In 2013, I was part of an online poetry critique forum. That allegiance didn’t last (for reasons that are no one’s fault – the people in the forum were very sharp when it came to technique, but couldn’t make head or tail of speculative themes unless they were a metaphor for something, and that frustrated me). But for a while it was a fruitful place to hang out, practice critiquing poetry, and learn.
As a part of that forum, I participated in 2013’s National Poetry Writing Month and some other, shorter-term challenges. Some of what came out of those challenges was excellent (“Self-Portrait as Bilbo Baggins” was a NaPo poem, for instance). Some of it was garbage. Most of it won’t appear in this collection or any other, because see above re: garbage. But some of the pieces, after editing, became things I loved and wanted to share.
“Hippocamp” was one example of a motif I returned to frequently in the 2013 challenges: a three-line poem (NOT a haiku) about a mythological creature. I took to calling these the “bestiary poems”. “Hippocamp” was the first bestiary poem that I wrote, and (in my opinion) still the best.
Not a bestiary poem – it has five lines, not three, and at least one of the creatures involved is an actual chicken – but related.
16. Crocodile Tears
A three-line poem which has nothing to do with mythological creatures at all.
Beta readers were divided about whether the person speaking in this one is addressing someone who has bullied them, or is a bully themselves. My response to this is WHYNOTBOTH.GIF, but you can choose your own interpretation.
28. Abominable Snowman
Another of the bestiary poems, this is the only one that was actually published – in Niteblade, Issue #30. This used to mean that it was free to read online, although the Internet is fickle and this doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. Amusingly, it was one of the only Niteblade poems to be free from the start; normally that magazine only posted teasers online until their fundraising goals were met, but in this case, it was so short that the teaser was the poem.
A third bestiary poem; this one is about a tapir-like Japanese creature that eats dreams.
This is the last of the bestiary poems that I decided was actually fit for publication. (Or, almost the last; there’s one about a prehistoric creature that I may or may not end up shoehorning into a later, dinosaur-themed collection. We’ll see how that collection takes shape in the future. Sssh.)