Some Losers Drive ‘Cruisers

My early days as an adult poet were spent writing bush poetry. There is nothing quite like an Australian bush poetry competition to hone your rhythm and rhyme, where every syllable was counted, and stress marked – and any near-rhymes noted for deductions. I learnt a lot from the bush poets, and endeavour to keep this discipline in my writing today.

Recently I was flicking back over some of my bush poetry. Very little of it has had an audience, other than within competitions, or with friends and family. I thought Poetry Friday might be a good time to share some – and since we’ve just come out of a flood season, ‘Some Losers Drive ‘Cruisers’ seemed like a good place to start. This tongue-in-cheek poem is not to malign the Toyota Landcrusier (‘Cruiser) product – which cannot be held responsible for the actions of men in their four-by-four utes.

To read more poetry posts, click across to Tabatha’s blog, The Opposite of Indifference, where you’ll find a flood of poetry links and love.

The ‘Cruiser (Landcruiser) is a workhorse on Australian properties.

Some Losers Drive ‘Cruisers*

A torrent of rain brought an end to the drought
and inches poured down as the waters spread out.
The creeks became rivers, parched flats were soon lakes
and men in their utes began making mistakes.

The first left the road and traversed a new track;
thick slough on the ground though meant no going back.
A bulldozer, parked where it finished the job,
was revved up to extricate this sluggish yob.

The ground was a slop heap, the dozer not light …
It bogged and that fellow had worsened his plight
Relief when it came was surprisingly bleak;
“Get in – leave yer ute or we won’t cross the creek.”

The road inundated for many a day,
the ’Cruiser, forlorn, was then stuck in the clay,
’til waters subsided and man could return –
to next bog the tractor! You’d think he would learn …

Chap Two had a problem – a pump under threat;
with floodwaters rising it soon would be wet.
He first bogged the ute though – and, cause for alarm,
the salvage machines were marooned on the farm

The 4×4 wagon was given the task
of freeing the ’Cruiser – now that’s a big ask!
It soon was entrenched, also deep in the mire
and “Help!” was the plea, as the water rose higher.

With shovels, a neighbour and tin roofing sheet,
the wagon extracted – a notable feat!
While sitting in water that lapped at the floor,
the ute was then winched twenty metres or more.

The third – I don’t know what to make out of him …
He honestly thought that his new ute could swim!
His ’Cruiser “the best” never failing to please –
he’d cross this small puddle with consummate ease!

The floodwaters lapped at the six-foot depth mark –
one ‘k’ on a bend, yet he went for a lark!
When murky, brown water lapped up at the roof,
the ute was abandoned; sunk in reproof.

The volunteer rescue arrived in a rush,
to winch the subaqueous ute from the gush.
That sodden new ’Cruiser was towed back to town –
for dunking ensured the electrics went down.

Invincible men in their 4×4 utes –
what drives them to play in the mud like galoots?
Alas, I suspect that these overgrown boys
just have to act tough, with their Tonka-like toys.

© Kathryn Apel 2003 – All rights reserved.

Note: Chap Three was not known to us – he merely tried to cross a notorious flood stretch near our house. His new Landcruiser was insured – but rumour has it insurance didn’t want to know him, since he had driven through road closure signs to attempt his crossing.

Good Friday

You will find the Good Friday Poetry Friday links on Dori’s blog today, which is Dori Reads. Today I’m sharing some short poetic heartbeats about Good Friday, taken from our service, this morning.

fragile broken
the debt
we cannot pay

rooster crowed
three times;
you don’t know me

‘Long live the King of the Jews.’
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

‘It is finished.’

New Book, New Poem, New Project

It’s been a busy week on the blog. I don’t usually post this much! But here I am again, for Poetry Friday.

On Tuesday I shared a collage of pictures from my exciting mail day.

On Thursday I posted my line in the progressive poem. Irene has the next line on her blog, Live Your Poem – and she’s also collating this week’s Poetry Friday round-up.

Today I’m posting a double tetractys – only my second Antarctic poem (How is this so?!) and the first thing written on a new project I’m currently researching. (It’s just the tip of the iceberg!) This poem likely won’t make it into the project – but I’m testing the water (ice-cold!) and gaining some confidence to strike out on this new adventure.

hut

chink
of stone
on stone on
stone near stone on
stone on stone grey stone
stacked high like brick by balanced, cold, stone brick;
bleak stone walls rise from shale floor; upturned sledge
and planks form the roof;
ice winds bluster
as snow swirls
seal each
chink.

And … for my youngest son’s benefit, I’m also posting my first ‘real’ author pic. A number of years ago he declared I wasn’t a real author until I’d published five books. He’s trying to shift the goal posts now, but … I’m claiming!

Real Author. It sure has taken long enough!

My week’s been wonderful – and super-productive. Hope yours has, too!

Progressive Poem – Kat’s Contribution

It’s National Poetry Month in the USofA, and I’m taking part in a progressive poem – where we each write one line (one person per day for the course of the month) to create a collaborative kids’ poem. This is my first year taking part and it’s been fascinating, watching each line drip-feed through the interwebs – wondering where I might land and testing ideas as possibilities for when it would be my turn. I thought the wordplay and crisp sounds from Heidi, Tabatha, Dori and Michelle were building to a surprise rhyme from Diane – a rhyme that I could perhaps build upon in my line …

But I clicked on Diane’s blog and found – yes – a surprise! A diversion. A breather. A most unexpected change of pace …

And no rhyme.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges, sometimes, need sandpaper…

Where to from here? I played around …  rumples unscrumpledsmoothing, soothing, rasping grasping, splintered words, stone/hone… and then found a line that built on Diane’s matched pair, but kept the medieval mood of the earlier stanza.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour* … 

 * I’m guessing ‘vapour’ will soon condense to American spelling. 😉

Tomorrow our lovely organiser Irene will pick up the pen and write the line to follow mine, and I sit back to relax and enjoy the poem that everyone pieces together.

Dates in April (American-time)

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at blog-a- penny-and- her-jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There’s No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

Too Many Friends – Too Many Smiles!

It’s not every day you get a new book in the mail… But it’s always a good day!

A collage from my walk to the letterbox – playing bullrush with the cows on the way there … and back again. Because first they run away. (Good!) And then they run back!? (Bad!!) But we have lots of trees. (Phew.) So I go tree-to-tree.

Usually I wait until the cows aren’t between me and the mail, but I suspicioned there might be a blue book waiting… And there was. ‘Too Many Friends’ releases 1st May 2017. Not far away!

Reasons to smile. And smile. And SMILE! 🙂

(Inter)National Poetry Month – Progressive Poem

April is (Inter)National Poetry Month of April, and I am taking part in a progressive poem organised by Irene Latham. Over the month, we’ll each write a line (on our designated day) to create one collaborative poem. Dates are set by an American calendar, with Heidi kicking us off today, with this humdinger of a line;

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges–

Tabatha is now in a dither (make me giggle) – but I’m sure her line will sing, tomorrow.

All the blog links are below for you to follow along. You’re welcome to check back here for my contribution on 6th April (American-time).

April

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at blog-a- penny-and- her-jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There’s No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids Continue reading

After the Rain

Slipping in a little late in the day (night!) with my Poetry Friday post, inspired by my evening walk.

After the Rain

A relay,
      a medley,
a tag team,
      a chorus;
up the street,
around the block,
through the suburb
and across the town;
      after the rain,
before the weekend,
      after the heat,
before the sun sets,
      after a fine day,
before the next deluge;
humming
and droning,
whirring
and whining,
a buzz of mowers
      cuts a swathe through
luscious lengths of
green grassy
lawn.

© Kathryn Apel

Catherine is collecting the links for this week’s round-up, at Reading to the Core. She’s also reviewing ‘a spectacular gift to poetry lovers of all ages’. You’ll have to click across to read (and see) more. Thanks, Catherine!

Ode to a Toothpick

Thanks to Michelle Heidenrich Barnes and Helen Frost, today I am writing an ode to an ordinary object I know … too well. The poem is in response to Today’s Little Ditty’s monthly challenge, where Helen encouraged us to;

Choose an object (a seashell, a hairbrush, a bird nest, a rolling pin). Write five lines about the object, using a different sense in each line (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). Then ask the object a question, listen for its answer, and write the question, the answer, or both.

Ode to a Toothpick

You made your point
with woody twangs,
divulging a taste of recent indulgences,
your slim figure never gaining an ounce.
Were you pining for the fragrance of the forest
when you planted your
slither of splinter deep in my gums
for near a week?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had a rather pointed jab from a toothpick…?

Today’s Poetry Friday is at Robyn Hood Black’s, Life on the Deckle Edge. Definitely worth a visit! Thanks, Robyn.

Announcing the Winner – and Sharing the Cinquains

Today is the day to announce… the winner of the signed copy of ‘Bully on the Bus’.

Entrants had to write a didactic cinquain on the topic of bullying. There were some fabulous entries. (I confess, I wondered why I ever had this great idea to hold a competition, because picking one winner is always so hard!) Thankfully I had some help judging… because I could never have done it alone!

But first… the entries! (In order of appearance.)

Power
Excessive, cruel
Resist, repel, overcome
Good will overcome evil
Support.
(Loris Doessel)

Bravado
Offensive, nasty
Fight, harass, annoy
Their own worst enemy
Bully
(Loris Doessel)

Power
Excessive, cruel
Resist, repel, overcome
Good will overcome evil
Support.
(Lois Doessel)

Bullying
Hurtful, dreadful
Targetting, embarrassing, teasing,
No person deserves it
Pain
(Year 4Red SFX)

Bully
Mean, cruel
Laughing, hurting, targeting
Making others feel small
DJ
(Year 4 White SFX)

Bully
Big, cruel
Threatening, scaring, stealing
She wants the power
DJ
(Year 4 Blue SFX)

Leroy
Bullied, small
Sad, helpless, lonely
Always fearful when bullied
Victim
(G in Year 4 W – SFX)

Leroy
Small, calm
Hoping, praying, wishing
Will it ever stop?
Target
(T in Year 4W – SFX)

Meany
Stinky, smelly
Pinch, snarl, punch
Menacing act that hurts
Maggots
(MN)

Bully
Selfish, horrible
Spits, kicks, names
The worse person ever
Bus
(RB)

Courage
Fearless, brave
Stand, unite, support
Stop bullies in their tracks
Friend
(Louise)

Bully
Huge, Meanie
Kicking, shouty, unkind
Attack with road anger
Boss
(LC)

Bully
Big, fat
Punch, pick, push
Big bully rude kicks
Meany
(JB and KG)

Bully
Nasty, rude
Spitting, pushing, pinching
Annoying unkind punching boss
Meany
(RF and CE)

Popular
Smelly, stupid
Snarls, spits, kicks
Very rude dumb bully
Annoying
(SB and JB)

Bullies
Huge, hairy
Pinchy, pushy, picky
The big scary bully
Bossy
(ES, JS, CB)

Bullies
Grouchy, mean
Push, hits, pinch
Hurts like burning lava
Dragon
(AS)

Bully
Intimidating, sneaky
Pushing, lurking, threatening
Stealer of kids lunches
Tormentor
(rachchurlz)

And the winner is…

Bravado, by Loris Doessel.

Bravado
Offensive, nasty
Fight, harass, annoy
Their own worst enemy
Bully
(Loris Doessel)

A tight cinquain that captures the bravado of bullies – who truly are their own worst enemies. Well done, Loris.

But wait! There’s more!

I cannot go past an entry from a Year 3 student. It catches me every time with its controlled creativity – and though there are grammatical errors, I overlook them in my delight of the cinquain. I recognise the simile from ‘Bully on the Bus’ – but also appreciate the cleverness of a young writer who has shaped the words to perfectly fit a new situation.

Bullies
Grouchy, mean
Push, hits, pinch
Hurts like burning lava
Dragon
(AS)

My suggestions would be; change ‘bullies’ to ‘bully’, to be consistent with the singular ‘dragon’ – and change ‘hits’ to ‘hit’ for consistent tense. But keep the magic!

I will contact you both by email, and a signed copy of ‘Bully on the Bus’ will be heading your way.

Thank-you to everyone who shared their fabulous entries. It was wonderful to have your participation, and read your powerful words. There were so many cinquains I marked for their fourth lines, especially; ‘menacing act that hurts’, ‘stealer of kids lunches’, ‘she wants the power’,  ‘making others feel small’, ‘no person deserves it’ – and the unexpectedness of ‘attack with road anger’. You nailed it! And I loved the empowering angle that Louise took with courageous friends.

Bullying. No Way! Day, is next Friday … but we all know bullying is never okay!

Revising Sonnets

Recently, Linda Mitchell shared a post about sonnets… which brought back some memories, because I have thought a thing or two about sonnets, in my time. I went hunting through my blog to find my first sonnet, and found … more! So – this Poetry Friday I’m sharing my tumultuous relationship with sonnets, quoting snippets (in italics) of my feelings at the time of the original posts.

My goal for Month of Poetry (MoP12) was to write a sonnet, because in other MoPs participants who had written a sonnet spoke as if they’d climbed Mount Everest. I wasted a day on my first attempt. Tried three different sonnets, on suitably learned topics. Failed. Those five strong beats were a syncopated constipated curse. My frustration bubbled over… (Oops…) and resulted in Sonnet: Finito. 

Sonnet: Finito

Sonnet! Away you evil, vile thing!
Your syncopated rhythm drives me NUTS
so go! No ifs or maybes and no buts…
Be gone! No satisfaction do you bring.

If venerable poets like the Bard
could scribble sonnets neither weak or pallid
then why – when I can write a rhyming ballad –
do I write a sonnet marred and deeply scarred.

Rue the wretched resolution made
before I even knew what I resolved.
Quit. And I am instantly absolved…
Persist and you must all try to dissuade.

But wait! The end is nigh. This sonnet writ;
a travesty of poetry and wit.

© Kathryn Apel 2012

But that wasn’t the end of my sonnets. I wanted to wrangle an emotive issue dear to my heart. And I wanted to conquer that iambic pentameter. Once I got through the obligatory three failed attempts, (to write a sonnet, you must first fail three times and quit – and then…) Sonnet: Money Hungry flowed quite easily – in its syncopated, shuffle-footed style. In fact, I wrote three sonnets during the 2012 Month of Poetry – and then another in the March, when I took part in the first Madness tournament.

Sonnet: The Art of Music

To look its best, the cello lies, composed
within a velvet case – the lid snapped closed.
For if it’s played, the golden glow may wear.
Or worse! Show signs of use beyond repair.

The instrument is like a work of art
plucked from the master craftsman’s wooden heart,
then sanded, buffed and polished ’til it glows
and every fingerprint and blemish shows.

But draw the bow and feel the cello thrum,
feel it rumble heart and soul; a mellow hum
that softens silence, as its echo brings
a warmth and depth that flows from wood and strings.

You haven’t scratched the surface if you keep
your cello, or your talent, buried deep.

© Kathryn Apel 2012

In 2013, I wrote a Sonnet to teach kids about persuasive writing. As you do …

NAPLAN: Persuasion

Persuasion is the act of coaxing you
by reasoned argument, to take my view;
You may have never thought it out before
so let me outline what you can’t ignore.

It’s not enough to simply state the case
without evidence. You never will embrace
my viewpoint; may stay sitting on the fence
or worse – supporting those who cause offence.

Three arguments, at least, must be supported
by facts and quotes, as action is exhorted,
and though you might at first oppose my view
my hope is you’ll soon share the views I do.

I’m persuaded that you have by now conceded,
which means, of course, my argument succeeded.

Disclaimer:
I will not stoop to bribe, or to extort,
for there are those who’ll say that you’ve been bought!

© Kathryn Apel 2013

Which prompted me to write to the government of the time, lamenting standardised testing … As you do …!

NAPLAN: Persuade Me

Persuade me that we need a NAPLAN test
to take up time that honestly is best
employed in teaching kids, enthusing them
to learn. Not stressing testing to condemn.

No matter how we all try to downplay
the importance (or the lack) of NAPLAN day,
it cannot be denied that kids are stressed
and yet we still expect they’ll do their best?!

Since when has child development been a race?
It’s Differentiation staff embrace.
Is ‘Teacher’ not an occupation anymore?
Now assessment is so much the greater chore?

A living, breathing child is not defined
by numbers, on a band, that tests assigned.

© Kathryn Apel 2013

In fact, I have written a total of eight sonnets. Which makes me think it may be time to try one more…

You’re probably all clamouring to write a sonnet, now, so I’ll share the advice my friend Di Esmond gave when I first tried;

A sonnet is a wonder of control… 12 lines that puts a case or a challenge which is answered by the couplet, a sort of a summation and tying up of loose threads. It must be like a butterfly lighting on a bush, perfectly delicate and dancing.

Read Di’s full explanation and analysis of the simple sonnet.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Michelle Barnes, at Today’s Little Ditty, where you may not find a sonnet – but you will find lots of poetry goodies! I’d love to know, if you try a sonnet of your own – especially if the rhythm gives you as much trouble as it did me! 🙂