Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

I'm feeling like a rebel today. I planned to do laundry today and then just totally didn't. SUCK IT, laundry!

In honor of my anti-establishment behavior, I give you "Punk Pantoum," by Pamela Stewart. It follows the rather strict rules of a pantoum just enough to count, but cheats just enough to make it, well, punk.

This is a tough form; the repeating lines are an obstacle to advancing any sort of narrative because the poem keeps circling back in on itself. Traditionally, the first couplet in each quatrain is an image and the last couplet, an explanation of the image, but Stewart plays with that balance and tweaks it to suit her poem. The end result is pretty f*cking spectacular. I hope you like this poem as much as I do.

Punk Pantoum

Tonight I'll walk the razor along your throat

You'll wear blood jewels and last week's ochre bruise

There's a new song out just for you and me

There's sawdust on the floor, and one dismembered horse

You'll wear blood jewels and last week's final bruise

I got three shirts from the hokey-man at dawn

There'll be sawdust on the floor and, ha, his dismembered horse:

Rust-stained fetlock, gristle, bone and hoof . . .

They'll look good hanging from the shirt I took at dawn.

Bitch, let's be proud to live at Eutaw Place

With rats, a severed fetlock, muscle, bone and hooves,

George will bring his snake and the skirt Divine threw out.

For now, I'm glad we live at Eutaw Place

Remember how we met at the Flower Mart last Spring?

George wore his snake and the hose Divine threw out—
Eating Sandoz oranges, we watched the ladies in their spats.

Remember how you burned your hair at the Flower Mart last May?

I put it out with Wes Jones' checkered pants,

The pulp of oranges and that old lady's hat—

I knew I loved you then, with your blistered face and tracks

That I disinfected with Wes Jones' filthy pants

There's a new song out just for you and me

That says I'll always love you and your face. Let's make
new tracks

Tonight, dragging the white-hot razor across our throats
and back...


Sarah said...

Never heard of a pantoum before. Thought it was some kind of boat. This one is dark and troubling but so skilled structurally it makes me happy. Thanks, KV!

J.A.G. said...

I agree. Punk pantoum is awesome.