Raj Arumugam

punctuation poems

This is the complete text of the fun and random series on aspects of punctuation and punctuation marks....

1 ‘

one must wonder
if the word “Punctuation”
is a relative of “Punctured’;
for, as you must have noticed,
a prose passage
with no punctuation
is as good as punctured…
poetry is cunning;
she uses punctuation as she wishes
and still remains pregnant
with meaning, if you know what I mean

the definitive full stop

Say 'Hello'
to the Full Stop
before it shuts you down

Say 'Hello'
the American period
the definitive full stop that says: 'That’s it, folks! '
in other words
it says: 'Enough! ' 'That’s it! '
' I’m done! ' ' I’m finished! '
But some people never get that, do they?
they just keep going on;
but now I’ll take my cue
and say no more.

3! ! !
exciting poem with exclamation marks! ! !

Oh noble exclamation mark!
I expel! I exclaim!
Oh most excitable exclamation mark!

Oh, to see you
sends blood racing
in my veins!
Oh, I love you
twice! !
and I love you thrice! ! ! !
- oh, was that four times? ? ? ?
Oh, be not jealous
I brought in your
distant relative
the crooked and deformed question mark
for I not only love you
! !
! ! !
! ! ! ! –
but I love you forever, most excitable exclamation mark! ! ! !
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! .......and forever! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ..............

Oh noble exclamation mark!
I expel! I exclaim!
Oh most excitable exclamation mark!

4 _ _ _ _
The dash

don’t be dashing round
oh you so young and dashing dash;
so energetic –
you just bewilder us all

O dash –
what a dash you make for it;
O dash –
what surprises you have in store

O dash –
you’re not connective tissue
like the hyphen;
but dash -
you are a more dramatic fellow

I did use you once, dash -
but my sentence tripped and fell;
so now when I call on you
I ensure I’ve got you tied –
like a dog to the leash

don’t be dashing round
oh you so young and dashing dash;
so energetic –
you just bewilder us all

5, , , , ,
the comma

the comma
a most prosaic-looking fellow
never gets into a coma
though he’s useful enough
to give you a pause or break;
the comma separates and lists
and where the word-traffic may be in danger of crashing
into one another, bumper to bumper
the comma comes in like road markers
and ensures smooth flow:
don’t kiss bumpers; kiss your commas

the irritable full stop

the full stop
was quite irritated
with the colon
and he said to the colon:
“What are you doing? ”

And colon said: “What? ”

And full-stop said:
“Can you tell me what you doing
imitating me like that
and doing a double at that?
You look such a poor imitation of me
floating one above the other! ”

“O, ” said the colon, and continued:
“It’s plain to see, Sir –
you’re quite drunk;
you’ve had one glass too many
and you’re seeing double
like all drunks do…”

7; ; ; ; ; ; ;
the semi-colon

it would appear the semi-colon
has an identity crisis;
it might appear
it can’t decide if it’s a dot
or a comma
and so does an acrobat act;
but really the semi-colon does more than that
for it does
complex listings the comma can’t manage
and can say things quite cleverly, like:
“All things are expensive; life sucks.”
So really this semi-colon
is not a semi - but indeed a full-blown device

8, , , , , , , ,
the apostate, I mean the apostrophe

there was a comma
which was so light
it started to float;
the other down-to-earth commas
ganged up and banished
that comma that dared to cross the line
and so that deviant comma stays there in mid-air
like a feather
and you can see it if you
keep your eyes open

’ ’
and since its fall, or rise,
it’s been called the apostate -
I mean, the apostrophe
Mind you, it’s not to be taken lightly
for it can settle legal cases
as it indicates who things belong to
(like if it is John’s money
or Nicole’s)

’ ’ ’
and in matters of communication
it can abbreviate things
and make the style more conversational

’ ’ ’ ’
But I'll tell you when it’s not so happy:
if you say, for instance: “Its Monday”
or “The dog wags it’s tail” -
ah, then the apostrophe hates you
and it really wishes it could land on your head
like a bag of lead

9 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
Quotation marks

“Americans” prefer two
and then one within;
The 'British' think one is splendid
and two within –
as for the rest of the world,
I think,
we’re pretty easy on this

10 - - - - - - - - - -
the hyphen

the hyphen
though not as huge as an elephant
still does gargantuan jobs
for amongst a host of things it does
it can bring words together
to make them one
as in “face-to-face discussions”
or “three-point turn”
or when my wife gives me that
“don’t-spill-that-coffee-or-I’ll-kill-you look”

the ellipsis...

The ellipsis
was sulking and
in a pensive mood….

And so I said: Well?

And Ellipsis said: What?

I said: You’re sulking…

And Ellipsis erupted
like pimples on an adolescent’s face:
You wrote poems on every tribe of my race;
you wrote of the full stop and the comma and the dash
and about every other freak that jumps up
on a printed page…
And now you ask me, why I sulk!

So, I said cautiously,
what do you want me to do?

So, write me a freaking poem on me -
The Ellipsis!

And I scratched my head, and I said:
A poem about the Ellipsis?

., ; ! ! ?
; : ? , .?
punctuation sky

you are walking in the cool night
and you turn round the corner
and Behold! before you is the open sky
full of glowing punctuation marks
the commas and semi-colons
and the full-stops and exclamation marks
O all so brilliant, so brilliant
O the question marks
and the dashes and the hyphens and the ellipsis
and the dots and the quotation marks double and single
and all marks floating and brilliant in the night sky
O Imagine!
And then what would you do -
O what would you do
when you see these brilliant marks?
these quirky marks...

Would you be astounded
and shout:
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
or would you feel confounded and go:
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
or be silent and say:
or be philosophical and muse:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

O what would you do
when you are before the Punctuation Sky
Vincent van Gogh never thought to draw?

Submitted: Saturday, July 03, 2010

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