Saturday, May 7, 2011

A sonnet I wrote

I thought this effort   was a decent attempt at the loose-fitting sonnet form, as practiced by Ted Berrigan and featured in Gerald Stern’s engagingly gangly book American Sonnets. The distinction between these efforts and the Elizabethan sonnets one parses in college courses is that the “loose-fitting” form (my phrase) is an attempt to bring the particularly American instinct to confess and promote one’s idealized personality in free verse, ala Whitman and Charles Olson , with the limits a more formal structure. The results satisfy nearly no one but those who appreciate perversions of form, with the hope something new emerges. Sometimes something does. I was hoping for comments on this slight effort:



Sonnet 16  

A sign of the cross and a sign on the door or just sign
yourself out if it’s a weekend pass you’re dealing with, 

sign yourself up for a moment in the sun when youhave your tax refund check in hand, give us some cash for 

the diversions that approach the distraction level
of morons who get their exercise reading the labels 

on records as they go ‘round and ‘round on the
phonograph, signs of life in a living room, your parents 

house and sofa, I am hiding behind a chair before the light
switch is flipped and a panic like business plans that come 

undone where you signed a dotted line that ends up
being a perforations around your wrists, like you see

on butcher’s charts, you know, under the sign that reads
NO CHECKS, NO CREDIT, DON’T ASK.


Interesting, and as often happens on the forums, the first response to the poem brought something else in the poem to think about other than how well it works as an amateurs attempt at  more structured verse. A poster with the moniker Th Paine asked How many people will understand what you mean when you refer to record labels spinning around on a phonograph?

Good question. Who would have thought that LP's would be something that reveals your generation? I remember years ago talking to a young man , twenty years younger than I at least, about various matters. When it came time to say goodbye, I said "I'll see you on the flip side". He looked puzzled as we shook hands as asked me what I meant by "flip side". In an instant I realized that he was too young to remember long playing albums, vinyl, and briefly explained that before Cd's records had two sides, side A and side B, and that the phrase meant the other side of the record. It was no big deal , of course, but it was informative that I was now old enough that some of the cultural references I'd been using for decades were now potentially incomprehensible to younger adults.