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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rhyme or No Rhyme

I am a poetess. I desire to share my thoughts freely. Sometimes my poetry rhymes, very often it does not. Today, while speaking with another writer, the topic of rhyming poetry came up during the conversation. Does rhyming poetry add something desirable to the poem if it’s done well? Is trying to rhyme a poem actually restrictive? Inquiring minds want to know the answers to these questions.

Personally, I have read many good poems that have rhyming line endings. I have written many poems, although I cannot say they have all been good, with rhyming line endings. Occasionally, one of my poems will take on an almost musical richness because of the rhyming. My problem with rhyming poetry is the feeling that it is often forced rhyming that gives it an elementary school sound.

During a Creative Writing course in high school I was taught that a poem without rhyme was not really a poem; it was prose. Later, in college, I was taught that just about any words put together that leave the reader with the impression of having just experienced spontaneous thoughts and gratifying insight could be viewed as poetry.

Many songwriters, (Tim McGraw is one that comes immediately to mind), use rhyming lyrics that flow very smoothly with the music. Performers of hip-hop can create rhymes from words most of us would never consider using in poetry. I’ve tried to emulate that form of rhyming just to see if I can pull it off and let me assure you, the written version of that form of rhyming poetry just does not work for me. Reading it instead of listening to it makes all the difference.

Free verse is much easier for most poets to use and allows them to express what they truly want to say. Trying to fine tune a poem to force it to rhyme usually gives it a nonsensical feeling and in all honesty, the English language has few true rhyming words and even fewer that have not been used so often they have become fatigued.

This is just my thoughts on the subject. Most writers, I’m sure, will start to write a poem and only then know if rhyming is going to work for the piece or not. If you need to be more disciplined or orderly with your poetry then rhyming may give you that old school appearance and flow. As far as I know there are no rhyme cops that will take you away for using rhyming line ends or for not using them if free verse helps you unleash your thoughts more profusely.

I am just a poetess,
Sharing words as I go,
I like to believe,
I’ll find some answers.

Time is a precious gift,
Another is a friend,
Harmony and humility,
Captured with my pen.

© Dianna Doles-Petry
June 28, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010



I’m sure we have all had dreams from time to time and normally my dreams are purely fantasy. Often Johnny Depp is waiting for me on a beautiful white sandy beach or maybe I’m winning the lottery and being able to travel all over the world. Lately, however, my dreams have been a bit peculiar.

Before I begin to tell you about a couple of my most recent dreams, let me first tell you that I live in a small town. It’s so small that if you sneeze as you drive through it you’re going to miss the whole town. While I do occasionally dress in fine attire, you are far more likely to find me in well-worn blue jeans and a casual blouse. This is not a gated community and all of the houses are as unique as the people that live in them. Some are cluttered, some are colorful, some are little more than rundown shacks on the side of the road, but all of them are filled with history and personality.

I would imagine that most dreams are comprised of symbols. Some dreams might include symbols that frighten a person, some might include symbols that invoke some kind of emotional reaction, and I’m sure that some dreams have very deep meanings if you can figure out what they are. More often than not, my dreams make me wake up smiling or laughing but at times, like my dreams of this past week, I wake up feeling confused and wondering what in the world I could have been thinking subconsciously when I went to sleep the night before.

The First Dream

The first dream began with me walking out of a tiny brick house onto a driveway that was paved with old red clay bricks. It was one of several identical houses all lined up in a row with exactly the same siding, paint, lawn decorations, and even flowers. I was dressed in a black mid-length skirt and dark gray snakeskin boots. (Like I would ever wear ANYTHING that had anything to do with a snake!) Gold chains hung around my neck that were so heavy they nearly pulled my head forward onto a bright red silk camisole that I was wearing alone as a blouse. Sparkling rings adorned each of my fingers including my thumbs and I had enough keys in my hands to open just about everything a person could think of that might be locked.

I got into my car, a fiery red 1976 Trans Am, and proceeded to back out of my driveway. In front of me was a four lane freeway but I couldn’t get to it. A man riding some kind of fully dressed out motorcycle was blocking my access to the road. (I’m pretty sure it was a Harley because I could see a puddle of oil beneath the bike.)

I couldn’t get around him and he would not move over. He got off of the bike, stood up laughing, and started to shove his greasy looking shirttails into his pants. “You don’t have to worry none, Miss, I ain’t gonna bite you,” he yelled out to me.

The next thing I knew, the motorcycle was airborne and the silver-haired, slightly balding, Hell’s Angels want-to-be, was flailing his arms and cursing into the air as if his backside might be on fire. I was no longer driving a classy Trans Am. I had somehow switched vehicles and was driving an enormous camouflaged Humvee.

Once I was on the freeway, I was surrounded by coal trucks, cars, pick-up trucks with hound dogs tethered to old tires in the beds of the trucks, and ATV’s that were cutting in and out of moving traffic causing people to hit their brakes to keep from hitting them. I could not get my darn window to roll up no matter what I tried and it seemed to take forever to get to the local post office exit.

When I was close to the exit I could not get into the right lane to make the turn. Directly beside of me, in the right lane, was a bright neon pink Volkswagen pulling a full length camper the likes of which you might have seen in the 1950’s. The trailer began to move from side to side behind the little car and I saw the pretty little pink car tip nearly on its side as the trailer nearly flipped. The driver regained control of the car and trailer and I looked over to see my friends, Eddie and Denise, laughing wildly and waving frantically as if the whole thing had been funny.

I had passed the exit I needed to use to get to the post office and by the time I got turned around and drove back; it was already getting dark outside. The post office was closed and I started back home frustrated that I had not been able to get my mail. Once I got to the row of identical houses, I could not figure out which one was mine until I saw my dog, Sable, standing on the front lawn wagging her tail.

I went inside and didn’t bother to fix anything to eat, take a shower, or notice if anyone else was in the house. I lay down on an overstuffed purple couch and drifted off to sleep. The really odd thing was that when I woke up, I was sleeping on the living room sofa.

Maybe all the traffic represents all the chaos in my life. Maybe I’m trying to find the right direction for my life. Maybe I am longing to intermingle with family and friends. Or maybe, a car is just a car, a road is just a road, confusion is just confusion, and I watched far too much of the Sci-Fi channel before I went to bed!

The Second Dream

This dream took place within the walls of my home although the size of the dining room was greatly enlarged. In the middle of the room was a very large round table made of oak. It was void of a tablecloth and in the middle of the table there was two crystal bowls filled with every kind of fruit you could possibly imagine.

The walls of the room were lined with framed portraits of family members. Some of the portraits were in black and white, some were blurred, some were faded as if they had been in direct sunshine for far too long and some were as bright and colorful as if they had just been hung, maybe even before the paint could dry.

I passed through the dining room and made my to the kitchen where I started to cook up pots of spaghetti and meatballs, fried chicken, beef roast smothered in gravy, egg noodles, vegetables of all types, and desserts too numerous to mention. In the dream I could see in detail the spices held inside of the cabinets and smell the wonderful aroma of the food as it was prepared. I felt exhilarated knowing that friends and family would derive great pleasure from my efforts.

After the last dish had been prepared, I went about setting the table with china that once belonged to my late aunt, wine glasses given to me by a late friend, and silverware handed down to me that once belonged to my late grandmother. When I was satisfied that everything was as perfect as I could make it I took a shower and dressed in causal khaki slacks and a peasant blouse to wait for hungry guests to arrive.

Two hours later, I was sitting at the table with a tall glass of iced tea and a paperback novel in my lap. I stood up, looked out the window for any sign of approaching cars, and began to pace back and forth across the length of the dining room while the food was left untouched to get cold. It was then that I noticed the portraits changing.

Dates started to appear at the bottom of the portraits; 1890-1936, 1895-1954, 1918-1989, etc. As each date appeared I took a plate off of the table knowing that I had set too many places for guests. Soon I was down to only one plate, my plate, and I sat there alone with no appetite and no desire to move out of my chair.

Just before I woke up, I started to clear the food off of the table and looked out of the window again. The sky was dark but bright stars were so numerous that the front lawn was lit up as if the sun was shining. A feeling of peace coursed through my veins and I had the feeling I would soon be among those bright stars shining down on the earth.

I’m pretty sure this dream was born of old memories. Family gatherings and feasts on any special occasion has been a big part of my life. With Memorial Day having just passed and Father’s Day coming soon, my thoughts have been spiraling back to days of my youth when my grandmother’s kitchen would be filled wall to wall with uncles, aunts, cousins, my grandparents, and both laughter and tears. I had no idea back then just how important those moments and those people really were. Wisdom really does come with age, I’m sure of that now.

© Dianna Doles-Petry

June 19, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Early Morning Quiet

(Photograph by Kyle Pack-Doles 2007)

Early Morning Quiet

In the early morning quiet,
New blooms wait for sun's kiss,
Baby birds tweet for nourishment,
I cherish moments like this.

A second cup of coffee,
As I think of days long ago,
Tin lard pails holding blackberries,
There was much I didn't know.

Life seemed to hold a grand secret,
Shared with only a few,
Sunshine warming my shoulders,
My future was still brand new.

My pace is slower now,
But there's more I hope to see,
Maybe if I'm lucky today,
Inspiration will shine on me.

In the early morning quiet,
Wings flutter and flowers yawn,
Peaceful moments of my life,
Arrive as beautifully as dawn.

© Dianna Doles-Petry

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tapestry of Reflection

Tapestry of Reflection

Lately, I’ve been feeling, for lack of a more delicate way to describe it, older than dirt. Many of my friends and most of my family are either dying or dead. I no longer leave home often for work because I am the sole caregiver to my eighty-six year-old mother. My children are busy living their lives, following their dreams, and are preoccupied with relationships. I should have listened to my grandmother when she told me “Child don’t ever grow old.”

My lawn has become my reprieve from daily negativity and my escape from the rooms in my home that seem to grow smaller with each passing day. I have entered a new phase of creation and perfect maintenance. I work with the soil, I plant seeds, I cultivate flowers, and sometimes while digging up a plot of ground for a new rose bush or Hibiscus I find a treasure trove of memories. I found one of those today.

I stopped to allow a few tears to flow when I found the old rusted out coffee can buried about a foot deep in my back yard. When it was placed there the boys had called it a time capsule. When I first hit the can with the shovel and stopped to see what was keeping me from digging into the soil, I was aware of just how much time had gone past. I gently scrapped away the dirt around the can and with trembling hands lifted it from the burial spot two young boys had chosen about fifteen years ago.

Inside of the can I found two empty shotgun shells, a piece of old pipe, an old porcelain insulator, one Batman figurine with a broken arm, one Spiderman figurine with a missing foot, one black checker and one red checker, and about four of my daughter’s N’Sync dolls. Her dolls, I’m pretty sure, were not meant to be any kind of clue for historians. There were meant to disappear and never reappear where the boys would have to see them.

Children enter the house wrapped in blankets, snug in the arms of anxious parents. Before long they are drooling and spitting up on everything they come in contact with. They learn to run almost before they learn to walk and it seems like only hours have passed before you hear, “Mom, he just hit me with that rubber chicken!”

I wish I could remember more of the concoctions the boys put together when they thought I wasn’t paying attention. The youngest boy once painted the bathroom walls with a mixture of toothpaste, mouthwash, and spray bathroom cleaner. “You said you didn’t like the color anymore and wanted to paint it,” he said in self-defense right after I cut loose with a high pitched scream that broke the next door neighbors drinking glasses.

Once the two boys, determined to have revenge on their older sister, decided to cook her some pudding. She had used the boys as make up experiments when she had friends over and the older boy was left with a strange shade of blue on his eyelids while the younger boy looked like he had a permanent case of Fifth's Disease on his cheeks. The pudding was a vanilla pudding base (leftover dessert from lunch that day), mixed with balsamic vinegar, red food coloring, and plastic ants that were strategically placed in the bottom of the serving dish. Thank goodness the first bite gagged her and she never found the ants!

Then, before the mess from the pudding was even cleaned up, my daughter appeared in designer blouses, pierced ears, and painted nails. A telephone seemed to be growing from the side of her head because it was always attached to her ear and she was always with a friend. They giggled when the rest of the house was quiet and sat sulking over God only knows what when the rest of the house was alive with noise and movement.

The boys were wearing pressed shirts and tight fitting jeans, brown and blonde locks (respectively) either plastered down on their heads or sticking up in the air as if they just stuck their finger into an electrical outlet and the voltage escaped through their heads.

The girl loved to shop, one boy was artistic and the other boy loved to play basketball. Then one boy decided he must be in dress clothes at all times while the other boy wore jeans and sweatshirts with hoods. All three children were enthusiastic when report cards were due from school because they knew they would receive an extra allowance for each “A” they received. One time I thought I would have to take a loan out on the house to pay them for the perfect marks they brought home but I didn’t care. It was worth it. THEY were worth it.

The boys sometimes made their sister cry. She sometimes made them laugh out loud. Somehow it all balanced out and they learned from each other. “You retard!” she said to one of the boys. “You nerd!” one of the boys replied.

“You’re brats!” she said loud enough for me to hear. “Well, you’re like a bad apparition that won’t go away!” the oldest boy replied.

“Mom! What’s an apparition?” she yelled out to me. (Keep in mind she was almost ten years older than the oldest boy.)

They all entered the house, kissed me, sometimes argued, sometimes pulled pranks, but always went to sleep in their own beds, safe, well-fed, exhausted, eager to face the next day.

Now the house feels empty. One teenager lives in the house, though not one of the original three children who grew up here. The youngest of the Three Stooges, my nickname for my children, has already died and the other two live in separate cities. If I put my car keys on the dining room table and come back two hours later they are still there. If I buy three boxes of cookies at the market only one box gets eaten the same day I bring them home. I thought I would enjoy this time in my life but in all honesty, it’s just plain weird. The years went past way too fast for my liking.

I mow the lawn. I plant seeds and plants. I hoe, I mulch, I cultivate. I tenderly pluck withered petals from the roses and attack weeds around my flowers as if they were burglars invading my home. My flowers beds are lush, filled with green plants and potted flowers. I tend to them with love and dedication just as I once tended to my children.

I placed the rusted coffee can and all of the contents back into the ground for someone else to find sometime in the future. I will keep the memories it brought back to me safe within my heart. Life is really a tapestry of moments shared and moments spent wishing you were sharing them. I just wish I had more time to spend on weaving an even more elaborate tapestry.

© Dianna Doles-Petry