Saturday, April 2, 2011

MINNOW MUSIC: An Original Mask Poem

I love writing animal mask poems! I've written a whole collection of them. In each of the poems, I try to capture a particular kind of personality or voice.
  • In my blue whale poem, the whale boasts about its size.
  • In Snake Soliloquy, a snake talks about the way it surreptitiously sneaks up on its prey. The poem includes a lot of sibilant sounds.
  • In Just a Scentimental Guy, a skunk explains that it's really a harmless creature.
  • I speak roughly in the voice of a grizzly bear who gives warning about its ferocious nature--and its claws and teeth.
  • In Chick Chatter, a little chick expresses frustration at not being able to hatch despite all the pecking it's been doing on its shell.
  • Snail speaks lethargically. Its poem includes a lot of words with long vowel sounds. (See poem below.)
  • My honeybee poem is fast-paced. I try to capture the breathlessness of the hard-working, ever-busy insect. (See poem below.)


I’m snail. I’m slow.
That’s how I go
From place to place.
I never race.
I take my time.
I s l i d e
of slime.

I have a heavy shell to bear…
But I don’t care.
I never grouse
Because I have to wear
My house.
I just suppose
That’s how it goes…
Some are fast
And some are slow…
And slow is fast
As I can go.
Slow’s the only speed I know.


I’m buzzing here; I’m buzzing there.
I’m visiting the flowers where
I sip the syrup, thick and sweet,
And powder my six little feet.

I’m fuzzy here; I’m fuzzy there.
I like the fuzzy suit I wear.
It’s yellow, black, and trimmed to fit.
It has flight wings attached to it!

A stinger’s fixed on my rear end—
A weapon so I can defend
Against intruders who would take
The sunny honey that I make

And seal inside a waxy comb
And store for winter in my home.
I’m busy…busy every day
In spring and summer. I don’t play…

Just do the duties that I must:
Collecting nectar, pollen dust,
And guarding my sweet food and hive.
But, still, it’s great to be alive!

Sometimes I write "group" mask poems--as I did in Earthworms and Look at Us Now!. In Minnow Music, the poem that I've posted below, I speak in the collective voice of a school of minnows. I tried to write the poem with a fluid rhythm.


We’re silver-scaled.

We’re slippery, sleek.

We’re musical

And when we speak

Tiny shiny silver spheres

Of notes that only fish can hear

Bubble from our mouths and rise

Through the ocean’s liquid skies,

Reach the surface of the sea,

And burst into a melody.

We minnows sing in unison.

We’re one for all and all for one.

We harmonize all day in school.

We rock. We roll. We’re really cool!


Bridget R. Wilson said...

Great poems, Elaine! I've got to try writing animal mask poems.

Amy L V said...

Oh, Elaine. I think you were an animal in a past life. I adore that snail... A.