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Sonnet and Free Verse compared

Friday, 19 December 2008 11:26:45

Friday, 19 December 2008 11:26:45

Though the customers are sober
Where Desperados are drunk
And crimson candles light the tables
Next to a stack of logs - unlit;
Though sombreros stay nailed to the walls
Above the hatless waitresses in red and black,
And though guitars remain unstrummed
And loud piped music sounds,
The enchiladas are good and hot.
Outside is cold wet November;
Inside is dry warm Mexico.


All the diners here were sober till
The Desperado beers were drunk. While on
The oval tables crimson candles shone
Illuminating a log pile on the sill,
Never to be burnt, at least not here.
Above the waitresses, hatless, unveiled,
Are black sombreros securely nailed
To walls: were never near a bandolier.
Guitars glued up above remain unstrummed
And music from loudspeakers dominates
Our thoughts and conversation. On our plates
Enchiladas sizzle. Taste buds hum.
In here is hot Mexico: we can forget
The cold November night, austere and wet.



Townscapes 16

Thursday, 18 December 2008 15:12:17

Thursday, 18 December 2008 15:12:17

A few alterations and the jigsaw goes together like this

All the diners here were sober till
The Desperado beers were drunk. While on
The --- tables crimson candles shone
Illuminating a log pile on the sill,
Never to be burnt, at least not here.
Above the waitresses, hatless, unveiled,
Are black sombreros securely nailed
To walls: were never near a bandolier.
Guitars glued up above remain unstrummed
And music from loudspeakers dominates
Our thoughts and conversation. On our plates
Enchiladas sizzle. Taste buds hum.
In here is hot Mexico ... we can forget
The cold November night, --- and wet.

Two gaps still.  I've confidence I can sort that out.  This has been a longer process than I thought. Tomorrow I'll put the two poems next to each other and you can judge if the sonnet was worth the effort!

 



Townscape 15

Thursday, 11 December 2008 12:18:43

Thursday, 11 December 2008 12:18:43

Leaving those lines for a moment and turning to the final six lines:

Guitars glued up above remain unstrummed
And loud music from loudspeakers dominates
Our thoughts and conversation. ------
Enchiladas -------------
But here is hot Mexico ... we can forget
Outside the cold November night is wet

The end of line 3 seems obvious and helps me to create line 4:
                                          ...dominates
Our thoughts and conversation. On our plates
Enchiladas sizzle.

And then a rhyme with unstrummed comes to mind too. I grab it while it's there:

Taste buds hum.

Time to put all this together....



Townscape 14

Wednesday, 10 December 2008 17:01:05

Wednesday, 10 December 2008 17:01:05

All the diners here were sober till
The Desperado beers were drunk. While on
The --- tables crimson candles shone
Illuminating a log pile on the sill,
Never to be burnt, at least not here.
Above the waitresses, hatless, unveiled,
Are black sombreros securely nailed
To walls: were never near a bandolier.

Still stuck for an adjective for tables but I came up with unveiled for the waitresses, hoping to summon connotations of mysterious Mexican ladies half hidden behind black lace. 



Townscape 13

Monday, 8 December 2008 15:46:27

Monday, 8 December 2008 15:46:27

Above the hatless waitresses in red / black?
And .... sombreros securely nailed
To the walls . how out of place in here

I think these form the basis of lines 6 7 and 8 and line 5 can be a continuation from line 4 which gives me the opportunity to explain that the logs don't get used. So log pile on the sill could continue:

Never to be burnt, at least not here.

That means line 8 ending has to change but that's ok as it's not very good. I used a rhyming dictionary and browsed for a while before settling on bandolier, which fits rather well.

Now we have

Never to be burnt, at least not here.
Above the hatless waitresses in red / black?
And .... sombreros securely nailed
To the walls: never saw a bandolier.

which needs work, especially if I'm going to get a rhyme for lines 6-7.



Townscapes 12

Friday, 5 December 2008 11:40:00

Friday, 5 December 2008 11:40:00

Working on the first four lines, I turn to line 4 and realise that the logs were actually piled up on the window sill and that this gives me a complete line and a rhyme, possibly, if I rearrange the word order a little.

----(forgetting line 1 for a moment)-----
The Desperado beers are drunk and on
The --- tables crimson candles shone
Illuminating a log pile on the sill

Let's get rid of customers and have diners. The diners here were sober until...doesn't quite scan. But it can be fixed. All the diners here were sober till... which means I have to change 'are' to 'were'.  How does that sound?  Line 2 now needs changing. How about:

All the diners here were sober till
The Desperado beers were drunk. While on
The --- tables crimson candles shone
Illuminating a log pile on the sill.

Now on to the next four lines based on the sombreros and the hatless waitresses...



Townscapes 11

Tuesday, 2 December 2008 12:49:20

Tuesday, 2 December 2008 12:49:20

A few immediate alterations:

Though all the customers are sober now
to
Though all the customers were sober then

The tables crimson candles ---- shone
to
The --- tables crimson candles shone

delete loud from
And loud music from loudspeakers dominates

Reverse the order of the last 2 lines:
But here is hot Mexico ... we can forget
Outside the cold November night is wet



Townscapes 10

Monday, 1 December 2008 12:46:02

Monday, 1 December 2008 12:46:02

This is my first very rough attempt at just getting words and thoughts onto the page in that new and much more prescriptive form:

Though all the customers are sober now
The Desperado beers are drunk and on
The tables crimson candles ---- shone
Illuminating a neat pile of logs
Sombreros securely nailed to the walls
Above the hatless waitresses in red and black
--------
-------
Guitars glued up above remain unstrummed
And loud music from loudspeakers dominates
Our thoughts ----------
Enchiladas -------------
Outside the cold November night is wet
But here is hot Mexico ... we can forget

The structure is there, which makes me feel both comfortable and restrained. Thats what a specific form does, of course!



Townscapes 9

Thursday, 27 November 2008 19:03:07

Thursday, 27 November 2008 19:03:07

I should move on, but I'm wondering how this would have turned out if I'd decided to be more formal and tried to write a sonnet...

Watch, if you can bear it, this space...



Townscapes 8

Wednesday, 26 November 2008 16:10:28

Wednesday, 26 November 2008 16:10:28

Though the customers are sober
Where Desperados are drunk
And crimson candles light the tables.
Next to a stack of logs unlit;
Though sombreros stay nailed to the walls
Above the hatless waitresses in red and black,
And though guitars remain unstrummed
And loud piped music sounds,
The enchiladas are good and hot.
Outside is cold wet November;
Inside is dry warm Mexico.

Further tweaks and an extra line, a very simple line. I think it's time to move on.



Townscapes 7

Monday, 24 November 2008 12:06:04

Monday, 24 November 2008 12:06:04

I've tried a complete rearrangement, so that the overall effect is more positive about the restaurant, reversing each couplet apart from the last:

Though the customers are sober
Where Desperados are drunk
And crimson candles light the tables.
Where a stack of logs is untouched by fire.
Though Sombreros stay nailed to the walls
Above the hatless waitresses in red and black
And though guitars remain unstrummed
Where loud piped music sounds,
Outside is cold wet November
And inside is dry warm Mexico.

I think it's better, though it needs a bit more tidying up. I've also change moist to dry. Moist just doesn't seem right.  How often I'm reduced to saying, to myself or to students, 'doesn't seem (or sound) right'. Not sure how helpful that is but sometimes it's the only way to express it.



Tuesday, 18 November 2008 11:36:56

Tuesday, 18 November 2008 11:36:56

Changed line 4.  Now wonder about line 3... Would 'A stack of logs unsinged / Where crimson candles light the tables' be better?

Where Desperados are drunk
The customers are sober;
Where a stack of logs is untouched by fire
Crimson candles light the tables.
Above hatless waitresses in red and black
Sombreros stay nailed to the walls;
Where loud piped music sounds
Guitars remain unstrummed.
Outside is cold wet November
Inside is moist warm Mexico.

Also, it sounds a bit negative about the place and that's not right. Something else needs to change.



Thursday, 13 November 2008 15:25:18

Thursday, 13 November 2008 15:25:18

Having overcome a phone-line down and various weather and computer misfortunes, I'm back at the writing desk, makinga nearly final revision to the first draft of this one:

Where Desperados are drunk
The customers are sober;
Where a stack of logs is untouched by fire
The crimson candles flicker.

Above hatless waitresses in red and black
Sombreros stay nailed to the walls
Where loud piped music sounds
Guitars remain unstrummed

A final two lines:

Outside is cold wet November
Inside is dry warm Mexico.

Perhaps, moist warm Mexico?  And then a title. 

 



Townscapes 4

Monday, 10 November 2008 15:09:09

Monday, 10 November 2008 15:09:09

Where Desperados are drunk
The customers are sober;
Where a stack of logs is untouched by fire
The red candles flicker.

Where hatless waitresses wear red and black
The sombreros stay fixed to the walls
Where loud piped music blares
Guitars remain unstrummed

Red and red. Change red candles to crimson.  More changes needed to next 2 lines.

Above hatless waitresses in red and black
Sombreros stay nailed to the walls

Loud and blares mean practically the same. Where piped music - what??



Townscapes 3

Friday, 7 November 2008 16:38:22

Friday, 7 November 2008 16:38:22

I can match one thing done with another thing undone.

Where Desperados are drunk
The customers are sober
Where the stack of logs is untouched by fire
The candles flicker with a hint of --
Where the waitresses wear red and black
The sombreros stay fixed to the walls
Where loud piped music blares
Guitars --- ?

'blares' is a bit obvious but what is the alternative?  Candles always flicker so I'm not happy with that either.  But I am satisfied that I've got a shape to what i want to write and it probably won't be much longer than this. Maybe another two lines. 



Townscapes 2

Thursday, 6 November 2008 14:37:12

Thursday, 6 November 2008 14:37:12

In the mulling over period you sometimes notice patterns you hadn't seen before. Here it's a number of things that aren't being used. 

Mexican hats unworn
Logs unburnt
Guitars unplayed

compared to th ethings which are -

Desperados drunk
Waitresses waiting
Candles burning
Tequila glasses glinting

I wonder if I can make something of that contrast.



Townscapes

Wednesday, 5 November 2008 11:35:21

Wednesday, 5 November 2008 11:35:21

I realise I've been writing a lot about places which are the traditional subject matter of poets: countryside, gardens, seasons.  I aim to return to writing more about people but before I do so, I want to focus on townscapes rather than the natural world. 

What more towny than a cafe/restaurant on a wet evening? But to inject a little spark, a mexican restaurant in a midland town.  Where I noticed a stack of logs in the window, but no fire. Triangular tequila glasses. Bottles of Desperados - wonderful name for a light beer, clever branding.  Red candles, lit and unlit. Glasses of red wine, one of them on my table, thank you. Waitresses in black and red. Mexican hats on the walls, 2 wooden guitars also. Cactus plants, real and healthy and a little threatening. 

There's some twigs to form a little fire there, surely?



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