In my poetry workshop this week, we focused on blank verse (a.k.a. unrhymed iambic pentameter, e.g. what Shakespeare wrote his plays in). We discussed all the various substitutions for the weak-STRONG stress of iambs:
Trochees (STRONG-weak), as in "ASShole"
Spondees (STRONG-STRONG), as in "DOUCHEBAG"
Anapests (weak-weak-STRONG), as in "sonofaBITCH"
Dactyls (STRONG-weak-weak), as in "MASturbate"
Ok, I suppose it's kind of childish to use bad words to illustrate the types of accentual meter in English verse....what can I say, I have the mind of an 8th grade boy sometimes.
This week's poem I think you'll have trouble disliking is "Rock Polisher" by Chris Forhan, which appeared in the New England Review last year. Enjoy!
Your father bought it, brought it
to the basement utility closet, waited
while a test pebble tumbled in it.
One week: he’d willed it to brilliance.
The grit kit’s yours now, the silicon
carbide pack. Split it, have at it.
Jasper, agate, amethyst crystal,
it’ll churn to a luster. Listen
to small rocks grind the big one down.
Stones in the driveway, pry them up, why not,
they’ll fit, glass knobs on your mother’s
bathroom cabinet, your baseball
and mitt, polish them, polish that
zero-win Peewee League season.
The thing your sister said and then
took back, you still have it, polish it,
polish the snowless Christmas
when all you’d hoped for was snow.
It’s way past lights out now, you’re crouched
above the barrel, feeding it
your school shoes, your haircut
in eighth grade—flat bangs
to the bridge of your nose—the moment
that girl on the track team touched
your wrist, then kept her fingers there,
the way you loved dumbly
and do. If the sun’s up, it’s nothing,
you’re polishing, you’re pouring in
the ocean rolling rocks into cobbles
too slowly, and the sky, it was
Mozart’s, was Christ’s sky,
no matter, dismantle it, drop it
into the tumbler, and you too, get in there
with your Dad and your Mom and the cat,
one by one, the whole family,
and God’s mercy, perfect at last.