One of the big stories out of the preparations for the presidential inauguration Oct. 20 is that some of the nation’s poets are going to let President Trump have it with poems that show how indignant they are that the country didn’t elect Hillary Clinton to the presidency.
Bill and Hillary Clinton were friends of poets, and presumably still are. Poets read their poems at both of Bill Clinton’s inaugurations, and the free-verse poetry fans of the country, all 50 of them, (just kidding — there were more than that) swooned with delight.
It is the style of most modern poets to eschew rhythm and rhyme in their work. That method is called free verse, which means the words have the right to wander around a little, or even a lot, while they paint word pictures and generate an upwelling of emotions. As a result, most modern poems sound like well-written business letters.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a free country, and we still have the 1st Amendment, and poets should be able to write just about anything they want to in any way they want to.
The following is an example of the type of poem that may be leveled at soon-to-be-President Trump once he becomes the actual president. While this poem, which was published in Mass Poetry, a Massachusetts poetry publication, is not about Trump, or the presidency, it is of the type of poem that is likely to rain down on Trump like artillery shells once the post-inaugural poetry slam begins.
All gloves will be off.
The title of this poem is “The Third Egg,” and it is by Diane Lockward:
Far from woodland or savanna, a rafter
of wild turkeys, at least a dozen in my yard,
their black bellies and iridescent wings
glistening in sunlight. Behind the glass,
I sat still and watched, repulsed
by the fleshy caruncles across each head,
the jiggly red wattles and dangling rope-like
flaps of skin on the throat,
and from the center of the breast, a tuft
of small feathers that had failed to grow.
This is only part of the poem. Apparently the third egg comes into it someplace, but that might not be a problem. Poems are not novels. Plot doesn’t have to matter. It is the reader’s job, apparently, to decipher what the poem means. It is true that Trump was portrayed as a turkey by some political cartoonists during the campaign, but that might have no connection to this poem.
This is not true of all poems.
Personally, I prefer poetry that has rhythm and rhyme, which guide the reader into a semblance of understanding and also contribute to the entertainment value of the work. Most of us have at least a primitive appreciation of rhymes, which may explain the popularity of country music.
For example, when it comes to poetry, I rather prefer the rhythm of iambic pentameter and two-line, or couplet, rhyming, that were the basis for most of the great poetry in the English language until modern poets came along and ruined everything for non-intellectuals such as myself.
To show what I mean, here is a poem about the poetry slam that is supposed to give President Trump what for. It is in iambic pentameter, with rhyming couplets if you care to know, and as a result you will have no problem figuring it out:
The Poets’ Revenge
The poets of the country want to dump
A heavy load of verse on Donald Trump,
Who no doubt started shaking in his shoes
The moment that he heard the awful news.
Now, poems by themselves do not explode,
Not even when they’re buried by the road;
But almost nothing known could be much worse
Than fifty thousand pages of free verse.
What is all this? the president might say,
When trucks that dumped the poems had gone away,
And left the White House lawn a jumbled mess
Of paper piles, and heartburn and distress.
His aides would spring to action and recruit
A free-verse poet army in pursuit
Of meaning from those piles and piles of poems
Before the garbage dumps were made their homes.
Alas, the poems would prove to be too dense
With meaning that became far too intense.
They wound up in a vast, capacious attic,
Where all the poets hired were Democratic.