Triple happy: Happy Poem-in-Your Pocket Day (still) for early birds this Thursday evening, Happy (anticipated) Earth Day for our full-fledged get-together on Poetry Friday, and Blessed/Happy Passover!

Although I had planned on sharing more “Earthy,” natural Haiku poems this day, after two false starts, inspiration (unexpectedly) intervened….

But first, some background…

When I was in high school, we took a battery of standardized aptitude tests. On two of them (mechanical reasoning and spatial relationships), I scored in the 14th and 7th percentiles, respectively. (Yes! that would be the 14th and 7th percentiles from the bottom!)

I share this information as a prelude to explaining why trying to create a reverso poem literally hurts my brain–and why the first two attempts have been suspended–

No matter. A challenge is a challenge, and so in response to Michelle Barnes’ DMC challenge, a reverso poem is what I set out to accomplish! With this post, I hope it’s a no-frills, economy version reverso poem–after two false starts with other intended stories —that I have “finally” created.

(BTW, if it makes the four-line reverso more substantive, “Meow! Meow!” can be considered the first and last lines of the poem, extending the line count to six:).

dmc cats cradle for pf

Although my intention was to have the second line hyperlink to the song which inspired the reverso poem, once the photo-poem became a jpeg, the hyperlink no longer works.

For the allusion inherent in that line, please watch/listen: “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin.

This YouTube version starts with a word from the singer’s wife, who wrote the lyrics, and follows with a word from his son, whose birth inspired the musical rendition.

The video piqued my interest in Chapin’s wife because the opening words seem to be taken from the midst of an interview in which she described her connection with the song.

If you find yourself equally curious to know more about her relationship with this hallmark Chapin song, you might enjoy reading the fourteenth question asked by an interviewer: SongFacts interview .

Since (as I understand it from the time when the song first published), the “cat’s in the cradle”that Harry Chapin sang about refers to the child’s string game, I thought I’d conclude with an illustration, perhaps as a memory jogger to a childhood pastime that I suspect cannot compete with today’s totally different set of digital diversions.

cat cradle illustration (2)


BTW, I prefer to think of the physical cat in the physical cradle as pictured within the photo-poem–as a moral allegory; seeing the baby copy-cat, imitating his father’s behavior. That’s what I love about lyrics; like other kinds of poems, they are open to so many different kinds of visual and linguistic interpretations.

Because this song has been attributed with being the catalyst (no pun intended) that reversed many untoward familial relationships, highlighting it in a reverso poem seems an especially appropriate format.

Thank you for sharing your remembrances of the song and/or string games. (And, of course, I welcome criticisms and suggestions for improving the reverso. Thank you!)



23 responses to “reverso

  1. I understand perfectly about your brain hurting. I find that most poetic forms make my brain hurt. Haiku are about it can handle!

    I like the way you’ve connected the poem with a musical clip. Have you been following Heidi’s PMMU series at My Juicy Little Universe?

    • Thank you for taking time to affirm with your experiences how brain-draining creating poetry can be for some of us. I am so with you! I find juggling seventeen syllables about draining enough. …While I haven’t been following Heidi’s PMMU series, on your query, I definitely will check it out. Thank you! God bless you.

  2. I had to laugh at your brain hurting, but only in empathy, as after attempting some reverso poems myself earlier this week, I totally understand–It’s quite a challenge! I love the song Cat’s Cradle–it’s a great inspiration for a poem. Thanks for the links to all the background!

    • So glad to know that I’m not alone in literally feeling my brain writhing as I’m doing mental gymnastics trying to reverse the words. So glad, too, that you enjoy the song and found the links informative. The backstory enhanced the meaning and the impact of the song for me; hope it did for you, too. It’s always gratifying–even vicariously–when lyrics and music come together to make a discernible difference in people’s lives. What a blessing to have that kind of legacy of goodness. Thank you for taking time to read and to respond to this post. God bless you!

  3. I remember attempting those string games when I was young (not as good at it as some!) and I remember the song vividly. My parents played it quite a bit. I salute your perseverance and imagination! You made an unexpected, but apt, connection.

    • Thank you for taking time to read my perseverance poetry outcome, and to share your song and string-game remembrances. Physical dexterity was not my thing–even when I was young, but like you, I gave it a fanciful try. I appreciate your poem-song vote of confidence. God bless you. Thank you.

  4. “Cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon. When you coming home, son? I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, dad. You know we’ll have a good time then.” A great song. Another well researched poem. Reversos make my stomach hurt, too. 🙂

  5. As Brenda said, your reverso is well-researched. I like the addition of the video and the reminder of the Cat Stevens song (one of my favorites). Clever use of the illustration and wording!

    • Thank you for your affirming comments:). Unfamiliar with the Cat Stevens song, I just checked it out, and can see why it would be one of your favorites. Before I read about it, I thought it might have been a Chapin spin-off, but it actually precedes it! With Prince’s untimely death yesterday, I’m finding now that all references to lyrics and their impact strike me as more deeply penetrating. I have to wonder: do we fully/adequately appreciate our musicians for the humanity they connect us with–within ourselves and each other? Until I researched the “Cat’s in the Cradle” and saw so many interviews about Prince yesterday, I had no idea how much philanthropic work each man had done–to say nothing of the direct impact of their music on the lives of ordinary folks and budding artists. God bless you; thank you! You have a knack for making me dig deeper; to me more reflective.

  6. I have a book of string figures & my class used to give them a try. I learned a lot about students when I saw who could “do” & who could not (like me). Love the connection & the research. I had forgotten about Chapin’s song, sad and lovely. Thanks for so much, CB.

    • Thanks so much for taking time to add your remembrances. (If I were in your class, you know which group I’d be in–sadly, it wouldn’t be the do-ers.) Speaking of “sad-ly,” Chapin’s song, as you sad is “sad and lovely”–very often the paradox of poetry and life, don’t you think? …”Sad,” today, has a special ring of truth given yesterday’s loss of another gifted musician. Thank YOU for always sharing so much. God bless you for all your sensitive insights!

  7. It’s been a long time since I’ve played cat’s cradle or heard Chapin’s song, so this was a very fun post. The reverso is a very challenging form — kudos to you for putting your own spin on it with a cool graphic and a song pairing!

    • Thank you, dear PF hostess, for taking time from your many responsibilities to offer so many reasons for me to feel a certain measure of (cat-like) satisfaction. (Being highly allergic to cats, I don’t often do or think cat figures of speech, but in the context of today’s post, I couldn’t resist–Besides, it does seem Earth Day appropriate.) p.s. I don’t know anyone else who can pack as much lively information and punch as you can into an economy of words that seem fully satisfying. (Oh, no. Another unintended cat reference.) That’s it. THANK YOU! God bless you.

  8. So a reverso poem is sort of like a palindrome with words instead of letters? Wow. This one is wonderful – especially when the palindromes “meow” are added. Love it. And the content is so perfect for a reverso poem. I enjoyed your line about how the song ” reversed many untoward familial relationships”. What an interesting way to express that idea. Truly enjoyable post.

    • Yes! That is exactly how my brain can cope with a reverso poem–to think of it as a kind of palindrome. (Before PF; before ever hearing of reverso poems, I was fascinated by palindromes–the topic, in fact, of one of my very first posts; I just love palindromes!) Thank you so much for connecting with the post and for taking time to point out so many particulars that you related to–particulars that struck me, too, as the poem/post unfolded. I can’t help commenting, too, that when I began writing in response to your post, I was thinking that there’s an incipient reverso poem there in the context and content of your poem: “So glad the trip up resulted in a trip up.” …In some aspect, we’re on the same wavelength, and given your incredible expertise, I am feeling proud of myself for starting to mature as I immerse myself each Friday in “soaking up” the creativity of PF community members like you! God bless you.

  9. That song always gets me emotional, so when, in the video, Chapin’s son says he’s come to accept when strangers approach him and want to share how the song changed their life or saved their relationship, I found it quite touching. I so admire your stick-to-itiveness when it comes to these challenges, especially with the reverso. One thing that you DID achieve that many have not, is telling two separate stories with the two halves of your poem. Brava and well done, cb!

    • Thank you, Michelle, for continuing to encourage me to submit in response to your DMC challenges, despite my comparative creative limitations and deficiencies. I so appreciate how you dignify my attempts. With each DMC challenge, I am learning more than I even know–more than I can express gratitude for learning; all thanks to your patient acceptance. Thank you, too, for pointing out that short and simple as it was, the reverso actually DID tell two different stories. After trying so hard to make two other reverso poems work, this one truly seems like a gift; it worked almost in spite of me. …Like you, I was greatly touched by Chapin’s son’s video testimony about the poignancy of strangers’ reactions. Until I read Chapin’s wife’s interview and other material, I hadn’t known that Harry Chapin died on the way back from one of his philanthropic mercy missions. Although I’m sure his wife and son would rather than he still were alive, there must be comfort in having such a wonderful family legacy, as embraced in that video. Prior to watching the video and reading interview, I hadn’t thought about the origin of the lyrics; I guess I just assumed that Harry Chapin wrote them. Knowing now that his wife wrote them, I can’t help wondering if it takes a woman’s heart–a mother’s heart–to call attention to a man’s livelihood-earning behavior. Even as I write that thought, I’m thinking that given how many more women work today than when Chapin’s wife wrote the poem, I wonder what a female version (mother-son; mother-daughter) would sound like to people today? …Guess the death of Prince (though I could hardly count myself as one of his fans) has me feeling nostalgic about what we know and don’t know about the real life stories involving lyricists and musicians, and about how much we owe them to shaping our social consciousness. Thank you so much, again, Michelle, for everything! God bless you.

  10. I love that song, cat’s cradle string games and reverso poems! The trickier the better. For some reason, poems with specific structure are challenges that I take some weird kind of comfort in! Not that I don’t like free form, but the intricacies of things are fascinating to me, I guess.
    Well, done!

    • Your fleshed-out reverso poem, shared months ago, was the start of my reverso intrigue/knowledge. Thank you! Though thinking in reverse is excruciating (I really think because of my spatial relations/mechanical reasoning ineptitudes), like you I get taken by formatted challenges. While I never thought about it previously, maybe you’ve hit on something–there are poetry form rules/structures that provide a certain sense of comfort (like the physical and moral values that are supposed to help ground kids; that despite their protests against, they supposedly really do appreciate!). Knowing that you have created reverso poems makes me appreciate and take to heart your kind words about this effort of mine. God bless you. Thanks again!

  11. Hi, CB. I’ve been thinking of you and missing you from Poetry Friday. I hope you are well and enjoying summer. I hope your words are still making you smile and strive. XOXO

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