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Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Today’s the day for more poem-ing! Don’t look at me like that; the title should have told you something poetic lay round the nearest hay bale!

If’n you’re old hat, you definitely knew where we were going. You also tried limericks last month, haiku before that, parody before that, and a loosening up exercise back when we started.

Myself, I’ve been right pleased with the results. Y’all oughter be proud. But let’s talk where this wagon train’s a-headed now…

Back when I took piano lessons, I preferred the parts where I played interesting songs. Impatient, distracted, bored; I skipped out whenever theory reared its ugly head. Why learn about The Circle of Fifths when I could learn “The Music of the Night?

What’s that to do with rodeos and poems? We’re going to learn a little ‘theory.’ Since it’s me teaching, however, we’re gonna have more fun than a bull-riding competition.

Thing is, despite encouraging everyone to poem (they need to!) and saying anyone can poem (they most certainly can!), I have some pet peeves about poetry.

#1. BIG NUMBER ONE: Meter! Meter is the beat of the poem. It’s the pattern you feel as you write or read poetry. It’s the syllables and how we place them. It’s reading something aloud and clapping along with a preschool class, for Pete’s sake!
And many, many poems screw this up.

…including my own. No joke.

At last, I lie upon my bed.
At last, I sigh; rest my head…

Meter can be difficult because of us. Because of YOU! You and I and every other artist out there is subject to viewing his or her work through the way it was created. We read our poem the way we thought of it and not the way others will read it.

Meter is also difficult because we get tied up in counting syllables (think haiku) and do not pay attention to where we put stress in words. Frigidaire works differently in a poem than Washington; both have three syllables, but the stress in Frigidaire is on the last while Washington‘s stress is on the first.

Meter applies to both structured and free verse poems. Despite a free verse poem not fitting rules like 5/7/5 or iambic pentameter, our minds still seek a meter like we seek a comfortable gait whilst walking down the sidewalk.

Enough boring theory, though. Let’s apply our more-fun-than-bull-riding activity.

I want you to totally mess up a famous poem by intentionally inserting extra syllables or by intentionally changing words to ones with different stresses.

To be helpful, I suggest the following:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Because I could not stop for Death – 
He kindly stopped for me – 
The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
And Immortality.


One fish
two fish
red fish
blue fish.


If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:


With a sincere apology to the masters who wrote them, I command you to congest a poem to mess up its meter.

Type us up one in the comments, or send me your terrible work through the form.

—–

©2021 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon; Elusive Exclusive

“Uh, Kid? What’s goin’ on here?”

“What d’ya mean Pal? Ain’t nuthin’ goin’ on here.”

“Thet’s what I mean. They ain’t nuthin’ goin’ on here! Don’tcha know it’s Monday? An’ not a first Monday where we git treated to Chel Owen’s poetry promptin’, an’ not a third Monday where we git challenged by Colleen Chesebro ta write double ennead. It’s yer Monday, Kid. So whut’s goin’ on?”

“They’s been a hold up, Pal.”

“A hold up? This ain’t the wild west, Kid.”

“Well my intended guest is held up by work an’ sech. So she’s on hold.”

“How could ya let this happen, Kid? Ain’tcha got all kindsa folks lined up well in advance?”

“Nope, not at all. Been busy with odd jobs m’sef an’ jist kinda dropped the rope. It ain’t so easy lassoin’ folks, ya know.”

“Tell ya what Kid. I got a ‘sclusive ever’one’ll be innerested in. I’ll tell ya ‘bout when I met a famous personal’ty, one thet goes by many names.”

“Ya mean Shorty? Thinkin’ we’ve featured Perfesser Mills enough already.”

“No Kid, not Shorty— Bigfoot!”

“Well, Shorty’s got petite feet, but she leaves a big imprint; an’ it’s certainly hard ta follow in her footsteps.”

“Tellin’ ya, it ain’t Shorty, Kid! Now shush. I know you call ‘em Bigfoot. In the Pacific northwest they’s Sasquatch; Skunk Ape in the southeast. In the Himalayas they goes by Yeti, or Abominable Snowman.”

“Yowie Pal!”

“Yep, it is excitin’.  Purty innerestin’, this giant hominid creature thet’s found all over the world.”

“’Zactly, Pal. Australia mebbe has one too, called the Yowie.”

“Could be Kid, or a cousin a sorts. Bigfoot has kin ever’where; the Yeren a China, an’ the smaller Almas in Mongolia; the Orang Pendek from Sumatra; in Scotland they goes by Big Gray Man of Ben Macdhui; shepherds in Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan speak a the Barmanou; closer ta our north American home is the Mapinguari down in South America. No matter the name or location, they’s all big an’ hairy an’ shy. An’ Wendigo legends outta Canada say the creature is of a supernatural type.”

“Come on Pal, ya mean ta tell me ya had yersef a innerview with a BigFoot, or whatever name folks call ‘im by?”

“Yep, believe it or not. An’ the first thing BF would want ya ta know is their pronouns are they, their, them. They git aggravated always bein’ referred ta as ‘he’. They is more an’ one of ‘em ya know.”

“An ya want us ta believe ya spoke with one.”

“They didn’t speak like ya might think. Was more like tele-pathy.”

“Tele— ? There an app fer that? Soun’s like phoney-baloney.”

“I’m gonna give ya an app upside the head if’n ya don’t shush. Jist sayin’ BF spoke without speakin’.”

“Like a character in a writer’s head?”

“Mebbe. See, it was a long time ago, afore I was even a character in a writer’s head. Shorty’d jist started up Carrot Ranch. Back then she didn’t even know I was already ridin’ the range.”

“Did she know ‘bout Bigfoot?”

“Not then. But they knew about her. An’ they come here ta the space she made ‘cause it felt safe an comfterble fer ‘em. They git tired a always bein’ hounded an’ speculated on, but they felt calm an’ relaxed at the Ranch. An’ they’s veggie-tarian so all the carrots an’ recipes was a plus.”

“How come no one else’s ever seen ‘em?”

“Who says they ain’t? Anyways. Way back when Shorty was first goin’ fer it here there were still some go-fer holes, an’ sure ‘nough, ma hoss stepped in one. Hurt it’s leg real bad. Don’t need ta tell you what a predicament we was in. Thet hoss was in pain an’ it’s eyes was big an’ rollin’ in its head when all a sudden he got calm, so I looked aroun’ an’ here come Bigfoot, but if the hoss was calm, well, okay. An’ thet BF laid hands on thet hoss’ leg an’ then lifted thet hoss up an’ he was as good as new.”

“Amazing!”

“Yep. Well, after thet, me an BF hung out fer a while, ‘cause aint either one of us’d ever had much company. We shared what we knew ‘bout Shorty’s plans fer this new Carrot Ranch place an’ we both decided we’d hang out in the backgroun’ an’ keep an’ eye on things. We vowed we’d be aroun’ ta step up if ever we was needed.

Turns out I was needed when a certain greenhorn prone ta trouble popped onta the page. Shorty counts on me ta keep thet one from doin’ too much damage at the Ranch.”

“Hey…”

“Thet’s right Kid, I got saddled with keepin’ an eye on ya. But Bigfoot an’ I vowed ta hep keep the Ranch safe.”

“Hmmph. Well, what does Bigfoot do?”

“Seen any trolls, Kid?”

“No…”

“Salesmen or shysters?”

“Well…”

“Other then one’s ya dragged in yersef?”

“No.”

“Bigfoot feels safe here, an’ Bigfoot heps keep the rest of us safe here.”

“But I ain’t seen ‘im… ‘em.”

“Then ya ain’t got eyes ta see. They’s here. An’ they’s thankful ta all the ranchers an their stories, makes ‘em smile. An’ they’re thankful ta Shorty.”

“Shorty’s seen ‘em?”

“Oh, Shorty knows Bigfoot.”

“Pal, that is uncanny!”

Folks, this Saddle Up Saloon episode is so lame we might need Bigfoot ta lay hands an’ git it ta walk away. Or mebbe you kin salvage it by sharin’ yer own Bigfoot sightin’ or drop a Bigfoot flash in the comments. What d’ya call Bigfoot where yer from?

“I’ve seen ol’ ‘Squatch.”

“Frankie!”

“Lemme tell ya. ‘Member when I first showed up? In one a Shorty’s flashes? She had me an’ Burt deliverin’ mail in a snow storm. Burt was blinder’n I was in that blowin’ snow. Only path out there that night was tele-pathy. Burt was drawn ta that warm dry cave.”

“Bigfoot was in there?”

“Yep, Kid. Saved us that night.”

“Hmmph. S’prised they didn’t lay hands an’ restore yer eye.”

“Could’ve but saw I had a u-nique way a seein’ life. An’ guess what else ‘Squatch was tendin’ in that cave a theirs? Unicorns!”

Pal’s sources, other than direct experience:

https://exemplore.com/cryptids/Names-for-Bigfoot-Around-the-World

https://bigfootly.com/2019/10/29/exploring-the-many-names-of-bigfoot/

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon; Colleen’s Double Ennead Challenge No. 5

Happy Summer Solstice! Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Monthly Poetry Challenge. Every third Monday of the month, I’ll be here at the Saloon with another challenge to help get your poetic juices flowing. Each month, we will explore a different theme or image to inspire our poetry. Take your time, there’s no hurry! You have an entire month to write your poem.

Check out the poems from last month HERE

The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS! Punctuation and rhyme schemes are optional and up to the poet.


This month, let’s take the double ennead through the TUFF challenge like we do for the Carrot Ranch Rodeo. I’ll show you how to take your double ennead from 99 syllables to 48 syllables, to 24 syllables to finally, a haiku *(12 syllable poem).

Why? This exercise illustrates the importance of the brevity of words. This is a great way to craft the shorter forms of syllabic poetry like haiku, senryu, tanka, etc.

*What happened to the 5-7-5 (17 syllable) haiku?

On page 22-23 of “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry,” I explain why poets no longer write their haiku in 17 syllables. It’s a matter of linguistics. The Japanese write in sounds called onji, and we use syllables in English. The Japanese onji are shorter than our syllables. If we’re going to embrace haiku, we should write the form as authentically as we can.

William J. Higginson and Penny Harter, in their book, “The Haiku Handbook” explain:

“Approximately twelve English syllables best duplicates the length of Japanese haiku in the traditional form of seventeen onji.”

“The Haiku Handbook,” Chapter 8: The Form of Haiku, p. 102″

Here’s my double ennead:

Celebrate the Summer Solstice

summer solstice blessings 
flow from father sun
we recognize the longest day of the year
wearing bright flower crowns
bonfire magic soars

celebrate the summer
new freedoms restored
cast your spells to air, water, earth, and fire
jubilant songs voiced to
the mother goddess 

give thanks for connections
family and friends
influence reality for the better
work your magic toward 
shared fresh beginnings 

For the 48 syllable poem I’ll use a 4-7-5 stanza trio:

summer solstice...
celebrate sunshine
all hail to the longest day

wear flower crowns
before the bonfire
where fiery sparks soar like stars

giving thanks for
family and friends
all together once again

Now, let’s reduce our syllables to 24 (6-6-6-6) and only one stanza:

summer solstice blessings 
honor the longest day
bonfires and flower crowns
we're together again

Finally, our 12 syllable haiku (short-long-short):

summer solstice... 
honor the longest day
give thanks

When writing haiku, you should have two images that converge to give you that special moment of insight into the poet’s experience. Here’s how you can check to see if your haiku works.

Take the first line and the second line: summer solstice… honor the longest day. We have our kigo (the season word) along with the phrase summer solstice. This gives us our first mind image. We know it’s summer and the longest day of the year.

Now, take the second line and the third line which is the pivot: honor the longest day, give thanks. The second mind image imparts the “aha-moment” when we realize the experience of the longest night of the year is truly a gift. This experience is something we should be thankful for.

The haiku’s combined images converge into our realization that experiencing the longest day of the year is truly an experience to celebrate. What a great way to celebrate summer!


Always check your syllables with a syllable counter when composing and writing syllabic poetry. The pronunciation of words is very important to conveying a meaning in your poems. You can use sodacoffee.com as a syllable counter. There is also howmanysyllables.com, which is my favorite because you get access to synonyms as you’re composing.

  • Write your 99 syllable double ennead poem on a subject of your choice. Take into consideration that haiku are written about nature. Reduce the syllables until you reach the haiku (12 syllables) written in a short-long-short syllable structure). You should have 3 poems. The double ennead, a reduced syllable poem of your choice of syllables, and your haiku (12 syllables).
  • Post it on your blog or in the comments if you don’t have a blog.
  • Include a link back to this challenge in your post. (copy the https:// address of this post into your post).
  • Read and comment on your fellow poet’s work. Feedback from other poets is how we grow our poetry writing craft.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.
  • I’ll visit, comment, and share your poetry on social media!

Now have fun and write some syllabic poetry!

Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ With Norah Colvin

“Hey Kid. Kinda quiet ‘round the Saloon. Ain’tcha got anythin’ lined up?”

“Nope. But as ya kin see, Pal, there’s a few folks in jist relaxin’ an’ chattin’ over a bev’rage a choice.”

“Yeah, I see thet. Look there, is that Norah Colvin?”

“Yep. Says she’s waitin’ on a buddy a hers.”

“Reckon thet buddy is here. Why it’s—”

“D. Avery? Them two’s buddies? What a they have in common?”

“Well, they both know their way ‘roun’ the Ranch.”

“Reckon, but Norah Colvin’s respectable an’ all, an’ our writer’s so…”

“Jist serve ‘em both Kid an’ leave ‘em be.”

******************************************************************************

Hello Norah! I’m so glad we have a place where we can finally hang out together.  But it seems Kid is wondering that we’re buddies.

Hello D.

Buddies! I like that. Buddies is not a term commonly used in Australia, so I think this is the first time I’ve ever been called someone’s buddy. I like its informality. At schools, sometimes they now have a ‘buddy bench’ where children can wait for a buddy to rescue them if they have no one to play with. I’m generally introverted so am pleased that you’ve come and rescued me from my lonely bench (bar stool). Thank you.

More than a buddy, Norah, you’ve been my mentor at Carrot Ranch, looking out for me from the beginning. Kind of like Pal does for Kid, though you’re much nicer about it. But besides Carrot Ranch and flash fiction we also have in common our educational backgrounds. I have recently retired from teaching though I’ve done a poor job of it as I am currently working in a pre-k classroom, although as a para now and not a lead teacher. Is this your age group, 4 to 5 year olds?

I’ve often considered myself a six-year-old at heart. I’ve mostly worked with 5 – 7 year olds, though have worked with some of before school age and some a little further into their primary schooling. I’m interested to hear you admit that you’ve retired, as I have been reluctant to use the R word.

“Ha! I only use the R word for convenience. “Retirement” doesn’t really seem like the right word choice, but I did not return to school this past fall and I’m not just playing hooky. I taught formally for 24 years, mostly fourth grade (9-10 year olds) and I finished as a sixth grade (11-12 year olds) math(s) teacher. But even before I was a certified teacher I spent time in pre-k and K classrooms. When a pre-school teaching friend needed help this winter I said Yes. It’s been a lot of fun working with this age group again. What do you like most about this age group?”

I have always loved supporting children as they embark upon their journey into literacy. I have always thought it a privilege to share the joy as they discover the magic of the black squiggles upon the page, whether they are reading or writing them. I love to share in their excitement as they explore and unlock the mysteries of mathematics and their delight as they realise what they can do. To see the children bubble with confidence, curiosity and creativity reawakens the six-year-old in me who was crushed by structure and conformity. There is nothing more rewarding than to see a child in love with learning.

I totally agree! My favorite sound in the classroom was always “Aha!” as a child’s perseverance paid off.

What do you love about working with pre-school children, D.?

In pre-school the work of the children is still play, and it’s in play that we learn and develop best. I love their curiosity and sense of wonder. And I love their kindness and the simple straightforward strategies they practice to solve problems. Pre-school teachers and children have it all figured out.

Norah, when I first came along the Ranch you had a recurring character named Marnie. Where did that character come from?

The Marnie stories, some of which I compiled on a Marnie page on my blog, were written in response to Charli’s flash fiction prompts. Over time, the character grew and I got to learn more about her. Although she was entirely fictional, parts of her were based upon my own shy child self and other parts upon many other children I knew, had taught or read about. It was quite a compulsion for a while to write the flash fiction responses about her, but then she faded out of view and I haven’t written anything about her for some time. The stories focused on bullying, neglect and dysfunctional families mainly.

D., you have some lovely young children who often feature in your stories — Marlie and Hope. Unlike Marnie’s dysfunctional family, both have supportive families who nurture their curiosity, creativity and carefree spirits. I see this as indicative of your warmth and nurturing heart. Would you agree?

Ha! That heart is a work in progress. I don’t know where those two came from or their families. But I like them. A lot. It’s an ideal, I suppose, but I have met kids that have blessed families like that and that get that kind of respect from their families.

Many of your flash fictions show children and teachers in school. You write amazing flashes but what I have always been impressed with is how the prompt also engenders an essay about education from you. Your passion is unflagging, Norah.

Time has killed off those posts which for many years accompanied my flash fictions, but education has been, and still is, the focus of my life, my life’s passion and work. I am frustrated by the limitations of formal schooling and would love to see us all educated in more positive ways. I guess we are often told to ‘write what you know’ and education is what I know best. My mixed feelings about school mean that sometimes I write rather negatively about school, and other times paint education in a positive light. I can do the same about parenting. It is my attempt to show what often/sometimes is against what could be. My poem Education is perhaps expresses this idea most succinctly.

For me, working in a traditional school was always like balancing on a thin line that connected what my employer expected of me in schooling children and how I believed children should be educated. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved working with the children. They gave me so much joy. I was just always aware of how much more joyous and beneficial it could be.

Yeah, so much depended on the school admin. It was discouraging the more they wanted to dictate the means to the end. It saddened me to see over the years the rigid structure and conformity coming back into schools and making it more difficult to nurture the innate creativity of children. The best days were when we were free to find our own way to the ends, to develop fun and engaging activities. It was a lot of work but the kind that left you energized rather than drained.

I did my best to change things. I didn’t always just accept the status quo. Which is really surprising as I always toed the line and never liked to be in trouble at school or at home when I was growing up. I wrote a little about my journey in a long-ago post To school or not to school which linked to an article with the same title I wrote for a teacher magazine which can be read here. It lists some of the early influencers upon my educational thinking. Considering it was written almost 30 years ago, and I continued to read about education constantly since then, I could now add many more influencers to the list, some of who I’ve listed here and here. John Holt was probably one of the first who confirmed my misgivings with the ‘system’ were well-founded and the amazing, and sadly late, Ken Robinson was one of the more recent. However, children were perhaps my best teachers, my own and the children of others. Children can teach us so much if we just watch and listen and learn.

The children are our best teachers! We’re just the guides on the side, ready with the right question and materials to keep them engaged in their explorations.

Some of my retired friends, who are happy to use the R word and were once teaching colleagues of mine, ask me why I stay involved with teaching and education. They want nothing more to do with it. But I can’t let it go. Education is me and I am it. It is where I belong and where I want to be. (To innovate on a quote from ‘The Big Orange Splot’.) I am life-long learning.

I love that idea of life-long learning but know there’s so much to do and learn in a non-school setting. Teaching took all my time and energy. I’m moved back closer to family now and am more available to them. I am lucky to still have children around to play with but without having to write reports on them. Maybe that’s what Marlie and Hope do, show that the real learning happens naturally and informally. I loved working with the kids but haven’t regretted my decision to leave school. I’m enjoying each day and they are full. R is for return and rediscovery and rejuvenation.

I still stay involved, but instead of being in the classroom, I use one of my other skills — writing. I write for my eponymous blog where I post my responses to Charli’s flash fiction prompts you mentioned before. I write freelance for educational publishers and have a couple of big jobs on the go at the moment. I create teaching resources to support teachers of children in their first three years of school which I make available on my website readilearn. And … I write stories for children, some of which are published in anthologies, some are published in the Library For All collection and some, I hope/keep my fingers crossed/if I’m really lucky, will be published as picture books one day.

You will get your picture books published!

Well, I know the Saloon is open 24/7 but I have to go. I hope Pal and Kid haven’t been eavesdropping, what a boring old pair they’ll think us.

Education can be the most exciting and rewarding career going. It can also be political and polarizing. I admire you for carrying on the good fight Norah and know that your writings are another contribution to the education and welfare of children.

We’d probably both be more comfortable out playing games and kicking up our heels with a group of children. It has been great catching up with you over a drink though.

Yep! See ya Buddy!

******************************************************************************

“Told ya Pal. Norah Colvin’s decent an’ respectable, she could do better than ta buddy up with that D. Avery.”

“Jist shush Kid. But yeah, Norah’s purty amazin’. Here’s her poem:

Education is 2

Thet says it all.”

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Welcome, ladies and gents, to Anyone Can Poem, the rodeo where …well, anyone can poem.

Last time we were in the saddle, I introduced the basics of haiku. We used its general syllable outline to jump in and have some fun.

Where will we ride from here?

To limericks.

A limerick (/ˈlɪmərɪk/) is a form of verse, usually humorous and frequently rude, in five-line, predominantly anapestic trimeter with a strict rhyme scheme of AABBA, in which the first, second and fifth line rhyme, while the third and fourth lines are shorter and share a different rhyme.

Wikipedia

I don’t know about you, pard’ner, but that was a whole chunk of intimidating text. -And limericks are not intimidating.

They’re fun. They’re edgy. They’re funny!

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’
-Edward Lear

Like haiku, limericks follow a form. Myself, I find this form easy to write to once I pick up on the beat. Try reading Edward Lear’s (credited as being the master limerickist) contribution out loud. Still not hearing it? Here are a few more:

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak,
Enough food for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.
-Dixon Lanier Merritt

Alas for the death of Hugh Hannity
Whose boat was capsized by a manatee.
When they saw it swim by,
All the townsfolk would cry:
“There he goes! Oh the beast! The Hugh manatee!”
-Graham Lester

Now do you hear it? Do you feel it? Anyone can poem a limerick, including me:

There once was a mother of four
Who never could sweep up her floor.
The clothes and the toys
Were stuck beneath boys.
Daddy wonders who taught them to swore.
Chel Owens

  1. The pattern of AABBA and anapestic trimeter means that you start with two longer lines that rhyme. In the case of Lear’s poem, the rhymes are beard and feared.
  2. Next, you pick two shorter lines that rhyme with a different word. Again, with Lear’s, those words are Hen and Wren.
  3. Finally, you end with a zinger of the same length as the first two lines that also rhymes with them. Lear uses beard again -that cheater.

Whenever I set out to write a limerick, I first choose a subject. For today’s rodeo, let’s pick everyone’s favorite duty: cleaning up after animals. Not only will this subject fulfill the necessities of being somewhat inappropriate and humorous, it will provide many easy-to-rhyme words.

Some possible opening lines:
There once was a man named O’Coot.
There once was a grand rodeo.
I went to the show to just sit.

There! The most difficult part is over, especially since I picked some easy rhymers (except for rodeo). O’Coot can match up with poop scoop and boot and shoot! Sit, on the other hand, has at least one possibility amongst the thesaurus suggestions for animal excrement.

There’s no wrong subject or strict count for limericks if you’re worried. Many famous poets break the form left, right, and center. The main criteria is silliness and that recognizable rhyme pattern.

Send me a few samples through the form. Or, write one or a dozen up in the comments. You’ll love it and so will we!

Don’t overthink; just do it!

—–

An embarrassing mess was my brother
With one leg that was short. Not the other
Which made this eccentric
Walk in circles concentric
Causing constant distress to our mother
Richmond Road
(From the A Mused Poetry Contest)

©2021 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon; World Wide Garden Tour

“Hey Pal. I’m glad yer here, ‘cause we’re about ta head off.”

“Head off? We gotta man the Saloon.”

“Nope. This is where we’ll start but this week we’re spons’rin’ a garden tour.”

“Ah, shift. Thinkin’ gard’nin’ ‘roun Carrot Ranch is gittin’ outta hand.”

“It’s a Garden Tour Pal. We’re goin’ ‘roun’ the world! We’ll start here at the Saloon then head east till we end up at the Carrot Ranch World Wide Headquarters, or CRWWHQ for short.”

“Might be shorter ta say Hancock, MI.”

“S’pose. Or Shorty’s place. Anyway, we’ll start here ‘cause here we are. Then I’m hopin’ folks’ll look’t the pictures here an’ click on the links ta see more a these gard’ners’ gardens an’ related writin’s.”

 “Kid, the Saddle Up Saloon ain’t got a garden.”

“Sure it does. We got the Poet Tree offshoot a’growin’ in the back.”

“Seems a stretch. Got any pictures ta share?”

“Naw. Reckon folks has their own pictures in mind fer the saloon, I don’t wanna ruin their images. But here’s a buckaroo-ku regardin’ the poet tree:

deep rooted dreams grow

sky stroked visions branching out

far reaching embrace

Now let’s head east ta southwestern Pennsylvania an’ see what our own Poet Lariat’s up ta in her outdoors.”

Jules Paige?”

“The one an’ only.”

Looking at my raised garden, folks might actually think I knew what I was doing. I’m winging it. I’ve got some Bok Choy, rainbow and yellow peppers, some herbs, and of course the lettuce. Watching these plants grow makes my heart sing.


lettuce 

entertain you; leaf 

ya laughin’

pepper

your dreamin’

healthy

tomatoes

gonna be a

brighter day

mind your

peas and q’s

porridge?

  ©JP/dh  

I’ve always had flowers. Not always veggies. But one year I did try to grow strawberries and corn… and even asparagus! I’ve had veggies for a few years now. Not quite a potager garden. But just enough to keep me happy.

“Looks like Jules keeps the butterflies happy too.”

“That was nice Kid. I reckon lotsa folks keep a bit a garden ta keep ’em in fresh veggies and a bit a earthin’.”

“Yep. Hey, let’s drop in on our writer in Vermont as we head farther east on this here garden tour.”

“There’s somethin’ in bloom.”

“Thet ain’t a garden plant! Thet’s a wild Lady’s Slipper she found at the edge a where her lawn meets the woods.

“And thet’s jist driftwood!”

“She says she planted it there.”

“Hmmf. And what’s this? Closeups a her “lawn”? Some gardener.”

“Yep, bit of a let down. Let’s venture across the pond.”

“The stock pond? We goin’ ta Ernie’s?”

“Nope. We’re headed ta the UK. We’ll start at Sherri Matthews‘ place. Her garden grows in the West Country of England and in another life, in California.”

“Ya mean the reknown ranch hand and columnist, Sherri Matthews?”

“Yep. The memoirist. And gardener!”

I’ve always grown lavender, it’s good for the bees. And, so I learnt, good near roses to keep greenfly (aphids) away. I have a “Bee Hotel” in my garden. During our first national lockdown for three months in 2020 in the UK, we had glorious sunny weather. Confined to our homes unless for one hour of exercise and essential shopping/medical needs, our garden was a godsend, one I never take for granted. Watching the bees of an evening emerge from their winter hibernation was a true gift. Nature, unstoppable. See more on this HERE.

This rambling rose was my pride and joy in my previous garden. I created an archway with roses and jasmine, something I’d wanted for years. I planted the rose in a half-barrel I brought back from California when I left after twenty years there. I loved my archway, but when we moved to our present house three years ago, I thought of ways I might keep my barrel. To take it would mean cutting down the rose. I couldn’t do that. So I left it for the new owners. Let them have the joy of it. I found out from our previous neighbours that within weeks of moving in, the new people promptly tore it down, rose, archway, jasmine. The lot. I could have taken my barrel after all. Click HERE for more on this hope filled summer garden.

Said neighbours/friends brought us this rose as a housewarming gift when we moved to our present home, having left all my roses behind…for the new people. I planted it the following spring after our move. It’s called Tickled Pink. And I am tickled pink at its progress and beauty. It blooms three or four times a year, is disease resistant and brings stunning colour to the garden. Bloom where you’re planted, as I always say. As someone who learnt to grow roses in California and has left many behind, I know this to be true. I also discovered you can buy a pot of ladybirds (ladybugs) to sprinkle on your roses, a natural and safe way to keep aphids at bay.Click HERE for more on Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home. 

“Oh that was well worth the trip. Ain’t we got some other green-thumbed Ranchers over here in the UK?”

“Yep. Here we are at Anne Goodwin‘s place.”

“Whoa. Ms. Goodwin’s also gardens on the wild side.”

“Yep. Read all about it and see more stunning photos HERE.

When we moved to this house over twenty years ago, I was most excited about the garden. Although I’d previously worked an allotment, I’d never had custody of shrubberies and trees. That first winter, we cleared a patch of ground for ten raised vegetable beds and another for fruit bushes, fenced-in to keep out the birds. Along with that and creating a pond and patio, we didn’t pay much attention to the grass. See more HERE.

“Kid, thet was purty dang purty. Glad we clicked the links. This is a great tour! Who do we see next?”

“Yet another ranch hand, the prolific Geoff Le Pard. He’s got some before and after shots to share with us.”

Then…

Thirty years ago we moved into this house (above) with a new born in tow. The house sits on a wide road on the outskirts of one of London’s remaining villages, Dulwich. Did we love the garden? In 1970, it had been laid out with a single terrace and central steps down to an oval lawn. Several of the mature trees we inherited (magnolias, silver birches and ornamental firs) were new then as were the many roses and peonies. We itched to work on it – our immediate predecessors had done nothing beyond the occasional lawn mow for the best part of two years – but we knew enough (courtesy of my mother) to sit back and see what came up in that first year.

then….

Now

The forget-me-nots are the many great grand-offspring of those that we saw that first year. We’ve moved many things, lost a fair few – the rhododendrons and azaleas have pretty much all gone now – and introduced many more. We’ve made a few structural changes but not many. I’m in the process of introducing a rainwater capture system to stop using potable water given a cautious assessment of the rain that leeches off our roof every year is in excess of 50,000 litres.

See more of Geoff’s gardens HERE.

“Hang onta yer hat, Pal. Now we’re headed down under fer a peek at Norah Colvin‘s garden.”

“Kid, we come a long way ta be viewin’ ‘Merican plants.”

“Norah got us good! Says this “garden” come from spilled bird seed! But worth it. Look’t her garden visitors Pal!”

“Them’s sure some exotic birds!”

“Thinkin’ we’re the odd ducks down ‘roun here Kid. Uh-oh. Hope Shorty don’t see these next visitors ta Norah’s garden. Them critters tend ta spook ‘er.”

“Speakin’ a Shorty thet’s where we’re headed next. We’ll end the Saloon’s first world wide garden tour at World Headquarters. An’ here we are!”

Look, there’s the front potager garden with them rabbits someone surprised her with!”

“Yep. An’ jist look’t ‘er bloomin’ bulbs.”

“Whoa! Look’t the color!”

“Thet ain’t flowers! Thet’s Shory’s cake!”

“Well it’s a celebration a all she’s been sowin’ an’ growin’ so we’ll allow it.”

“This was a fascinatin’ tour, Kid. I injoyed gittin’ out an’ seein’ how other ranch hands garden an’ all. But ya know what?”

“Yep. We’re homesick. Let’s git back ta the ranch.”

Wither we roam, there’s no place like home.

Thank you Jules Paige, Sherri Mathews, Anne Goodwin, Geoff Le Pard, Norah Colvin and Charli Mills for takin’ part in this debut garden tour.

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy Rebecca Glaessner!

“Howdy Rebecca Glaessner! Pal, look, it’s Rebecca Glaessner!”

Thanks for having me here, Kid and Pal.” 

“Well we sure ‘preciate yer comin’ all the way ta the Saddle Up from down under.”

“It weren’t sech a long haul fer her Kid. Rebecca’s been aroun’ the Ranch fer a long time.”

“It’s an absolute honour to be featured at the Saloon after all Charli and her Ranch-hands have done for my writing life, Kid. You’re both right, I’ve been around but I did fall off the radar for a while in recent years. It’s a bit of a windy story so get comfortable, a lot has happened over those six years. I’ll try to be concise.”

“We’re all ‘bout storyin’. The stage is yers, Rebecca.”

“I started up a website in 2015 where I now post all my flash fiction responses to the Ranch’s weekly prompts. Those prompts inspired me to begin writing online in the first place.

I was a young parent back then, only 22, with three toddlers and an infinitely supportive partner who worked long hours so I could be home with them.

I established a daily routine around the kids where I found myself with free time each day, and redeveloped that lifelong itch to write.”

“Reckon thet’s a itch jist has ta be scratched. Lifelong ya had it?”

“Yes, Pal. You see, I started reading very young. As soon as I knew those little symbols on paper could create whole worlds, I found a home inside books as often as I could. Then naturally, I started writing as a young teen – you know those carbon-copy stories of our favourite novels? Mine was Eragon by Christopher Paolini (who, to my delight, has also moved from writing Fantasy to Sci-Fi, much like my own journey). 

As a young mother the soul-deep writing itch returned in full force.

One story-world concept I daydreamed as a teen grew and evolved alongside me in parenting and life, finding depth, new themes and alternate paths to travel down over the years. Though I’m still working on it, it’s undergone several rewrites/restarts since, with some drafts reaching over 100k words long. Yet this final version looks almost nothing like its original form, as is the way with life and growth. 

It’s been a long road of self-discovery over those years since, ups and downs and 360’s, and I’ve learned so much. The Carrot Ranch has been one supportive constant in my writing life as I found myself returning to the Ranch often, despite having stopped writing temporarily.”

“See, I was aroun’ a course, I’ve always been aroun’, but the Kid here showed up later. When I weren’t seein’ ya aroun’ so much, Rebecca, I jist figgered it was ‘cause the Kid is so dang annoyin’.

“No Pal, with three kids of my own I was busy! And, during that time, all five of us – our three kids, myself, and my now husband – were diagnosed with either Autism, ADHD, or both. And though the diagnoses helped each of us find our own place in the world, it wasn’t a fix-all; it didn’t give me all of life’s magical answers.

My life revolved around supporting our kids so they wouldn’t have to fight their way through childhood like my husband and I did, and in doing so, I gradually sacrificed more and more of my own bandwidth, leaving myself with no space or energy for writing.

Being Autistic, meant I was constantly exhausted from all the expected social interaction with other parents, hoping to strengthen our children’s school experience through the support network of other families. But having ADHD also, meant I fought with myself daily to remember to keep the house organised, all their lunches sorted, school notes and homework and activities in order, while always feeling like I was forgetting things and not doing enough as a stay-at-home parent.”

“Well dang, Rebecca, that seems like a tough steer ta corral.”

“Kid, it was a recipe for disaster. Too much all at once, with no space for self care, and a constant guilt that I wasn’t living up to my own expectations for my writing life also. I believed my diagnosis meant I knew what was holding me back, and that I could just try harder to get past it. But I was wrong.

This inevitably led to burn-out, where I had my first – and, luckily, only – panic attack, ending up in hospital, feeling like my heart was struggling and about to give out, and I took time off everything. My husband picked up the bit for me, cleaning, school runs, bedtime routines, everything, while still working full time. He offered me time to recover, however long I needed.”

“He soun’s like a keeper all right.”

“I can’t thank him enough.”

“Even with his s’port, musta been a rough time.”

“Yes. And that time enabled me to build brand new foundations, starting from scratch. Through all of it, I never lost that itch to write.

That is where you found me in 2017, dabbling in the Ranch’s flash fiction prompts again, trying to get back on the same wild horse I started with. That was also the year I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time where I achieved my goal of 50k words in a month.

2017 was also the year my father passed away and when my partner and I got married.”

“Them’s two big events.”

I remembered dad in a flash piece called Boots, one of my first sci-fi pieces, first published in 2017 as a response to a Ranch prompt, and then republished in 2020.

I first— properly— discovered sci-fi after reading Dune and it’s prequels as a teen (my dad recommended them, one of his gifts I treasure the most now), and like writing, sci-fi became a core foundation in my creative life.

After NaNoWriMo in 2017 —a mess of a story, hiding away in a secret drawer— and another failed novel draft in the months following, I took yet another writing hiatus. I knew I still didn’t have all the tools needed to craft a strong story. Feeling doubtful about my abilities, I fell away from flash fiction and the Ranch again too.

Over all those years, I devoured countless articles, craft novels, podcasts, writing classes, blog posts, you name it! I’ve tried and failed over and over to get a rhythm going successfully enough to complete this novel.”

“You jist hang in there Rebecca, you’ll git it done.”

“I will, but having ADHD also means it’s a challenge to keep my mind focused on mentally demanding tasks for more than 10 minutes at a time, so I’m constantly fighting myself to do the one thing in the world that is utterly fulfilling for me. This challenge, before my diagnosis, offered no end of self-doubt through lack of consistency, and never knowing why I couldn’t just write.

I love our kids, of course, I love how they’ve grown, how strong they are in their sense of self now, but writing is… me.You know?”

“Reckon ya gotta make time ta scratch thet itch, no matter.”

“For sure. In 2020, the infamous lockdown year, I wrote another 75k words of another novel draft around home-schooling three primary school aged kids, and once again discovered the plot just didn’t have the legs to stand on.

Or was it my ADHD telling me the story wasn’t interesting enough anymore? Was I also telling myself it needed more work than I could give it?

I’m still working on self-trust. 

I discovered my ADHD very recently in 2021. This discovery now means I can knuckle down on the parts of my writing process where I need to harness discipline above interest, recognising what work is needed, and challenging myself to push past my perceived limitations. 

This writing thing is harder than usual for me, but I’m determined.That’s when the Carrot Ranch’s weekly prompts once again returned to the forefront of my writing career.”

“Yeehaw!”

“The kids returned to school late in 2020. With the extra time and space back at hand, I put aside another struggling draft of 75k words, revamped my website and vowed to write a piece for each weekly prompt from then on— whether submitted to the Ranch or not.

I’ve only missed one prompt so far since January 2021. That prompt was “a year later”. It was too deep a concept to tackle that weekend so I gave myself a brief break and forgave myself for not having the bandwidth for it.” 

“Reckon ever’one misses now an’ agin. I ‘member that was a tough prompt.”

“That forgiveness and space was key, and I was back on the horse the following week with renewed energy —though this time, a slower, steadier, wiser horse. 

Now I use my novel’s characters and concepts to inspire each week’s flash response, as opposed to plucking bits and pieces from life. This new strategy keeps me rooted in my novel’s worlds which I’m working on diligently. It helps maintain momentum toward my ultimate goal, and it’s growing ever closer.”

“Thinkin’ thet’ll make ol’ Shorty smile!”

“I hope so. I’m thankful for Charli’s own persistence and determination in life, she’s been a huge inspiration for me. I wouldn’t be where I am now without her and the Ranch!

After diving headfirst into writing, then falling away completely, I’ve arrived at a place where I can challenge myself in healthy ways; by taking small steps, and crafting manageable expectations, I’m gradually building the self-trust and consistency vital to success in all parts of life.”

“Well, it’s somethin’, how ya never let go a yer writin’.”

“An’ how Carrot Ranch’s been a part a yer writin’, an’ vice versa. Rebecca, where else’ve ya got hep or inspiration fer yer writin’ itch?”

“Well, Kid, alongside the Ranch, author Holly Lisle has been another cherished resource in learning the craft. I’ve purchased all of her clinics (World, Culture, Language, Plot and Character Building) and use them regularly with huge success. Her methods of commanding the muse when and where you need it, is empowering.

Also an inspiration, podcaster Sarah Rhea Werner teaches self-care and managing expectations as a creative, challenging how we perceive the craft, and how we view ourselves as both writers and flawed humans. Sarah hosts free twice-weekly, live-stream ‘Create-Alongs’, where she offers two hours of her own time to bring the writing community together in a space of acceptance and inspiration.”

“Thanks fer sharin’ them inspirin’ folk, Rebecca. An’, before ya go back ta thet beautiful fam’ly a yers, ya got anythin’ else ta share or promote?” 

“I’m yet to publish outside the free flash pieces on my website, however the novel I’ve spoken of, and am working on now is a sci-fi mystery, involving missing people, hidden aliens, AI controlled wormholes and strange nightmares of other worlds. My flash fiction offers hints of these worlds, so come visit me over at my website; have a read and leave me your thoughts. I respond to each and every comment and love to hear from readers.”

“That sounds like a right fun place ta visit. Thank ya so much Rebecca Glaessner. Sure was good ta have ya by.” 

“Yep. We ‘preciate yer open an’ honest story tellin’.”

“Thanks again Pal and Kid for having me here! I cherish the opportunity to share my story, and I hope it helps other creatives on their own journey.”

Australian Author, Rebecca Glaessner, writes Science Fiction with a focus on future tech, the human condition and our connection to worlds beyond. 

Over on her site she publishes weekly flash fiction in response to the Carrot Ranch’s 99-word story prompts, and inspired by her up and coming debut novel, a sci-fi mystery.

Besides writing, Rebecca reads widely and often, enjoys strength-training and video gaming while running a household of three human kids, six fur kids and her better half. 

Stick around while she discovers her voice, you might be surprised.

Website: http://rebeccaglaessner.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/R_Glaessner

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/rebeccaglaessner

Facebook: http://facebook.com/rglaessnerauthor/

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

SADDLE UP SALOON; COLLEEN’S DOUBLE ENNEAD CHALLENGE NO. 4

Happy May! Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Monthly Poetry Challenge. Every third Monday of the month, I’ll be here at Carrot Ranch with another challenge to help get your poetic juices flowing. Each month, we’ll explore how to use this form to inspire our poetic muse. Take your time, there’s no hurry! You have an entire month to write your poem.

Check out the poems from last month HERE.

The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS! Punctuation and rhyme schemes are optional and up to the poet.

Why Write Poetry?

When a writer embraces the ability to convey complex images and emotions in just a few lines, they have learned to strengthen their writing. In the same way, flash fiction helps us hone in on the words to tell our story, syllabic poetry does much the same by forcing us to find the best word and meaning. This brevity of words leads to more concise writing.

Syllabic verse is any kind of poetry defined by the number of syllables in each line. In English, syllables must have a vowel sound. For example, the word “apple” has two vowel sounds, which divide it into the syllables “ap” and “ple.” Depending on our accent, we pronounce some words with different accents on the syllables. For example, the word “fire” and “poem” can be read with either one or two vowel sounds.

Always check your syllables with a syllable counter when composing and writing syllabic poetry. The pronunciation of words is a very important tool to convey meaning in your poems. You can use sodacoffee.com as a syllable counter. There is also howmanysyllables.com, which gives you access to synonyms and rhyming words as you’re composing.

Using Themes in Poetry

What are themes? A theme is a message you want to convey through your poetry. Many poets choose a romantic theme for their poetry, but that doesn’t always appeal to everyone. Another popular theme is “human verses nature.” Writing about the human experience is one way we connect with others through the written word.

Here is a list of some the common themes in poetry from Emma Baldwin. “19 Different Types of Themes in Poetry”. Poem Analysis, https://poemanalysis.com/poetry-explained/poetry-themes/.

  • love
  • death
  • religion
  • spirituality
  • nature
  • beauty
  • aging
  • desire
  • travel
  • dreams
  • celebrations
  • new life
  • disappointment
  • failure
  • war
  • immortality
  • coming of age

Why are themes important? If you like to read and write poetry it’s because you enjoy “word craft.” At least that’s what I call it. Word craft is the way you, as a writer or poet, shape words into a distinct purpose. It’s your personal brand of magic that you employ to enchant your reader. Often, the theme of your poem reveals itself as an additional meaning. It’s that “a-ha moment” when you make the connection through a poem’s deeper meaning. Remember, without a theme, your poetry does not have a purpose.

The double Ennead is perfect for themed poetry. The three stanzas allow the poem to flow naturally with a beginning, middle, and end, much like our 99-word flash fiction flows.

When you choose a theme, try to break it up into three distinct parts. In my example, I write about the passage of time in the garden featuring a morning glory during the morning, at noon, and at night, per stanza. I added a bit of rhyme because it flowed naturally, unforced. As always, end rhyme schemes are optional.

Image by rachaeljklol from Pixabay
"The Morning Glory"

morning glory dawns bright
dew-speckled petals,
blossom forth to receive the sun's inner light
impermanence of life
eternal love's plight

morning glory day shines
purple, pink, and white
noontide sun feeds and sustains unplanted vines
no less a pesky weed
the will to survive

morning glory night wanes
flowers snuggle deep
under star glow, provocative scents remain
promising a new day
growth comes with the rain

©2021 Colleen M. Chesebro

At first glance, you might think this poem is only about the morning glory plant. Good grief, they’re weeds! However, there is much more here. I chose this flower because of its will to survive, no matter what. My theme is about perseverance and surviving when the chips are down.

This month, select your own theme for your double Ennead poem. Follow your inner voice for inspiration.

  • Write a double ennead poem. Remember to count your syllables.
  • Post it on your blog or in the comments at the bottom of the post.
  • Include a link back to this challenge in your post. (copy the HTTPS:// address of this post into your post).
  • Read and comment on your fellow poet’s work. Feedback from other poets is how we grow our poetry writing craft.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.
  • I’ll visit, comment, and share your poetry on social media!

Now have fun and write some poetry!

Saddle Up Saloon; Secon’ Art Showin’

“Whoa! What’s goin’ on Kid? I ‘spect ya ta be whiny an’ even cheesy, but didn’t ‘spect ya ta be servin’ wine an’ cheese so fancy like here at the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“It’s what ya do at art shows Pal. An’ this week we’re showin’ art; I roped a few visual artists inta sharin’ their work here at the saloon.”

“Thet’s great Kid.”

“Yep, we got some great work ta show, some artists ya mighta met here last June, an’ a couple a first timers. Done turned the Saloon inta a gallery. You an’ me Pal, we’ll jist git outta the way and keep cuttin’ cheese. Jist gonna let folks wander ‘roun, enjoy the sights an’ they kin chit chat an’ comment down below.”

“Hmmf.  So… no innerviews?”

“Not this time Pal, jist gonna let the art speak fer itself. Though some a the artists have a bit a literary art ta accompany their visual art.”

“Soun’s real nice Kid.”

“Yep. There’s jist one thing….”

“Uh-oh.”

“Shorty’s uncle is somewhere aroun’ the Saloon. She said we should keep an eye out fer ‘im. Uncle Bernie? But I’m sure he’ll be fine. Now let’s step back an’ let folks see this installation.”

Bridal Bouquet by Bonnie Sheila

Bonnie Sheila is a quiller from the faraway island of Nantucket. More of her work can be found at crescentsandcoils. You might remember her visit at the Saloon last June.

From the Garden by Bonnie Sheila

“I recall Bonnie Sheila the quiller. She’s branchin’ out with this art form. An’ I ‘member this next artist. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. She was in the first art showin’ too. I think we’ll be seein’ more a her aroun’ here.”

“Yep. Don’tcha love her watercolors?”


DOUBLE EXPOSURE
The sun’s reflection
Shines in a sidewalk puddle
The lens adds one more.

UNDER THE SHIBUMI
Ocean breezes blow
Blue canopy flips and snaps
Pure relaxation.

“Beautiful. Kid, was thet her haikuin’ too?”

“Yep. She’s all kindsa artist.”

“Now what’s this? Why’s there a dog at the art show?”

“Look agin, Pal. That’s a handcrafted needle-felted sculpture by Vermont artist Sharon Somers. You should see her stuff.”

“Oh, shift that reminds me. Uncle Bernie!”

“Is that a heartfelt piece?”

“No, Pal, that’s Shorty’s Uncle Bernie. Visitin’ her daughter, looks like.”

“Hmmf. Thought he was stuffed. I wanna see more a this felt sculpture.”

“Well here’s a couple more, an’ ya kin always go to Heartfelt Woolies.com ta see even more.”

“Thet’s really cool, what she does with felt.”

“Yep. She kin do them sculptures up from a photograph.”

“Amazin’. Hey Kid, look’t these pictures!”

“Pal, ya know Jules Paige, the Ranch’s own Poet Lariat?”

“Yep, sure do.”

“Well these here photographs are from her. An’ a course she added haiku.”


brief respite from blues
positive thoughts blossom free
relaxing  strong for strength

©JulesPaige

present reflections
living in precious moments
details bring delight
 
©JulesPaige

“Now what’s this, Kid? Which is the sculpture? An’ is thet one on the right anuther a them felt sculptures?”

“That’s Uncle Bernie again. He’s visitin’ Shorty’s other daughter, the dancer an’ choreographer. Hmm. Uncle Bernie ain’t got the pose down.”

“Mebbe she’s s’posed ta be stretchin’ like he is. Leftward leanin’ upward facin’ down dirty dawgs pose.”

“Mebbe. But let’s check out the next artist. Another rancher, an’ columnist, Susan Spitulnik.”

“The quilter!”

“Yep.”


This quilt is called a sampler because each block is a different well known pattern. I made this as a sample for a Beginner Quilting class I taught in which the students learn the techniques to piece squares, triangles, and other shapes using a quarter inch seam. I then donated it to a local charity for one of their annual auctions.

This is just one of many patriotic quilts I have made. I gave it to Joe Mele who is a friend and member of the Rochester Veterans Writing Group. He is writing his parents’ love story using the original letters his father wrote home during WWII.

I made this t-shirt quilt as a high school graduation gift for my neice using her sports t-shirts that’s why there are repeat numbers. The band-aid fabric represents the fact she went on to college to study nursing.

“Wow, Kid, thet Susan Spitulnik’s as generous as she’s talented. Them quilts a hers warm in more’n one way.”

“I know what’cha mean, Pal. Yep. Sue Spitulnik is a regular Ranch Hand. When she’s not participating in the weekly Carrot Ranch challenges or preparing her Veteran’s Stories guest column she can be found sewing in her home studio.”

“Well I sure am glad she found time ta share her art here at the Saloon agin.”

“Me too Pal.”

“Ya got any more art hangin’ aroun’?”

“That’s it fer this showin’. Oh. What now?

If Charli Mills thinks that scrapin’ some nutmeg inta a French Press whilst campin’ is an art form…

uh, Pal, is it art?”

“Sure Kid, why not? An’ least ways she’s got track a thet uncle a hers.”


“Phew. Well Kid, ya made it through anuther Monday.”

“Yep. I enjoyed the art show but Charli’s uncle’s a bit of a handful. Has he always been aroun’ here?”

“Yep. Look:

“Huh. Never noticed him before.”

“Sure. He goes ta all the rodeos.”

“Huh. Hey Pal, we didn’t do so good ’bout stayin’ outta the way a the art showin’.”

“‘Cuz you have trouble keepin’ yer yap shut. But if I ain’t mistaken, ya did cut the cheese.”

“Mebbe. Shift! The dang mic is still on. I always fergit th—

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Howdy! Welcome to another month of Anyone Can Poem.

I enjoyed reading what y’all wrote last month, when we explored poetic parody. If’n you’re still in the mood, check it out and write to the challenge.

Now, on to more fun! Dust off your chaps and boots and cinch up your saddle straps. We’re going to jump into common poetry forms, beginning with haiku.

What is haiku?

Haiku is one of the most basic forms of poetry you can write, with the exception of replicating Ogden Nash’s “Fleas.” Despite this simplicity, an excellent haiku can still produce serenity of mind.

Furthermore, YOU can write an excellent haiku.

  1. Think of a subject. It’s traditional to use something from Nature, but no one says you can’t poem about ice cream.
  2. Frame your subject into very, very simple terms. If your subject is ice cream and you want to write about its melting, think, Cream hot melt. That’s right: I want you to jot down words like someone writing a telegram who only has seventeen cents to do so.
  3. Start writing! Actually write Cream, Hot, Melt. Write more; why not Chocolate Desires Now Sidewalk? Or, Mint Chip Pavement?
  4. DO NOT HESITATE. DO NOT ERASE. There is no wrong way to do these steps, apart from skipping out from fear of mistakes.
  5. Look over what you’ve got, and open your fingers. Count the syllables of your chosen words and split them into three lines of 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, then 5 syllables.
  6. Look over what you’ve got again, and edit as needed for clarity. Some haiku are rather nonsensical while others form a complete phrase or thought over the course of the three lines.
  7. Try to avoid rhyming. It is not necessary; plus, readers will assume you know what you’re doing if you don’t…

Repeat these steps as needed. Write several poems if you’d like! Who’s stopping you?

After you’ve had your fun, send your creation(s) my way through the form. You may also share a haiku or two in the comments for all of us to enjoy.

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Cream hot melt pavement
Chocolate sidewalk desires
Mint chip dreams now gone

©2021 Chel Owens