15: Cinquain


Adelaide Crapsey, an early twentieth-century poet, used a form of 22 syllables distributed among the five lines in a 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 pattern, respectively. Her poems share a similarity with the Japanese tanka, another five-line form, in their focus on imagery and the natural world. – poets.org


Not food,
but life itself.
Villagers rioted
when fed potatoes, knowing bread
their right.

I make
my own these days, it’s quiet growth
an intimate ally
against the days’

I’ve been doing a lot of nature poems lately and I didn’t really feel like doing another straight one of those, so I went with bread as my subject – bridging the gap between the natural and the manmade. The first cinquain is inspired by Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt’s “The Potato in the Materialist Imagination,” which for whatever reason has always stuck me – possibly because of my deep love of both potatoes and bread. I wanted to get to making my own bread too, so I added in another inverted cinquain to make a “mirror cinquain.”

I enjoyed working with such a small form, the enforced economy focusing down my ideas.