Thursday, January 19, 2006

Acrostic Poems

I was late to my first poetry class last night. I popped up out of the metro and went in the exact opposite direction. After asking at least eight people, I got turned around. Just a few minutes late and one student arrived after me. Not the end of the world.

The class is offered by Grub Street, a non-university conglomeration of writers teaching writing. The class is called 10 Poems in 10 Weeks. The instructor, Morgan Frank, will dole out a writing exercise each week as our homework. Our class time will primarily be spent work-shopping each students' work. This is considered a mid-level course and all the students have had experience writing, most have been in a variety of creative writing workshops. It looks like a good group. I need to write. Especially these days.

This morning I forced myself out of the house. I knew the empty house and my inbox would defeat me entirely. I knew that I needed to be squarely at the mercy of a patient waiter and a gallon of caffeine. It was just one of those days.

I plunked down, ordered my double-shot cappuccino and then followed that with a fresh carrot-apple-beet cocktail. A liquid breakfast, quite tasty. My lower GI was primed, for sure. The instructor started us off with an assignment to write an acrostic—you know the form, you’ve seen them since you were in the third grade. Here is the definition:

ACROSTIC: A poem in which the first or last letters of each line vertically form a word, phrase, or sentence. Apart from puzzles in newspapers and magazines, the most common modern versions involve the first letters of each line forming a single word when read downwards. An acrostic that involves the sequential letters of the alphabet is said to be an abecedarius or an abcedarian poem.

While this kind of assignment might make the highbrow guffaw, Me? doing a third-grade piddling of a doggerel? I think it was a great choice on the part of Ms. Frank. This form is playful. And it is good to get warmed up with play. Too many words get in the way of visceral poetry. Play first, furrow your brow later.

The assignment: choose a six-letter word and write an acrostic poem.

Here are the six-letter words I first brainstormed:

Grade 9

See me play! I chose the more "playful" titles. These are unedited! Just me having fun.

Grade 9
Get on the bus, don’t look back
Rivulets of dread pool beneath his freshly shaven lip
Asinine, waste of time teacher be
Damned. Stop. Looking.
Even that prick has more friends. My life is over—
9th Grade— it’s only Grade 9.


Grade 9
Going to Snow Ball, he sidles up to
Rachel, bumps her tray and lights up an
asinine, faintly sour, grin.
Darn, she almost says too loudly.
Evan asked me, like, just yesterday.

O No problem, shit, well, then, later.
Into the crowd he swaggers.
No, she fierce whispers to Tiffany,
Evan didn’t ask me—he is so gay, but that guy, come on!


Grade 9
Go stand in the hall, if you must pass gas.
Read, please.
Assignments be damned! Let’s play!
Dismal and endearing
Energy black hole.


Grade 9
Get it on, yeah, my friend,
Romeo, down with his girl, Juliet—those Montagues
and Capulets. Damn. Even my buds—
Matt, Ryan, D-man, Tyrone, Rat, Spence, that loyal Heather chick and yeah my wet dream Mrs. Sweater Just a Bit Too Tight, Mrs English Teacher. Yeah.


Tea tinkles and wafts delicate jasmine and castor
oil slicks and sluices, a satisfying shit.
If only poets could defecate
letters—expel vowels and similes from the lyrical bowel, the poet’s
entrails composted, sprouting rebel pumpkin vines,
then a flush could punctuate the flesh.


Tata takes us to India, Bangalore
on a trip to see the other side of the world.
It assails us--putrid air, defiant silks
Please, Not spicy at all no. Please, May I help you? Miss?
Even a half-moon of mango we doubt.
Then, squat on a hole to piss 'n shit, I see suddenly the beauty of it.


Cooh ew catch cuddle, can’t quite—
lick, yes,
m m m m m m m m m
and then
X o x o x o x o x o x o x o x o o o



Chester lost his mother and
loved no one. He
met Lucy
and found where
X marks his heart.


Hop, kick, jut, speak volumes
Eavesdrop too, Henry dear.
noodle arms, seafish eyes
reverses our clocks, Oh
Henry. Henry, oh!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

J. These are great!