Marilyn L. Taylor
Note: Submitting the following poems-on-poetry for V-V this month was admittedly a little sneaky on my part, because all three represent takes on the notion of poetic form. “Nice Try,” for instance, is a double-dactyl— a poem consisting of eight lines of dactylic dimeter (DUM-diddy DUM-diddy) made up of two nonsense words as the first line (most often Higgledy piggledy), and a six-syllable name consisting of two dactyls for the second line. (Think Emily Dickinson. Eleanor Roosevelt. Benjamin Harrison). Additional rules apply, easily found on line. “How Aunt Eudora Became a Post-Modern Poet” hijacks the venerable villanelle form to illustrate how an edgy young poet might have gotten her start. Finally: sonneteers may find “Subversive Sonnet” a bit ambiguous. They’d be right.
Nice Try: a Double-Dactyl
wrote in respectable meter and rhyme.
Nobody spotted the
radical poetess, biding her time.
How Aunt Eudora Became a Post-Modern Poet
A girl is not supposed to write that way
(the teachers told her in the seventh grade)--
you ought to find more proper things to say.
For instance, there’s no reason to portray
your daddy sucking gin like lemonade—
young girls are not supposed to write that way.
And we don’t care to read an exposé
of how your mama gets the grocer paid;
there ought to be more proper things to say.
Why not write about a nice bouquet
of flowers, or a waterfall, instead?
You cannot be allowed to write the way
you did, for instance, when your Uncle Ray
was entertaining strangers in his bed,
and what the county sheriff had to say.
Why put such vulgar passions on display?
You’re going to regret it, I’m afraid—
remember, you’re a girl. So write that way!
Go find yourself some proper things to say.
Beware the chill of the well-wrought poem—
avoid those iron spears, rigid and spiky;
they're guaranteed to poke enormous holes
in everybody's first-thought / best-thought psyche.
Be careful not to fixate on your feet,
either; don't start counting one-two-three-
four-five. The method's clearly obsolete,
a parlor trick, a superfluity.
Rhyme? Don't even try it. It's too hard
to do without resorting to cliché
and jingle, like a Hallmark greeting card—
rain/pain, burn/yearn, bore/snore. Go that way,
and you’ll convince us that there’s nothing worse
than writing really lousy formal verse.
©2018 Marilyn L. Taylor
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