Three poems in response to calliope/troll/raspberry

So, I went to an Xmas party yesterday held by one of the groups whose readings I regularly participate in. The main activity was a friendly competition, in which we each got three words to incorporate into a poem that we would then read. My words were calliopetroll, and raspberry. Ugh!

I had to look up calliope, as my knowledge of the word was limited to the line ‘the calliope crashed to the ground’ in Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Blinded by the Light’.

Realizing I had to get the crappy first draft out of the way, I wrote this senryu:

Never trust a troll
to sell used calliopes—
you’ll get raspberries

Then I looked over the Wikipedia entries (, more carefully. I centered my next attempt on the mythological figure:

Calliope, it is said
never stops writing

Why should she
when there are always thoughts
to fashion into words

words to fashion into tapestries
poems that put the most brilliant paintings and sculptures to shame

Calliope, with her golden tablet
poetry at her beck and call

can, in a single stroke

turn trolls into giants
sour milk into champagne
raspberries into rubies adorning the crowns of royalty

She is capable of all these things—and more

Most importantly
she turns language into love

Although I used about 15 of the allotted 25 minutes on this one, I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to read. It felt too safe. With the pressure of the ‘serious’ poem off, I attempted something lighter:

Raspberry trolls
never have much any success

don’t use Twitter

They’re great
for plugging the pipes of calliopes, though
for making calliope blenders, though

You should have been
to at last year’s carnival—

raspberry juice everywhere!

This third poem (with the crossed-out bits, not my revisions) was the one I chose to read.

I probably should have read the ‘serious’ poem, as two of the three poems selected as winners were in that vein (i.e., kind of dull, from my perspective). But I stand by my choice to go for laughs.

(9 December 2016—posted December 10th)