15 October 2011

Keep Out, and other writings

I love it when kids' written language skills get good enough that they take themselves off and write their thoughts.  Buzz started doing that earlier this year.  His first piece of writing made us so proud.  Our son, taking himself off and writing a commentary on life!  It was truly wonderful.  It read:

"I dont Lic you nAAw mum that you yeld at me and That you smacd me DAD"

Needless to say, we were both tremendously proud.  Since then, Buzz has filled the world with his writings, even going so far as you write a stern Instruction To Self regarding the self-administration of an asthma puffer during his recent struggle with an asthma-related cough.

"nat tace 2 pufs at forst bac and secnd do or no plae"  (Take 2 puffs at first break and second.  Do, or no play.)

And the most recent had me in stitches.  I walked past his door the other night and saw this stern warning to all:

"Keep out.  Privacy.  No enter.  Snakes."

That's enough to keep me out.

11 October 2011

Ass. U. Me.

Scene One:  Buzz's classroom, Monday morning before Sports Day.

Me: Hi Jen!  Have you heard much about Sports Day?
Jen: Not much.  Hey, is Buzz in Evans House?
Me: Yeah, sure, he's in Evans.  And Elijah is too, isn't he?  I remember because we lent him a yellow shirt last year on Sports Day.
Jen: Oh, that's right, you did.  He's okay this year - he has a yellow shirt this time.
Me: Cool then.  Well, Go Evans, hey?
Jen: Yeah, Go Evans!  See you on Wednesday!

Scene Two:  In car, killing time after postponing a swim on finding the swimming pool full of older women doing aqua-aerobics.

Me, to self: Hmm, actually Buzz doesn't have a yellow shirt.  I wonder if I should get one before Wednesday.  I wonder which shirt he wore last year?  I can't even remember what he wore last year.  He must have had that old long-sleeved yellow shirt.  Huh.  Well I'd better pop in somewhere and buy him a new yellow shirt.

Scene Three:  Home

Me:  Hey guess what?
Mr de Elba: What?
Me: I was talking to Jen this morning about Sports Day and when I mentioned that I'd lent Elijah a yellow shirt last year, I realised that Buzz doesn't have one for this year.  So I just got this great yellow polo shirt for Buzz!  It was only $9.00!  Would it be funny or kitsch if I put lettering on the back with Buzz's name?  Glad I thought of it actually.  It would have been bad if we'd got to Wednesday morning and he didn't have a yellow shirt to wear, being in Evans House.
Mr de Elba:  Rudd.  Red.  Buzz is in Rudd House.

- pause -

Me: Uh, yeah.  So he is.  Rudd.

Moral:  Just because you lent someone a yellow shirt doesn't mean your own kid is in Evans.  Ass.  U.  Me.

08 October 2011

Four lines of silliness

I used to have a toothbrush
‘Twas coloured bright lime green
I saw it last I brushed my teeth
But now it can't be seen.

(Just in case you thought I was going all posh and poetic on you.)

06 October 2011

Double Dactyl

The Double Dactyl - what a cool poetic form!  I was made aware of double dactyls by the lovely Cath at The Picket Fence, who admitted that it sounded like a strange sort of dinosaur, which is what I'd been secretly thinking myself.

The rules of a double dactyl were difficult for me to grasp:

  • dactylic meter, meaning that the 'feet' are made up of three syllables in a 'strong-weak-weak' pattern
  • two verses of four lines each, each line having two of these dactylic feet (although the fourth and eighth lines usually have one dactyl followed by a single stressed syllable ... once you've understood this pattern of syllables, it's a piece of cake, I promise)
  • the first line of the poem is a rhyming nonsense phrase - the hardest part for me, as I am just not that into writing nonsense phrases
  • the second line is a name
  • one of the lines in the second verse is a six-syllable word, and Cath kindly sent me a list of 1,500 six syllable words to choose from  Some poets add a rule that no single six-syllable word, once used in a double dactyl, should ever be knowingly used again.
  • the ends of each verse rhyme, and the whole thing is usually humourous.

That's a lot to take in, but once you've read a few double dactyls, you get an 'Aha!' moment and understand the structure.

My friend Cath posted a double dactyl written by her friend, poet Will Mackerras.  Will's poetry blog, The Banjo Bible, is well worth a read and it includes a few superb double dactyls.  Read Cath's own double dactyl, which came with a short lesson in art appreciation.  Both were brilliant!

I wrote my first double dactyl in the comments on my sister's blog in her recent poetry posts while I was sleeping in the dorm at the campsite where we had our recent beach holiday.  When I came home, I realised another whole double dactyl was needed to fully explain my plight (as if a 2kg gain on the scales wasn't explanation enough.)

Does this make it a Quadruple Dactyl?  I am not sure.

Camp Food – Two Double Dactyls
Holey Kamoley
At Seabreeze Apartments
The weather was wondrous,
The cabins were close.

But I'll be needing some
Anticoagulants -
Though they did feed us,
The food was quite gross.
 - - - - - - - - -
Yuckity Pyuckity!
“Week-long camp nourishment”:
Mass-produced, deep-fried stuff,
Battered or canned. 

Cholesterol-laden with
Oil spots on napkins! Such
This should be banned.
 - - - - - - - - -
(The name of the campsite, although dactylic, needed to be replaced with a fictitious campsite name.)

How much fun was that?  Not the eating the food, writing the poem!  I know you're itching to give it a try, so here is an A-Z of hopefullypromising six-syllable words, hand-picked from my list of 1,500.  This list is without an x-word.  A six-syllable dactylic x-word.  Sigh.  Clearly, that was too much to ask.


This poetic form is growing on me.  I particularly love feeling the cantering meter and then getting flattened with a six-syllable word of sheer brilliance!  I haven't mastered that yet, but I'm going to enjoy trying!

05 October 2011


I wanted to write a Villanelle.  This was crazy.  I'm embarrassed to post it because it's not really a 'performance piece.'

The Villanelle has a tricky pattern of rhyme and repetition.  It has 19 lines and really, you could predict that nothing good comes in 19 lines.  People who know their poetry 'schematise' a Villanelle thus:

A1bA2  -  abA1  -  abA2  -  abA1  -  abA2  -  abA1A2
where 'a' and 'b' are the two different rhyme endings used, and where A1 and A2 are the two different refrains.

I read that most modern Villanelles are in pentameter, and I tried for iambic because some of the phrases I wanted to use fell into iambs.  I took the liberty of varying the refrains a little bit each time, which I think is called 'breaking the rules'.  I'm not sure whether it's a winner or not.

Girl Collecting Shells

Collecting shells is every girl's delight
To her dismay, her parents will forbid it.
Her parents say they know that crabs can bite.

Mum and Dad said, "Leave the shells, alright?"
But this young girl, she went ahead and did it.
Collecting shells is this sweet girl's delight.

She found a beauty, large and smooth and white
Buried in the sand which almost hid it.
Her parents warned they know that crabs can bite.

She picked it up and held her treasure tight.
What parent would so callously forbid it?
Collecting shells is this sweet girl's delight.

Predictably, this girl received a fright
When learning that an angry crab lived in it!
It's customary for crabs to give a bite.

She screamed "It bit me!" moaning in her plight!
She dropped the frightened crab and madly skidded!
Collecting shells once was this girl's delight,
But now of course, she knows that crabs can bite.

04 October 2011

Circular Sleep-Wake Haiku

If I know where this vicious circle started, I might be able to stop it.

03 October 2011

Circular Washing Haiku

Sometimes known as cirku, the circular Haiku has no fixed start or end point. 

02 October 2011

Circular Kitchen Haiku

01 October 2011

Payoff - Five Haiku

Payoff – Five Haiku

Young boy thumb-sucking
Tonsillitis, runny nose,
Scratching itchy eyes.
Conjunctivitis. Then more
Antibiotics. Then more
Bout of oral thrush.
Bout of oral thrush. Then more
Bouts of oral thrush.
No more thumb-sucking!
I thought he’d never stop that!
Thankyou, oral thrush.