Good Friends

So, I was talking just the other day

about the use of meter. Yes, I know

the subject’s dull. It’s sleep inducing, but

my friend pretended interest anyway.

I said it’s easier, at least it is

for me, to write a poem in blank verse.

The structure helps to organize my thoughts.

And here is where the mud got really thick.

I asked, “Do you know the Wordsworth sonnet

‘Nun’s fret not in their convent’s narrow room’”?

It isn’t like the beat’s a metronome.

Just listen to the line. The meter’s screwed.

It doesn’t go da Dum, da Dum da Dum.

Instead it starts out Dum! Dum! Dum! and then

it stutters da da. Only at the end

is there a beat, a heart beat to the line.

This poem is about rigidity and not

itself as rigid as you might expect.

And like the content’s narrow room there is

a flexibility to metered lines.

They can be stretched, expanded, shrunk

to fit imagination’s needs and wants.

Just scan Bishop’s villanelle “One Art”

and watch the pattern fall apart each time

the speaker in the poem falls apart.

You see what happens when I’m counting beans?

I’m slogging in the mud through the head-high weeds.

And people, when they see me, turn away

pretending I’m not there so that they wont

be once again subjected to a diatribe

on all the metrical advantages

of formal poetry. The wonder is

there still are friends who will put up with me

when I begin to blather on about

the meter, form, and structure of a poem.

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