Thursday, January 21, 2010

Old Wine

I am going to present a poem which was written spontaneously and has not been edited. It is a prompt exercise based on an example which comes from Charles Bernstein's Experiments. This exercise arises from a prompt or suggestion which is rooted in anaphora. Anaphora is a kind of formless form. The poem can take any shape, use any meter, be regular or irregular in line numbers, and be rhymed or without rhyme. The key point is to create one device which does repeat regularly. So, there is form within the formless. In this exercise, which I am titling "Old Wine," I am using as my form the prompt which follows:

I used to be _________,
but now I am _________.

Old Wine

I used to be an adult,
but now I am a child.

I used to be a prince,
but now I am a frog -
all the kisses which princesses
etched on my brow, cheeks
or lips have finally faded.

I used to be a heart
beating in unison
with the rhythm of a generation,
but now I am a single
candle flame flickering in the breeze.

I used to be naked
in a world with no mirrors,
but now I am mirrored
in a world of overcoats.

I used to be a puppy
running free in an open field
wondering what everything
smelled like,
but now I am an old cur
barking at passersby
while I curl up
with a flavorless bone.

I used to be the man
who wrote epitaphs
on the cemetery markers
of the boys who came
home from Vietnam,
but now I am a ghost
of the empty shell,
the space in the coffins
where souls who die too
early silently cry.

I used to be a warm fire,
but now I am old wine.

7 comments:

Amy Elizabeth said...

I loved this! Well done :)

Shoreline Driftwood said...

I appreciate your comment Amy! Thank you. :-)

Shanti Perez said...

Absolutely WOW! Touching without being too sentimental. I love it, Don!

Shoreline Driftwood said...

I'm a little taken aback. I thought this was just ok. But in addition to Amy Elizabeth and Shanti Perez, I've had my poetry professor and a few others have remarked favorably on this. And here I thought it was just a throw away that I almost didn't even post.

Harry said...

Sometimes the 'throw away' stuff turns out to be strong simply because it hasn't been over-edited. I like this too. Now how about 'I will be / I am ...'?

Shoreline Driftwood said...

Thanks Harry. Appreciate your comment. I am and I will be huh? Lemme think on it for a while. :-)

malcolmguite said...

nice one, its interesting how that simple, repetitive form generates ideas. while back I wrote a song with the lines:
as I watch my life unroll
I read the poems on the scroll
and I do my best to savor every line
and every year that takes its toll
is laid down deep within my soul
but I draw it up again as vintage wine