So What’s an Iona Poem?

San Juan Capistrano


Return of the Swallows

I wonder where the swallows go
until they wing
back to San Juan Capistrano
in early spring.
I’ve missed them flitting in and out
with disregard
to other birds who fly about
the big courtyard.
I always welcome their return
and hope they stay
and yet I know that they will yearn
to fly away.
Until they disappear once more
I’ll listen to
them sing their song as birds of yore
once did
like swallows do.

© 2015 Freeda Baker Nichols
The IONA form contains alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic dimeter (exception: line 4 of verse 4 is monometer and is unrhymed). It rhymes a,b,a,b,c,d,c,d,e,f,e,f,g,h,g,x,h.

This is my very first Iona poem!  Just now created and it may have some errors. Maybe you’ve noticed that my recent poems have been patterns in alphabetical order. I started with an Amphion and have progressed to this one, the letter I, which is an Iona form. Books that guide me are “Poetry Patterns” by Mary Harper Sowell, and “Pathways for the Poet” by Viola Jacobson Berg.  Both of these outstanding how-to-write poetry books are out of print. They are a great tool for beginning poets. I ordered “Pathways for the Poet” from an out of print list a few years ago. “Poetry Patterns” is no longer available. It was published by Mary Sowell, who is deceased.  She was an exceptional Arkansas poet, my cousin and good friend.

        poet's tools

poet’s tools

To Rake the Leaves — Day Five NaPoWriMo

English: A leaf rake and a pile of leaves in a...

The March wind did not come in March, instead
it came today.
It blew and whistled like a loggerhead
or donkey’s bray.
I tried so hard to rake decaying leaves.
Each time I tried
the wind kicked up and that caused me to sneeze
until I cried.
I threw the rake aside to wait for wind
to cease to blow
and when it did I looked about and grinned.
Where did they go?
Those leaves! Not even one left on the ground.
March wind is the best help that I’ve found.

Copyright, 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols

Unwanted Hickory Nut

Ripe hickory nuts ready to fall, Andrews, SC

Ripe hickory nuts ready to fall, Andrews, SC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A hickory nut
damp in February snow
hugged the ground
that shielded roots
of its mother tree.

No squirrel
to crack the nut. No one to
choose it for toppings on pies.
Alone, it embraced
the cold earth.

Snow melted. Sun dried
the hickory nut. March wind–
cutting like a lion’s tooth–whistled
and puffed until topsoil
buried the little nut.

April sun,
warm as an iron, heated
on a wood-burning stove,
pointed to earth
with white-hot rays.

Delicate and pea green,
sheltered by arms of the
mighty mother tree, a tiny
hickory shoot peeked shyly
from its shell.

c Copyright, 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols