The poems I write are usually short and require endless tinkering.

writing-group-2They’re never as good as I want them to be but I let them simmer, then share the “soiled workings of my untidy mind” with my writing group to find out what works…and what doesn’t.  They never laugh at me. They laugh near me.  🙂


We’re all in awe of Ronnie’s sestina and right-thinkingly daunted by its complex form, meter and rhyme. A poetic marathon. (BTW, there’s even a double sestina, as if the form weren’t devilish enough. Twelve stanzas with a six-line envoi.)

Well, I discovered that the sestina has a little sister ~ the tritina. I’m thinking it’s like a half-marathon, Oprah-length, within my reach.


The tritina is a form of very recent vintage, one invented by the living poet Marie Ponsot. Essentially, it’s a truncated sestina. Reader-friendly.

Here are rules ~

No meter.  No rhyme.  Three repeated words.

The form ~ ten lines grouped into three tercets and one conclusive line.

Choose three end words ( A, B, C)  and write the tercets in this pattern:




The last line contains all three words, bringing you back to ABC.  Sounds easy, huh?


I’m like a wind-up doll who’s activated by a linguistic gimmick. The rest of the group, not so much.  They kindly humor me.  And are not easily conned into doing what I say.

new-yorker-poetry-01So, here’s my first and last tritina, Appetite, followed by Patty’s What Comes First?, an homage to paper and ink.


Fueled as I am by a steady diet of words in life,

I esteem a crusty baguette to eat

and a good bottle of Bordeaux. Well!


I do my best at the table, and on the page, to behave well

but I like things that leave crumbs across my life,

romp across white linen, strut their stuff as I eat.


I always feel contentedly spry, wry and free after I eat

Or write, so whether I hold a pen or a fork, it ends well.

I’m seduced by a good bottle, a good meal, the good words of life.


Life is too short not to eat well.


I love the feel of the tip of my pen
as I leave a trail in my notebook,
a trail of the life I lead…wide-awake.
Recording, saving the times; it fills, this notebook,
A presence in my mind; even when absent, it keeps me wide-awake.
Who rules what I notice, me or my pen?
What comes first? The thing that’s noticed or the mind wide-awake?
Me alert to fodder for my notebook?
Or the fodder that shouts Immortalize me with your pen?
My allies in leading the wide-awake life are both…my notebook AND my pen.
Remember this from the Dead Poet’s Society?
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

This is your chance to be in the play, to create something that maybe only you want to see (I know that we’d love to see it here). Don’t over-think it. It’s just a poem, after all.

I promise it will do something for you. I just don’t know exactly what.

SO….What will your verse be?

Toni 6/27/13

3 thoughts on “WHAT WILL YOUR VERSE BE?

  1. What a clever, adorable way to twist our arms into writing one, you crafty minx!!!!!!! Now the world will know how you con us into doing almost anything, thanks to your “can’t resist” way of proposing an activity!!! It’s okay; we forgive you. Ha! M.


  2. READERS: This post from Toni gives the ambiance of our writing group. Perfectly. And it’s true, sometimes we are like wind-up dolls needing to be activated by a linguistic gimmick. I loved that line of hers.

    But this quote from Toni ABOUT writing in general may be my favorite of the year. She says it describes her, but it’s spot on about how it is for me too.

    “They’re never as good as I want them to be but I let them simmer, then share the “soiled workings of my untidy mind” with my writing group to find out what works…and what doesn’t. They never laugh at me. They laugh near me. :)”

    Laugh NEAR me not at me. Perfect.



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