VI Awards for
The Tipsy Muse Poetry
And the envelope
Tipsy Muse Poetry Contest guidelines
A rhymed and metered poem of fewer than twenty-five
lines that uses one or more familiar sayings,
or variations thereof, in a novel or humorous
the envelope please...
— Here' the award speech from Topic #6 Judge,
Sixth Tipsy Muse Contest asked for a rhymed
and metered poem of fewer than twenty-five lines
that used one or more familiar sayings, or variations
thereof, in a novel or humorous way. Fourteen
poets responded to the challenge of making the
commonplace striking, and there were many successes
among the entries. The level of technical skill
combined with wit was very high, so choosing
a single “grand prize” and three honorable mentions
was difficult; though for me there were several
poems that particularly merited praise, many
others showed notable invention and humor. All
the entries deserve a reading in Eratosphere.
“I’ve met that man...” was one of the poems
I liked especially. In an expertly written sonnet
the poet takes Victor Hugo’s “Hunchback of Notre
Dame” and gives the story of the bell-ringer
a different trajectory. Here, in fourteen lines,
Quasimodo uses his head for a clapper until
one day he fatally misstrikes. The poem’s smaller
pleasures include reference to the (pealing)
bell’s “great appeal,” and the nicknaming our
hero “Quas,” so that he will rhyme with “was.”
Then the final line brings in the “familiar
saying” in an astonishing new context. The whole
short incident is told in perfectly natural-sounding
Then, “Taking Stock,” in its sixteen lines of
fine alternate-rhyming tetrameters, gives the
reader all of sixteen proverbial phrases turned
upside-down. It’s a pleasurable puzzle to work
through the poem putting the familiar sayings
back into their known forms, from “I reap what
other people sow” into “You reap what you sow”
and “My life is longer than my art” into “Art
is long and life is short.” All together, the
poem makes a humorously melancholy statement
about how much of most people’s lives works
“Diary of a Determined Optimist” tells an intriguing
story that incorporates clever rhymes (like
“Brahmin” and “in common”). In the poem, the
speaker falls for a girl “beautiful, blond and
stacked”; he pursues her “unblinking”; she gets
a court order to stop him; he’s arrested for
persisting; and since “romance is just a myth,”
he’ll serve “good time” in custody loving the
one (a cellmate?) he’s with. Most of the familiar
sayings—“opposites attract,” “birds of a feather...,”
“don’t throw good (seed) after bad”—work seamlessly
into the narration and the well metered verse.
The last line plays provocatively, it seems,
on lines from a song popular some years back
which goes, “When I’m not near the girl I love,
I love the girl I’m near.”
Another poem, one which plainly refers back
to a song from about that same era, is “That
Spin We’re In,” and the poem struck me as not
only lovely, but handled metrically in a very
imaginative way. The song is “That Old Black
Magic,” which concludes with the singer telling
us that he’s “In a spin, loving the spin I’m
in, under that old black magic called love”
(a word or two here may be wrong). But one doesn’t
have to recollect the song to follow the poem
through its initial pair of four-beat (tetrameter)
lines, each followed by a rhyming single-beat
line, to a third tetrameter followed by a two-beat
line (the lines getting longer, allowing the
sense of nervous hesitation caused by the shortest
lines to diminish). The poem then moves easily
into three relaxed, all-tetrameter, smoothly
enjambed lines that basically repeat the message
already delivered, but with a flowing elegance
that makes the final line, when it comes, surprisingly
convincing—as the three earlier short lines
are now assembled to give us the single, familiar
saying. Love assembles all things. For me, too,
the final quatrain brings pleasurably to mind
images from Robert Frost’s affecting love poem
“The Silken Tent.”
There were other fine poems sent to Ms. Tipsy
Muse. I liked the whole of the well-crafted
sonnet “Inscription From the Tomb of the Unknown
Executive,” where the speaker has moved from
a life where in his work he “replaced emotions
with comparisons” to one where he can say, “I
think, therefore, iamb!” In “Cold Dead Claws,”
armed bears stock up on munitions because, in
a parody of Frost’s phrase (known to many of
us as the title of Timothy Steele’s book on
versification), “All the fun’s in how you kill
a thing.” And I liked the epigrammatic couplet
(given an amusingly long title), “Each penny
I’ve saved is a penny I’ve earned— / till it
falls to the ground from the pocket it burned.”
Two familiar sayings about coins link meaningfully
together in one short poem. Still other poems,
too, had their engaging stories and moments
of wit and humor.
So my thanks to all who entered. And congratulations
to the authors of the Grand Prize winner, “I’ve
Met That Man...,” and the three honorable mentions,
listed in no order of preference: “Taking Stock,”
“Diary of a Determined Optimist,” and “That
Spin We’re In.”
The Grand Prize Winner ($100.00)
Met That Man…
— By "Jude"
hunchback, Quasimodo had the task
of ringing bells at Notre Dame, and he’d
stand bravely on the parapet and ask
God’s blessing, then he’d estimate the speed
of breezes, and direction from the town.
When satisfied he had it right he’d spring
to head-butt that old bell then drop back down
onto the parapet. The sound would ring
with great appeal. One gusty day poor Quas
misjudged the wind and smashed the bell face-first,
then fell to earth, quite dead. They asked,
this man?” But no-one knew. Then someone burst
into the crowd. “Is this the man who fell?
Hmmm, what’s his name? His face sure rings a
— By Roger Slater
reap what other people sow.
My cat's at home, my mice still play.
My little acorn would not grow.
I had the will, but not the way.
took the credit. None was due.
I've nothing, but so much to lose!
To mine own self I've been untrue.
I had no right, but sang the blues.
pen is duller than my sword.
I cut my nose to fix my face.
I missed the beginning. What was the Word?
Slow and steady, I lost the race.
could not teach my young dog tricks.
My horse could never catch the cart.
So much shit, but nothing sticks.
My life is longer than my art.
of a Determined Optimist
— By Christopher
scrawny, scarred and ugly
She’s beautiful, blond and stacked:
I think she’ll really go for me,
Since opposites attract.
cold, self-centered, quarrelsome,
Haughty as any Brahmin.
If birds of a feather flock together,
We’ve got a lot in common.
got that damn restraining order,
But I persist unblinking.
The power of positive thinking!
at first you don’t succeed…”
My mother always told me,
But now my love is far away,
And strange policemen hold me.
won’t throw good time after bad—
Romance is just a myth:
If only he’ll be gentle,
I’ll love the one I’m with.
Spin We’re In
— By Ralph C. La
music from the spheres above.
the magic cure for our mistakes
when we’re enchanted by its sound—
the world go round.
Our songs then echo how we’re bound,
enthralled by threads that each has spun
and woven so our hearts are one.
It’s love that makes the world go round.