Posts Tagged ‘Pythagoras


Four New Poetic Forms

For the poetry club at Nashville State Community College, the participants asked me to prepare some lessons on some poetic forms. I decided to go with new forms. With the help of Facebook, I found a quite a few, and then I narrowed the list down to the four below. Perhaps they will be new to you, too.

The Gigan

This form was invented by poet Ruth Ellen Kocher. Kocher named the form in honor of her favorite monster from Godzilla.Gigan

Here are the rules:

  1. The poem is 16 lines.
  2. The lines are broken into couplet, tercet, couplet, couplet, couplet, tercet, couplet.
  3. Line 1 is repeated as line 11.
  4. Line 6 is repeated as line 12.
  5. Ideally, the closing couplet should put a twist on the poem.


Samples at above link

The Bop

The Bop is a form of poetic argument consisting of three stanzas, each followed by a repeated line or refrain. The first stanza is six lines and presents a problem; the second stanza is eight lines and further expands upon the problem; and the third stanza is six lines and either resolves or documents the failure of resolving the problem. . . . Afaa Michael Weaver . . . created the form during a Cave Canem writing retreat (from

To me it appears that the overall structure resembles a sonnet with the open two quatrains acting as a thesis, the following quatrain acting as antithesis, and the couplet acting as synthesis.


The Duplex

Jericho Brown introduced the poetry world to the duplex form with the publication of his 2019 collection, The Tradition, which includes several poems written in this style. In an interview, Brown revealed that the form came about when he was trying to “gut the sonnet,” as he wanted to create a “disparate couplet” and move the repeating lines of the sonnet closer together. In the end, the duplex became a sort of hybrid between the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues.

The poem starts with a couplet, then the second line repeats and the poet adds a new line, following this structure until seven couplets form the poem. The last line of the poem repeats the first, with an increased or changed resonance that the rest of the poem’s context provides. (from



Created by Charles Bernstein and unearthed by me. 😀 There are twelve stanzas. The first line of each stanza is five syllables, the second line has three syllables, and the third line has four syllables: a Pythagorean triple 52=32+42. Each stanza has 12 syllables, so there should be 144 syllables or 122 syllables. That’s the promise, but the promise is broken. Because of the broken promise, the poem actually has 145 syllables. There is also no punctuation and there is a line between each stanza. In addition, there are no articles (“a,” “an,” and “the”) or superfluous adjectives or adverbs.

For more on the form and for a sample poem, see:



Poetry Assignments: The Book (Online): Imaginary Worlds


Brian Warner's The Cave

“The Cave” by Brian Warner. Used with the permission of Brain Warner.

or 100 Jackhammers for the Poet with Writer’s Block;

or 100 Ways to Jumpstart the Engine;

or 100 Pencil Exercises;

or 100 Ways to Stimulate Your Next Wine, Cheese, & Poetry Night


Table of Contents


  1. Finding the First, Discovering the Middle, & Chasing the End
  2. Imaginary Worlds
  3. Science, the Universe, Time, & Other Evolutions
  4. Fun with Letters, Words, Language, & Languages
  5. Forms: Obscure, Updated, & Invented
  6. New School; or Double Vision; or WWI (Writing While Intoxicated) & Its Repercussions
  7. Miscellany; Trying to Relate the Unrelated; or These Gotta Go Some Place . . . So Here
  8. Stupid Money, Dumb Politicians, & Celebrating America
  9. Responses; or Calling All Poets (Dead & Alive); or Talking to Eternity
  10. It’s All About You


Imaginary Worlds

Connect the Dots; Star Gazing into Creation; or Neck Exercises

We’ve recently entered a new millennium, yet we still use our night sky’s old constellations & their stories. Your assignment is to create new images & new stories for the existing constellations, or to find your own constellations & create stories for them.

For those who choose to create more than one constellation, or for those who want this assignment to endure – create an epic story for all the constellations you have made or found. Try to weave the stories together.

Be careful not to stare too long into the night sky or else you might find yourself with a neck ache. If that happens, you will have to write a bunch of poems so your neck can bend down &, hopefully, offset the pain from bending your neck backwards.


Hey, Where’s Everybody Going?

Something strange is happening in my town. Perhaps it’s happening in your town, too. Quick! Look out the window. Are all the statues leaving as they are here? What do you think is going on? Where do you think they are going? Quickly, write it down. Follow them. Take notes. But don’t get caught. This could be monumental!


Til Death Do Us Part

This assignment is inspired by the first line in Stan Rubin’s poem “Emily Was Right,” which is in his new book Five Colors (Wordtech Communications, 2004). The first line is: “The perfect date would be with death.”

The assignment is to write about that perfect date, or just a general date with death, or even just a first date with death.

Ok. Get busy!

And if you want, you can get busy with death, too! (Read that as if Groucho Marx said it with a cigar in his mouth!)


The Sea of Galilee, or the Apocalypse

Apparently the water level in the Sea of Galilee keeps rising 0.5 cm per day. As of March 16th, it was 15 cm from capacity. I’m not exactly sure of the reasons for this. But, here’s the assignment: compose a poem of the flooding of the Sea of Galilee, or some ocean. A poem of the apocalypse.

John Isles has a great one, “Elegy for the Present Moment,” in his new book Ark (Kuhl House Poets, 2003). His, however, is about the moment the sun stopped shining.


Hey, Who Turned Out the Lights?

This assignment has a two-fold inspiration.

Last week, August 10th, 2004, or so, my wife [at the time] & I were on the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula & we went to watch the sun set. When we arrived, the sun was blocked by clouds. The sun looked liked a full moon, & the feeling was eerie & apocalyptic.

Yesterday, August 19, 2004, in Hong Kong there was so much smog that the sun was blocked out. In the absence of sunlight, there were many boat accidents, & the government warned people with heart & respiratory conditions to stay indoors.

Here’s the poetry assignment. Write a poem about the day the sun disappeared. Or if you wish the day the moon disappeared. (In the moon poem, for a real challenge, make an allusion to the old tv show, Space 1999, if anyone remembers that!)


Fluorescent Lights as Thieves; or Me & My Bones; or In the Event of Light, the Only Safe Place is Under the Desk

Where I work is good place. Good, creative people making a fine product. But I noticed something most odd the other day when I was turning the corner. You see, when I turn corners, I listen to hear if anyone is coming, I try to look through the corners (which can be done if you know how) to see if anyone is coming, & I look to the floor for shadows to see if anyone is approaching, for I don’t want to have a collision at the corner. And then I realized, after never seeing a shadow approach a corner despite hearing a person & seeing a person through corner walls that people at work don’t cast shadows. It’s strange. Some of the cubicle walls cast shadows, & there is always a shadow under my desk (or is it just dark?). But people here have no shadows. To which my friend responded, “We are the shadows.” I think it’s just the fluorescent lights . . . not the people. I mean, I’ve seen their shadows on the sidewalk outside. I’ve seen the shadows get into their owner’s (or does the shadow own the person) car. But anyhow.

Here is the assignment. Imagine a world where only inanimate objects cast shadows. Imagine how your unconscious would be symbolized. Where would your psychological baggage be carried? What of dreams? . . . Jung & Freud? What of murder mysteries & horror movies? What of fear itself? What of the song “Me and My Shadow”? Oh my.

You may also imagine a world where only organic, living things cast shadows. What then of the moon & its phases? What then of sundials? What then of a mountain’s presence looming large over a small town, or are mountains organic & living? (surely living). Or imagine a place of no shadows.

Now. Go forth. Write. Imagine. Imagine your pencil not throwing a shadow on your words! 


If Dante Were Here Today

Oh boy, he’d find a lot of sinners, & he’d probably find some sinners of new sins, too. What would he do with these sinners of the new sins? He’d have to create a new circle in hell, a new circle in the Inferno, for them. Thus, it is up to you to pretend you are Dante today & create a new circle in hell for the sinners of the new sins.

Or even, perhaps, to find a secret door in one of the circles that opens into another circle, where the sinners of the new sin are. For example, I thought today, there are a lot of people destroying the environment – performing acts contrary to nature – thus, you might want a secret passage in the contrary to nature circle (the one that has the usurers) & put those people destroying nature into that secret room.

If you can do this assignment in terza rima, then all the better.

If you can create a new Inferno filled with circles for all the new sins & sinners of the new sins, then kick ass! And if you do that, then I imagine you’d have to find a new Virgil, too!

Alright, go forth & put the sinners in their place!

(9-2-06 addendum) Here’s a new sin: advertisers who use Beatles songs. I’m thinking specifically of the Chase Credit Card (usury) company that recently used “All You Need Is Love” to advertise their damn credit card. That is contrary to nature, The Beatles, and all that is beautiful in the world. The advertisers & those at Chase Credit Card who approved the commercial should be in a new circle. Or the dog-food company that used Shakespeare to pimp its product and the myriad of other advertisers and ad approvers who belittle great art and humanity.


Imitations; or Because Poems Are to Speak to All Times; or Make It New (Number 3)

But first a history lesson.

In 1570, in Roger Ascham’s The Schoolmaster, between pages 99 and 133, he has six ideas on how to translate.

There are six ways appointed by the best learned men, for the learning of tongues and increase of eloquence, as

1) Translatio linguarum.
2) Paraphrasis.
3) Metaphrasis.
4) Epitome.
5) Imitatio.
6) Declamatio.

1) Translatio linguarum. “Translation is easy in the beginning for the scholar, and brings also much learning and great judgment to the master. It is most common, and most commendable of all other exercises for youth: most common, for all your constructions in Grammar schools be nothing else but translations [. . .] they bring forth but simple and single commodity.”

2) Paraphrasis. “Paraphrasis is to take some eloquent Oration, or some notable common place in Latin, and express it with other words. [. . .] Paraphrasis, the second point, is not only to express at large with more words, but to strive and contend (as Quintilian said) to translate the best Latin authors into other Latin words, as many or thereabouts.”

3) Metaphrasis. “Metaphrasis is to take some notable place out of a good Poet, and turn the same sense into meter, or into other words in Prose.      [. . .] This kind of exercise is all one with Paraphrasis, save it is out of verse either into prose or into some other kind of meter: or else, out of prose into verse, which was Socrates’ exercise and pastime (as Plato reported) when he was in prison, to translate Æsop’s Fables into verse.”

4) Epitome. “This is a way of study belonging rather to matter, than to words: to memory, than to utterance: to those that be learned already, and has small place at all amongst young scholars in Grammar schools. [. . .] Epitome is good privately for himself that does work it.”

5) Imitatio. “Imitation is a faculty to express lively and perfectly that example: which you go about to follow. And of itself, it is large and wide: for all the works of nature in a manner be examples for art to follow. But to our purpose, all languages, both learned and mother tongues, be gotten, and gotten only by Imitation.”

6) Declamatio. [Um, he seems to have forgotten to expand on that. Um, little help please. I’m gonna fail my final. Hey, Mr. Ascham. Hey, Roger. Rog. All right then. I guess class is over.]

Then 110 years later, John Dryden comes along with three very similar terms for translation, which appear in his “Preface” to Ovid’s Epistles in 1680:

All translation I suppose may be reduced to these three heads.

First that of, metaphrase, or turning an author word for word, and line by line, from one language into another. Thus, or near this manner, was Horace’s Art of Poetry translated by Ben Jonson. The second way is that of paraphrase, or translation with latitude, where the author is kept in view by the translator, so as never to be lost, but his words are not so strictly followed as his sense, and that too is admitted to be amplified, but not altered. Such is Mr. Waller’s translation of Virgil’s fourth Aeneid. The third way is that of imitation, where the translator (if now he has not lost that name) assumes the liberty, not only to vary from the words and sense, but to forsake them both as he sees occasion: and taking only some general hints from the original, to run division on the groundwork, as he pleases. Such is Mr. Cowley’s practice in turning two odes of Pindar, and one of Horace into English.

Robert Lowell picks up Dryden’s third in Imitations (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1961). In Lowell’s introduction to this collection, he writes of his translations, imitations:

I have been reckless with literal meaning, and labored hard to get the tone. Most often this has been a tone, for the tone is something that will always more or less escape transference to another language and cultural moment. I have tried to write alive in English and to do what my authors might have done if they were writing their poems now and in America.

So we are going to do this. We are going to take a long-ago dead poet (& they can be English speaking like Anne Bradstreet, William Blake, Alexander Pope, Shakespeare, or foreign like Dante, Sappho, or the author of Gilgamesh), & have that poet write as if he or she lived today in America. Plus, we will work on tone, a tone.

And if you want to be like Lowell, do one or a few poems from one poet, & a few more from another & another until you have a book length manuscript. Or just do one poet.

Feel free to ignore Ascham. I will, as he reminds me of a teacher from Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Hey, Rog, I’m still waiting. Rog. Rog. Oi.


Today’s Fertilizer, or You Make the Call

Baudelaire once had a wonderful image/symbol of a rose growing from a pile of manure. And Ezra Pound once said, “Humanity is the rich effluvium, it is the waste and the manure and the soil, and from it grows the tree of the arts.”

Today (12-6-04) they announced the invention of a cell phone that when thrown away will grow into a sunflower.

AMSTERDAM (Reuters)—Scientists said on Monday they have come up with a cell phone cover that will grow into a sunflower when thrown away.

Materials company Pvaxx Research & Development [. . .] has come up with a polymer that looks like any other plastic, but which degrades into soil when discarded.

Researchers at the University of Warwick in Britain then helped to develop a phone cover that contains a sunflower seed, which will feed on the nitrates that are formed when the polyvinylalcohol polymer cover turns to waste.

Your assignment: pretend you’re a French Symbolist & use the cell phone as a new symbol.

Here is Gérard de Nerval’s “Golden Verses” to help you a bit. (It is translated by C.F. MacIntyre.)

           Eh, what! everything is sentient!

   You, free thinker, imagine only man
   thinks in this world where life bursts from all things?
   The powers within prescribe your freedom’s wings,
   but you leave the universe your plans.

   Respect the mind that stirs in every creature:
   love’s mystery is known by metals too;
   every flower opens its soul to Nature;
   “Everything’s sentient!” and works on you.

   Beware! from the blind wall one watches you:
   even matter has a logos all its own . . .
   do not put it to some impious use.

   Often in humble life a god works, hidden;
   and like a new-born eye veiled by its lids,
   pure spirit grows beneath the surface of stones.

          “Golden Verses” from French Symbolist Poetry. 
          Used with permission by University of California Press. 

(9-16-06 addendum) You should also read Walt Whitman’s “This Compost.” Thanks for the tip, William Heyen.


Pessoa as a Time Traveler; or Variations on Rexroth as Marichiko; or Man, You Are So Far Behind the Times

What is your favorite time period of poetry that occurs before 1901? And what country provides your favorite poetry, besides America? Now with that time & place in mind, what poet should have existed that did not? That is, when you read the Romantics, for example, you may have thought, “If I were writing then, I think I would have had this voice, these ideas, these types of visions, inventions, criticisms, insights, & understandings that would epitomize, in full, Wordsworth, Coleridge, & the rest.” Or something like that.

With that in mind, you need to become an uber-Romantic poet, or an uber-poet from whatever time period & country you like best. You need to pretend you have discovered a poet from a distant time & land, but you need to write poems for that discovered poet & maybe some literary criticism, or some manifestoes, or some takes on how that poet sees poetry & its purpose.

If you wish, you can bring that poet into our times & have him/her speak to & in our times.

And while you are it . . . the next time you get a book published, use that poet to write a back cover blurb for you, or maybe even a review of your book.

My dude is: Semlohsa Moht. Poet Laureate of Gegôré. (Yeah, the country is fictional, too, which makes for more fun!!)


Jazzy Uncle Walt; or WW, he’s so smoooooth

This assignment was inspired by a CD review in the Feb. 17-23, 2005 edition of the Inlander (Spokane, WA).

The Fred Hersch Ensemble has set some of Walt Whitman’s poems to jazz music in the album: Leaves of Grass.

Your assignments then:

a: Pretend you are Walt Whitman living in the jazz age (for this assignment, anywhere from 1920-1965). What will Walt be doing? Will he be wearing dark sunglasses, blowing on a sax, & smoking unfiltered Camels?

b: Still in the jazz age, pretend you are Walt Whitman writing poems. Would his poems be the same or would they be more like:

   Out of the cradle
   endlessly bopping
   Out of the Plugged Nickel’s sway
   the jazzy shuffle
   Out of the nine-hour jam
   [. . . ]

Or would he write even more different?

c: Now pretend you are Walt Whitman & you meet Allen Ginsberg in a smoky jazz bar.

Ok, that’s it for this assignment.

By the way, the Inlander’s reviewer, Michael Bowen, gave the album five stars. But I have not heard it, so I can not offer an opinion on it.


This Poet’s Got Game . . . Do You?; or The World Cup of Poetry; or Fantasy Sports for Poets; or How Can I Get Season Tickets for This?

For Kat Smith, Thom Caraway, Jeff Dodd is God, Mike Dockins, & William Heyen.

This just occurred to me & keeps unfolding, so we will be discovering together.

I just now had the thought (& I’m sure this has been done before) that we need a baseball team of poets. And to create this team, you will have to find the poet who best corresponds to a specific baseball position. Who will be your pitcher (who’s got a striking fast poem, but with the ability to throw a three-foot breaking curve & hurl a knuckle-ball poem that you don’t know where it will end up), who will be the genius catcher to be able to handle all these pitches & tell the pitcher what to throw, who’s got the confidence, dexterity, & arm to play shortstop, etc. Yes, metaphorically pick a poet who possesses the talents of each position on the ball field. Oh, & we’re using American League rules – there will be a DH! (Which reminds me, you’ll need a pinch hitter, a middle reliever, & a closer.) I won’t tell you my team, but I will tell you the manager is Ezra Pound – who knows more, who can get poets to do more than they can, who could better yell at an umpire than Ol’ Ez?

Wait, there’s more.

With the World Cup going on, we now need a separate team for each of 32 different countries (or, as many countries as you can do). And still using World Cup rules, a poet can play for a country that he/she was born in, gained citizenship in, or where his/her parents were born. So, T. S. Eliot, for instance, could play for England or America. (I’ve got him playing for England, that is, if he can make the team. Maybe he will be a substitute. I’m thinking Chaucer would be manager for this team.)

More. When making this team, you must write a poem about each poet playing his/her position. Then after the team is assembled, you must imagine them actually playing a game, which is why it is good to have teams from other countries. And like baseball, there will be NO ties. Extra innings into eternity if you must.

You, of course, may use other sports. You may have basketball teams, soccer/futbol teams, football teams, hockey teams (but Bly must play goalie, ha), water polo, etc. But still, NO ties are allowed – sudden death, shootouts, if you must.

Oh, yea. Let’s not forget poet umpires, poet referees, & poet sideline judges. We need one poem where an umpire & manager (or player) stand face to face yelling at each other. (Yes, a Stevens-Frost allusion is allowed here, & maybe even required.)

Please be sure to keep track of each country’s win-loss record. Keep track of hitting trends & tendencies. Keep track of ERAs (or EMAs – Earned Metaphors Achieved). Hell, I may post results . . . if you’re game.



On Charles Bernstein’s Poem “12^2”

PythagorasRecently, one of my students expressed an interest in writing poems that had a certain number of words per line. I said that was cool, and then I suggested he write poems that had a certain number of syllables per line instead. Since he has math knowledge, I also suggested some forms he could use, such 3 syllables for the first line, 1 for the second, 4 for the third, 1 for the fourth, 5 for the fifth, etc. and following Pi out as long as he could. I think I might have also suggested using prime numbers as syllables: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13, and then coming backwards. I also suggested that he try writing lines that only have four stressed syllables per line or three stressed per line or whatever number. Then I remembered Charles Bernstein’s poem “122”. Unfortunately, for the first time in about thirty years I blanked on the term “Pythagorean triple,” which is what Bernstein’s poem is built on. I also remembered something I wrote about it about ten years ago. I wrote it mainly for me, but I did send it to the original journal, Slope, who published the poem. They quickly replied that they didn’t want it because they thought it was a conflict of interest or something weird like that. I scratched my head. And kept the essay tucked away until today, when I remembered I had it. I sent it to the student, too. Maybe he will like. Maybe not. But maybe you will. So here it is. The poem first and then my comments.


   the swollen flotsam
   lies face down


   incident catches
   stolen cues
   when faces drift


   encroachment of care
   muffling shame
   hardened moment


   like flies in summer
   switching tenses
   touched absence


   totally wasted
   in shadows


   uncertain future


   neither this nor that
   bombs away
   total fright


   even if it
   will also pass


   my elbow against your
   burns like wax


   endlessly fog


   counting now to five
   next to three
   then up till four


   going back to form
   a promise
   always broken

The Best American Poetry 2002“122,” as it appears in The Best American Poetry 2002 (shown above), is a poem in a form that is new to this reader. On first reading, it appeared to be something like haiku – tight and minimal. On second reading, I realized the significance of the title through a question: Is the title to let us know how many syllables are in the poem? Yes, 144. I also noticed another aspect of this poem’s shape and how it is born out of squares. It is born from a Pythagorean triple like a2+b2= c2  or, more specifically, 52=32+42 (the simplest and most recognizable triplet), and for this poem, the form is based on that numeric substitution: the first line of each stanza has 5 syllables, the second line has 3 syllables, and the third line has 4 syllables. This bears weight upon stanza 11, which seems to be telling the reader the form of the stanzas: “counting now to five / next to three / then up till four.” (Please note, there is no punctuation in this poem.) This is a poem of counting, this stanza implies, as one may expect with the “mathy” title and the “mathy” form.

As a result of this stanza form, each stanza should have 12 syllables, and as there are 12 stanzas, there should be 144 syllables in the entire poem, 122=144. However, as I counted the syllables, I kept tallying 145 syllables. In fact, there are 2 stanzas with 13 syllables (stanzas 5 and 8) and one with 11 syllables (stanza 7), which explains the accounting discrepancy. But why would the poem deliberately do this? It seems a fairly easy fix to get one of those stanzas to 12 syllables (if not all stanzas), but obviously there must be a point. I think it is best explained in stanza 12: “going back to form / a promise / always broken.” The poem lets the reader know it was done intentionally. It almost has an underlying suggestion that formed poems are promises and that they can’t be fulfilled, perhaps because of their difficulty; or formed poems are quite often almost close to being true to form, but they often don’t arrive in order to gain or create meaning. There will be more on this.

The poem also breaks the form in other ways in this stanza. But before I illustrate that, I believe there is another aspect to this form – no superfluous adjectives or adverbs (which is just a good rule in general). How many sonnets can we think of where there is an extra adjective or unnecessary adverb or an article? This poem’s form or rules seem to not want to have articles either. Just as some poets use an “a” or “the” or “and” to get an unstressed syllable, despite the fact that an “a” or “the” or “and” is not necessary, the same is true to this form and it can cause a loosening of the form. By eliminating articles, the poet must work closer with the language. That is, if the poet is to avoid an artificial “articleless” quality to the poem or the language. The poet must reinvent perceptions and ways of presentation. In addition, articlelessness keeps a lazy mathematician from just adding these small filler syllables to get from 11 syllables to 12. I believe the same can be said of “to be” verbs in this poem. There aren’t any.

However, back to form breaking, there is one article, “a”, and it appears in the broken promise stanza, but what does the poem gain by doing this? The form has already been broken 3 times (see above) and this is the fourth and as result turns into the fifth break, for it is the “a” that is the extra syllable. Without it, the “a”, the poem keeps true, at least on this point, to the form and the math: 122=144. So as a result, he destroys the biggest promise with the smallest syllable. As a result, he makes a certain theory of math come true. That is, some theoretical mathematicians have posed and shown that 2+2 doesn’t always equal 4 in certain constructs, and here is an example by extension. Further by doing this, the poem rids the algebraic approach to reading poems. I will expand.

For much of the 20th century, we were taught to read poems in a manner similar to solving an algebra equation. (This image represents that philosophical notion, the path less traveled is a metaphor/equivalent for life – or as a mathematician might say: a plug-and-chug equation for life –, etc.) What this poem does, then, is to invite that type of thinking, string that type of reader along, and then smash the reader over the head with the faulty math equation. The reader is then confronted with the poem as a poem, and the reader experiences each stanza. For really, each stanza is a place to meditate or laugh. Each stanza is a moment in time.

As for the lines that separate or isolate the stanzas, I refer to McCaffery: “Wilhelm Reich was to declare form to be frozen energy, opening a path to a new conception of form as the aggregate of departure not arrivals, the notion of the de-form as a thawing of the constrict, a strategy of release, of flow” (88). Thus, what we get with the separator lines is frozen energy, or potential energy. That is, each stanza has a form, the 5-3-4 syllabic form, and as the poem proceeds to the end it becomes an aggregate of potential energy, like a rock on the precipice of a cliff. When the poem reaches its end, the potential energy become kinetic (the rock falls of the cliff) and kinetic is released because the overall form/form has been destroyed. There is an energy departure with the 145th syllable. All energy is converted. The poem becomes ecstatic instead of enstatic. The lack of a separator line at the poem’s end also suggests and reinforces this idea of departure. The poem becomes liberated at the end. The reader, thus, arrives and departs. (A doubling of energy?—Potential energy becomes kinetic.)

This poem then presents a new form and breaks it a number of times. By breaking it, however, it does not create new meanings other than how to approach a form poem, or a poem in general. The poem teaches the reader how to read the poem. The form is the medium to carry the language or present language, images, and ideas, and to read meaning into the form is somewhat superficial at this point in poetry’s history, where each form has already been manhandled in numerous ways. Here, Charles Bernstein’s poem “122” is just ecstatic.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Charles. “122”. The Best American Poetry 2002. Eds. Robert Creeley and David Lehman. New York: Scribner Poetry, 2002. (7-9).

McCaffery, Steve. “Sound Poetry.” The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book. Eds. Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein. Carbondale, Ill: Southern Illinois U P, 1984. (88-91).

On another level, however, the poem is teaching the reader how to read the poem. It is a bit paradoxical. Each stanza is to be its own meditation but accumulating to overall effect. That is the poem wants to read as exploration of its own form – be aware of the syllables, count them, note their structure – but don’t mind that, concentrate on the content between the lines.//

The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Material Matters

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

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