Poetry Friday: Ekphrastic Dodoitsus

I love writing from an image. I love short form poetry. So this month’s Poetry Sisters challenge was right up my alley: ekphrastic dodoitsus. When we dug into the definition of dodoitsus, however, we learned that they are more complicated than a simple 7-7-7-5 syllable count. “The dodoitsu often focuses on love or work with a comical twist.” I’m not sure how well I satisfied all of the requirements, but it was lots of fun.

This first picture is at the historic Open Air School here in Columbus. They have completed renovations and one of our new favorite restaurants, Emmett’s, is located there.

After so many courses
laid with rhythmic precision
I can’t stand it anymore.
Time for a jazz riff.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

In this one, the poem only matches the photo on the theme of careless quality control. It’s based on a story Molly Hogan told, and so I’m sorry to tell you that it is as true as that unsliced apple in the picture. But a LOT more gross.

In the pickle factory,
he left the frogs on the belt.
Quality control loophole:
squeamish inspector.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

This last one stretches all the rules about love, work, and comical twist, but I had fun working backward from the last line — a five-syllable word!

When you’re blessed with a surfeit
of citrus deliciousness
what matters not the least is
uniformity.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2022

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with:
Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Amy LV has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at The Poem Farm.

If you want to join the Poetry Sisters’ challenge for next month, we’re going to write in the style of Taylor Mali, which is to say there might be metaphor dice involved, and perhaps some eloquently long-winded spoken-word poetry which may or may not be recorded in videos. Mali’s mentor poems are not always appropriate for children/students, but that doesn’t mean we can’t borrow his style if not all of his subject matter and/or word and gesture choices.

I’m sure you know Mali’s “What Teachers Make,” (look at who he’s on stage with in this version) and if you don’t know “When I Miss Teaching,” it’s time to do something about that. Especially that ending. So true. You should read “The Impotence of Proofreading,” rather than watching it, but in either case, make sure you don’t have food or drink in your mouth. (if you watch, the other guy on stage has warmed up a bit…)

Next week begins the zaniness known as Poetry Month, in which I write AND PUT OUT IN THE WORLD a poem a day. According to Poetrepository, this will be my 9th year of this madness. However, there are three more years of poems at A Year of Reading that I need to move over to Poetrepository. So it’s actually my 12th year. Wow. I’ve got my 2022 theme, but not my cute graphic made on Canva, so you’ll have to stay tuned. I’ll be posting on Poetrepository, but will round up the highlights here on Fridays.

22 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Ekphrastic Dodoitsus”

  1. I am laughing so hard at the frog story. You adapted it so well to the form. The other two are great, too. Love the last word for the citrus one. I’m coming to the end of slice of life month which always wears me out. But I do love National Poetry Month.

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  2. Great poems, Mary Lee! Your humor is well done, and I love saying “citrus deliousness” out loud. Thanks also for all the links. I’ll have to check out Taylor Mali’s work.

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  3. Nooooo! On those pickle frogs! These poems are lots of fun. Love that idea of a jazz-riff on bricklaying and the wall itself. Here’s to another year of daily writing together, my friend. xo

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  4. Jazz riffs, indeed! I won’t be able to look at a brick wall the same way again (and there are a LOT of them here in DC.) I’m impressed with words choices in your second one—not only the last line, but “surfeit” and “citrus deliciousness”—worth savoring!

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  5. Love that jazz rift! And I see your five syllable word worked well for you!! Meanwhile, I’m going to continue to pretend I know nothing about how pickles are made and nothing at all about frogs, because BLEH.

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  6. I only wish I had been clever enough to look for 5 syllable words as a way to anchor my poems. The language in the orange (or are they grapefruit?) poem is divine. And yes, the frog poem had me laughing. I would not have been a squeamish inspector!

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  7. EW, not sure I want to know more about Molly’s story & that squeamish inspector, but I love that brick wall & what you & others have written about it. It just wants to be noticed, perhaps? “Uniformity” makes me now want to look for five syllable words! Thanks, Mary Lee

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  8. Love these dodoitsu poems. Our family has a story of going to an old pump-handle well for water and frogs coming out, but I think you out-grossed it with the pickle poem. Haha! I especially love the jazz wall as it reminds me of the wall of our library, the part that is an old hearth/chimney made of fieldstone and brick. It calls for a poem also.

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  9. Oh, Mary Lee! These are wonderful! I still love the brick one and was delighted to see you make such creative use of that frog story. I also agree with the many commenters who delighted in reading your final dodoitsu aloud. “citrus deliciousness” is perfection! Oh…and the five syllable word anchor is a brilliant tip! A trifecta of perfection!
    (PS. I’d like to clarify to anyone reading that I have never ever worked in a pickle factory, but I might have a close relative who has.)

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  10. I love how you merged Emmett’s with the wall to come up with that clever poem. If I was that wall, I would love to be thought of as a jazz riff instead of a bricklayer’s bad day! Missed you, too, Mary Lee. Good to be back for NPM!

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  11. Listen to that! “blessed with a surfeit
    of citrus deliciousness”
    I am uniformly impressed.
    On my way to practice missing teaching ahead of schedule…

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  12. Oh, the pickle factory!! I am dying!! Also really loved you working your way toward uniformity, even as you undid just that!

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  13. You are a master, Mary Lee! A three course poetry treat. (I will never be able to unthink pickled frog thoughts.)

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  14. I love that brick wall – a jazz riff indeed! Thanks for sharing these poems with us this week. I’m looking forward to learning what your theme is and reading the poems you write for Poetry Month!

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