Saturday, September 16, 2006

THE REMEMBERING DUCKS


It is interesting to observe how different elements in a poem can alter the speed at which it reads. The tempo of the poem changes, the style of movement. A processional changes into a jitterbug. Certain notational, grammatical, semantic, formal or thematic gambits can influence the rate at which the poem draws you through it. Here are two versions of a draft poem (all the poems I post on this blog are draft poems!). The second version is diverges from the first by its non-standard grammar – many of the subject/object agreements don’t. This deviant grammar (OK, it’s not too deviant) slows down the reading and creates a toothsome effect.



THE REMEMBERING DUCKS

Chickens have no arms
Neither do chicklets

But when the moon is bright
The fingers of the ancient beaks

Revise their flickering mattress
And wisk the fearless lottery

In the swampy dust.
O arms of doubt

Jawlight of twine
Dollar signs jitter in the eyes of the thrush

We are happy here in our Beowulf helmets
Making sparks from toast

A television from an overbite.
A no-see-em in the loaf of brain

Exits from our left nostril
And hurrah we shout hurrah

We have honour in the meadhall
And the biceps of fire

Punch the air like a touchdown.
O love, joy, peace, nouns

The remembering ducks
When we have dead.


VERSION 2


Chickens has no arms
Neither does chicklets

But when the moon are bright
The finger of the ancient beaks

Revise their flickering mattress
And wisks their fearless lotteries

In the swampy dusts.
O arms of doubt

Jawlights of twine
Dollar signs jitters in the eye of the thrush

We is happy here in our Beowulf’s helmet
Make spark from toast

television from an overbite.
Some no-see-em in the loaves of brain

Exit from our left nostril
And hurrah we shout hurrah

We honours in the meadhall
And the biceps of fire

Punches the airs like a touchdown
O love, joy, peace, noun

The remembering ducks
When we have dead.

1 comment:

hugh said...

I sang one of my poems at a reading, and I was struck by the way it slowed it down. Singing it meant I lingered over it in a way that I couldn't, reading it, and the effect was that a poem that had felt so short that it was somehow a throwaway, had instead acquired some mass.