Beast Poems

Don't fall out of your VirJournal-viewing VR suits: I'm preparing something well in advance of when it's needed--nearly four weeks early. I'm defining a new poetic form to celebrate the Day of the Beast*.

Yes folks, here's another dose of finding meanings patterns in arbitrary numbering systems. This year, the sixth of June (06/06/06) will be Beast Day, and since all eschatological predictions so far have failed to ramp the panic meter up as far as "waves of vague anxiety," I'm going to stick my neck out and predict a very, very dull, non-apocalyptic Tuesday in June.

So how will we give this Beast Day a sense of occasion? By writing poems acknowledging the real beasts in our lives.

How to write a Beast Poem:

  • It must be about a real, tangible beast (yes, humans are valid targets)
  • It must start with the name of the beast
  • It should include uncomplimentary material about the beast
  • It must have 3 lines
  • It must have 6 syllables per line
  • All three lines must have a consistent rhythm (the rhythm will be somewhat constrained by the name of the beast at the start)
  • The ends of the lines should not rhyme with one another, but the rest of the words should echo the sounds of the end words in some way: rhyme, assonance, consonance etc.

I've written some examples, taking the four Birman beasts residing at HouseOfVirge as targets.

Isadora will gnaw;
Her affections inflict
Fond impressions of dents.

Lu-Tze often loses
Scrunchy pills of paper
Skittered in the kitchen.

Windle Poons pounces with
Unexplained élan up
Sheer-sided service chutes.

Tattybogle's talents
Lie in lying daily--
Lazy leonining.

And since I'm feeling prophetic, here's a prediction for Sigga:

Nikita is KITTEN!
With bated breath waiting
Bare ankle to rankle.

There, you see. Beast Poems are easy (compared with Double-Dactyls, not Fibs). Just 18 syllables. 666. I haven't started exploring the depth of the "uncomplimentary material" rule. That could be lots of fun. How about a Beast Poem full of snark?

* not to be confused with the 1995 movie of the same name

[update: added hyphen to sheer-sided]


Wow! You have four Birmans? Some people say I look like a Birman. Birmans rule. I will definitely submit to your -er--compilation.

Two of our residents, Windle Poons and Tattybogle, are guests at HouseOfVirge for the next 4 months while their (erstwhile) becatted ones are on the road.

Very poetic, Virge. And since these are beast poems, I can be uncomplimentary now:

"Impressions of dents" is
A little redundant.
"Of teeth" would work better.

"Pills of paper" "skittered"?
Lu-Tze may have skittered;
Paper pills are "scattered".

"Sheer sided", seems to me
Warrants a hyphen there,
Else it is meaningless.

"Leonining" isn't
Listed in the wordbooks.
Plus, you stress it oddly.


Judah: "And since these are beast poems"

Not true. What about the first two rules? :-[

The second rule, I satisfied. The first rule, er, well uh...define tangibility. OK, fine, I forgot about that one.

I've added a hyphen to sheer-sided, thanks.

"Impressions of dents" is not redundant when you realise that I'm (punnishly) referring to Isadora's dents. (See the third definition in )

Skittered was a deliberate choice. Scattered is far too static; it fails to provide any impression of what happens to scrunched up balls of paper when I skitter them across a wooden floor.

Leonining: "lE-&-'nIn-i[ng] reclining like a lion; similar to sphinxing, but less formal. ;-)

OK, you're right about dents, you're right about skittered (I didn't know it could be transitive), you added the hyphen. I think I made a mistake about the stress you were using in the fourth poem (dactyls, instead of iambs), so the stress of leonining works. But the parallel you provide to sphinxing only underscores the queerness of having an adjective serve as the base for a verb.

By the way, I propose that beast poems should run in cycles of 37.

Correction: I think I made a mistake about the stress you were using in the fourth poem (/.../., instead of /././.), so the stress of leonining works.

(By the way, I tried to diagram the stresses with X'es, only to be told that spam was not appreciated.)

"cycles of 37"
Argh. There's something I've missed here--poetic, historic, numerological...
I suspect there's a gap in my education. 37 isn't ringing a bell.

I don't expect my leonining neologism to catch on. It was there because it invoked the image I wanted and added an element of silliness.

(The spam prevention software is triggering on certain strings to prevent porn site advertising. Sorry about that.)

37 is an interesting number

It is an interesting number, but my intention was much simpler, and revolved around the number of syllables in a cycle of 37 beast poems.

Excellent thought, Judah.

And I must be getting slow. In that wiki article on 37, I looked at the line, "It is a factor of all 3-digit base 10 repdigits, such as 111." I wondered why this would be so, then realised that if 37 is a factor of 111, then it must also be a factor of 222,333 etc., since 111 is a factor of each of the other 3-digit repdigits. But... I recognised it inductively, without iterating all of the 3-digit repdigits, so the 666 connection didn't fire a single synapse. :-[

Wow. Some serious discussions going down here. I think you guys need to find a some serious hobbies! a little to much time debating over pointless poems and rambles.

Thanks for the input Sean, but you left something out. You've thrown in the obligatory spoilsport "this is pointless" comment, but you haven't told us what you would consider merits attention.

I expect so much more from a drive-by snark.