Saturday, July 25, 2015

What Wanton?

Which village chemist took us from his shelf
and mixed us with his pestle,
            put us in pots,
and sold us to customers with their milk?
(they took us with cereal
            and died in knots)

And which astrologer played with ourselves
his odd game of celestial
(he made the moon turn the tides into whales
against glittery crystal
            chandelier yachts.)

--Duane Vorhees


  1. The first time I read this, I kept asking myself, "Who is the narrator?" The second and third time I read for the rhymes: pots, knots, dots, yachts. I especially liked the yachts rhyme. Also, the structure of the poem kept a distance between the rhymes that works nicely. Then on the next read I noticed that the two stanzas follow a syllabic pattern of 10/7/4/10/7/4 in the first stanza and almost the same in the second stanza: 10/8/4/10/7/4. Is this a "form" poem such as a sonnet or sestina or viallanelle? I do not recognize the structure but like it.

  2. "I" am the narrator, whoever that is,
    It's an organic form. I am seldom interested in standard formalism such as sonnets, though I guess I do my share of quatrains. However, for me, part of the fun is creating a one-time-only form and trying to get it to work throughout the space of a poem, (In this case, "celestial" is sort of lazy 7 syllables, sel-ES-chul rather than sel-ES-tee-al,) The actual rhyme scheme is ABCABC/ABCABC, but cheating a bit with off-rhymes. So it is thoroughly if imperfectly patterned throughout.

  3. Quelle debouche

    Quel chimiste rural nous a pris de son placard
    nous a bien meles avec son pilon
    nous a poses dans des gamelles
    et nous a vendus aux acheteurs a cote de leur lait?
    (ils nous ont servis avec des cereales
    et sont morts noyes)

    Et quel astrologue a joue avec nous
    son vieux jeu celeste
    (il a mis la lune transformer les flux en baleines
    et les a renvoyees contre les yachts et leurs brillants et
    cristallins chandeliers)

    --tr. Alina Duminica & Dorin Popa


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