by Alan Lindsay
This is a closed form poem. The rhythm
is invariable. It does not rhyme.
But the third line has to be
enjambed and the fifth line always begins with the word
yellow. I am sorry. You cannot alter the subtle play of vowels.
The glottal stops, the fricatives—all stay the same.
Also caesura, strategically deployed. You cannot change
the words, or the order of the words or any of the line
breaks. The form is locked tight as a drum or painter’s canvas.
I have created the form. It is mine.
How can you make the poem your own?
You can change the name beneath the title.
That name is not part of the poem and does not belong
to the form. You can tack the poem to a tree
deep in the woods, overlooking a stream. You can place the poem
on a pole in a field above the swaying grasses, above the gazing grain.
You can tattoo the poem to your breast and embarrass men by asking them
to read it to the final period. You can recite it before crowds on New York City streets
hurrying to work with cardboard cups of Starbucks in their free hands.
Do not worry. This is language, this is earth. There is only so much
you can do.