Thursday, 4 June 2009


Yes, I know the whole of life can be a bit of a puzzle, but that's only if you stop and think about it for too long. If you just get on with living it, you don't have time to be puzzled, I reckon. But I'm really thinking more about those time consuming jig-saws or crossword puzzles - or sudoku, if you are of a mathematical bent. It's often a touch of the 'Marmite Syndrome' - love or hate - that describes a person's attitude to them. I've found, rather than a lukewarm, take-'em-or-leave-'em attitude, a lot of people tip towards one extreme or the other. Either their eyes light up, a pen flies into their hands and the Daily Crossword is under siege in a flash, or they sigh, frown and quickly find a reason to be somewhere else at the very mention of the word puzzle.

If it's jigsaws under scrutiny, the 'for 'em' brigade will get the table cleared and the pieces spread around almost before the crumbs of the last meal have been swept away. The corners (or simply edges, as there are many fiendishly shaped jig-saws around these days) are quickly located and the hunt for matching textures or colours on the squiggly shaped cardboard pieces absorbs their mind completely from that moment on. Concentration rules. Woe betide any swift movement on the part of passers by that manages to waft a delicate piece to the floor...

This grumpy reaction is particularly noticeable if a group of mixed age is endeavouring to achieve a team effort. The smallest, youngest or least dexterous is likely to be ostracised at a very early stage of the proceedings.

I am a sucker for punishment. Not enough for me to enjoy these ready made puzzles which originated in another's mind. No, I revel in the opportunity of self inflicted word puzzles which occur when I try to follow a traditional, poetic rhyme scheme.

I know these days, a lot of poetry tends to be free form, non-rhyming, and there is no doubt many beautiful thoughts and feelings are expressed within its freedom. But the discipline imposed by following a specific form holds this same element of 'puzzle' within my mind. The grey cells need to scurry and search to make language do my bidding. The thrill of the hunt with a finished poem as the only quarry.

Yesterday found me chasing over many hurdles. You've seen the first race result ( thank you RWP for giving me a retrospective boost over one or two jumps). Next on the race card came the Triolet Stakes. The prize would be awarded to the following rhyme scheme:-

A B a A a b A B
Eight lines, with the first, fourth and seventh and the second and eighth repeated verbatim. Not quite as easy as you may think - if you still want the whole thing to make sense! At least there are no restrictions to line length or metre in a Triolet. Here's what I ended up with:-


As I try to pen a line
to start the juices flowing,
I hope to capture all in rhyme,
as I try to pen a line -
and fondly hope it won't decline
but keep the verses growing,
as I try to pen a line
to start the juices flowing.


  1. You worked that rhyming scheme out quite well.

    I'm more of a Sudoku guy. I think one's brain is inclined either to Sudoku or to Crosswords, depending on whether one is a more linear or lateral thinker.

  2. Hey, I'm very impressed with this! I love form poems, and yours flows very easily. I spent a day once playing around with them and had a ball--and I did think it felt more like figuring out a puzzle than throwing down lines in a free form poem.

    My husband carries a Sudoku book or a crossword book everywhere he goes. I really don't think he has a preference. Sudoku sends me over the edge, as I avoid numbers whenever I don't NEED to do them. Usually, daily life is puzzle enough for me!

    Thanks for your recent visit Jinksy. Love, Sallymandy

  3. I love that same challenge in writing a song lyric - the bah-bah-bah-BAH-bah-bah rhythm or whatever shape it may be. I'm working on one today, as a matter of fact, as part of a project for our company website! Lucky me!

  4. Oh, I love this, and your repetition, rhyme, meter and form!!! You are a master poet!!!! ~Janine XO

  5. Jinksy - I am a crossword fanatic - couldn't manage without The Times crosswords or the Codeword, or the Sudoku. Also like to have a jig saw on the go. But I couldn't spend time working out that verse - I would never get there.

  6. That's an interesting way of looking at poetry, Jinksy. I'm impressed!

  7. Love the poem. Was reminded of my mother's love of jigsaw puzzles. My sister didn't like them. She used to steal a piece and we would have to beg her for it. Mom loved putting that last piece in place. I had forgotten that. Now I want to run out and buy a jigsaw puzzle to honor Mom!

  8. HA! This explains it all so perfectly. You so careful, balanced and rule following and me so lazy, scratchy and jam fingered. You've got to know I'd walk away with a piece of the puzzle stuck to my elbow! And you'd just be about to complete it!

    I like our contrasts, Jinksy.

  9. Oo, wonderfully done! Very clever.
    I'm both a Sudoku and a Crossword puzzler. Perhaps that explains the puzzled look on other peoples faces when they try to have a conversation with me. My mind turns and twists and turns again until even I can't follow me anymore ;-)


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