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midwinter verses
seven forms in seven courses
by russ carr (@DocOrlando70)

amuse-bouche (clerihew)
A man of class, our late friend Johnny
bit his tongue for thirteen years; he
never let us hear him say
that he loved Dave and hated Jay

salad (lai)
Though fragile as the thinnest reed
a chance for peace the people need
despite Hamas and Hussein's minions.

Voting for someone new to lead
who by the people will accede
brings hope to Iraqis and Palestinians.

soup (ballad)
Is there a fete so vacuous
as Oscar's special night
All glitz and gowns miraculous
and thank-you speeches trite

Awarded golden statuettes
prompt piggy squeals of mirth
as yet another agent gets
an increase in net worth

You winners heed my warning voice:
of new roles be wary
lest you be tainted by your choice
just like Halle Berry

fish (grossblank)
I can remember hearing you sing A-B-C.
How did a child become the front man of a band?
My teenaged aunt grooved to your prepubescent voice.
Did your brothers exist? I can't recall their names.
Crows plucked at you on film; eerily prescient
you might say, escorting Webster to the Grammys.
Bought the Beatles. Married Elvis. Didn't matter.
Did the scalpel take both your talent and your nose?
Michael Jackson: Willy Wonka? Howard Hughes?
The hand without the glove left fingerprints. Who's bad?
He's just a boy who says that you are the one, but
he's got counsel. No one wants to be defeated.

sorbet (limerick)
At the Vatican, cardinals did mope
O'er the dubious health of the Pope
But near death His Eminence
Gave contrary evidence:
"Have some hope, I'm the Pope, I say nope!"

entree (sonnet)
Steely-eyed and defiant you faced her.
Unfazed by Boxer's partisan scheming,
her liberal California dreaming,
on your mental chalkboard you erased her.
Did I love you suddenly more that day,
when, backed against the wall by Kennedy,
your sharp-tongued truths became a remedy
defending all your time as N-S-A?
And now you're tasked with spreading freedom's fire.
Enlisting aid for Kabul and Iraq.
Mending fences with Schroeder and Chirac.
But, dear Condoleezza, please aim higher.
If left to me you would set precedent:
Black! Female! G-O-P! And President!

dessert (haiku)
pitchers and catchers
throw off the chill of winter
please report this week


If the media is the eye on the world, Russ Carr is the finger in that eye. Tune in each month to see him dispersing the smoke and smashing the mirrors of modern mass communication. The world lost Russ on 2/7/12, but he lives on.

more about russ carr


this one time, at story camp
all my compliments and cutting remarks
by russ carr
topic: writing
published: 7.25.05

the write stuff
one year, one novel
by russ carr
topic: writing
published: 2.22.06


tracey kelley
2.21.05 @ 9:56a

Oh my God, these are a scream!

margot lester
2.21.05 @ 11:59a

russ, you slay me. these are great.

john chase
2.22.05 @ 7:23a

It's the Onyxshire, all grow'd up.

john chase
2.22.05 @ 7:25a

btw, now that you can run for President (almost), keep a cabinet post open for me...

russ carr
2.22.05 @ 11:09a

How about Liquor Cabinet?

john chase
2.23.05 @ 11:08a

I was thinking about Secretary of the Inferior, but that'll do.

russ carr
2.23.05 @ 11:33a

For those curious about the poetic forms, a brief description so you don't have to go running around looking them up (as one reader apparently did):

A clerihew is a four-line poem, with an aabb rhyme scheme. It is always about a person, and is usually humorous.

A lai is a six-line poem, with an aabaab rhyme scheme, and varied meter.

A ballad is a poem of at least four lines, with an abab rhyme scheme, and an 8-6-8-6 syllable count. A large number of pop songs are ballad poems, even if they don't fit with what we think of as "ballads" due to subject matter or tempo.

A grossblank is a 12x12 poem -- 12 syllables in each of 12 lines -- with no rhyme scheme (aka blank verse).

A limerick is a five-line poem with an aabba rhyme scheme. It is almost always humorous. It usually follows a 9-9-6-6-9 syllable count, but it's not a hard and fast rule.

A sonnet has two variations (English, Italian) but consists of 14 lines in iambic pentameter (10 syllables per line). What I've written is, by form, an English sonnet: three four-line stanzas (quatrains) followed by a final two-line stanza (couplet) but I've used an Italian rhyme scheme (abbacddceffegg).

Haiku is a traditional Japanese form with a 5-7-5 syllable count and no rhyme scheme.

It was a fun challenge to bind current events to what were, in some cases, fairly obscure forms. It's good exercise for writers, teaching brevity and structure as well as stretching vocabulary. Here endeth the lesson.


mike julianelle
2.23.05 @ 3:58p


russ carr
2.25.05 @ 11:58a

Condi! Liebchen! Was Mick singing about you, when the whip came down?

jael mchenry
2.25.05 @ 12:06p

Not Condiminatrix related, but I meant to mention my poetry prof from grad school, Henry Taylor, wrote an entire book of clerihews a couple years back. It was fun for readings, but best in small doses. The rhymes require excessive punning, and too much is just... too much.

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