Acrostic 1 & 2
Ere the directions fail you
Run seek out a compass
Egrets and squirrels will lead you.
Turbine engines shedding updrafts
Urbane militia with neck scarves concealing waddles
Rest assured the show will go on
Beatific universes glide toward a monocle
UFO and unity figurines marching along a boulevard into the black hole of time
Lances in museums display the history of war and brutality
Enlisted while someone’s father falls drunk in an alleyway
Nothing better happens that night at home
Century of heroes caught up in the lizard brain of propaganda
Exit cardboard cut-outs, blowing from hoardings, spiraling into the hurricane
How Did It Go?
On Two Acrostics – I really love the Acrostic form; these two, to me, go together in an oblong fashion, a kind of lyrical diptych, one being very short, the other, a bit longer. I could imagine 2 or three more – to be added – perhaps one in a ladder form (acrostic diagonal), another with end word last letters spelling out – like a marquee – what is coming next. The 2nd piece required more time to fine-tune its rhythms, energy, and sense of humour. The first seemed a gift from a falling acorn – an aha moment. Ty again to Paul at Wombwell for this lovely opportunity – twisty form challenges.
-Robert Frede Kenter www.icefloepress.net
They say that an apple was at its core,
Held intact a universe of good and
Evil. But Eve carries life’s meaning, and
Fruitfulness demands its revolution.
Apples will not remain small and green and,
Lit by a low, consoling sun, blushing
Leaves know it’s perfectly natural to fall.
How Did It Go?
I hadn’t written an acrostic since junior school (really!), so my impressions of them were informed by those early attempts – choppy lines and somewhat obvious illustrations of such phenomena as ‘autumn’. I returned to Armitage’s recent laureate poem to identify the elements I liked – in particular, an unforced fluidity that was certainly missing from my childhood efforts. He deploys a kind of volta between first and second stanzas: I feel that an acrostic needs such complication to avoid banality, so I tried to incorporate the turn as an integral part of my shorter form. In tribute to my younger poetic self, I decided to use autumn as the theme but add extra layers of association. I personally find that constrained poetry sparks rather than dampens my imagination, so it didn’t take me long to come up with the first words of the lines; but a subsequent challenge is that if you build the poem around those words and then decide that one of them is weak, you are either extremely restricted or have to rewrite a significant chunk. Another is that in privileging the first word of lines, one is inclined to neglect the line breaks: in a bid for that coveted fluidity, I have certainly overused ‘and’, something I will attempt to remedy in revision. I suppose the overarching challenge here was to see if I could turn a form that could be seen as gimmicky to my own ends. I am moderately happy with it – but you can judge for yourselves!
By night, you sit quiet in your chair
eschewing the limelight as you always did,
reading a book quietly. I tell you stories,
expecting your laughter, and hearing it.
All things considered, you’re looking healthy,
Vanishing Lady. No signs of your illness just yet.
Every night, we run out of time to catch up.
My life rumbles past like a freight train carrying
endless identical wagons full of God knows what.
Nothing moves on. The calendar spreads
time paper thin in small white padded cells.
How Did It Go?
The last time I attempted this form was in school, and that is the association most of us surely have with this form. I was going to try to avoid big abstract nouns for this poem, because it’s easy for it to become trite, but the subject chose itself, and in the end I like the idea that this ‘code’ poem which is ostensibly a way of hiding a message could reveal not so much a secret as a constant, unwanted state. And although I gave myself a ‘V’ to deal with, at least it doesn’t contain any “restrained zeal”.
Mouth that roars in blood,
Ignites a flame, burns slowly,
Gathers its own momentum.
Under the heel of the oppressor
Each must speak their own blood,
Light their own flame.
He spoke in blood and fire,
Expected nothing, hoped for more.
Raged like the wounded bull,
Never healed his wounds.
Armed himself with words.
Never held back his love.
Death crept slowly to his door,
Entered and stole his soul. Only
Zeal and love remained.
Assume, just once, that Autumn
U-turned at December’s lukewarm
Touch. No friendly bienvenu,
Unfeeling cold its only gift.
Maybe time could turn and say adieu;
Neverending, sweet and golden Autumn aura.
How Did It Go?
The first one is a tribute to the Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez. It is written somewhat in his style, with the first stanza being something he may have written, the second an elegy. As I’m sure Simon Armitage found, the Z was the tricky one and I also had to use ‘Zeal’. He had to do two of them, and I also considered ‘Zone’ (which he uses) and ‘Zip’. I sadly had to discount Zombie, Zoo and Zebra!
The second was more difficult, firstly because of the series of words I wrote down as options, Autumn has been written about a million times before, including at least twice by me.Once I’d thought about how I like Autumn and dislike winter and what would happen if autumn refused to hand over the reins of time. I then decided to try a double reverse acrostic to symbolise autumn retreating back from winter. I also liked the challenge of finding two words that begin with U and two that end with U, although I did have to resort to imported French words.
The one on his own at the bar
Gabble drips from your loose lips,
Offering opinions no one wants to hear.
Behind your effusions and hearty back-slaps,
Silence, as women roll eyes and sip their drinks.
Hands you try to shake, raise to catch the barman’s attention
Instead, backs turn, hoping you’ll go away.
There is a world of misogyny and arrogance in your
Eyes, that fondle what you will never have.
How Did It Go?
This is my first acrostic poem. I’ve always thought of it as a sort of gimmick, like the verse you used to find in Hallmark cards. Maybe it was in opposition to the Hallmark sugar that this word sprang to mind. Now I’ve done it, I can see the interest in using each line to add an extra detail to the picture, the only constraint being the initial letter, which isn’t so hard. Thanks again, Paul for the nudge in the right direction. I’ll be using this form again.
A RAIN STORM:
Rain is pounding;
And its pitter-pattering is pulsating,
I have always been a failure in counting the beats in her rhythms
Not only me, in fact, all the roads, trees and plants, gardens, and each window pane and roof in the city.
Storm has now accompanied her like a husband;
The invisible gusty smokes blown by him are whistling and knocking aggressively on the window panes.
On the streaks of lightning, his roars are riding from clouds to the ground
Roaring storm and pitter-pattering rain like a brawl between better halves
Mud, splashes, ripples, and puddles playing merrily like naughty kids in the whole metro city today
How Did It Go?
**** What challenges I faced while writing this piece and how I overcame them?
I have listened to the Acrostic form of poetry many times but have never tried to write it till Paul Brookes didn’t give everyone a challenge to write. The beginning was very tough as my style of writing is free verse so confining myself to even a single rule is very difficult. So, I opted for a beginner’s level. I typed “Rainstorm” vertically downward, each letter being capital, and then typed everything general that happens in a rainstorm by continuing the letters and words on the right-hand side of the vertically downward spelling “Rainstorm” using metaphors, similes, and personifications.
How Did It Go?
In the introduction to the acrostic challenge, Paul mentioned we could make it as simple or complex as we felt like doing. I was excited to do a bit of writing this evening, after a long week and had the idea to write about crows, as well as a heavy heart. Thus, my poem “Murder Slayed” was born, and although I hadn’t set out to write a trinitas, it ended up being a form that I believe suited the challenge well. I hope it resonates.
Bios and Links
is an English poet based in Barcelona. Her work has featured in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Black Bough Poetry, The Alchemy Spoon and The Blue Nib, among other publications. She was longlisted for the Live Canon 2021 International Poetry Prize and won the Hastings Book Festival 2022 Poetry Competition. Her first pamphlet Zoetrope is forthcoming with Hedgehog Press. She tweets at @hilaryotto.
-Robert Frede Kenter
is a writer, editor, visual artist & the publisher of Ice Floe Press. Work recently in journals incl: CutbowQ, Streetcake Magazine, Feral, WatchYrHead, Anthropocene, FeversOf, Anti-Heroin-Chic. Work appears in The Book of Penteract, an Anthology (Penteract Press, 2022), The Poets of 2020 (FeversOf Press), Pandemic Love and Other Affinities, an Anthology (Ice Floe Press). Their most recent book is EDEN (2021), a hybrid now available at Rare Swan Press.
teaches English Literature and Creative Writing on a visiting student programme in Oxford. Her work particularly explores place, ecology, and human relationships through nature and art, and appears in Green Ink Poetry, 192 Magazine, Atrium, The Dawntreader, Feral Poetry, and The Storms, amongst other places. She is nervously putting together her first pamphlet and tweets poetically @AliceStainer.
lives and works in southwest France. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, the Ekphrastic Review, Black Bough Poetry, ink sweat and tears, Gleam, Nightingale & Sparrow, Green Ink and Brilliant Flash Fiction. She blogs at https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/ Her poetry chapbooks, thicker than waterand birds and other featherswere published in October and November 2020.
developed an interest in reading and writing poetries at a very tender age. Her poetry “The Seashell” was first published online in the “Imaginary Land Stories” on August 8, 2020, by Sunmeet Singh. She has been a part of Stuart Matthew’s anthology “Sing, Do the birds of Spring” in the fourth series of books from #InstantEternal poetry prompts. She has been featured in the Bob Dylan-inspired anthology “Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan” by the founder and editor of the website “Fevers of the Mind Poetry and Art” David L O’ Nan. Her poetries have been published in the anthology “Bare Bones Writing Issue 1: Fevers of the Mind”. Paul Brookes has featured her as the “Seventh Synergy” among those writers who are also photographers on his blog “Wombwell Rainbow”. She has been featured in the “Quick-9 interview” on feversofthemind.com by David L’O Nan. She has reviewed the poetry book “Silence From The Shadows” by Stuart Matthews.
-Samantha L. Terrell,
author of Vision, and Other Things We Hide From (Potter’s Grove Press); the chapbook Keeping Afloat (JC STUDIO Press); and, most recently, Simplicity, and Other Things We Overcomplicate, is an internationally published American poet whose books have received 5-star reviews. Terrell’s invented form – the poetic Trinitas – is featured in her forthcoming book, Things Worth Repeating? (Summer 2022). She and her family reside in upstate New York. We joke about the end of democracy; We marvel at others’ complacency. Laughter helps ease the pain. When reality seems insane, It helps to remember it’s all temporary.
is a writer from Chesterfield in Derbyshire whose ideas are heavily influenced by his background in the local coalfields, where industry and nature lived side by side. His first pamphlet “Heritage” was published in 2019. His poetic influences range from Blake to Owen, Causley to Cooper-Clarke and more recently the idea of imagistic poetry and the work of Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez.