Thursday, January 29, 2009

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

(Part 3 in an ongoing series)

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!

Rock Polisher

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.

3 comments:

Aaron Leichter said...

Nice poem -- I really enjoy this series! Keep it going, please!

Michael Schupbach said...

these are great. I stumbled upon them after stumbling upon Yoav after he stumbled into New York for a weekend.

But he's gone, and I'm still here mulling over these poems. And for a former poetry major who's seen it beat to death by academia, these are like coming home. More "So You Think You Don't Like Poetry"please.

-m-

Advanced Lit & Comp 10 H said...

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