I did promise (threaten?) poetry. Don’t worry, I won’t do this very often.
This one, like every poem I’ve ever written (dating back to 8th grade, actually, and including about three or four poems total), began first as a rhythm. It’s modeled, metrically, on Milton‘s 1653 translation of Psalm 5. I can also see in it the influence of a few other texts, like the villanelles “Do not go gentle” (Thomas) and “One Art” (Bishop) and Neil Gaiman’s bit of doggerel “Basilisk and Cockatrice: A Moral Poem” – that last one certainly occurred to me as I was writing, though I’m not sure how great its influence was. And of course, the most direct ancestor is Shakespeare’s 18th.
At any rate.
Variations on a Theme by Shakespeare
Train, LA to San Diego
July 24 2007
I’m scared of loving short-lived love
and also of cliché.
What lines can I be certain of?
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
I know too well tongues cannot furl.
One can’t what’s said un-say.
Afraid, I promised: “never, girl,
shall I compare thee to a summer’s day.”
But no one gains from silenced art.
So, fuck! I’ll join the fray.
With cloudless gusty furnace-heart
shall I compare thee to a summer’s day!
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