House for Sale with the Poetry Princesses [Poetry Friday]

OK, I’m not even gonna whine about procrastinating this month. July and August are filled with so many wonderful things…in the long run. In the short run, I’m overwhelmed. So it is what it is. This month, we Poetry Princesses wrote poems in the style of Kay Ryan poems. Someone shared her poem “Turtle.” 

I only have one Kay Ryan collection, but I so admire her pithiness and the way she uses sound and rhyme so fantastically and originally. Since I write a lot of rhyming verse, I both connect with her style and struggle with it when trying to let it inform my own writing. Must read more of her work!

My poem was also inspired by real life and by a 15 Words or Less poem that Pamela Ross wrote, inspired by a photo I took while my husband and I were out playing Scrabble during a showing of our house (which finally sold!).

[Addendum: Don’t worry–I am not feeling like the house. For although this house has certainly had lots of good times in it, I am not at all sad to be moving! So, please don’t be sad for me. I just took on the persona in my mind of how it would feel to be the house. But I, as the owner, am really kicking my heels up and happy to be moving on to the next adventure!]

House for Sale

Who would be a house for sale who could help it?
A lame duck, a skeleton in the dust of a moving truck,
she can ill afford the heat that keeps the weeds
growing, seeds sown before this season of leaving.
Her tears flow from the sump pump, like spring rains
born in the basement of her heart.
Even being practical, she knows she is mostly
“no”s—no granite countertops, no polished concrete floors,
no theater room, no chance, no second glance, no offer.
Parked on the curb, she watches a parade of glazed eyes
and sighs and there goes another day.
Her only optimism is the hope of the outgrown and rejected.
Patiently in the waiting room, she prays for
someone handy with a hammer and suture,
who will sew up her future with a brand new family,
and mend her worn, weathered heart.

–Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

Some of the other Poetry 7 did much more in-depth studying of Kay Ryan, reading interviews with her, studying other poems. I feel just like someone doing impersonations with my shallow take. But I’m just thinking of it as a response to a particular mentor poem :>)

I did have fun, though, analyzing her “Turtle” and then using the same tool to analyze my draft. Have you guys seen the WSJ article about Hamilton that has the rhyme analyzer tool in it?

Here are the three parts of Ryan’s original poem run through the analyzer:





And here are the parts of mine run through it.




I haven’t spent a ton of time (OK, any time) analyzing these, but I just love how you can see what the WSJ tool points out as “rhyming” or at least near-rhyming syllables. It’s a sort of sound diagram that I’ve written about before. As a revision tool, I want to use this more often. This online tool isn’t perfect–it both misses some stuff and links some stuff that to my ear does not sound at all alike–but, boy, what a luxury to have it do it for you–and so quickly. Not for traditional rhyming manuscripts, but for every poem or manuscript I’m just trying to give richer sound to! Here’s hoping WSJ doesn’t take it offline anytime soon. :>)

Now, please don’t miss the awesome poems of my sisters:



And here are the previous Poetry Sisters collaborations:

Jun 2016 Harpy poems
May 2016 Tritina
Apr 2016 “Channel-Hopping Through Grasshopper Reality TV”
Mar 2016 Sedoka
Feb 2016 Poem Inspired by a Picasso Sculpture (ugh)
Jan 2016 Crown sonnet (on the periodic table)
Nov 2015 Ekphrastic poems
Oct 2015 Etherees
Sep 2015 Found poems
Aug 2015 Classified haiku
Jul 2015 Inspired by e.e. cummings’ poems
Jun 2015 Odes
May 2015
Apr 2015 Raccontinos
Mar 2015 Sestinas (Lord have mercy)
Feb 2015 Villanelles on hidden things
Jan 2015 Triolets on beginnings (And I posted an extra one here.)
Pre-2015 Villanelles, a crown sonnet, rondeau redoubles, and pantoums

For more poetry fun, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted this week by…hmmm, I don’t actually know! Oh, it’s Tabatha Yeatts, who has one of the best blog names ever, The Opposite of Indifference.





34 Responses

  1. Oh, see, I can’t possibly be putting my poem in the rhyme analyzer — I know I completely blew it on the rhyming this time. Next time! Next time!

  2. Great poem, Laura! Houses are a real mixed blessing. The WSJ article with the poem analyzer was fascinating–maybe it can help with my rhymeophobia!

    1. Thanks, Diane! It’s such a fun tool to use–not really about rhyme but about phonemes and syllables echoing each other.

  3. I am really excited to check out the rhyme analyzer, Laura. I pored over Kay Ryan’s collection THE BEST OF IT. The last four lines of your poem are filled with wonderful detail. I hope the house finds its family.

    1. Thanks, Laura. I LOVE this tool. And I really love Ryan’s poems, though I only have the one collection. I would like to read more of her. She does such cool things with unconventional rhyming and sound. And she writes short, which I adore!

  4. No matter the analyzer, but thank you, I’ll look, I loved the emotion in your poem, Laura. I sold my home of many years nearly 4 years ago, and could hardly bear hearing anyone talk about its shortcomings. I do love “someone handy with a hammer and suture,
    who will sew up her future with a brand new family”. Congratulations on your sale, and hoping that is a big relief despite the sadness too.

    1. Thank you, Linda. There’s really no sadness about leaving the house, though I will miss some of my neighborhood routines. I just was putting myself into the house’s place, feeling a little sorry for it with all the rejections. Selling the house is a HUGE relief–thanks for the good thoughts!

  5. She knows she is mostly “no’s” is a fabulous line. Amusing, but sad. Clever, but not merely clever but also true.

    Really, the whole poem is well-crafted, with an eye to Ryan’s internal rhyme and succinct style. And you sold the house, too! Congrats.

    I’m so intrigued by the analyzer…and scared. Dare I use it?

  6. she can ill afford the heat that keeps the weeds
    growing, seeds sown before this season of leaving.

    I am still amazed at these two lines. My stars, there are depths there! What do we leave behind that was sown before we knew we were going? And how much of that is weeds? And of what value are weeds left behind?

    1. You know what’s really amazing–these word choices grew out of looking for words with the long e sound. I was just thinking about the dang weeds that I can never keep up with, that I would race outside and clip just before showings when they got really bad. So it ends up being lines that resonate with people, which I love. But the meaning grew from the words, rather than my having a meaning to put in there and then choosing words to support them. Poetry is magic.

  7. I wish I could write more but we are getting in the car, heading to Rhode Island and my husband’s brother’s funeral. Head still swimming at this week’s chaotic events. There was no happy ending this time.

    But. Laura. I am stunned. In awe. Your poem above, HO– USE FOR SALE, moved me to tears. You captured what it feels like to be the ghost of something left behind. I know that feeling well. We all do.

    If I had any influence in its creation or birth, I can’t help but let my heart and ego grow a bit, bursting with pride.

    I had no idea I would read my name in this thread. I did a double-take. Something I said inspired you to write this magnificent poem? How sweet it is. That is the beauty of sharing poetry here. We read, we write, we connect, we find the words meant to be ours and run with them.

    Thank you for making my day.

    1. Oh, Pamela, I’m sorry your trip is not for something fun. :>(

      You did indeed inspire this poem. When you wrote your 15 Words or Less poem capturing that melancholy feeling, I felt kind of bad that *I* didn’t feel bad about moving, and it made me feel kind of sorry for our house, which has kept us warm and dry for 20 years. And then I thought we were probably hurting its feelings by being so eager to leave. So when the prompt of “Who would want to be…” came up, a house for sale is what I instantly thought of! Thanks for sharing your words and heart–inspiring in so many ways:>)

  8. Congrats on the sale, Laura! As other people have pointed out, you have a lot of great lines here (the no’s, the hammer and suture). Nicely done!

  9. Yay for posted your SOLD sign! I’m curious about Kay Ryan and her poetry. Your poem and analysis have inspired me to investigate further. Thank you! =)

    1. Thanks, Bridget. It was SUCH a relief when we finally sold it:>) Hope you enjoy her work–I want to read more, too, as I really like ELEPHANT ROCKS.

  10. So, so cool to find out about the WSJ analyzer, Laura–I shall try it out for sure! I think your copychange version is very good, even if rushed–I especially like the ‘no’ section. I’m also a less-studied fan of Kay Ryan–like our modern Gerard Manley Hopkins!

    1. Thanks, Heidi–ooh, copychange, is that what it’s called? I haven’t heard that. It’s almost like a MadLibs to me. I’m not changing the words randomly, but definitely keeping more of the original than just using it as inspiration.

  11. A lovely study in personification. I too am in love with that ‘no’ — and found the ‘skeleton in the dust of a moving truck’ spoke volumes, also.

  12. I’ll have to check out this rhyme analyzer — I know my students will be fascinated by this tool, too. You sound excited about your move, Laura — congratulations on the sale of your house!

  13. Your post reminds me of another July some years ago now, when our house was for sale. It felt the same way as yours {many ‘no”s). I really enjoyed your internal rhymes, especially these lines: “someone handy with a hammer and suture,
    who will sew up her future with a brand new family,” Hope your old home’s new family turns out to be all it was dreaming of.

  14. Oh wow. I love this poem — in all its melancholy. I do hope your house helps, soon, for both you sakes 🙂 And what a nifty tool. I want to rush over and try it, but not today. Have bookmarked it instead.

  15. Laura, thanks for the rhyme analyzer tool and the links to the sisters’ poetry. Your poem is beautifully written from a soulful house longing to have her future sewn up by a brand new family. Parting is sweet sorrow but in this case gleeful joy for you and your family. Enjoy the move and I am looking forward to our presentation in Boston.

  16. You and the Poetry Princesses always amaze! Ruth,

  17. Thank you, thank you for sharing the rhyme analyzer. I loved playing with it. I had a terrible time with this one, but you made it look easy. I really do adore this poem. I feel the pain of the house (and the homeowner). I especially love this bit:
    “Parked on the curb, she watches a parade of glazed eyes
    and sighs and there goes another day.”

    You did a fine job with the internal rhyme. Well done!

  18. Congratulations on the sale of your house, Laura! I love that even though the house sounds so forlorn, your final lines hold out hope for her and her “worn, weathered heart.” Best of luck to you in your new home!

  19. I’m SWOONING! This is all kinds of perfect, starting with Kay Ryan, moving on to her poem “Turtle” (probably my favorite of all hers), and ending with a house for sale — this could be mom’s house that my brother and I just emptied for auction of contents and sale of the house! Wunnerful wunnerful wunnerful!

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