Confessions of a Poetry Purist

My Own Poetic Background

This is definitely one of my more random hubs; in fact I'm sort of writing it just to have my 20th hub and gain "Expert" status or whatever the next one is. But I felt that this issue needed addressing, and whether or not anyone cares, I'm writing the hub anyway.

My poetic license (assuming I even have one, which is up to my readers, of course) began in high school when I was bored while waiting for gym class to start in the mornings. I would sit there in the bleachers with my little notepad and pencil and chicken-scratch my way to nowhere. (I mean this quite literally as you'll see when I manage to get some of my poems on here, ha ha). I wrote a few, liked them, and made the mistake of writing more. Then I wrote some more, and more, and eventually became a complete idiot who has no idea what real poetry is anymore, and mainly just writes it to make other people angry.

No, seriously. I've been told that I have talent not only in poetry but at writing in general, although non-fiction is certainly not my forte. I prefer science fiction novels, and I hope to publish some in the future. Until then, you'll have to put up with my poetry!

Without further ado, let me get on to my soap box about what good poetry is. Note my disclaimer--if your poetry style directly conflicts with mine or does not "line up" in some way with my own purist views, don't be disappointed or sad or dejected or whatever. It simply means I don't really care for your poetry. If my opinion matters enough to let you feel bad about your own writing skills, there's either something wrong, or I've finally found a true, devoted fan. Either way, don't take it personally if I verbally bash the way you write poetry. I'm not saying your poetry is bad, or that it should be burned. In fact I'm glad if you're a fellow poet whose opinions differ from my own. Variety is what God made the world for and I'm all for that. But when I read poetry, there's a few things I really look for, and if they aren't there, I generally am not too impressed.

First of all, good poetry should RHYME. That's right, poetry that does not rhyme just doesn't make sense to me. Good slant rhyme is ok, I use that on occasion, but if it doesn't rhyme, it better be a darn good poem to make up for it. I just don't see the point in writing that isn't prose and isn't poetry, makes little sense except metaphorically, has no meter, or even a point in the first place. If you like poems that don't rhyme, great. Just don't shove them down my throat, alright?

Next, good poetry should have a RHYTHM. That is, a distinct, clear pattern to it that it follows exactly. Not slightly, not almost, but perfectly, down to the last billionth of a syllable. My major role model in this endeavor has been Edgar Allen Poe. I am very fond of his poems, not only for their rhythm but also their clever, unusual rhyming schemes. I'll cover details of poetry down below for those who are unfamiliar with poetic concepts. There's a lot more than meets the eye to poetry, that's for sure.

Another thing I look for in poetry is a story. Not all poems have to tell a story, some can be good as simple images. However, I don't get much from a poem if it doesn't have a whole lot to SAY, if you know what I mean. I want to read it and say, "Wow that poem really SPOKE to me." A poem that talks about a leaf falling from a tree just doesn't do that sort of thing, does it? Sure, it's aesthetically pleasing and all, but I'm more interested in aesthetics when it comes to programming and math, not poetry. Although poetry is an art form and aesthetic basically means artistic, it still makes more sense to me for a poem to have at least a basic point, if not a plot, to it.

Yet another shortcoming I find in a lot of poetic works I read is an extreme overuse of metaphors and similes. In a Calvin and Hobbes comic, my favorite strip of all time was the one where Calvin is doing a book report and he explains what he thinks good writing is. Here is the actual quote (this is Calvin speaking about his book report):

"I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"

I doubt I've ever laughed harder at any comic strip in my life, or any image on paper, for that matter. Sadly though, Calvin isn't just making this up; he learned it, no doubt, from his own school textbooks!

While "circumlocution" does happen to be one of my favorite words, I generally like to write well, and therefore, don't follow the "Calvin" standard in my own writing, although it's a goal I would love desperately to achieve, if only for a moment. Now, in terms of poetry (getting back on subject again) I believe ever more firmly that good writing SHOULD NOT be an impenetrable fog, which works that contain a plethora of metaphors and other various "literary devices" often are. At least, to me they are.

When I read something, I generally don't enjoy having to read it ten times and then wonder what in the world I just read. If the phrase "do what now?" ever comes to mind, this is usually the case. I like being able to read something once to analyze it and figure out what it's saying, and once for enjoyment. Sure, if it's a good work by one of my favorite authors, I'll read it a lot more than that. I wouldn't be surprised if I've read every one of Edgar Allen Poe's poems over a hundred times. However, those poems make a point and do not contain an extensive amount of unnecessary references, allusions, and other material that is difficult to read through while still understanding every bit of it. I'm not saying that metaphors and stuff like that should never be used--quite the contrary! I enjoy reading works that contain allegorical or metaphorical references. What I don't enjoy is having to translate and decrypt ten different uses of each on every single line!

Finally, the poem should flow well. It should have a ring to it, and it should feel right to read aloud. If it contains a lot of long words and metaphors, this isn't bound to happen with the average reader, is it? Rhyming is a big thing here, obviously, but it's more the way all of the previous things I mentioned work together to create a masterpiece. In the next section I'll use several of my favorite poems (not ones that I have written) to illustrate differences between good flow and bad flow. Actually I could probably use my own poems to demonstrate bad flow, ha ha. Talk about being a hypocrite, right?

Poetry For Dummies: A Semi-Basic Lesson

If you know nothing about poetry, here's a brief overview of every major aspect of poetry. I'm not going to pummel you with my own purist ideas once again--this is simply an objective view of the standard elements that are present in most poetry. Some poetry may contain all or none of the elements below, but generally an author will factor at least a few of the following ideas into his or her poetry. To a natural poet, or someone with quite a talent for poetry, these things will seem childish to even discuss and they will come naturally without even knowing about them, or without knowing that they have been used at all.

Rhyme

Perfect Rhyme

The first thing you'll want to think about when dealing with rhymes is whether or not the words actually do rhyme! There are three different types of rhymes: perfect rhymes, slant rhymes, and non-rhymes. A perfect rhyme refers to two words or phrases whose endings match exactly in pronunciation, such as "rain" and "pain". The ending "-ain" is pronounced exactly the same in both words.

Pronunciation vs. Enunciation

Note that "enunciation" does not come into play here, as you are most likely reading with your mind. Your mind does not have to "speak" to understand concepts, so generally, there is no need to even enunciate at all. If you are reading aloud, chances are you understand your own speech rather well, and therefore have no trouble understanding what you just said. Pronunciation is how a word is SUPPOSED to be said. Enunciation is the way someone actually says a word, and this may or may not always match up with the word's true pronunciation. This is where we get into slant rhyme.

Types of Slant Rhyme

There are two different types of slant rhyme--forward slant and backward slant. Forward slant rhyme is where the pronunciation of both words does not have to change, or only has to change slightly, for rhyming to take place. For instance, the words "boot" and "root." There are two different pronunciations of the word "root" and depending on which one you use commonly, the pronunciation may need to change for the words to rhyme, but in either case, it is an example of forward slant rhyme. If you pronounce the word "root" like "foot" then you obviously must pronounce it like "boot" in order for it to rhyme. If you already pronounce it like "boot" then it is still forward slant rhyme because not everyone would call it perfect rhyme.

Now, the second case is called backward slant rhyme or often archaic rhyme, and involves word pronunciations that are no longer used, but are necessary for the rhyme to occur. An example of this would be the words "lean" and "been." Hardly anyone ever pronounces the word "been" like "bean" anymore, which is the only way to justify rhyming the word "been" with the word "lean." Do you see the difference here? Pronouncing "been" like "bean" is an archaic enunciation, one that is very rare in today's common use of English. At least, in the U.S. it is, but if you went to England, you could probably find someone there using that pronunciation. I call it pronunciation because over there, that's how you're supposed to say it (at least, as far as I know). Another example of backward slant or archaic rhyme is "again" and "train." No one enunciates again as "a-gain" anymore. It's enunciated more like "uhg-in." However, the archaic form "a-gain" would be required to justify the rhyme.

Non-Rhyme

This final, third type of rhyme, really just isn't rhyme at all. It's words that have no archaic form that does rhyme, or any form that rhymes. Words like "juice" and "moose" rhyme even though most of their letters are different, but words that have mostly the same letters or endings, such as "dough" and "through" don't rhyme at all, no matter which enunciation you use. Words that are completely different obviously don't rhyme either, but they are still considered non-rhymes. This isn't to say that non-rhymes can't be used in poetry; in fact (much to my disdain) they quite often are. It's just that it's common for poems to use only perfect or slant rhyme, and poems that do usually don't contain any non-rhymes.

Rhyming Schemes

We're not quite done with rhyming yet, either. There are a number of different rhyme schemes one can use when writing poetry. Let's examine the first common scheme, called a couplet:

Upon returning from the beach, (A)

He then selects the perfect peach. (A)

For now, you'll have to put up with my own horrid, random lines because I couldn't think of a good couplet to use. The two lines above are an example of a couplet. This rhyming scheme can be denoted like this: AA. This is because the rhyming words can be thought of as those lines having the same letters. So, the words at the end are the only ones considered in this example. In a couplet, each successive line rhymes with the one before it. So the rhyming scheme for a 5-stanza couplet would go like this:

AA BB CC DD EE

A stanza is the smallest symmetrically rhyming unit in a poem, assuming that a poem has rhyme. If it doesn't rhyme, then it's the smallest symmetrical unit in terms of meter (see next section for details on poetic metrics, also called prosody). Symmetrical means that both halves match up exactly, although there are some exceptions to this as we'll see later. In rhyming schemes, stanzas are separated with spaces, as you saw in the previous example of the 5-stanza couplet. This means each stanza is two lines long, and both of the lines rhyme with each other. Also, notice that the letter for the next stanza is different, meaning that it doesn't necessarily rhyme with the lines from the previous stanza, although this isn't prohibited.

A more complex rhyming scheme is the sonnet; it is a very common scheme found in many famous poems. There are many variations of it, but the most common sonnet has this scheme:

ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH ... and so forth

In the Spenserian sonnet, each successive stanza is interlinked with the previous one using one of the previous rhymes, like this:

ABAB BCBC CDCD DEDE ... and so on

In most Shakespearian sonnets, and old English poems in general, sonnets are more of the following form, especially with this repeating 4-stanza pattern:

ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

As you can see in this case, the final stanza of this quatrain (meaning 4 stanzas as a unit) repeats only a single rhyme, and is therefore a couplet. A Shakespearian sonnet, then, is composed of any number of quatrains, which are made of 3 sonnet-stanzas and one couplet-stanza, all having different rhymes.

Limericks, the Irish type of poem which are generally amusing or humorous in nature, and sometimes crude, use this rhyming scheme:

AABBA

As you can see, a single stanza in a limerick is 5 lines long! The catch is, most limericks are composed of only a single stanza. The following limerick, whose author is unknown, pretty much explains it all:

The limerick packs laughs anatomical (A)

Into space that is quite economical, (A)

But the good ones I've seen (B)

So seldom are clean, (B)

And the clean ones so seldom are comical. (A)

Notice how the scheme AABBA strictly applies to every line. The first two lines rhyme with the final one, those being the "A" lines, and the third and fourth lines also rhyme with each other, being the "B" lines, but do not rhyme with the surrounding "A" lines.

There is also a form called an enclosed rhyme whose scheme is ABBA. Now I'll move on and tell you about my favorite form, which I believe Edgar Allen Poe invented in his poem "The Raven." It is a very complex form, and varies slightly from stanza to stanza, but the lines 1, 3, and 6 remain constant throughout the poem. The most unusual part is the internal rhyme in the stanzas, so I cannot denote it in the usual way. In the following notation, each group of letters is not a stanza, but a single line, and the entire set of 6 lines as a whole is what makes up one stanza. Also, each line but the last contains internal rhyme. The internal rhymes in lines 2, 4, and 5 are not present in every stanza, but when they are, the rhymes always follow the pattern below. Usually, either line 4 or 5 will rhyme internally but seldom do both lines match the rhyming scheme. Parentheses denote the lines that always contain the shown internal rhyme:

(AA) AB (CC) CB CB (B)

The entire poem's scheme, then, not counting internal rhymes, would be shown like this in normal notation:

ABCBBB DBEBBB FBGBBB ... and so on

The final rhymes of each line are thus always present; only the internal rhyme varies. To really see this illustrated, just follow this link and read the amazing poem "The Raven" in its entirety:

http://www.heise.de/ix/raven/Literature/Lore/TheRaven.html

As you may have noticed, the entire poem uses the same rhyme for each stanza in the "B" lines, so two stanzas would look like this:

AA AB CC CB CB B

DD DB EE EB EB B

Again, this is only used in Poe's "The Raven" as far as I know, and if it is used elsewhere, it may vary from this. For "The Raven" this is how the rhyme scheme works. I find it a rather interesting way to write poems, and have tried unsucessfully to write a few of my own poems to this standard. As you'll see shortly, the meter in this poem is also quite unusual, and is very consistent and clever, although Poe actually borrowed the meter from "Lady Geraldine's Courtship" by Elizabeth Browning. However, the rhyme scheme in the latter poem is quite different than that of "The Raven," and not only resembles a sonnet, but doesn't include the 5th or 6th lines that are present in each of the stanzas in "The Raven," nor does it include any internal rhyme at all.

Meter

Accentuation and Stress

The first aspect of a meter is its syllable type. This refers to the layout of the syllables, and which ones are stressed or unstressed. Generally, syllable types are shown with a long overbar or a forward slash " / " above a stressed syllable, one in which the speech does contain an accent, and a curve bending downwards or often the letter " x " for syllables that are unstressed. To illustrate what a stressed syllable is versus an unstressed syllable, consider the following three-syllable word:

REALIZE

When broken into syllables, the word becomes:

RE-A-LIZE

Now, there are three syllables, and generally only one syllable in any word is given the stress, also called the accent. If you were to pronounce it like this:

RE-a-lize

You have given stress to the first syllable, by emphasizing it or saying it louder or with more feeling than the rest of the word. To see the difference, try saying it by stressing the last syllable:

re-a-LIZE

Often people speak in monotones and it becomes harder to tell which syllables are stressed. Depending on the voice, it may be impossible! This is the problem now days, is that English was designed to have a rhythm and a meter to it, rather than being a monotonous stream of sounds. However, it is very seldom spoken this way. With new inventions comes more free time and more passive, luxurious lives, and less time for talking or listening (or reading poetry!) The use of stress and accentuation has unfortunately declined, so it is difficult to explain such a concept when it is so close to becoming archaic. Anyway, assuming you understand stressed versus unstressed syllables, let me continue.

The word "realize" is normally stressed on the first syllable, as is the English custom. It would be shown like this using capitals notation (hubpages removes extra spaces preventing me from using proper notation):

RE-a-lize

The way I'm using here is to capitalize those syllables that are stressed and leave unstressed syllables in lower case. The other way is more common, so I thought I'd introduce it to you even though I can't use it.

Prosody (Poetic Meter)

When poetry contains a strict meter, there is a specific name for that meter which is based on two things. First, it is based on the number of metric feet (a unit of measurement which is the number of syllabic units in each line) and second, on the type or types of syllabic units used. For instance, most of Shakespeare's famous poems and often plays (including the dialogue!) follow a strict iambic pentameter scheme. Iambic means that the stress unit or "foot" is called an iamb, which is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Since "pentameter" means five, this tells us that each line contains five iambic feet. Simple, no? Therefore, all lines in most of Shakespeare's famous works will look like this:

i-AMB i-AMB i-AMB i-AMB i-AMB

Interestingly enough, it is called an iamb because the word "iamb" itself is an iamb, as you can see. This is the case for the names of most of the possible metric feet. In an actual poem, the syllabic units do not have to delimit the actual words. That is, one word can span across multiple syllabic units, especially if it is a multi-syllable word. This is fine as long as it obeys the meter, and the stressed and unstressed syllables still appear in the correct order and number.

Common Metric Feet

I'll outline a few common types of feet for you below (the entire list goes up to units twelve syllables long!):

First, the two-syllable units:

iamb: x / (i-AMB)

trochee: / x (TRO-chee)

spondee: / / (SPON-DEE)

phyrrus: x x (phyr-rus)

The more interesting three-syllable units are:

dactyl: / x x

anapest: x x / (an-a-PEST)

amphibrach: x / x (am-PHI-brach)

amphimacer: / x /

bacchius: x / /

Again, this list is not exhaustive. The full list would take up more space than I care to use. The metric foot types shown here are simply the more common ones.

And now for a good example to bring it all home. I mentioned that most of Shakespeare's poems and plays, including dialogue, follow strict iambic pentameter; that particular meter seemed to be his favorite. Just so you'll believe me, here is a diagram of a famous line from "Romeo and Juliet":

"But SOFT! What LIGHT through YONder WINdow BREAKS!"

As you can clearly see, there are five feet in this line, as with all lines from that same play, and each foot is an iamb, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. I bet you never knew poetry and poetic prose could get so complicated!

Meter Length

As I mentioned earlier, the second word in a meter description tells how many feet or syllabic units are in each line. There are words for up to eight feet:

monometer - one foot (generally not used)

dimeter - two feet

trimeter - three feet

tetrameter - four feet

pentameter - five feet

hexameter - six feet

heptameter - seven feet

octameter - eight feet

For instance, the couplet I made up near the beginning of this poetry section is in iambic tetrameter, although I doubt that you realized it at the time:

u-PON ret-UR-ning FROM the BEACH

he THEN sel-ECTS the PERfect PEACH

That's basically all there is to poetry for now, at least in terms of rhythm and meter. It gets way more in-depth than that, but unless you're really into that sort of thing, this is as much (and probably more) than you need to know.

Phew! That was a lot of information wasn't it? If you're still reading, you can let your brain cool off now by reading some of my poems, although they might not have that effect...

A Few Of My Own Works

Here for your enjoyment, or possibly your despisal, are some poems written by myself. Don't ask where I get the material for these because I will have no answer for you. My brain works in ways I don't understand (when it does work) and my thoughts are random, scattered, and multitudinous. If I did know where I got an idea, the chain of thought leading to it would be much longer than anyone would care to follow it. Therefore, just know that my writings are spontaneous and they just come to me. Some call this creativity, others call it poetry. I call it an intimidating and impenetrable fog, as Calvin so aptly put it.

No, seriously. Some of these are good, you should read them. I may seem a hypocrite as most of my poems don't follow my own purist views to a "T" but I do try to follow MOST of my own ideas about good poetry. Anyway, enough chaotic blabbering on my part--time for some orderly blabbering...also I apologize in advance that there are no stanza breaks. The hubpages save feature removes extra white space of any sort, the same reason I couldn't use proper stressing notation earlier. Anyhew, you should be able to figure out where they are without much difficulty. Most stanzas in my poems are four or five lines long, or wherever it makes the most sense for the stanza breaks to go.

Sense by Tim Baker

A sudden hint of blurry motion,

A tide of loud, distraught emotion,

Ripples in the airy screen, of something moving, but unseen,

A broad and silent ocean.

A tingling in the heart, not pain,

That keeps on coming, soft as rain,

In all of me, throughout my soul, shattered yet I still feel whole,

Upon my shirt a stain.

Though I see, my eyes are bleary,

Though I walk, my path is weary,

Something here has gone astray, yet what it is I cannot say,

All my mind is leery.

I go on, but I still can feel,

That darkness that was never real,

There is light here but it's hidden, by the shadow that's forbidden,

What does the dark conceal?

I taste, I touch, I smell, I sense,

My body becomes tight and tense,

Something's waiting close nearby, I cannot see it but I try,

It slowly creeps away.

Now it's gone but I recall

That it was never here at all.

It was just my imagination, brought on by a mad inflation

Of a sense so small.

Something happened here today,

In the midst of the mist that was so gray.

All my senses have been changed, all my thoughts were rearranged.

Though I know this must sound strange,

Things just haven't been okay

Since my sense got sent away.

The Road to Nowhere by Tim Baker

Quietly sitting beneath the clouds,

In the place where snowflakes gleam,

Far from civilization,

Near a murmuring stream.

What a long stretch it was,

And what nothing it seemed to be.

Anyone who dared to walk it,

Had a lot of nothing to see.

It was the Road to Nowhere,

Whose paths could make anyone yawn.

A man once dared to walk it,

And nowhere was where he had gone.

When he started walking,

He couldn't see the end,

And he looked around every corner,

And past every bend.

He pondered where the road would lead,

It wasn't one big loop.

He felt like a tiny vegetable,

Mixed up in one big soup.

He thought it was like a paradox,

A statement that doesn't make sense.

But then, alas! He saw the end,

It was blocked off by a fence.

He began to run towards it,

And he saw that the fence had parted,

But in a whirl of colors and sounds,

He was right back where he started.

It was I who walked the Road to Nowhere,

who walked in its grass and its weeds.

If you cared to think much about it,

You too would find out where it leads.

My Friend Hermit by Tim Baker

One day when I was fishing

Around the river bend,

I got what I was wishing for,

I caught a new best friend.

I got a big bite, and SPLISH!

Over my head he flew.

My catch was a humongous fish,

His scales were all bright blue.

I kept him in a big glass dish,

I named him Hermit that same week.

But Hermit was no normal fish,

He was really quite unique.

Water he could breathe without,

So I trained him to be free.

The first day, half an hour out,

Then one, then two, then three.

When he could live without the need

For water in his gills,

I took my pet, newly freed,

To play in the grassy hills.

He wriggled freely on the ground,

And soaked up all the sun.

The two of us wandered round

Until the day was done.

On our way back I stopped because,

I thought I heard Hermit slip.

I knew right where the river was,

And a tremble was in my lip.

Tears rushing down my cheek,

I turned around to see.

There was Hermit, in the creek,

As drowned as drowned can be.

The Anatomy of God by Tim Baker

Beyond the hills so far away I think I see God's smile.

It has finished raining; God was crying for a while.

Snow falls down when God decides to decorate a bit,

Sleet's not too much fun but even God must often spit.

When God sneezes, volcanoes spew out ash and molten rock;

When God coughs, earthquakes then cause lots of seismic shock.

When God inhales, warmth is gone and winter has its way

Then he exhales and all the heat comes back on summer's day.

The grass that grows upon the Earth is really just God's hair,

His hands, the growing plants and trees, provide continual air.

The wind that blows around us is God's encircling hug,

The sky is but his footstool, and the clouds his endless rug.

The ground on which we walk is God's own perfect flesh.

His blood, our life, is the seas and rivers, running fresh.

His body is the endless universe in which we swim,

His mind is all-encompassing, as everything's in Him.

Lightning is the thoughts of God, flashing through the sky,

While the sun is just his caring, shining, ever-watchful eye.

The moon, his other eye, is also watching as we sleep;

After all, he has to watch us if our souls he is to keep.

All these things are what God is, because he's everywhere,

Although most people spend their lives pretending he's not there.

After all the things he's done for us, you'd think we'd show more care

About the world we live in; it's not how we live, it's where.

Alabaster by Tim Baker

Alabaster, Alabaster,

Golden monkey kung-fu master,

Walking, talking, loud disaster,

And a maiden was his master.

Alabaster, Alabaster,

Found himself an iron castor,

Rolled around and hit his master,

Tossed and slammed and beat and bashed her.

Alabaster, Alabaster,

Running, running, from his master,

She was fast but he was faster,

He just hoped he could outlast her.

Alabaster, Alabaster,

Fell into a vat of plaster,

Standing near it was his master,

He tipped it over and it smashed her.

Alabaster, Alabaster,

Golden fur all full of plaster,

Tried to reach a nearby blaster,

To end this painful, dumb disaster.

Had he been a little faster,

He just might have reached that blaster,

But all that's left since that disaster,

Is a statue of Alabaster.

Down That Long Hall by Tim Baker

Here I sat, for a crime I paid,

Sat behind bars, on my bed I stayed,

Those icy cold bars that held me in

Held me for another's sin.

It was merely I who took the blame,

but here I sat, just the same.

Sat for a crime I had not committed,

far from home where butterflies flitted.

And now, on death row I waited,

sat in silence, hope abated.

I sat alone as time went by,

my day's tomorrow, my day to die.

I wonder where the real culprit is,

Sipping champagne in that mansion of his,

Probably off on some luxurious cruise,

While I sit in his cell with the death row blues.

I heard a sound, a noise, a din,

A new criminal being led in.

Perhaps this man would be in my cell

And listen to stories that I could tell.

Indeed, they neared my cell, and stopped,

Out of surprise, I nearly dropped.

The guard unlocked the door, and then

My new inmate was shoved right in.

He looked mean and gruff, at one first glance,

But he seemed mellow enough; I took a chance.

I asked "How are you?" He said, "Just fine."

I said, "I am, too, and I'm forty-nine."

"How old are you?" I begged and plead.

"I'm forty-five," he promptly said.

Over the next few hours we became good friends,

Discussing the twists and turns fate sends.

We rarely discussed why we had been jailed,

But when we did, our spirits sailed.

We both thought our capture was wrong,

And once we raised our voices in song.

We referred to death row as "that long hall,"

And the minutes flew by like there were none at all.

I was startled, then soothed as guards stopped, then passed,

But we both knew the tranquility would not always last.

Ever so slowly the minutes crept by,

I prayed and prayed and asked God "Why?"

Then a guard delivered a crushing blow,

He told me that it was time to go.

I yelled at my friend, "My life has been thwarted!"

"I'm the reason you're here!" my friend retorted.

I tried to be brave, and I tried to stand tall,

As I was escorted, down that long hall.

Step Outside Yourself by Tim Baker

"Who am I?" you ask yourself at least once every day.

Your mind is running all about; it never wants to stay.

Psychologists unnerve you and your stress is running high,

Some days you're so confused you could just curl up and die.

Things are different, aren't they, when you're looking in a mirror?

Time just seems to go away, your thoughts becoming clearer.

Only when you're at one can you truly understand

That who you are and why you're here are really still unplanned.

It's as if you're looking from a different point of view,

Number one is there no longer; you see you as others do.

The glass reflects a lot of things, although it's very thin;

Who you think you are is in it; who you are is peering in.

So before your life is over, before your books fill up a shelf,

Just take a while to be with you, and step outside yourself.

You will often learn things that you didn't know you knew,

And sometimes you will find yourself looking straight at you.

Why spend a minute angry, anxious, pompous, or irate?

Why spend a minute pitching in to all the world's hate?

When you could step outside yourself and in that moment see

That there's no reason to feel hate when you are truly free.

If you are truly free, then you can be somebody new!

You can go against the world and do not what they do.

You can choose to shine more brightly than the stars above

It doesn't matter what you get; you can always give back love.

Today is all you have and it's all you'll ever get,

So don't do something yesterday that tomorrow you'll regret.

Step outside yourself and simply try to understand;

Don't give up, you're still alive. Your life remains unplanned.

One of My Oldest Poems

 I kid you not, I wrote this dandy when I was about 12 years old (about 11 years ago). I have updated it a bit since then, to make it more readable and possibly, funnier. The interesting thing is that it's written entirely in limericks, normally single-stanza poems whose rhyming scheme is AABBA (I may have mentioned them earlier in the hub). Anyway, here it is:

The Farts That Never Die

Marvin seems like a normal guy.

He eats beans, but don’t ask why.

His visitors are rare,

For the stench in the air

Is the farts that never die.

 

Eating beans is a habit of his.

He can’t stop; that’s how it is,

But he still goes to work

Where he is a clerk.

He prefers it over show biz.

 

One day he crashed his car,

And he sure couldn’t walk too far.

So he made a plan

For he was a man

That now had a painful scar.

 

His work was miles away

And he couldn’t take off that day.

So he tried his plan

For he was a man

Who might not get his pay.

 

He looked for neighbors that lurk,

For they would just watch him and smirk.

As a man of little means,

He ate a bowl of beans

And farted his way to work.

 

But now he was ashamed.

For all farts, he now was blamed.

And no one could scratch

To even light a match

Or then they’d all be inflamed.


 

Weeks soon turned into years,

And Marvin endured more jeers,

But he was alright,

And he just held tight

When farts coming on were his fears.

 

One day he ran out of beans

And as a man of very small means

He searched his cupboard

Like old mother Hubbard,

But found only ice cream with pralines.

 

Marvin knew he had to get more

And he found a beef stick on the floor.

He picked up the stick

And chewed it up quick,

Then farted his way to the store.

 

At the store he renewed his supply

But the cashier inquired, “Why

Would anyone want

Enough beans to exeunt

So much gas that the grass would die?”

 

Marvin sighed, “My situation is bleak,

“And my transportation unique.

These beans I must eat

So I can cross the street

By tooting my own horn, so to speak.”

 

There’s a few things that make Marvin cry.

They just put some tears in his eye.

“The first thing,” he’ll say,

“That changes my day

Is the farts that never die.”

More by this Author


Comments 9 comments

Sunny Robinson profile image

Sunny Robinson 7 years ago from Tennessee

I love this! I'm not entirely a purist, but pretty close to it most of the time. My main thing has always been rhyming, but not quite the metrics. This is a new challenge for me to learn. I enjoyed every bit of your poems and I'm bookmarking this.


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 7 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Thanks, I'm glad you liked my hub.


Sunny Robinson profile image

Sunny Robinson 7 years ago from Tennessee

Not a problem, CM. :)


Jennitasia profile image

Jennitasia 6 years ago from Arkansas

I eat and breath poetry. Wonderful Hub.


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 6 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Thank you. Poetry is one of the main ways that I express myself, and I find it to be the easiest one among them.


2uesday profile image

2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

An interesting hub, I put my hand up to archaic enunciation. I am probably guilty of some of the other things purist poets dislike. Luckily I can happily read and enjoy rhyming poetry. It is always good to read different points of view here on HubPages, thank you.


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 6 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Just updated this with another of my poems.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago

A lesson and a poetry reading! In my poem, Poli-tick talk I was sure I had written a limerick: ABBAA. As I drove to work one day, I realized the very first stanza, my favorite one, was ABCAA! I still liked the way it sounded though and the thought I was expressing. Then I googled, poli-tick talk, a phrase that came to me in what I thought was an epiphany of cleverness, and discovered the phrase has already been used! Now my short, sweet poem is neither pure nor original. Should I delete it so as not to offend? Or leave it and pick back up my pen? Thanks CM.


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 6 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Kim, I would encourage you to keep writing. It is very common for two (or even more) people to have the same ideas at the same time. If you thought up that phrase with no prior knowledge of it, then your poem does not count as plagiarism. It's as original as anything else out there. I hope you don't discredit yourself because someone else had the same stroke of inspiration that you did. If anything, it means you are at least as clever as that other person. After all, you may have even used the same idea in a more creative way. Several of my poems were based on ideas that I had not thought up myself, but stories that I had simply adapted to the form of poetry. My opinion is that you should leave it up to your readers to decide whether your poem is clever or original. I have a feeling they will come to the consensus that your poem is both pure and original, regardless of how many other people have used the same phrase. Personally, I have never encountered that phrase before, and I would as soon credit it to you as anybody.

Something else you may find encouraging is the story of Archimedes. Calculus, which is among the highest math available today (and in use in many modern appliances and technologies) was credited largely to Isaac Newton; however, there is a lot more to the story. First of all, no one but Newton even knew of Calculus until after Newton's death, by which mathematicians of that day learned Calculus. He had been rather selfish with the ideas, only using them to solve math problems that others gave him and not informing anyone of exactly how he solved those problems. He would simply provide the solution and take all the credit. Archimedes, on the other hand, had invented Calculus and solved those same problems centuries before Isaac Newton had, and in more creative ways. Yet Archimedes' work was entirely overlooked and almost destroyed. Scientists discovered that the papers Archimedes wrote his Calculus on had been washed, folded in half, and used by scribes to translate the Bible and other religious texts. Even now they are still painstakingly recovering his writings from those ancient manuscripts.

Sorry for the late reply!

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