Ode to a Mandala–an Etheree

Poetry Friday logo by Linda Mitchell

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

By the way, my first post for National Poetry Month is also live now. I decided to make two separate posts because this would be unbearably long and confusing otherwise! But I invite you to join me in Digging for Poems for April!

So, this month, our Poetry Princess challenge was an etheree. That is, a 10-line poem with an increasing syllable count from 1 to 10. I really like forms with strict syllable counts or other non-negotiable rules. I think it’s a fun cage to beat against, and I also don’t feel the pressure to put a twist on it in some creative way.

I was doing a small-group poetry activity and needed to write a 10-line poem (no syllable counts). I thought, well, why not do an etheree? That’s me, always trying to be efficient! Plus, a 10-line poem with long lines would totally overwhelm me. One of the prompts we wrote to was an object that at first glance looked like a mandala. Turned out to be a circular basket held up sideways to the Zoom, and my first thought was, ooh, a mandala made of rope/string! Cool! Well, it was a round basket made of pine needles. Pine needles! Extremely cool. But I stuck with mandala as my topic.

Here’s my poem–I think this is draft 4.

I’m looking forward to seeing what my Poetry Sisters have come up with–right along with you guys!


Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 

The fabulous Mary Lee Hahn (who organizes the Roundups–thank you!) is hosting today, which is why she’s not listed above. Whee! Check out her etheree and all the wonderful posts through the Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog. And check out her cherita project for April!

PS Oh, man! I keep forgetting. Thank you, Tanita, for writing the lovely invitation for everyone to join in! Friends, here’s what I stole from Tanita’s post: “Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of April! Here’s the scoop: we’re writing “in the style of Pablo Neruda.” What does that mean? That’s totally up to you. We’re continuing with our 2023 theme of transformation, but how you interpret that in the realm of Neruda poems topically is wholly your choice. You have a month to craft your creation and share it on April 28th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.




29 Responses

  1. Laura, what a pretty mandala image to go with your poem. It’s perfect. My favorite phrase is: “twining peace and symmetry” yes, indeed. I have a mandala rug that hangs on my wall in my bedroom, sometimes I just look at and note all the symmetry; it is so peaceful.

    1. Oh, cool. I don’t have any mandalas. I’ve just colored some, years ago, in a mandala coloring book. One of those ones from Dover :>D A mandala kind of strikes me as a visual version of a mantra chant. Thanks, Denise!

  2. I enjoyed watching the revision of this on Writers in Progress. Favorite lines:
    “From whirling wings and curled waves
    come twining peace and symmetry.”
    Thank you, Laura.

  3. I love your verbs: twining, spiraling, weaving. Mandalas are definitely magical designs that offer comfort and peace through their symmetry.

  4. A mandala is (maybe officially, but definitely for me) a meditation…the spiralling, the symmetry, the rhythm of color and shape. Twining peace, exactly.

  5. Oooh, your play on turning at the end was inspired, as well as your choice of a very circular thing to write about—who knew a right-angled etheree could hold such roundness? And the image of a “wild, distracted mind” speaks to me. Just lovely.

  6. So many interesting words–snatch, weave, whirling, twinging–your whole poem feels like it’s in colorful spinning motion. I like this form and what you’ve done.

  7. Oh, the illustration just MAKES this. All that twining and turning, and curling right around into peacefulness from that “wild distracted mind.” (It me.) This is a lovely, brief dip into a higher (rounder) plane.

  8. Laura, I would never turn away from your bright spiral of comfort. I’ll take your twining peace and symmetry. I hope this madela turns you to another one.

  9. Thank you for sharing Laura! This poem is so cozy and delightful. 🙂

  10. I hope you’re staying warm tonight, seeing that your area is getting more snow! Mandalas are so special, fitting that you wrote “twining peace and symmetry.” in our recent mad world. I’d love to see that basket, have made one of pine needles during a wonderful week at our cabin in the mountains. It’s fairly simple, just the green, not close to a beautifully-colored mandala!

    1. We got more than a foot of snow! Many folks couldn’t make it to my book launch, so that was a bummer. But the beauty of fresh snow always enchants me. You know what’s funny about that basket is that I can barely remember what it looked like now. We only got maybe a 5‑second glimpse of it, and once my mind turned it into a mandala, that’s all I can see. But it did have this cool pattern of loops (handles? decoration?) around the outer edge (as I looked at it face on, like a sun drawing), so my impression of it was that it was pretty dang complex. Hooray for art and function from nature’s dropped materials! Would love to see yours…

  11. oooooh! Writing in the style of Pablo Neruda?! Sounds like so much fun. “Feathered silk” has me sighing a happy sigh.

  12. Your etheree calmed “my wild distracted mind”…for a moment. Love this poem and your NPM project. You’re an inspiration. 🙂

    1. Wow, thank you, Bridget, on all counts. Back at you. You brim with creativity–you just bubble over with it!

  13. Every line of this is beautiful, Laura, but it’s that “nowhere to turn” that makes this so rich and so dep and really brings the whole thing home. Hurrah!

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