularly enjoy your rhymed poetry, so your sun piece does not sail under my radar. I like it. Thank you for your comments on Penelope et al; I like our chats as well. One thing you do in your free verse that I suspect would be harder in meter is this splendid thing:

I really want to meet
John Lennon,

which reminds me a bit of this old thing for some reason:

The Boston Evening Transcript

The readers of the Boston Evening Transcript
Sway in the wind like a field of ripe corn.

When evening quickens faintly in the street,
Wakening the appetites of life in some
And to others bringing the Boston Evening Transcript,
I mount the steps and ring the bell, turning
Wearily, as one would turn to nod good-bye to Rochefoucauld,
If the street were time and he at the end of the street,
And I say, "Cousin Harriet, here is the Boston Evening Transcript."


Last edited by John Isbell; 06-21-2021 at 12:49 AM. Reason: adding for some reason
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Unread 06-21-2021, 02:34 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 921


That's squash and a biscuit for you, John. Yes, it's actually a cocktail, but you can have a non-alcoholic concoction if you wish :-)

I think most people prefer the rhymed stuff. I certainly enjoy writing it more than attempting blank verse, which always feels unfinished to me. That's odd, because I seldom feel that way about other poets' non-met. Ho hum.

You're welcome for my comments; I think chatting is good, as it can spark extra ideas. I'm glad you like the bit about John Lennon, lol. I have quite a selection of dream-poems :-)

Here's the sonnet I mentioned. It's a summary sonnet, so possibly rather compact, although I do flesh out the themes in other work within a series. It's about a relationship between N, 22, and a solicitor at the law firm where they both work, who is quite a lot older. The Promenade is a posh part of town; the aviation age occurs in Shropshire, his home county.

To take flight

His love, 'If love,' he sighed, had 'hatched too quick',
00for he'd prefer us walled in stony shell
designed to shatter slowly, silent, slick –
00matured contentment in a measured cell.
I kept from fledging, though I longed for flight
00above the promenade of suits and heels
where he feared frowns and whispers might alight
00to spike his smooth repute, career ideals.
Once swept from threats of scandal and disgrace,
00he let us wanderlust in sunset skies
with wings spread warmly, awe upon his face
00for caution spurned, then joy on its demise.
Just seven days, our aviator age;
he bound us safe for home, stuffed in a cage.


I'm rushing off now as an aunt needs a chat, but shall be back at some stage. Tomorrow: lyrics. I think :-)
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Unread 06-21-2021, 04:36 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Location: TX
Posts: 5,339

Hi Fliss,

Just a quick note to say the ending is brutal, particularly perhaps for someone who spent the last four years in a suburb of McAllen, Texas. It’s a striking ending.
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Unread 06-21-2021, 05:44 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 921

Thanks, John;

Yes, I needed striking and brutal and I'm glad this comes across. Thanks for reading the poem :-)
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Unread 06-22-2021, 02:02 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 921


Now I'm taking a trip, specifically to the Scilly Isles, posting the first poem in the Scilly series. It's spoken, cha-cha-CHING, with a pause at the end of each even line. It's very much a Planet F. poem.

Performance notes: I perform this myself, using my natural voice for narration, super-clear high-pitched tone for Coo, Gloucestershire accent for FT, and something strident for the mossops. The problem is, I can't stop laughing. Coo & Co offices are my studio room.

There's a photo of the mossops here :-)

St Mary's Mossops

In the Coo & Co offices, up in the trees,
00there are shelves of quite serious books,
but above Aristotle, Plato, Sophocles,
00stand some knick-knacks in crannies and nooks.

'Who be these?' Coo asked FT, one midsummer morn,
00of a collection of seven small folks,
colours ranging from pale pink to bright bean to corn,
00eyes egg white-esque with squinty black yolks.

'Well, dear Coo,' FT answered, her own eyes aglow,
00'These be mossops, from St Mary's Isle –
they cost three-pounds-and-fifty, expensive I know;
00I was charmed by their fabulous style.'

'As am I,' chirped the colombine, twirling a tad,
00'And moreover, they seem super-sleek.'
'Super-sleek, super-stylish,' FT thought to add,
00as the mossops stood proud in their clique.

'This is Rose Quartz, I think.' FT pointed top right,
00and her finger brushed one mossop's head,
just a second of contact, her touch very light,
00but the mossop shrieked slightly and said:

'Yes it's true, we are St Mary's mossops, are we,
00and we wish to embark on a trip,
to the far Isles of Scilly with Coo and FT,
00so let's all board this glorious ship!'

A svelte sea ship appeared at the window of Coo's
00and the mossops jumped onto the deck,
'Shall we sail?' mused FT. 'I do fancy a cruise,'
00Coo replied, 'and the ship looks high tech!'

So they sailed through the trees to the fields to the coast,
00reaching Cornwall at just past midday.
'Are we there yet?' Coo asked; FT answered, 'Almost!'
00Then, 'We're here!' cheered the mossops. 'Hooray!'


Tomorrow: who knows?

Last edited by F.F. Teague; 06-22-2021 at 02:57 PM.
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