#444: Don’t ask me why. I cannot meditate . . .

I think I have exhausted all of the portmanteau slang I can think of: sonnetpalooza, sonnetmageddon, sonnetpocalypse–so we’ll have to try something new. Welcome to day 6 of the festival of sonnet, a sonnet-storm of 24/7 sonnets, all sonnets, all the time. I’ve said this before–I am not a traditionalist or a formalist. I am unaccustomed to writing regularly or habitually in a formal structure. I have only dabbled from time to time, because, while I enjoy and value the freedom of poetry to do whatever the hell one wants to do with it, I do appreciate and admire the challenge of following a set of rules. It turns the creative act into a kind of puzzle to figure out, I mean, more so than usual. Probably the most difficult aspect of the sonnet–or many other formal structures like it–is the rhyme. English, I understand, is a rhyme-poor language to begin with. But the other, more detrimental aspect of rhyme is that the poet is forced to make certain word choices, ones that they wouldn’t make if they were simply trying to say what they wanted to say in the best possible way. They’ve got a line that ends with “dog,” and whether they want to or not, or whether it has anything at all to do with the subject or not, they find themselves writing about fog, or frogs, or logs, and that’s just stupid. And it’s difficult. Shakespeare fudged on the rhyme quite often. So it’s important to remember that. I fudge in this poem only once. Once and a half. But there’s the complete fudge (“dog” and “nut” are words that don’t rhyme), and then there’s the close rhyme, the near rhyme, the slant rhyme–whatever you want to call it (“meditate” kind of rhymes with “inviolate,” “gone” kind of rhymes with “from”). I prefer the latter example to the complete fudge. Although, I have a feeling, that maybe as these poems progress, I might feel the need to be more bold. It’s been done, the sonnet that jettisons rhyme altogether. I’m not ready.

At any rate, here’s my 6th offering in my NaPoWriMo festival of sonnet. It’s a true story.


Don’t ask me why. I cannot meditate. 
This is the longest stretch of time I’ve gone 
Without. For years, my practice inviolate,
Almost nothing could keep me away from
That cushion, that bell, that silence, that calm,
And now, with this vast luxury of time
I can’t be bothered. I know it’s a balm,
I know I need it to steady this mind,
a mind recently more rattled than not.
What used to stress me out is mostly gone
so now my brain has found a brand-new lot:
this building, my forgetfulness, the lawn.
But while I lament the loss of the ohm,
It’s precisely what I’m trying with these poems.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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