Friday, February 19, 2010

Dear Dolores - an original poem for Poetry Friday

Yestereve, I mentioned the writing exercises I undertake with . This week, I set out to write a poem based on this prompt from The Write-Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer: "Dear Dolores, I know it has been 37 years since I have been in touch". Since the line following the greeting falls naturally into iambs (two-syllable poetic feet composed of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one), I resolved to write a sonnet using iambic pentameter, and following one of the usual sonnet rhyme schemes (if you're interested in them, I've discussed them before).

I wrote the first four lines using the ABAB rhyme scheme. The last word of line four was "clutch", so as I entered into the fifth line, I was surprised to find what my gentleman narrator was clutching at. If I was surprised in line five, I was positively startled in line six to learn he had an official diagnosis.

I should mention that these are supposed to be 5-10 minute exercises, and by this point, I'd already put more than three hours into this poem, and I was starting to ponder how to get out of it so I could get back to work on the Jane project, what with Jane standing over my left shoulder, arms crossed, foot tapping, throat clearing and all. And I realized that just as I'd interrupted myself, perhaps someone might interrupt my gentleman writer.

Having given you Angela's response to the short poem, I figured I ought to let you see it. It's no masterpiece, but I don't think it sucks, either. It would undoubtedly benefit from time and revision and a better title; nevertheless, here it is as it now stands:

Dear Dolores
by Kelly R. Fineman

Dear Dolores,

I know it has been 37 years
since I have been in touch. You meant so much
to me back then. I find, as old age nears,
I think of you quite often, and I clutch
at memories as if they'd hold me afloat,
a life preserver in Alzheimer's sea –

"Excuse me, Mr. Loomis, here's your coat."

"This note – it's to Dolores. Who is she?"

Analysis of form: It ends up being two cross-rhymed quatrains written in iambic pentameter. This means there are five iambic feet per line (taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM), and the ending words use the following rhyme scheme: ABABCDCD. The second quatrain is split to make the alternating lines of dialogue easier to follow, but otherwise it's a fairly simple, traditional form.

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