A Sound Poem of War and Dance

Each line the one before intends
lifts off the page, in flight ascends,

metered mix of moxie and verve,
miles a minute of vim and nerve,

metal, silk, rose petal, or gas,
cacophonous crunch, one last dance,

the clink of swords, their heft and chew,
red shoes dancing, a dazzling hue,

gun-like thunder and lightning wool,
gray clouds are threads and wound in spools,

dinner dresses, your dancing dear,
music so clear it trains your fears.

#NaPoWriMo 2017 Day 21


Hard fought, this poem! I wrote another poem first, but later in the day the first two lines of this poem dropped on my head so hard I had to write them down, which lead to me playing with sounds and syllables as I tried desperately to recapture in new lines a similar rhythm.

What came out of the exercise was nonsense, at first. I kept pushing, though, through a silly and surreal poem, a poem with silly humor, a poem with a line that played with lyrics from a Barenaked Ladies song, poems with very little association between images, poems without adherence or response to the first two lines. Very slowly, though, certain lines started resonating with other lines, rearrangements suggested further associations, silly word choices gave way to different words, single word changes that fit remarkably better.  “Glass” became “gas” (conveniently located under “nerve”), “deer” became “dear” (but I loved the image of a dancing deer!), “ears” became “fears,” “calms” became “trains.” I started seeing parallels between poetry, war, and dance, and the tone changed radically. I finally began to see with each line the line “the one before intends.”

I think the poem still needs a lot more work. It feels too short. It’s still not fully formed. I’m not exactly sure what I mean by some of the images and phrases (oh my gosh, just now, I wonder if “red shoes dancing” also suggests blood, “a dazzling hue”!!!???) What’s cool, though, is the experience of crafting a poem that reshaped itself by pulling away from my initial impulse and transforming into something very different. This was really fun.

But I never did figure out a way to transform and wedge “Chickity China, the Chinese Chicken” into the poem. I spent over an hour trying to do just that…

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.