I’m not a poet. Seriously. I realize that about myself, and it’s always nice to have these realizations about oneself. Still, the knowledge that I will never be Byron or Shelley or Keats does not deter me from venturing into the valley of poetry and attempting to craft some such thing as a haiku or worse. The epic-ness of my failure in the realms of poetry came at the hands, last May, of NEPOMo: National Epic Poem Month. This insanity is similar to NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy in that would-be, or wannabe, poets commit themselves to penning 5,000 lines of Epic Poetry…. In a month. I had the most epic of Alaskan topics: The Iditarod. How could one NOT write 5,000 awe-inspiring words about The Last Great Race? Well… 742 lines in to NEPOMo (in the style of Robert Service because, let’s face it, he’s awesome!), I realized that a poet … I’m NOT. Maybe someday I’ll finish the poem, but I doubt anyone in the world would want to share in the reading of it.
It’s been a strange summer here on Prince of Wales Island off the coast of Southeast Alaska. Days of blistering sun and dusty wind has given way to days of pounding rain and salt-stinging gales. It’s been a summer of extremes all the way around. Last Monday, it was 45°F and raining sideways in 30 mph winds… today, 76°F of withering heat and barely a breath of wind…until it turned in from the west, and that’s never good. So, on a rainy Tuesday last, my Young Poet’s Group diminished to one. But that was all right, because sitting with just one person discussing imagery and meter, how words evoke emotions and how some poets strive to relate a sense of place …all of that is a wonderful thing to do; especially when the poet is 11 … I wasn’t kidding when I called it The Young Poets Society…
So, we had some fun. We set two challenges for each other. The first was to craft a 10 line poem on ANY subject, but we had to keep count of syllables … like a haiku … on steroids. The pattern was: 10, 6, 9, 7, 8, 8, 7, 9, 6, 10. Get it? The odd-numbered lines descend from 10 to 6, while the even-numbered lines ascend from 6-10. Pick a subject. Any subject. Mine was Prince of Wales Island…
Wild cedars reaching out for light and warmth
Cloud-shrouded slopes loom up
Salmon race home in fast-flowing streams
Whales play amid the herring
Northern Lights ripple through night skies
Meteors rain among the stars.
River banks in winter snows
White-clad silent, as the bears who dream
Of berries sweet and tart
Of fishing streams between the hooks of men.
The second challenge we set was simply a poem about Epic-ness (after I had described my abysmal result during National Epic Poem Month). Rhyming couplets to make a poem, what is epic-ness? Well … I have this cat named Snickers….
My cat snickers is an awesome cat.
Some would use the word “epic” to describe that –
She tears around and bats at flies
From spiders she never, ever shies
She loves to merely sit and stare
And make me wonder…What’s lurking there?
Green eyes widen in alarm
I swear there’s something to cause harm –
I turn, but nothing’s there—
But still the cat will sit and stare….
As if her gaze keeps “IT” at bay
And saves me yet again today…