Triolet: Unemployment “Insurance”

Day 12, NaPoWriMo 2020

Photo by Jaime Lopes on Unsplash

Unemployment “Insurance”

Step one, lose your job in order to qualify
Step two, show your empty bank accounts
Step three – apply online, get 404, retry.
Step one – did you lose your job in order to qualify?
Step four, stock up on ramen, rice and standby.
Step five, if denied, start GoFundme to avoid blackouts.
Step one: lose your job in order to qualify,
Step two – show your empty bank accounts.


Notes:  Day 12 of NaPoWriMo 2020.  The prompt is a “challenge you to write a triolet. These eight-line poems involve repeating lines and a tight rhyme scheme. The repetitions and rhymes can lend themselves to humorous poems, as well as to poems expressing dramatic or sorrowful moods. And sometimes the repetitions can be used in deceptive ways, by splitting the words in a given line into different sentences, and making subtle changes, as in this powerful triolet by Sandra McPherson.”

I was hoping to write a funnier triolet, but I veered into a darker direction instead. I had read a few days back how Florida’s Unemployment System was essentially designed to fail.  It is ironic how the basic concept of insurance fails when you need it the most – whether it is health, travel, unemployment, etc.  On a much hopeful note, though it is also heartening to see wonderful, numerous examples of kindness and compassion.

In happier times, I wrote a triolet on my wife’s birthday back in April of 2013, titled: A Glance.  I believe it was the first NaPoWriMo I tried, when I had just started writing poems again after many, many years.

A Sloka and Commentary

Day 9 of NaPoWriMo 2020.

A Sloka and Commentary

Notes:  Day 9 of NaPoWriMo 2020.  The prompt is “inspired by Kaschock’s use of space to organize her poems. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “concrete” poem – a poem in which the lines and words are organized to take a shape that reflects in some way the theme of the poem. This might seem like a very modernist idea, but poets have been writing concrete poems since the 1600s! Your poem can take a simple shape, like a box or ball, or maybe you’ll have fun trying something more elaborate, like this poem in the shape of a Christmas tree.”

For context, Day 9’s resource is “Kirsten Kaschock’s chapbook, Windowboxing”.

This exercise reminds me of a prompt from 2015 which was to write a visual poem – a calligram.

I’m not even sure if this qualifies as a poem, its more a meditation. The “concrete” part, which hopefully most will recognize is the symbol om, is a sanskrit prayer from Upanishad with translation.  And the rectangular “base” is essentially commentary associated with it.

I think the intent is for the readers to interact with the formatted poem.  But if you made it this far and maybe missed it – then here it is in plain form:


From Brihadarnayaka Upanishad:
Asato ma sat gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrutyor ma amritam gamaya.
From falsehood lead me to truth
From darkness lead me to light
From death lead me to immortality.

The middle line was a school motto.
From rote we recited everyday
Only later we understood the meaning of the line.
and the whole sloka
The three lines capture perhaps a
Fundamental human yearning:
That our brief lives have some meaning
Beyond just mere existence.