Monday, April 25, 2011

Poetry Challenge: Nonsense Poem.

I know it has been far too long since I have challenged my readers to, well, a challenge. So here's one, I know I have one reader at least who would be game for this one.

Nonsense poetry is one of my favorite kinds, as there are pretty much no rules. Many different poets at least dabbled in the field of nonsense poetry, and a few came up with quite popular attempts. Here are two of my favorites.

e e cummings never did care for most rules, as is evidenced by the typical non-punctuation and non-capitalization of his name. My favorite of his poems is the following.

anyone lived in a pretty how town
by e e cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

I know it may seem extremely alien, but I promise if you read it through a few times the characters will materialize. I want you to make the discovery yourself, however. I think of this as a nonsense poem only in the way that he disregards the use of grammar in its standard sense, which is why the poem seems nonsensical. But it has an order of its own design that slowly becomes apparent.

The second poem that always leaps to mind when I think of nonsense poetry is Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Again, there is plenty of language that makes pretty much no sense on first reading, but if you look at it a few more times you can imagine what each of Carroll's made-up words could mean. It's almost like discovering a new language. Don't worry about getting a "right answer" to what it means. If it makes sense to you, I think you've succeeded.

If you are looking for more examples, I suggest Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss, for two. And further explication and other poets to look up can be found here.

Now, the hard(er) part. Let's try to write some nonsense ourselves. Here's mine, which really seems to channel Shel Silverstein.

Fred the Wonder Horse

He flies sideways, all hunter green,
He’s stouter than a soup tureen.
He smiles, even when he’s mean.
He’s Fred the wonder horse.

The first time I saw him, I laughed.
His one wing made him appear halfed.
Try to describe him and you’ll look daft.
He’s Fred the wonder horse.

On Saturdays he grocery shops
and dances on the chimney tops.
Don’t let him lick your lollipops!
He’s Fred the wonder horse.

He says he comes from Baltimore.
You can’t find him at any store.
He’s full of knock-knock jokes galore.
He’s Fred the wonder horse.

He loves to sing “Fiddle-dee-dee!”
and my friends, they all laugh at me,
‘Cause I’m the only one who can see
Fred the wonder horse.

Someday he’ll wake me from my sleep
and we’ll swim in the lake so deep,
then late at night back home we’ll creep,
me and Fred the wonder horse.

That was really fun once I got inspired. Thanks to my wonderful husband for the basic idea! Look around you for an odd idea. Eat something strange and try to remember your dreams. Better yet, ask your young child for an idea, if you have one around. Please share what you discover with me!

No whining zone.

My mom always told me that she would tell me when I was little and starting to whine that she couldn't understand whining. I filed that away in my mommy filing cabinet and hoped I wouldn't have to use it much. Sadly the last few days my son has started in on the whining and huge crocodile tears whenever something is going differently than how he would like it to be.

Luckily for me, the "I can't hear whining, sweetie." approach seems to be slowly making its impression. I am also fortunate to have a husband willing to present a united front on the subject. I had already dealt with the occasional yelling with "yelling hurts Mommy's ears" or "Yelling scares your brother," which is usually true. He doesn't like the idea of making his brother cry, so this can be effective.

I just hope for my patience's sake that he will revert to his normal, happy-go-lucky self soon. His particular brand of whining and fake crying really grates on me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Quotable toddler.

My son is coming up with new amusing sayings daily. I think I should start writing some of them down again.

The other day, he looked up at me and said, "Mommy, [little brother] is a bunny."
"Okay," I replied.
"And I'm a bunny."
"Is Mommy a bunny?"
"Is Daddy a bunny?"
"What's Daddy, then?"
"Daddy is a boy."

My little guy plays a game with his daddy where Daddy asks, "Are you my buddy?" and some times he will say "no." This makes Daddy collapse into fake sobbing. My son asks, "Daddy, why are you sad?" and Daddy will say "Because you aren't my buddy." My son will ask Daddy for a kiss, and then Daddy will ask again if he's his buddy and he will say "yes," which makes Daddy cheer and give him a big hug. He has a similar game with me, except that instead of asking if he's my buddy I will ask for a kiss and he won't give it to me, but after I pout he will come up and give me a kiss, saying "Mommy, I made you happy!"

Whenever he is sad lately he will say "I'm sad." If you ask him what's wrong he will just say "Want to be happy?" It's cute, but not helpful since we usually aren't sure what is making him sad. Oh well.

He is such a good big brother. Lately he will bring his brother a toy when he is fussing or he will randomly come up and gently hug him or pat him on the arm. He will always say goodnight to him before bed and give him a kiss. His little brother's expression when he watches him is so sweet, too. Today he had the giggles and just seeing that lit up his brother's face in a big grin. He will also sometimes feed him a few of his puffs that are on his high chair tray if he's not eating at the same time.

All in all, I am feeling like a lucky mama lately. My kids are very even tempered, sleep well and are for the most part very healthy. They always find ways to make me laugh and smile, even with stressful situations happening outside our little home-bubble. I hope I am taking enough time to show them how much they are deeply loved and cherished.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I need to get running, but I wanted to say something here about the ridiculous flap in the news today over this photo. As a mom of two young boys, I feel like I need to say that if they want to wear pink toenail polish, or wear mardi gras beads, or walk around in my shoes, that is perfectly fine with me. That means absolutely nothing when it comes to who they will someday love and want to spend their lives with, but even if it did, if that was what they wanted I would fully support them. I believe that everyone should have the right to be happy, so long as they are not harming anyone else. What people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is none of my business, regardless of who they are doing it with. Love has all kinds of forms and faces, and I feel that it is beautiful in all of them, as long as no violence is involved. That goes for heterosexual couples as well as homosexuals.

I wish the loud voices of those opposing gay rights would understand that they are trying to take away human rights in the name of religion. I can't imagine that the God of love that I know would reject someone for loving someone of the same sex. Jesus associated with everyone, ESPECIALLY those the people of his society and time rejected. I can't believe he would turn his back on the gay community; he would welcome them with arms as open as they are for everyone else.

So, if someday my son comes up to me and tells me he's gay, I will celebrate him as much as I did the day before. It is only one aspect of anyone's personality; he will still be my son and he will still be the same beautiful person he has always been. I only hope for my sons to be happy and healthy. If they find their way to that place, I will consider my parenting a success.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Snapshot of a race.

The sea of humanity pre-race.
I haven't done this before, and I think it's high time I do. I may not be the fastest runner but I like to think I get more out of it than those solely motivated by the clock. I keep my eyes and my mind wide open while I run. I have gotten inspiration while pounding the pavement more than once.

Today, while running the world's largest 8K (about 5 miles) race, with a field of 4,000 runners, I realized how many fun moments are involved in every race I've been in, but how few I end up remembering. So I decided that I will try to record a few things that stand out in my mind with every race I run this year. Here goes.

While waiting for the race to begin in my assigned start corral, I let my gaze wander over my fellow runners. I saw a group of women with pink t-shirts emblazoned with the name of a suburb "Hot Moms" and a cartoon mom with a baby in one arm and a martini in the other. What a fun-looking group that was! Another fun group I saw was a quartet of young men clad in green tights, green body paint, and green Afro wigs. Looking at the pictures from this race in years past, I realized they have been showing up like this at least for the past two years.

On the race course, I saw several small children with signs reading "Go Mommy!" and a man dressed exactly like Will Ferrell's character in the SNL Blue Oyster Cult sketch ("More cowbell!") complete with a cowbell, that made me smile.

Running through the city is always fun, as it's the only chance you can get to run at speed without worrying about traffic signals and cars. Every time we ran through an underpass tunnel, many runners couldn't resist shouting to hear their own voices echo back. Many of these passes had bridge railings filled with well-wishers rattling noisemakers, ringing bells or just clapping and cheering. Every one of their efforts was appreciated.

Also, many thanks to God for preventing the earlier-predicted thunderstorm and providing a welcome cool breeze at the perfect moments to revive me when I had been running in unaccustomed heat and humidity longer than I liked.

Finally, after the heartbreaking last hill (WHY???), turning the corner and seeing the finish line was priceless. I was so happy to find something left to kick into high gear and pass another 10 or so runners at the end. I was also pleased to beat my old time by 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Hopefully my dedication to training will continue to pay off through the rest of this year and result in my finishing the marathon in 5 hours. We shall see.