February 2024

Mazel & Mishagoss: To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? It Never Used to be a Question!


By Stephanie Gittleman

I’ve decided to enter an important contest for poetry, but it needs to rhyme. It’s something that comes naturally to me, so I’ll certainly have an easy time. It’s a Jewish contest too, so I can be sure and use my knowledge of Yiddish. You might shy away from that kind of rhyming. Me? I’m not at all skittish!

But suddenly right when it matters the most, I can’t get my rhyming to work! It’s as if my brain decided that its writing responsibilities it wants to … avoid.

Now it’s more challenging than playing Gin Rummy, and waiting for the right card, finding rhymes for this contest has become frustrating and just so very … difficult.

See that? At times I come incredibly close, both in counting syllables and in sound.

But the words seem awkward, silly, or gross, and a rhyme can just never be … discovered.

I never had to use Google or force ‘em, t’was never a big struggle, or a huge strain.

Cheater’s poetry dictionaries, I don’t endorse ‘em, so I’m just gonna wrack my … mind!

Maybe I should enter a different contest with free-verse. More sophisticated, you know?

Who needs matchy kiddy jingles?? I could just be totally loose and let my words … stream.

But it still needs to be about something Jewish, like Shabbat and how we like to pray,

There’s nothing original or newish, and so like my grandma, I’m gonna just sigh, “Oy Gevalt.”

Grrrr! Here’s to non-rhyming yummy words like hamantaschen, kugel, and latkes for Chanukah

I could branch out to include family traditions like our baby naming for my new niece Monica.

Oh wait! Did you just see that? Once I stopped trying, it came back to me all on its own!

I don’t mean to kvell or boast, but it’s obvious dear reader, I’m back in the rhyming zone!

So look out Shel Silverstein and even Dr Seuss – your competition is gonna be rough!

You could just make an excuse, cuz next to me you’re both gonna become a cream …pastry.

Oh no, it’s gone again! But you can bet I’m not goin’ down without the good fight.

You might say I’m tenacious, stubborn, relentless. And you’d be exactly….correct!

But like a Yenta, far be it for me to complain about this, not even a little kvetch.

It’s obvious I just need to exercise my brain a little, it just needs a little…elastic.

I’m also not beyond banging against the wall a bit with my little, exhausted keppie.

Maybe that will wake it up, get back its creative zing and make it feel more Peppery.

Peppery? Oh now it’s just making fun of me! My cranium has its own little schtick!

C’mon! This isn’t an uncommon scenario. Hasn’t your mind ever played a … fraud?

But alas, I think I’m gonna give up on entering the contest, too hard on my self-esteem.

Besides I should just be grateful for my Mazel (and Mishagoss!) at L’CHAIM magazine!



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