The prompt today asked for a sonnet or traditional poem, or a non-traditional or anti-sonnet poem. I adore a good sonnet, but abhor trying to write one. I started thinking about the actual movement of “anti-poetry,” a category most prose poems probably fit into in one way or another. The anti-poet extraordinaire, Parra, was a bit before my time, but maybe some of his “rules” work here. And if not, well, they’re meant to be broken.
There’s a technique to anti-poetry. A skill I haven’t learned. Rules to follow to break the rules. It’s quite confusing, really. But I understand the need. It can seem highfalutin, untouchable, off-limits. Poetry is not luxury, it’s nourishing words for the masses. Do you agree, reader? I am asking you, directly, because the rules say the anti-poet can do that. There’s no metaphor here, so don’t bother peering between the lines. What you see is what you get. And just like in life, sometimes a cliché works. Don’t avoid them like the plague. There’s a time and a place, Parra might say. But this does seem quite bloated. Too many lines, so little rhymes.
Today’s prompt called for starting a poem with the title “Whosoever ___________” I haven’t been titling my poems so far, so decided to make it be the first line instead. First place the word took me was to a Biblical quote, and the sinful words just took over from there.
Whosoever is just a formal way of saying whoever, but it sounds so much better with that extra “so” popped in for grandeur. You like to speak this way — in this manner, I should say — and from anyone else I would think it pretentious, but it suits you. Your rod straight spine, good posture from years of piano playing, you once told me, and the perfect part in your hair. And who other than me has seen the wild heat in your eyes, felt your body slick with sweat, heard guttural grunts from the very same mouth that quotes gospel with perfect diction? I want you to tell me it’s been many. L-words are such sweet burden on the heart.
I totally cheated today. The Poetic Asides prompt asked for a “disguise” poem, and I thought of something I wrote this past weekend while at an amazing JustWrite workshop in the Rockies. It was from a prompt given to us by one of the instructors, the awesome novelist and poet Thomas Trofimuk. Normally I really do try to create something brand new that grows from the prompt, but I felt this one was fitting (and recent enough) to give myself a pass. It’s still a meandering prose poem, or kind of “prosetry” as one of the other workshop attendees said. Maybe writing in that style is cheating too. Or maybe it’s just poetry wearing prose clothes. A delightful disguise.
Imagine this: you’re standing at the edge of a mountain lake. All your clothes are at the shore and you step one foot into the water. You’re surprised to feel warmth. Not the shock of cold you were expecting. The water feels like perfect bathwater, a comfort, and it reminds you of something from your childhood you can’t name or explain, but feel tickling at the edge of memory. You wiggle your toes and take another step in, then another, until the water is up to your waist. You feel the smooth rocks beneath your feet and look down to see your legs, your toes, slightly shimmering. You hear a small splash and watch to see what has made the sound. But there is nothing, or nothing that wants to be seen. You crouch down, water to your neck, your long hair begins to float and spread around your head. You continue down, warm water to your lips, your eyes, until your whole self is submerged. Submerged, you think, what a beautiful word — below and with the water. You keep your eyes closed and imagine your skin, translucent. For what is it really except a lifelong disguise? Your whole body becomes clear liquid, until there is no body at all. And as long as you remain still, you do not need to think or breathe. You do not need anything.