My Elf

My Elf

Often I think I know myself:
Then my elf
hearing my gaffes,
using me as his toy
for joy.

His folly seems a little ploy
to keep me light
and full of delight.

Then my elf laughs for joy

— by Sabio Lantz, January 2016


Prompt: Whimsygizmo, at d’Verse Poets, ask us to write in a form called the Ovillejo.

The Form: The Ovillejo is a Spanish form with 10 lines and a rhyme pattern of aa bb cc cddc. Lines 2,4 and 6 are short, and the last line (10) is simply a combination of those short lines.

Elfish Exceptions: Well those are the constraints I obeyed, but there is something else about “iambic dimeter”, “tetrameter”, but I did not bother myself with that — damn it, I am not Spanish!  :-) [cue the laughing elf]



As I passed my daughter’s room
her nail polish transported me to Apollo rockets
hanging on a thread in my childhood bedroom —
tenuously like my dreams of becoming an astronaut
and my father helping me cement them over the years.

Next I recalled uncontrolled laughter
and splitting headaches
that some kids enjoyed by sniffing glue
but which I suffered from cleaning chemical tanks
at my father’s factory
before I knew that ketones could lower my IQ.

Then came a fragrant flashback
of my father’s disappointment
in his son’s rejection of an appointment
to the US Air Force Academy
while bombs dropped in Vietnam
like the rockets falling from my ceiling
— shattering all our efforts.

Disappointment of not taking over his plastic company
but instead of going into medicine
where doctors “just fucked with you to take your money”.

Finally my daughter’s polish reminded me of diabetics in crisis
and of suturing a sassy drunk who didn’t know
that in the room down the hall
parents cry for their son that he just killed.

So to avoid the redolence of those ketones
I ask my daughter to do her nails on the porch
“Sorry, I just don’t like the smell.”

— by Sabio Lantz


Prompt: Kelly, at d’Verse Poets, asks us to write a poem about a memory evoked by scent.


When You Spark

When You Spark

How dear the winter fire that warms us,
the flames that refresh us after playing in the snow.

Sparks may fly off the wood at times:
most heading into the sky, to create stars
while others spiral towards us.

We can choose to hate the fire for the sparks
but then we would stay cold in our frosty worlds.
Or, we can smile, moving back from the sparks,
and then, after the sparks have calmed,
return in appreciation to the nurturing heat.

— by Sabio Lantz, Dec 2015

Stars and Stones

Stars and Stones

On a roof in Baghdad
long before he was a dad,
my friend’s family would stare at the sky.

On rope-woven beds
they’d rest their sleepy heads
as his grandma showed him patterns on high.

And as he taught me Weiqi
he also helped me to see
the same patterns his jodda had taught.

As our stones interlaced
like constellations in space
my friend remembered his grandma’s thoughts.

You see, Mazin had sought
what his grandmother had taught
to see patterns in stones, stars and minds.

They all share patterns the same,
In this natural, glorious game.
That amazes all of humankind.

Indeed, Mazin and I
both learned to open our eyes
from a woman resting under a Baghdad sky.

— by Sabio Lantz 12/2015


Prompt: Toni, over at d’Verse Poets, asks us to “write a poem about stars” (and to make it a pretty poem).

Background: Weiqi (the game of “Go”) is an oriental board game with black and white stones alternatingly laid on a board. The patterns that emerge are the beautiful result of contrasting strategies in which, with careful eyes, one can see the lila of the universe.

Mazin and I have been friends for decades. Mazin is from Iraq where he lived in an extended family in a classic flat-roofed house where the family slept in the hot season. He moved with his family to England when he was 14-years old.  I am from the USA but lived for years in India, Japan and China. Mazin and I first met in Taiwan where we both were in the same Chinese language school. Our friendship was cultivated over game-after-game of Weiqi, cups of Chinese tea, and stories of his Iraqi jodda (grandmother).

Poem Rhyme pattern:  I needed rhyme to motivate me to write tonight. I think the pattern is obvious — I made it up myself.





Libating Moon

Prompt: Björn, at d’Verse Poets, ask us to “use any form or any trick you like but make us long for peace not just hate war.”

The Axe Fell

The Axe Fell

The axe fell with surprising beauty
and the head gasped breathlessly
into the same basket my Grandmother used
to gather fresh summer clothes
from the line that my dog broke
before he mauled the mailman.

Watching, we all sighed our own breaths
but then greedily inhaled with new eyes,
as our days vibrantly sparkled.

— by Sabio Lantz, 12/01/15


Prompt: Grace, at d’Verse Poets, asks us “to write about everyday life with an element of wonder or dotted with psychic bus stops that are sometimes unfathomable to ourselves.”

Three Tanka

My Coursing Mind
alone in a lot,
my car is lost, like my mind
coursing over your
familiar sleek metal frame
when I see you, fresh again.

A Plastic Tree
a white christmas tree
flashy steel, plastic joy
displaced righteousness.
dead needles no longer stick
in our feet, as we dance strong.

Much Forgotten
I’ve forgotten much
smooth Aikido, foreign tongues
pains, gains but not stains
the rich resonant colors
I pray, my dear, yours remains


The three Tankas above were written on 11/30/15 by Sabio Lantz. They were inspired by a d’Verse Poet article on Tankas.  A Tanka is a Japanese poetic form of 5,7,5,7,7 syllables (in English). The third line divides the poem with the first two line examining something objective , the third line turning the short song (“tanka”) and the last two lines examining something personal.  Unlike Haiku, it needs not be about nature and tersely objective. Instead, a Tanka is expected to be emotional, sensual and opinionated — a good form for me!  ;-)


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