In case you think that formal poetry is over, A. E. Stallings is able to write poems on contemporary themes using form and rhyme. To wit, a sonnet about bedbugs. Or is it?
Bedbugs in Marriage Bed
Maybe it’s best to burn the whole thing down,
The framework with its secret joineries.
Every morning, check the sheets for blood
As though for tiny lost virginities,
Or murder itself distilled into a drop.
It might take lighter fluid to make it stop:
Maybe it’s best to just give up and move.
Every morning, check the seem of seams. Continue reading “Poems with rhyme and meter”→
Troy Jollimore used this poem by A. E. Stallings to illustrate what the modern sonnet can do. Even though the lines are short, and the “turn” comes at line three, it does seem like a sonnet:
Fire Safety Drill
It ought to be easy to learn:
Freeze, drop where you stand,
And roll yourself in a rug;
But acting as you’ve planned
When the glib tongue licks your hair
Or rubbles up your sleeve
Is difficult—the tug
Of heat unravels thought—
And all that you were taught
Comes brilliantly undone.
And in the moment’s flare
Somehow you believe
That it can be outrun,
And you’ve got time to burn.
I went to a poetry reading at the incomparable University Press Books bookstore (support it!) this weekend, and the subject of accessibility came up. One reader, Rebecca Foust, mentioned that her mother, who never went further than high school, memorized and loved Robert Frost’s poems. Though his poems, to a poet, are layered and complex, Rebecca said her mother went to them for simple comfort.
This is very hard to achieve today, when we have largely shed form, and the adjective “accessible” often denigrates a poem. But here’s a great example of a layered, accessible contemporary poem by A.E. Stallings that includes rhyme, poetic and prosaic allusions, and humor:
Musicfor a new parent
The music that your son will listen to
To drive you mad
Has yet to be invented. Be assured
However, it is approaching from afar
Like the light of some Chaldean star. Continue reading “Contemporary poetry”→