I thought this small verse I wrote 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. A side comment, the phrase “loose fitting” comes from the last time I bought a near pair of jeans, forty bucks worth for one pair, a cut of denim termed as such, looser than what you would normally purchase I suppose. It maybe a euphemism for sizes intended for those recently widened in the waist line and who tip the scale more than they had. None of this, though, ads gravit y to the sonnet, which is precisely what it is, nearly weightless, but nice all the same.
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 you
have 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. It’s a relevant to ask how many people understand what’s meant by an oblique reference to phonograph record labels spinning around as they play. 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 CDs records had two sides, side A and side B, and that the phrase meant the other side of the record. The long and short of his wasn’t crucial to anything at hand, nor was it that interesting to anyone, 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.