April 3: May “the force” be with me

Today’s poetic device:

Catalogue:  The listing of persons or places or things. Catalogues are sometimes endless genealogies or listings of proper names and places that can create an hypnotic effect in the rhythmic repetition of strange and curious and exotic names, like a recitation or an incantation.  Eventually the phonetics of the items being listed will become soporific, thus lulling a listener or reader into a mild trance state.

(The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices by William Packard)

You may have heard these kinds of poems referred to as “list poems.”  I have never been a fan of these types of poems because I don’t feel I have ever written a good one.  The first one I remember writing was a study of all the things on my daughter’s bedroom floor when she was about 7 years old.  Really, I found the whole exercise quite depressing.  At any rate, my reluctance is exactly the reason I am making myself do this today.  “Get out of your comfort zone” and blah blah blah. 

Since, apparently, we should be going for a “mild trance state,” I am going to catalogue my dreams of the night before last.  Warning:  only those of you who aren’t already in a mild trance state should try to achieve it!  I can see the headline now:  Woman’s Poetry Puts 3 People Into a Coma.  Let’s avoid that situation if possible, okay?  Yes, yes, yes: discuss amongst yourselves the legitimacy of using dreams as poetry.  As I have said, I am nothing if not controversial and, b) these are drafts.

You Call this Sleeping?
(by Suzanne Baldwin Leitner)

I hear the serial killer
who wants his tennis shoes
back. He plans to break
into this house:

this strange
house that is home,

to get them, before
he strangles his next victim
against a plate glass window.
I see the stairs
of this house,

this strange
house that is home,

made of the springs
of a bed cot.
I go to the top
of those stairs
with the raggedy man,
who is dishing
out fat noodles into a fragile
white bowl while my mother
shows off her new baby.
I note that the small kitchen
is drab, like the man,
but the dishes are clean
and the baby is quiet.
I think that we here in this house,

this strange house that is home,

must make plans to thwart
the shoe-seeking serial
killer. At once.
I seek a trip wire, but what?
Fishing line, cotton string,
thread, spaghetti noodles,
yarn, strands of hair,
spun gold, barbed wire,
a telephone cord, lace trim,
a daisy chain? I can
never find anything
in this house

this strange house
that is home.

He is barefoot on the front porch
with its wide wooden
boards and he looks
through the door
into this house,

this strange
house that is home

and we know him.

[from SBL:  let the analysis begin!]

One thought on “April 3: May “the force” be with me

  1. Serial killer seeking his kicks ain’t conducive to a healthy rem, but I can spy the bouncing Betty of this “list” poem.

    I don’t think I’ve ever done a “list” poem. Maybe I’ll give one a shot. Thanks.


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