Category Archives: octain

Something worth saving (the Octain Refrain)

Before you start to save my soul
from hell, it’s hardly worth it yet.
There so much life I want to get

to, if you’d spare the time. My goal
is this: to take a week to break
the rules. And laugh. I want to roll

back here sky-high on being whole,
before you start to save my soul.

. . . . .

Sometime last year, I ran into the poetic work of Luke Prater.  He writes a great blog under the title WordSalad.  Well worth your time checking him out.  The Octain Refrain is one of Luke’s creations, and I find it a fascinating form within which to write. 

It has eight lines, arranged as two tercets followed by a couplet.  Each line has eight syllables, normally in iambic or trochaic meter (but it’s also OK just to count syllables if you prefer).  The last line is a repeat of the first line, as much as possible.

The rhyme scheme is as follows:
A-b-b
a-c/c-a  [note the middle line here has a mid-line rhyme:c-c]
b-A

 or, alternatively

A
b-b-A
c/c-a-b
A

A bit confusing just to read the rubric.  Probably easier to read a couple of examples to see how it works in practice.  The poem I started this post with is an Octain Refrain.  Here’s a link to another, by poet Beth Winter.  Why not try an Octain Refrain yourself?  And drop me, or Luke, a note to say how you get on!

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Epiphany, 2012

 
Light steals into the coffee shop

with sand-rimmed eyes still arguing
the route.  A plain girl is watching

their confusion, coarse cloth on top
of her nursing child, soft singing
gilding the room. The strangers stop,

stunned, as at their journey’s ending
light steals into the coffee shop.

(an Octain Refrain, for friends in the wonderful dVerse community)

The banality of evil

(Hannah Arendt has a quote about the banality of evil.  A piece under that title on NPR this week, by Dina Temple Raston and Robert Smith, described the final day of Mohammed Atta, before he hijacked one of the 9/11 planes – so ordinary, staying at a Comfort Inn, getting cash from a Wal Mart…)
  
The banality of evil
The banality of evil
Furrows the soul more than the flow
Of blood from monsters we don’t know.
It’s the neighbor who pays his bill
Washes his face, then takes his place
With those he is about to kill.
The things we share in common show
The banality of evil.

* credit to Luke Prater for this wonderful form

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