Sunday, July 16, 2017

Poetry on Demand

This week I posted a #TBT photo to my Instagram account -- and it got me thinking.

This street poet I admired during a recent trip to New Orleans reminded me how much I used to like writing sonnets. So I had started this one on Wednesday night:

I have encased my soul in tempered glass,
Displayed it on the mantel in our home.
The frame collects the dust beside the vase
Of silk flowers embed in styrofoam. 
Beneath this centerpiece, a raging fire,
Timer-controlled, heats wood that doesn't burn.
The warmth is real, and I am safe. Desire
Consumed, I wait alone for love's return. 
Then in you walk...

I fell asleep at this cliff-hanger at the start of the third stanza. Thursday, after all, was just another working day, and (as Paul Simon sings in a favorite of mine, "American Tune") I needed to get some rest.

I was struggling to finish this at home on Friday, weary from the week. It was quiet in our living room, and I looked at my wife reading in the corner, when the 9 o'clock church bells started to ring at nearby Ascension parish. The church has a tower, but it is empty of an actual bell. Instead, there's just a speaker that plays recorded chimes throughout our neighborhood.

That's when I took out my trusty notebook -- one a friend from work, Jason Moriber (now forever remembered here), unexpectedly bought me one day as we were hanging out during lunch hour in New York -- and I came up with this:

I have encased my soul in tempered glass,
Displayed it on the mantel in our home.
The frame collects the dust beside the vase
Of silk flowers embed in styrofoam. 
Beneath this centerpiece, a raging fire,
Timer-controlled, heats wood that doesn't burn.
The warmth is real, and I am safe. Desire
Consumed, I wait alone for love's return. 
Then in you walk... Alarms trip. Cats take flight
And lose several lives. A fake church bell sounds.
You flip the light. Night is day; day is night.
Hamlet, without doubt; Ophelia, undrowned. 
My kingdom would be bound in a nutshell,
Had not your flame out-scorched suburban hell.

I was thinking of a favorite line from "Hamlet" at the end -- "I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not for my foolish dreams."

Well, actually, Shakespeare wrote "bad," not "foolish" -- so that's just me.

Anyway, on Instagram -- and now forever here too -- I am offering to write a sonnet on demand for anyone. Just send me a topic and the reason why you chose it (bvar@verizon.net).

Like the virtual street poet I hope to become, I'll do my best to deliver poetry on demand.
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