Tuesday, April 29, 2014

PAD Day 29: The Poet's Obstacle Course

Just a quick mention that I made the top 10 again in the Poetic Asides Poetic Form Challenge.  I wrote a "triversen" (an 18-line poem of tercets inspired by the poetic form of William Carlos Williams) about the ill-fated Flight 370, but also about flight in general and the wish for safe landing. Thanks again to Robert for selecting my poem as one of the finalists.
Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) Write a "realist" and/or "magical" poem (in honor of the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and (2) this one is a doozy.  I'ts called "Twenty Little Poetry Projects" but I like to call it "The Poet's Obstacle Course".  It instructs you to include very specific elements in your poem, more or less in order too.  I actually did this exercise several years ago when I saw it in the book The Practice of Poetry by Robin Behn and Chase Twitchell.  Here it is:
1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.
It's looks pretty daunting, but once you get rolling, it's still challenging, but fun. I find that starting with a really good metaphor gives you a jumping-off point from which to expand and digress.  My previous effort started with "My body is an old car."  So again, I tackled the subject of aging in this one.  See if you can pick out where I included each of the 20 elements. (I think there's a little "magic" in this one to satisfy the Poetic Asides folks too.)

Señor Morning
Age is a noisy leaf-blower at 7 a.m.
It’s shiny red, gas-powered, and speaks in Russian.
When horizontal sun slices through my window
and coffee fumes climb the stairs,
I bury my face in a soft comforter
before I rise and plod to the bathroom.
Headache – I can hear the toothbrush and toothpaste
between my ears. My mouth is a car wreck of mint.
Like Hannibal in the Alps, my elephant-feet
clomp down the slope of the steps.
Really, I like the morning – it validates the fact
that I’m still alive. Who’s making coffee, anyway?
I don’t even like the stuff. Last night I dreamt that
everyone was saying “Twenty-three skidoo”.
I think Roaring 20′s slang gave me this headache.
Each day begins like a can of corn,
and I have to deal with the grumpy pit bull of aging.
Pop-pop can break-dance and do the limbo.
Tomorrow he will free-climb El Capitan.
Is this possible? It won’t matter someday soon,
when we will all clone ourselves at twenty-nine.
We will banish ugly beauty and progressive lenses.
Today, I wrestle with that monster Weltschmerz
while the mirror sticks out its tongue and razzes me.
But I’ll get the last laugh when I blow away
like a leaf in the Russian wind.

1 comment:

Serena Malcolm said...

This is so clever and incredibly well written. I love it!