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RCL 04-13-2022 11:37 AM

After (Way) A.E. Stallings
A verse I posted on Metrical Poetry (“Cracked”) is perhaps too arcane, but here’s how I got to making it. Maybe taking these comments as hints, you'll do something similar but better.

The back cover of A.E. Stallings’ Olives prints a poem titled “Olives” that isn’t in the collection (there is a very different poem of the same name within). I read and read and read and wondered. Eventually, I noticed that every line had all the letters needed to spell “olives.”

So, intrigued, I set out to write something similar about eggs (Why? Earlier in the day, I had submitted an old one, “Omegas & Alphas” about words are eggs). Eventually, a little narrative evolved so that every line included the letters for spelling “eggs.” After posting, my eggy thing, it seemed to need a few more hints than just the gaggle of gees. (titling it Eggs would end the game too soon.)

Even later, I realized that Alicia’s poem was an anagram of the word “olives,” all lines with the letters of olive. Each “olive” expressing distinct meaning per line. In some lines she added an I, L, o, O, f or s to make the word and smooth the narrative. Since my word, “eggs,” has only two known word combinations, I included many more letters per line to make each have the spelling and also make sense. Look even more closely and you’ll detect her rhyme scheme!

My effort’s no big deal, I’m confident, but it was a pleasant experiment. Alicia’s bouncy “Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther” which begins, “Why Should the Devil get all the good tunes,” also inspired my first published triolet: ”Owl-Wise.” In both instances, her inspirations are a thousand times better than what they inspired. She’s a member of the ‘Sphere.

Here’s her wowful anagrammatic “Olives”:


Is love
so evil?
Is Eve? Lo,
love vies,
evolves, I
lose selves,
sylphs of
loose Levi’s,
sieve oil of
vile sloe.
Love sighs,
slives. O
veils of
voile, so
sly, so suave.
O lives,
soil sleeves,
I love so
I solve

David Callin 04-13-2022 12:06 PM

Wow. As you said, John.

Sarah-Jane Crowson 04-13-2022 02:57 PM

Just to quickly say 'wow' too.

Thank you SO much for posting, this - for me this is Oulipo, that kind of constraint/formalism - it doesn't always work for me, or I don't always 'get' the kind of mix of game and words - but this does.

And now Ralph's poem in Met makes sense, too, because I knew that there was something about it that I was missing but (honestly I am kicking myself) couldn't quite say what. Now I see how it's clever!


RCL 04-14-2022 09:36 PM


Thanks for looking in. Glad you like the poem and exercise.


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