Would it Kill You?


, , , ,

~~a ringelreim~~

Would it kill you to say something nice?
Lean closer to sweetness than spice?
Since I know your full spectrum from meh through to hate,
I doubt, though I’d love, a good reason to wait
for a positive roll from your dice.

I have seen you relax once or twice,
though it seems to exact quite a price
to let up on fate. Would it kill you?

From me, you should not take advice.
I do not hold the knife that determines the slice
of the pie that you fear has already been ate,
but I do, as you see, have the power to grate,
to be cheesy, for once, would it kill you?


Author’s note: Ringelreims, a form of rondeau, have a tight rhyme scheme with the addition of a refrain, repeated three times. In this instance, the refrain, of course, is “would it kill you?”. That’s the serious poet’s explanation. My explanation for writing a ringelreim is that skipping down a sidewalk, as an adult, is frowned upon by the very grumps one is trying to escape. Ringelreims are the second best option.

© Elaine Stirling, 2017


Those Ever-Loving Windmills


, , , ,

~~a villanelle~~

Tilting windmills on a sunny day
with rusty swords till something breaks
seems to me a waste of play.

The cranky knight must have his way
to soothe, I suppose, his chronic aches,
tilting windmills on a sunny day.

I’m trying hard to look away,
ignore the hissy fits and fakes.
Seems to me a waste of play

to criticize. I will not sway
them anyway, for heaven’s sake!
Tilting windmills on a sunny day

reduces me, turns skies to gray.
Contempt is such a bitter cake,
seems to me a waste of play,

though who am I to judge you? Hey,
your years of practice, perfect makes!
Tilting windmills on a sunny day
seems to me a waste of play.

Thank you, Miguel de Cervantes, for the analogy that never grows old.

© Elaine Stirling, 2017

Strombolian Etude


, , , ,

~~a pantoum~~

I offer hail to Strombolian eruptions,
little stones that break no bones
making light of your incandescent cinders
split apart on tindered fields.

Little stones that break no bones,
oh, lapilli, when did I stop believing?
Split apart on tindered fields
I burn and sputter, no relief.

Oh, lapilli, when did I stop believing
in non-violent sporadic joy?
I burn and sputter, no relief
belching memes like lava bombs.

In non-violent sporadic joy,
making light of your incandescent cinders,
belching memes like lava bombs,
I offer hail to Strombolian eruptions!


Author’s note: Strombolian eruption refers to volcanic activity that is mildly explosive, sporadic, and fairly safe to observe. Lapilli, Latin for little stones, are shot into the air, along with other bits and pieces mentioned in this pantoum. The term comes from the volcanic island of Stromboli off the coast of Sicily.

© Elaine Stirling, 2017
Photographer, unknown




If I had words
I’d write a poem by the lake
on a yellow chair
while a dog
in coat of black
and white ran circles
round me, wet and shook—
if only past tense of the verb
were shaked.
It’s not.

Rhyming can be faked
though like intelligence
and smiles, only for a while
until it stinks.

Pretending has its place.
I do a lot of it,
but for the moment
I shall neither feign nor think.

I am content to sit here
and be laked.

© Elaine Stirling, 2017

The Last Articulate Man


, , , , ,

~~a sequence of form poems~~

1 – Triolet

To the last articulate man standing
I have put out a call.

I am dumbstruck, appalled by what people are handing
to the last articulate man standing.

Can he not see we have slowed to a crawl?
We cower in shadows, don’t say a damn thing

to the last articulate man standing.
I have put out a call.

2 – Pantoum

What do you want?
To die of old age in your sleep,
or to live in slow-motion despair
wearing grief like a bone in your throat?

To die of old age in your sleep
is a wish you’ve no right to impose on the rest.
Wearing grief like a bone in your throat,
you’re a cock in the wind on a roof

is a wish you’ve no right to impose. On the rest,
there’s really not much you can do
but spin & complain that the view stays the same.
If only you’d learn to declare

there’s really not much you can do
or to live in slow-motion. Despair…
If only you’d learn to declare,

3 – Rondeau (Ringelreim)

Baloney. It’s something you ate
as a kid on white bread. It was great
until you grew older
and facts made you bolder.
You started to choose what you put on your plate.

But the flavours, of late,
make you sick. So much hate
rolling over us all like a boulder. Baloney.

Everyone feels. That’s not up for debate,
unless you fall for the poisonous bait,
the allure of the outraged, the scolder
outwitting the scolded. You both feel colder
and blame it on fate. Baloney!

4 – Triolet

Gently now, there is no rush,
no race to find the answer.

Settle in, surrender to the blush,
gently. Now, there is no rush.

Your every step and fall’s a brush
with love. Eternal, flawless dancer,

gently now, there is no rush,
no race to find the answer.


© Elaine Stirling, 2017

The Man Has Left…


, ,

~~for acb~~

The man has left us.
A partimen I’ll write
to prove our dialogue
has simply moved
to some new great
and richer plain
for us to meet
absent the vain.
You called them once—
or was it me?—
the borderlands
where Rumi plays,
and Sappho giddily
explains why only
fragments of her ecstasy
can reach this mortal soil.
you traveled well,
and now those tolling
bells of Chartres ring
for thee.

© Elaine Stirling, 2017

Social Media Be Me Rag


, ,

Click, share, like, react,
does it reinforce a fact?
If you make me look at that,
do you wrest control from me?

Does my pause intensify
those emotions that you try
to smother deep or magnify?
What an odd psychology.

Lock step, real quick,
don’t argue with my politic!
Friends together have to stick,
God forbid we disagree.

I know who will slap my wrist
if I say unicorns exist.
They’ll tell me they could not resist;
it’s hard, I know, to let things be.

You love science, she hates fiction,
I’m a stickler for good diction.
Conflict is a mean addiction
to our fastest-growing industry.

Pity poor or hate the rich,
some days I just don’t know which
cheap polarity to ditch—
Robin Hood, we’re up a tree!

By the time I end this poem,
a million cells I will have grown,
to feed on whate’er seeds I’ve sown
in my garden of biology.

You think we’re in our final act,
maybe never coming back?
This life might be a single track
on the  album called Infinity.


© Elaine Stirling, 2017

Easter Wrap


, , ,

I don’t need me no
Pharisees, no Sadducees,
no, “This be Easter, you think
how I please!”

I ain’t no student of
history, of sanctity nor theology,
but I like me the story from Galilee
of a man who walked with a band of 3,
6, 9, 12…the crowds kept growin’
and he kept on knowin’
what resided in his heart
though it tore his folks apart
‘cause he wouldn’t play the part
of a dutiful son, an obedient one…

I’ve a message to share
from the guy up there
or the guy in here,
doesn’t matter where you put him,
what you call him, maybe she,
maybe all, or the You of bloody yous.
I bring you good news!
Hear me out there?

All you gotta do is—
Think I’m gonna tell ya?
Nuh, uh, uh!

You’ve heard it all before
and you put it on a shelf.
You gotta love your neighbour
the way you love yourself.
Set no one else above you
(ergo, no one else below)
It’s the whole of the law, bro,
whole of the law,
grammatical declension
of a singular intention—
the more of what you think
creates the more of
what you grow.

Sure, you can doubt
or disbelieve ascension.
You could also turn your cheek,
deprive naysayers of attention,
let them woefully begone
to their zealotry conventions.
Finding others who agree
is not a new invention!

Hell, I said I wouldn’t tell,
I’ve gone ahead and done it.
It must be all those hot cross buns
and bunnies made of chocolate.

It’s Easter, folks,
and though you may
not see the dove above you,
just know, the mighty heavens do—
and all of us, we love ya!


© Elaine Stirling, 2017
The beautiful “Garden of Gethsemane” painting is by Victoria Rogers.



, , , ,

~~a villanelle~~

I’ve always only ever been
as friends and kin will testify
the type to boldly wander in

to my delight and their chagrin
my motto is, explore or die!
I’ve always only ever been

indifferent to the public whim
of politics and what to buy.
The type to boldly wander in,

it fits me like a second skin.
The over-cautious bleed me dry.
I’ve always only ever been

attracted to the fiery rim.
It won’t be your fault if I fry.
The type to boldly wander in

knows, yes, that one day she’ll begin—
and boom! Living kills you, then you die.
I’ve always only ever been
the type to boldly wander in.


The only way, sometimes, to get rid of an annoying earworm such as “always only ever” is to quadruple it into a villanelle. Off you go, little worm…

© Elaine Stirling, 2017