Amateur Hour at the SDMB

I’m bored and curious, so here’re two poems for your collective perusal–both of my own devising. They’re available for comment, query, ridicule, but not (being copyrighted) for appropriation. Alternatively, this thread could serve as a general personal poetry showcase, if people are so inclined, those poems being available for comment, query, etc. Whichever; here ya go:

Dorothy’s surrendered to the wages of the world–
The beauty of Oz has faded,
The Emerald City is just a city,
Her slippers nothing more than tinted tin.
Perpetually thirteen, Dorothy was
Never meant to find love, or to know
Fulfillment of her secret crush
On the melancholy scarecrow king.
When she set out finally on her own,
Having lived in fantasy so long,
She could not recognize bandits
Or tell the kindness of familiar strangers…
So, thinking of her scarecrow,
She lied to every friendly face
In frightened self-defense.
“No motives can be trusted
In the mortal world,” she thought.
“Not theirs or his or mine.”
And caution swept away the last
Of Dorothy’s magic,
Transfiguring her Ozmic wonderland
To bits of sticks and straw.
All she remembered after that
Was having dreamt of powerful winds.

The Nature and Causes of America’s Virtuous

I have the wealth of nations at my feet.
My understanding of the world
Leaves no place for love, anymore–
No love but the love of pretty things.
I have stepped into the virtual body politic.
I am a day trader bidding on the American dream.
Community is a zero-sum game,
Family are those individuals
Upon whom you will lavish gifts.
This is why we put up gates and barriers.
The relationships between wealth and virtue
And poverty and sin have transmigrated:
Connotation, correlation, constitution.
We are able, now, the children of Puritans,
Raised on plantations,
To see the judgments of our Calvinist god.
We are duty-bound to carry His message
From marketplace to marketplace.
We mingle impulses, offering salvation
In capital and futures and the Ivy League,
Coaxing plastic wafers into the throats of pilgrims,
Proselytizing to the stupid and the blind.
We are Americans, and we are patriots–
Ours is a special dispensation.
We are free to spend what money we have
In pursuit of status or distraction,
Ascension to heaven or relief from hell.
The wealth of nations at my feet,
I understand the obsolescence of love.
Its effect cannot be measured by economists.

©2000, Gadarene

Thank you, enjoy the buffet; I’ll be here all week…

Why can’t poetry rhyme any more?
They rhymed for thousands of years. That’s how people remembered them.
Song lyrics still do. If we had a songwriter as poet laurate for once, would all the rhyming poets be able to come out of exile? I miss them. All my favorite poets are dead.

I saw the OP and unpacked my clarinet.

Maybe it makes me a cretin, but I agree with 1 2 3 4 me – I like poetry to rhyme. Not just so I can remember it more easily either.

I like it when rhyming results in new and creative uses for common words.

I don’t feel qualified to comment on your poem, but at least we’re keeping it on page one.

When poems don’t rhyme, they’re just structured prose.

This doesn’t stop people from calling them poems. Indeed, there is a tendency for the academia to rally together around a point. You get THE poets (or so they view themselves) calling anything they want a “poem” regardless of the structure. This tends to degrade the word “poem” as appears the case here.

Boy, I’d hate to have you tell that to such purveyors of blank verse–oops, sorry, “structured prose”–as Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, William Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot… Wait, you can’t tell that to them. They’re all dead. Carry on.

Let me see, though:

Exhibit A

Rubber ducky, you’re the one
You make my life a lot of fun
Exhibit B

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lower’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Okay. Rhyming equals poetry, not rhyming equals prose. Forget iambic pentameter (or meter in general), forget symbolism, or imagery, or wordplay. Forget assonance, consonance, internal (!) rhymes, allegory. Rhyming equals poetry, and not rhyming equals prose. Gotcha. :wink:

Damn end-bracket. grumble Anyway, I find this reaction interesting. So would this be poetry, in your estimation? It rhymes (abcd):

I think I dreamt this afternoon of anxious sorts of things
While waiting for the heavens to reveal themselves to me
And, opening my eyes, awash in bits of pixel light
I puzzled in the brightness at the presence of Apollo.

His faded, slender body and his words unsettled me
(The sun is molded plastic if you look too close, you’ll see)

I dreamt I felt a polystyrene glow against my wings
And found myself alone with you in some reality
But, opening my eyes, I saw the colors weren’t right
Then fell into a dream again, down my diurnal hollow.

His faded, slender body and his words unsettled me
(The sun is molded plastic, if you look too close you’ll see)

I felt I saw the truth behind a hundred different phrasings
The hundred different truths I found defied simplicity
So, opening my eyes, I let my instinct guide my sight
And understood the daubs of Vincent, managing his sorrow.

His faded, slender body and his words unsettled me
(The sun is molded plastic if you look too close you’ll see)

I saw I think the consequence that distance never brings
Before you come too close, I want to forge a memory
Of opening my eyes to see your sleepy smile alight:
Through dancing possibilities, the sun will rise tomorrow.
What’s the verdict? Doggerel, poetry, or structured prose? (What the hell’s unstructured prose, anyway, aside from a John Grisham novel?)

Let’s see–

Hey, what do you know, Shakespere rhymes!!! At least when he’s writing poems, not prose plays.

And guess what–e.e. cummings can rhyme too, see and he may be the earliest master of structured prose.

Ditto T.S. Elliot

OK, Ezra Pound you say, well- just because someone is a poet doesn’t mean everything he writes is a poem.
Many of the things you mention, allegory, symbolism, imagery don’t make a bunch of words a poem. Encycopedia Brittanica backs me up on this. Your rubber ducky poem is, in fact, a poem. Not a good one, but a poem doesn’t have to be about anything. Meter is important, but some of the e.e. cummings and Ezra Pund I saw would sorely flunk a meter test.

Obviously I subscribe to a narrow definition of “poem.” And the best you’ll get me to admit is that there is a form of prose call the “prose poem” as defined (by the Merriman Webster dictionary)as “a composition in prose that has some of the qualities of a poem”

I won’t get into the arguments about what is poetry, what is prose, and what is drivel. I just wanted to say that I really liked the * thing you wrote * about Dorothy. It was really poignant and rang very true to me.

I guess it’s true what they say: I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.

Gadarene wrote

Er, that’s “bath time,” as in “You make bath time lots of fun.”

I won’t hold it against you; you did confess to not being a professional poet, who would surely not misquote the greats.

Oh, dammit. :slight_smile: It’s been ages since I’ve seen Sesame Street–let’s just say I was doing a coy Ernie pastiche, and leave it at that, 'kay?

Anyway, I’m going to start a thread in GD about whether or not poetry has to rhyme, so Jimpy and I can continue that discussion in a more appropriate venue.

And thank you very much, Brunetter. Poetry or not, I’m kinda proud of that. smile


You are very talented, and never let anyone tell you that what you write is not poetry. It is. It is also insightful and thought provoking.

I think you should dig up a copy of Don Henley’s lyrics in a song called “The Heart Of The Matter.” For some reason, your poetry reminded my of it. If you can’t find it, let me know and I will get it to you.


Grrrr… I swear I didn’t touch the bolding end-bracket, officer!

Anyway, here’s the link for the thread in Great Debates.

And I will ask you this, Jimpy: When Shakespeare uses what I, and the rest of the world, call blank verse (specifically, iambic or trochaic pentameter) in his plays to denote lovers or noblemen–and he did this frequently, as in my example from Richard III–what would you call it? Structured prose? Metered prose?

All I’m contending is that while rhyme may be a common component of poetry, it’s not necessary. Literary devices like meter, imagery, symbolism, alliteration, etc. can supplement or supplant rhyme in a poetic context rather nicely. Now go argue with me on the other thread. :slight_smile:


Yer makin’ me blush. :slight_smile: Thank you. Could you e-mail me a copy of those lyrics, possibly?

You bet, darlin’, as soon as I figure out what I did with the CD after I pulled it out earlier. Do you suppose I have really, really early onset Alzheimers?

Scotti (I think)

Plastic Makes Perfect

My pretty plastic angel,
You’re such a dirty whore,
You spoiled little princess,
You think you’re such a star.

Just like a Christmas ball,
You’re so shiny and beautiful on the surface,
So fragile and empty inside.
Christmas balls are shiny and beautiful,
But they break very easily.

My shiny little angel,
You always want some more,
Your head so full of nothing,
You’re just a falling star.

Who will save you when you’re falling?
After you stab all your “friends” in the back,
Twisting the knife in deeper
Each time you hug them
And say, “I love you.”

My empty plastic angel,
Lying shattered on the floor,
Your pretty face all broken,
You know just who you are.

I wrote this last March and taped it to my locker door for everyone to see. Lots of people read it, including my vice-principal. He tore it down, and I had to go talk to him about it. But the person who was really mad was the girl that I wrote it about, especially since I told everyone who asked me that it was about her.

Gadarene, I was a pretty big fan of the Dorothy bit as well. Feels like my last year.

Of course I find poetry in good hugs and moonlight on the lake as well. What do I know about mere elegant, touching prose?

May I swipe a copy to post in my dorm at school? (I tape words I like to my walls instead of posters)

Absolutely; I’d be honored. :slight_smile:

kudos to you, yESTERDAY mAN! good poem.

Here are my additions to the mix- the first is also about an ex-girlfriend.

I give you a dish,
Of love and acceptance.
You give me a dish,
And tell me it’s the same.
It’s full of hate, and anger, and remorse.
My Love, you have poisoned me.

This next one is just about how I feel about life sometimes.

As the planets dance 'round the sun,
So our souls dance 'round their inner wells of darkness.
To one the dance is madness,
To another, it is genious,
To the One, it is survival.
Without the dance, there is madness.

I am bumping this to the top just so I won’t be the last to post something. I hope it works. There have to be other SDMB poets out there! Come on, post something!

I wouldn’t really call myself a poet, but I am a lyricist; my brother and I write songs together. (Or we used to, before his health took a dive. Sigh.)

Anyway, here are two of our pieces. Again, these are lyrics, so the lines rhyme; no knock against poetry that doesn’t.

"What If"

Musical sound, if you can imagine it, is a simple minor-key folk. The verses have a driving strumming beat, while the chorus goes more tacet, with a big, wide-open bridge.

What if the sun revolved around the earth?
What if there were no virgin birth?
And what if Mephistopheles is heard in rock-n-roll?
And would that change what front-row seats are worth?

Chorus: And what if I didn’t
Love you any more?
What if I really kept score?
And what if all those little things
Were really not such little things
And life is not the way it was before?

What if Francis Bacon wrote someone else’s plays?
What if God took more than seven days?
And what if Harvey Oswald was just a lucky shot
With a thing for presidential Chevrolets?


Bridge: One plus one is two
One plus one is me and you
But when the work is done
One plus one is sometimes one and one

What if Jesus were never crucified?
What if six million never died?
(verse music starts to change here)
And what would you do
If the next time
You’re pushing me away
I don’t try and cross the great divide
(music fully changed, off into totally new theme; musical noodling repeats and fade)

"Ring of Fire"

Musical sound: Minor-key rock-n-roll. Strong, slightly funky beat with airy instrumental arrangement: thin, phased guitar, Hammond organ. Bridge in different key. Transitions between sections are sudden, very funky breaks. It’s cool, trust me.

I’m flying across the sea
A little ahead of me
I see you
You’re only a day behind
Crossing the center line
Now I am too
Gone back in time
Making a run
Into the rising sun
You can’t hide in a ring of fire

I tried you at Molokai
Followed your family Thais
Where did you go
Or down where the water’s warm
Tropic of Capricorn
I gotta know
Find the Incan paint
Making me faint
Asking a mountain saint
You can’t hide in a ring of fire

Bridge: Cry a yellow river, red the yellow sea
Say the revolution is more than history
Now I’m in the pipeline: frozen money churns
Miles of austere beauty down to where the money
Burns in California, San Andreas heat
Back across the water to Mindanao’s elite
Then the San Juan islands rise without a Sound
Points of misdirection as I go round and round and round this
Ring of fire

I’m finally headed home
Back to the pleasure dome
Nobody shares
I tried you in sea and sky
Riding the dragonfly
Nobody cares
Gone without a trace
Leading the chase
But you know I have your face
You can’t hide in a ring of fire

Both copyright Fish Market Music, SDMB’s posting rules notwithstanding.