The American Scholar is on line ten of its crowd-sourced sonnet, thanks to readers' clever contributions. David Lehman recognizes runners-up and now includes a winner's circle in his weekly posts. Suggest line ten for Next Line, Please by midnight, Sunday, July 7. (You must post your line at the American Scholar site.)
Here's the sonnet to date:
How like a prison is my cubicle,
And yet how far my mind can freely roam
From gaol to Jerusalem, Hell to home.
Freedom ends or starts with a funeral.
Say what must die inside that I may not
Cast down this die and cross the Rubicon
Thence to the true hell: the heat of Tucson
Where drug lords blaze loads of coke, meth, and pot.
Freedom starts, or ends, with a funeral.
I once watched men with Uzis guard the Pope
Of his choice for line 10, David Lehman writes:
For line 10, I chose a strong iambic pentameter line that takes the poem in what seems to be an entirely new and totally unexpected direction: James the Lesser’s “I once watched men with Uzis guard the Pope.” I like the element of surprise, and the line gives us a strong narrative “I” and a great monosyllabic rhyme word. It also extends the implicit religious motif in our poem and accentuates the sense of threat animating lines seven and eight. If it is not clear where geographically we are standing, that could be because of the assumption, common to the collective unconscious, that in a dream as in a poem, we can find ourselves in Rome, Jerusalem, Tucson, not to mention allegorical places in a variety of historical eras.