Old Notebooks & Past Poems


It’s funny what you find when you dig through old notebooks. Beneath a scrawled list of Netbank receipt numbers from 2010, I discovered a few shaky poems. At first I didn’t recognise them. It was definitely my handwriting, and they were in my notebook. The telltale sign was, sadly, their weakness. They had to be mine.

I dare not take myself seriously as a poet. I have too much respect for the art and enough poetic sensibility to know I don’t have whatever it is that poets possess. Still, when the conditions are right, the unction comes and I have no choice but to yield.

And being the generous blogger that I am, I plan to share my old poems with you. I’ll even place them right below the pretty Robert Frost poem that four-fifths of my year 9 English class memorised and recited.

Me? Jabberwocky. Naturally.

The Poetic Urge

A few years ago, I stuffed my Christmas stocking with a Magnetic Poetry Kit. It was one of those partly-for-me/partly-for-school gifts that anyone who works in education is familiar with. I enjoyed it over the holidays and was happy to leave it at work when the fun petered out. The limited selection of words quickly cramped my style.

Rereading the snippets of poetry now, I’m not sure if I created them with bits of magnets or with a pen and paper. As scrappy as they were, they did manage to revive in my mind the sultry summer days.

Then I remembered: It was a time in my life that demanded poetry.

It was right after Christmas, which in Australia means two things: sticky and stormy. My family and I were lucky enough to be at the beach where the afternoon coastal showers brought relief. This particular beach holiday came in the aftermath of  a season of storms in my life.

I’d arrived at a forked road, Frost’s famed yellow wood.


The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference

Choosing My Path

I chose to lay down one passion of mine, something I had poured my heart and soul into for a decade. Those close to me insisted it was “my calling,” but I was never sure, and the doubt gnawed a hollow spot inside of me. I made a decision, chose my path, and have had a fulfilling journey for the past four years, focusing on my writing and my school counselling.

Sometimes though, like Frost, I sigh.

My Holiday Poems

In that bewildering, stormy season, writing (or attempting to write) poetry was as refreshing as the afternoon showers. “Few words artfully arranged” is the perfect remedy for confusion, the elixir of clarity.


Night_squallNight Squall

Summer storm heaves

its rain-smeared mist;

Languid shadows

dream of moonlight.


Summer SunriseSummertime

Delirious summer days

Hot beneath bare feet

A lazy lie in bed

Milk & honey time


I think this last poem must be a Magnetic Poetry Kit creation, because it’s the only one that doesn’t evoke a memory of a place. I like it anyway.


Was he fuzzyFuzzy, Was He?

Sadly fingering

His peach smooth head

He recalled luscious hair


Over to You

Have you ever found something in an old notebook you don’t remember writing? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Creative Commons Photo Credits

My Grandfather’s Notebook by Riccardo Meneghini CC

Yellow Autumn by Klaquax CC

Lightning Hit by MJI Photos (Mary J.I.) CC

Sunrise Surf by Curt Fleenor CC

Washington DC – Federal Triangle: National Archives Building – The Past by Wally Gobetz CC

Cut Loose on Limerick Day!

Edward Lear's 1846 Book of Nonsense - Chockablock full of limericks

Edward Lear’s 1846 Book of Nonsense – chock-a-block full of limericks

The twelfth of May is Limerick Day, a “real holiday” (because the interweb says so!). The day honours the famed English author and illustrator Edward Lear, who popularised limericks in his opus magnum A Book of Nonsense (1846). Lear’s most recognised work is not a limerick but rather the nonsensical poem The Owl and the Pussycat. [Listen to it on Storynory.]

OwlpussycatThey dined on mince and slices of quince

Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced in the light of the moon,

The moon,

The moon,

They danced in the light of the moon.

*Sigh…* If that’s an example of what limerick writing can do for one’s lyricism, I say let’s write more limericks. Lear’s delightful turns of phrase birthed his own brand of neologisms. Runcible, for example, was adopted into general use (though no one seems to know what it means).

Traditionally, limericks were a popular form of witticism that veered towards lewdness, with the simple AABBA form lending itself to rhythmic silliness. Edward Lear steered clear of bawdy themes, choosing instead to defy his readers’ expectations. On an interesting side note, for a supposedly “silly guy,”  Edward Lear weathered an unfair share of unhappiness. One of twenty-one siblings, he was sickly all his life, suffered long bouts of melancholia (which he dubbed “The Morbids”), and experienced some soul-crushing knock-backs in the romance department.

Grist for the limerick mill?

A Toast to Edward Lear!

Here’s to the doomed lover, lost creative soul, and weaver of eternal word-spells. In his honour, I’m going to publish my feeble limerick attempts here. I’m not too proud to have a go, but I think I’ll leave the bawdiness to be tackled by someone else (someone who’s not aspiring to sell books to children).

Here’s a limerick of mine that’s suitable for the kiddies:

3718105140_2e5ef563bc_mTootles the Owlet by Ali Stegert

An owlet was learning to hoot

But all she could do was say Toot!

Her ma was dismayed

At the thing she had laid

But forgave her because she was cute

And here’s a lame limerick on blogging:

The Blogger’s Creed by Ali Stegert

You may ask what keeps me a-bloggin’

When my stats are taking a floggin’

It’s so I’ll be read

Before I drop dead

‘Cause then there’ll be naught in my noggin

Over to You

Go on! See if you can come up with a couple of your own runcible limericks, and don’t be shy! Share them in the comments below. I hope my friends in Facebookland will join in after our fun discussion about nought versus naught. Fingers crossed!

Image Credits:

A Book of Nonsense: Public Domain, sourced on Wikipedia

OwlPussycat: Public Domain, sourced on Wikipedia

Spectacled Owl Mother & Baby by Steve Wilson, CC 2.0