Monday, November 20, 2023


 Six Monobons by Eileen R. Tabios 

The following presents six monobons to illustrate the variations known to date of the basic form (Original Monobon). Currently, the monobon has seven variations conceived by me and other poets: Radical Leap Monobon, Found Monobon (conceived by Sandy McIntosh), Occasional Monobon, Reverse Monobon (conceived by Thomas Fink), Epistolary Monobon, the Monobon Fishing Line, and the Collaborative Monobon. Explanations of the variations are presented below with the poem-examples, except for Collaborative Monobon which would be a collaboration between two poets, e.g. with one providing the prose and the other the monostich, and vice versa.






Note: “Diary” is an example of the Original Monobon of prose followed by a monostich (one-line poem):





Geeeeeeezzzzzz: my schedule is punishing! After yesterday's Brooklyn Rail reading (which you can and should see HERE) I couldn't even bask in the magnificence of the event, but immediately had to leap onto the next item on my In-Box because it was so important—but what isn't important?—to answer the questions of a publisher interested in one of my novels (cross my beleaguered fingers—please please please publish my novel). So today while I was running around on another literary errand I decided to go into my local library for a brief respite. Pre-Covid, I'd spent a lot of my days there but, you know, Covid lockdown has yet to end for me as it forced me to admit lockdown is a bit of a relief since I don't actually like seeing people (though of course I love you all) which is why it was a big deal when Denise Low managed to squirrel me out for that DOVELION reading in September in Sonoma because I mostly do events through Zoom which presents a computerized wall between me and the flesh of other people. Where was I? Oh yes, the library... and I head directly for the books-for-sale section because I have a library to build from scratch--a hundred down, 14,900 books to go--and decided to acquire THE LETTERS OF KINGSLEY AMIS. Now I don't know his work but certain genres can transcend the author--genres like memoirs, biographies, and, in this case, correspondence. If the writer is charismatic (however one defines that characteristic) enough in the writing, the writing itself becomes worthy of reading. So though I don't know the novelist-poet Kingsley Amis' work, I see as I flip through the book that his letters are witty, self-deprecatory, and caustic at some literary peers (always fun) so that I became interested. Then the book randomly opened to a letter he'd sent Philip Larkin—of ye olde "They fuck you up, your mum and dad" poetic line fame—and Mr. Amis is sending Mr. Larkin some poems because he's asked to release a new manuscript and Mr. Amis asks him if they're any good and whether it's worth publishing because he's scared that, if anything, the poems would diminish his reputation. And I pause for a moment right there in the library--book spines suddenly sneering as they mock me—to consider the pitiful plight of writers who know that writing a good work doesn't guarantee future writing will be good. And I feel a tad sorry for this Kingsley Amis whose works I've never read—though if I have read something he's written before because I do have decades of living, much of it I can't recall, then it was a reading that didn't stick with me. Besides the book was hardcover and only $3.00. As well—and this is not an insignificant thing—the book manifests something to which I aspire as a writer: a BIG, FAT BOOK!! Obviously, the guy controlled his garrulousness as much as I control my blather. Then the bonus of this little tale is that as I went to the front desk to exchange $3.00 for a BIG, FAT BOOK, I passed by the New Fiction section and noted that one of my favorite authors Daniel Silva has a new book out, THE COLLECTOR, and I felt compelled to borrow it, which is a meaningful event because it's the first book I've borrowed since the Covid lockdown began. Yahoo. Oh, yes, so I bring the Daniel Silva thriller along with the BIG, FAT BOOK over to the counter and what do you know I am hailed as if I was Eileen R. Tabios—oh, wait, but I am—because "it's been a while," as the saying goes. Janice, the librarian was so pleased to see me and we smiled and I blathered and she enunciated like the lady she is and before I turned around to leave the library she encouraged, "Come again!" and I nod, I will! Don't we all love librarians?! And as I was saying before I distracted myself, my schedule is absolutely punishing so I decided rebelliously that I must not allow myself to be enslaved and so I shall use the reading of Daniel Silva's THE COLLECTOR as enforced breaks during the days ahead from my punishing literary schedule, though for the moment I'm eyeing Kingsley Amis' LETTERS feeling—If one must admit such and one must—resentful and jealous and resentful over being jealous because he's put out something I aspire to create: A BIG, FAT BOOK. And then, and then, I have the urge to read—even if only peek—at the first page of either of the two books and I can't decide, can't decide, whether it should be the opening to Mr. Amis'LETTERS or Mr. Silva's THE COLLECTOR, a dilemma at which I fling up my hands in self-exasperation so that when the hands fall my fingers descend on the keyboard where I create this LETTER TO YOU—which makes me think I could create a book entitled LETTERS TO FACEBOOK FRIENDS but as soon as I conceived of that idea I became bored. Good afternoon. I shall write a monobon with the title “The World May Edit Our Behavior But” with the monostich:


In your diary, write without wearing underwear 







Notes: “Monobonbon” is a Radical Leap Poem for radicalizing the space between the prose and monostich by making the monostich impossible to predict from the prose, such as with the ending below.

    "Monobonbon" also can be considered a Found Monobon because its prose is comprised (though edited) of “The 23 Absolute Sweetest Things in the World,” Buzzfeed, July 12, 2012, as well as a list of candies from Wikipedia. 

                  The ending monostich is from the title of Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder In My Country by Patricia Evangelista (Random House, 2023)





“Please turn ‘monobonbon’ into the title of a new poem.”

—Julia Rose Lewis


Finding money in your pocket. Marzipans. A “Friend” request from your crush. Almond comfits. Making it to the first floor with no elevator stops. Pralines. That nobody uploaded pictures of you from last night’s party. Licorice. Free drinks from the bartender because it’s your “Name Night.” Peen tong. The Starbucks barista finally got your name right. Chocolate truffles. “Take Your Dog To Work Day.” Noisettes. Nailing the perfect cereal-to-milk ratio. Wine gums. Getting green lights the whole way. Dragées. Waking up to realize you have five more hours to sleep. Nougats. Revenge. Marshmallows. Your favorite celebrity retweeting you. Fondant candies. A heart-shaped pizza. Caramels. Watching the Kitten Cam all day. Peppermint rocks. A free cup of soup. Toffees. Realizing your ex has gotten super fat. Candy canes. Your mom not finding your “secret stash” when she washed your pants. Starlight mints. Extra fries. Lollipops. Double snacks. Skittles. Seeing your crush end their romance on Facebook. Aniseed twists. When every sock in the laundry basket has its match. Bêtises de CambraiA half day for work on a Friday. Peanut butter cups. Past the sour part of Sour Patch Kids. Jolly Ranchers. I was going to conclude with the monostich of “Candies as smiles” but will share instead the book title of my most recently relished read:


Some People Need Killing








Notes: “Sheena’s Monobon” is an example of an Occasional Monobon, a poem written for occasions like birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, etc. In this case, I write it for my niece Sheena’s special ceremony at her nursing college:



Sheena’s Monobon


On the occasion of the October 27, 2023 “Capping, Pinning & Candle Lighting Ceremonies for the Class of 2026,” College of Nursing at University of Northern Philippines, Tamag, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur: Congratulations to my niece Sheena who joins one of humanity’s most treasured groups around the world: Filipino Nurses. 


Amidst darkness, flickers of light







Notes: “Save the Children” is a poem that combines the Reverse Monobon and Found Monobon.

As a “found monobon,” the prose was taken from Roald Hoffman’s Biography on The Nobel Prize website which cites his 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

                  Statistichs in monostich are from “More children’s deaths in Gaza in 3 weeks than annutal total since 2019: NGO,” Al Jazeera, Oct. 29, 2023.



“Save the Children”


A total of 2,985 children were killed across 24 countries in 2022, 2,515 in 2021, and 2,674 in 2020 across 22 countries, which means more children were killed in Gaza in the three weeks after October 7, 2023, according to the nongovernmental organization Save the Children.


came to a happy Jewish family in dark days in Europe. On July 18, 1937 I was born to Clara (née Rosen) and Hillel Safran in Zloczow, Poland. This town, typical of the Pale of the Settlement, was part of Austria-Hungary when my parents were born. It was Poland in my time and is part of the Soviet Union now. I was named after Roald Amundsen, my first Scandinavian connection. My father was a civil engineer, educated at the Lvov (Lemberg) Polytechnic, my mother by training a school teacher. // In 1939 the war began. Our part of Poland was under Russian occupation from 1939-1941. Then in 1941 darkness descended, and the annihilation of Polish Jewry began. We went to a ghetto, then a labor camp. My father smuggled my mother and me out of the camp in early 1943, and for the remainder of the war we were hidden by a good Ukrainian in the attic of a school house in a nearby village. My father remained behind in the camp. He organized a breakout attempt which was discovered. Hillel Safran was killed by the Nazis and their helpers in June 1943. Most of the rest of my family suffered a similar fate. My mother and I, and a handful of relatives, survived. We were freed by the Red Army in June 1944. At the end of 1944 we moved to Przemysl and then to Krakow, where I finally went to school. My mother remarried, and Paul Hoffmann was a kind and gentle father to me until his death, two months prior to the Nobel Prize announcement. // I have been asked to summarize my contributions to science. // My research interests are in the electronic structure of stable and unstable molecules, and of transition states in reactions. I apply a variety of computational methods, semiempirical and nonempirical, as well as qualitative arguments, to problems of structure and reactivity of both organic and inorganic molecules of medium size. My first major contribution was the development of the extended Huckel method, a molecular orbital scheme which allowed the calculation of the approximate sigma- and pie- electronic structure of molecules, and which gave reasonable predictions of molecular conformations and simple potential surfaces. These calculations were instrumental in a renaissance of interest in sigma electrons and their properties. My second major contribution was a two-pronged exploration of the electronic structure of transition states and intermediates in organic reactions. In a fruitful collaboration R.B. Woodward and I applied simple but powerful arguments of symmetry and bonding to the analysis of concerted reactions. These considerations have been of remarkable predictive value and have stimulated much productive experimental work. In the second approach I have analyzed, with the aid of various semiempirical methods, the molecular orbitals of most types of reactive intermediates in organic chemistry-carbonium ions, diradicals, methylenes, benzynes, etc. // Recently I and my collaborators have been exploring the structure and reactivity of inorganic and organometallic molecules. Approximate molecular orbital calculations and symmetry-based arguments have been applied by my research group to explore the basic structural features of every kind of inorganic molecule, from complexes of small diatomics to clusters containing several transition metal atoms. A particularly useful theoretical device, the conceptual construction of complex molecules from MLn fragments, has been used by my research group to analyze cluster bonding and the equilibrium geometries and conformational preferences of olefin and polyene metal carbonyl complexes. A satisfactory understanding of the mode of binding of essentially every ligand to a metal is now available, and a beginning has been made toward understanding organometallic reactivity with the exploration of potential energy surfaces for ethylene insertion, reductive elimination and alkyl migrative insertion reactions. Several new structural types, such as the triple-decker and porphyrin sandwiches, have been predicted, and recently synthesized by others. On the more inorganic side, we have systematically explored the geometries, polytopal rearrangement and substitution site preferences of five, six, seven and eight coordination, the factors that influence whether certain ligands will bridge or not, the constraints of metal-metal bonding, and the geometry of uranyl and other actinide complexes. I and my coworkers are beginning work on extended solid state structures and the design of novel conducting systems. // The technical description above does not communicate what I think is my major contribution. I am a teacher, and I am proud of it. At Cornell University I have taught primarily undergraduates, and indeed almost every year since 1966 have taught first-year general chemistry. I have also taught chemistry courses to non-scientists and graduate courses in bonding theory and quantum mechanics. To the chemistry community at large, to my fellow scientists, I have tried to teach “applied theoretical chemistry”: a special blend of computations stimulated by experiment and coupled to the construction of general models—frameworks for understanding








Note: “Dear Chocolates” is an example of the Epistolary Monobon, a poem in the form of a letter with the monostich being the sign-off.



Dear Chocolates,


With your accompaniment, I broke through the 60,000-word threshold for my novel-in-progress. I broke through on Halloween when not a single trick-or-treating child rang my doorbell. I would have wanted to see the witches, the unicorns, the Spider-mans, the Pokemon characters, the princesses, the Nintendo Super Marios, the dinosaurs, the avocados, the white-sheeted ghosts, the zombies, and my favorite: the Frida Kahlos. Instead, I opened a Milky Way. Several minutes later, I opened a Snickers. More minutes later, I opened a Twix—a revelation and sudden new favorite since I’d never tasted one before. Then the Three Musketeers arrived. And since I kept writing while munching, I benefited my desired novel to the detriment of my belly. And as I looked at my rising belly, I could feel you stimulating a dopamine release that sends out siren calls for more intimacy. Is there anything more intimate than eating, whether of chocolate or other matters? As you see, satiated but not truly satiated, I can only turn philosophical and caution others—it’s too late for me and besides I still have a novel to complete—


Words are so insidious they’re not merely mental but physical,


Eileen R. Tabios






Notes: “The Opposite of Jazzy” combines the Found Monobon and Monobon Fishing Line.

                  A Monobon Fishing Line is a poem where the monostich is long, possibly longer than the prose, like a fishing line cast out for fish. This poem likely would be more dramatic if two lengths were dramatically different in length, e.g. the prose component being very short and the monostich very long.

For the Found Monobon’s found text, the prose paragraph is from the author’s novel-in-progress Conversation with Jasmine



The Opposite of Jazzy


“Are we out of time, Jazzy?” I tightened my grasp on her hands. I felt my heart constrict as I saw how she looked so diminished lying there folded within the linen of a hospital bed. Jasmine. Or as I thought of her her: Jazzy. Jazzy for being bright, colorful, even showy. But what I didn’t know was whether the accident had diminished her, or, worse, life had diminished her before the accident that kidnapped her into a coma. I shivered. 

            How do people live thinking they’ll never run out of time—that light is eternal—that darkness would allow its erasure—that “first love” lasts—that an enjoyable movie will prevent reality from returning—that an enjoyable novel will not inevitably conclude “The End”—that a trophy’s fate is not the dim corner of a self—that a coma will end or last, which is to say, that we cannot plan for the end— that time is not a bastard: there’s an infinite amount of it and yet it runs out—that time runs out especially when we most need it—that when we shiver it’s partly when day enters evening because the day must always behave as it must: despite whatever rebellions it unfolded within its span, it must always enter night where light is a lack—





Eileen R. Tabios has released over 70 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers around the world. In 2023 she released the poetry collection Because I Love You, I Become War; an autobiography, The Inventor; and a flash fiction collection collaboration with harry k stammer, Getting To One. Other recent books include a first novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times; two French books, PRISES (Double Take) (trans. Fanny Garin) and La Vie erotique de l’art (trans. Samuel Rochery); and a book-length essay Kapwa’s Novels. Translated into 13 languages, she also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays. Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies. More information is at





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