Come one, come all, to the newly renovated digital platform for Next Line, Please on the American Scholar! You will like what you see. And now to the good stuff.
Last week's post featured poems inspired by the style of abstract things, or in other words, "poems in the manner of." Faced with the job, Angela Ball chose to define a style of living:
bound me to Dietrich,
Garbo, and Bacall.
wore my power
From me Dunaway
and Keaton gained
time. Don’t look,
here I am now,
shouldering my way
into the room.
For sheer cleverness it would be hard to compete with Steve Bellin-Oka’s “Poem in the Manner of the Muse as Real Estate Agent”:
This new sonnet’s amortization rate is unfavorable—
by the time your closing couplet pays off, you’ll
have needed a new polyethylene heating oil tank,
two water heaters, and a full copper re-pipe job.
And the loan inspector’s report notes that even though
the shiny iambic pentameter paneling in the octave
looks solid, underneath in the sestet the wall joints
are starting to fray like the hem of a well-worn skirt.
Your volta creaks as it turns—there’s another costly repair
on the horizon. May I speak frankly? You’re not young
anymore. Down the street in your discarded draft drawer
there’s a better investment. It may look like a shithole now,
but all it needs is a stanza wall knocked out to let the light
breathe. Hardwood floors enjambed and buffed and shined.
Darren Lyons’s effort to construct a poem out of materials derived from the year of his birth came up with an intriguing, choppy, and visceral piece. Here is “1975 (to Rothko)”:
five years gone,
something reached up and bit my mom,
as if you entered the blood flow,
as you painted, as you bled. Red.
my sign is red.
watergate does not bother me,
you entered me
as i left the womb.
Dad has a scared left knee
from Kent State, student-thrown concrete,
from the day before the four.
five years gone,
the boat people flow.
The challenge for next week: to sum up a novel, movie, book, or play in a 26-word abecedarius. Usually an abecedarius consists of 26 words, the first beginning with “a,” the second with “b,” and so forth. For example, David Lehman's "Antigone":
Against brutal Creon,
law mean nothing,
Visit the American Scholar's page to read the full post and to enter your candidate!