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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Readings for the 12 Days of Christmas: Mezzo Cammin

I stayed up till 3:00 working on a promised Anglo-Saxon translation and talking with my daughter, and now must finish cleaning the remains of the flood--in-laws are due tomorrow. So for today's 12 Days of Christmas reading I shall quickly pilfer some poems from that lovely online venue, Mezzo Cammin, edited by Kim Bridgford and featuring formal poems by women.


Maryann Corbett


It looks like knucklebones, the way the lines
fist up in fours, each rhyme a hardened stud
under a leather glove. Or meat-fork tines.
You stab with them; the puncture holes ooze blood.

It's built for doing damage. It's compact.
It lays its weapons down in ordered rows,
puts on its ninja costume, silk and black
and disciplined, adopts its kung fu pose,
waits. Is silent.

*************Then it whirls around,
flips on its superpowered X-ray glance,
and THWACK! your nemesis is on the ground.
(And, God, the satisfaction when he lands.)

You feel like watching someone's entrails twist?
Write one of these. A sonnet is a fist.

Jennifer Reeser

from Sonnets from the Dark Lady


In the old age black was not counted fair,. . .

The world knows black as universal sin.
No Paris stylist passionately swearing
The chic are rendered chicer, thin more thin,
Persuades the bon vivant into its wearing.
In black, the child is chased away, affection
And understanding, though it clothe demurely;
Compassion, color run from the complexion.
But since life thrives through compromises, surely
Let raven, sable, rook be my disguise.
Make murk my brow, in ashes root my hair,
That while I live, none but my master's eyes
May gain one aureole to find me fair,
And thereby--in fair finding--obfuscate
My mirror's counter and uncountered mate.

Barbara Crooker

Stone Fruit (A Sevenling)

Now they come in, all at once:
peaches, nectarines, plums; thin skins
that can barely hold the fruit, the juice.

But what I'm hungry for is cold soup:
cucumber with dill and yogurt, fiery gazpacho,
velvet avocado, with a curl of shrimp on top.

And at the heart of all flesh, a pit.

Annie Finch

Elegy for Her Mother

For K.V.

When your mother joined October,
took the questions from the earth
with her body, left you shining
with your answers, how did earth
close around her? Was it startled

by a further laugh of grain?
Did a field of hard earth open
over her, till she was grain?

Was she brought to flame again
in the mothers' month, October,
when the dead come closing in?
Was she made to a green flame
by a further laugh of grain?

Did a field of hard earth open
over her, till she was grain?
Was she brought to flame again?


  1. Lovely! I particularly like the first. What is a "sevenling"?

  2. 7 lines, 3 stanzas

    stanza 1: some kind of three some, three linked statements, 3 names, etc.

    stanza 2: another element of 3
    does not have to be related to 1st group of 3

    last line: punchline, contrast, summation, etc.

    Supposedly it should be a bit riddling, I think, perhaps a bit mysterious.

  3. It is manageable: really it is a half-sonnet of sorts.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.