Saturday, June 10, 2006

Unplanned obsolescence       [sonnet]

Any color so long as it's black
Henry Ford allegedly offered
humankind has loved & suffered
many a hangup here on the rack
if you call I'll call you back
but the machine is on the blink
if you dial my kitchen sink
will the teacup click or clack?
the fridge is empty   I've no snack
meriting mention   hey let's chat
who's the mouse & who is the cat?
who's the celeb & who's the flack?
  such a phone could seem obsolete
  but I wait your call   my bittersweet




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[This is one among a sequence of 8 (so far) poems, each written in a different traditional form (viz., villanelle, sonnet, ghazal, haiku, rubaiyat, clarihew, limerick, pantoum), as pleasantries of ekphrasis: writings occasioned by a photo (more particularly, of an olden phone). The full sequence can be seen on my blog (in postings from the past couple days). As might be noted, this one shows a mildly novel variant of the sonnet form.]

4 comments:

David said...

oh it's a sonnet. and pretty damn good i think. except i think i might like it better with a modified sestet in the close vs the quatrain plus couplet.

because, this line seemed/felt a bit forced:

who's the celeb & who's the flack?

and (maybe) redundant.

to my ear i think the following rhyme scheme would work better

A
C
C
D
D
A

anyhoo. still, this is interesting. cummings did a lot of sonnets--some following the traditional forms very closely, some not. you probably know that.

nice conceit with the phone too. i think i will go read and see what the others are like.

--D

david raphael israel said...

David,
ah, I'm not averse to some hazard of redundancy. Thanks for your thoughts. You might note that my new sonnet form instanced in this poem follows this scheme: ABBA / ACCA / ADDA / EE. It's thus (yes) a reworked Shakespearean (rather than Petrarchian) sonnet. Sometimes I do dabble with the Petrarchian form -- and I certainly like Rilke's wonderful use of it in the Sonnets to Orpheus; but I've experimented more with the Shakespearian species. Actually I had a brief spate of prolific sonnet writing a few months back (as may be noted by this index page on my blog).

This morning I added a couple more items to the omnibus telephone sequence -- terza rima and "one word" (with hat tips to Aram Saroyan), bringing the number (as of now) to ten forms essayed. I also blogged an item listing them here.

Besides the poems, I also played with graphics variations from the original photo.

cheers,
d.i.

James said...

I'm not sure about this one. Funny, somewhat, but I don't know how I feel about the rhyme - forced is the feeling I get. A new way of writing form is using a caesura in the middle of the sentence to take the emphasis off of the end rhyme, without losing the form. I don't know if you can try that with this poem or not, but it might be worth a shot. One poet who works in form and is extremely good at disguising end-rhyme is Phillip Larkin. Also, Seamus Heaney does a good job of it also. There are many more, but I'd look at these guys.

Oh, and I feel like the content of this poem is strong - don't get me wrong.

david raphael israel said...

Thanks for interesting thoughts James. This is but one of myriad little formal experiments; in a sense (an odd excuse?) it's purposely slightly stilted. Or at least, this particular poem does not seek to deemphasise the end-rhyme. This morning I wrote (& blogged) a ballade, which does hap to use some caesuras & enjambment. [I've been using a caesura for many years; as for being new? -- well it's been around for centuries. ;-)] The ballade I mention is possibly the final item in this little series of varying formal contemplations of one topic (an old telephone). Perhaps I'll add the ballade to cafe cafe before long.
cheers,
d.i.