{p7 does poetry friday: “in the style of…”}

I’ve always been happy on the internet with my imaginary friends.

Okay, less imaginary than… invisible? Intangible? I’ve met every single one of my Poetry Sisters only because ONCE we all managed to be at ALA at the same time. ONCE. Six years ago. It hasn’t ever happened again. One of my very best friends, and any of my other good acquaintances I’ve never met in person at all. And, introvert that I am, that seems… normal.

Since I’ve enjoyed reading The Toast for a long time, and because as of today, July 1, they’re kaput, I’ve been thinking about how sad I am to lose… yet another group of imaginary friends. So, when I thought about this month’s P7 assignment, and how we’re writing in the style of the brilliant Marin poet Kay Ryan, I knew that she would be able to do justice to the topic of transient friendships, and intangible losses and imaginary loves in her inimitable, sneakily rhymed, wordplaying, slanted style. I… tried. With mixed results.

Kay Ryan is a deep, deep pool to get into. Depending on the time and how familiar we were with her work, some of us skimmed, and some of us haven’t yet come up for air. A few of us wrote in the style of Ryan’s “All Shall Be Restored, while others of us played with the wording of Turtle, asking, “Why would anyone be X if she could help it?” Despite this being the month when all of us are scrambling – packing, slogging through summer school, kid wrangling, swamped, under the weather and me scraping and stretching to find the turning point for my current WIP — this was some of our most intriguing writing. We bemoaned not having enough time for Kay Ryan. The cure for that? Reading lots more Kay Ryan. I know I’ll be doing that, as the summer continues, and I’ll be ready for this assignment, when next it comes around.

Unmaking The Toast: A Lament

(Vaguely) In the style of Kay Ryan’s All Shall Be Restored

The molecules shall be
stilled; no longer bumping
fractiously ‘twixt ion and atom,
radiantly heated,
demanding rigidity of this densely
supple staple.
The separate slices, softly,
Yield. No segregation slows this
seeking to succumb.
And, the whole –
The whole of the thing,
-unbaked, unleavened, unmixed –
Shall be undone.
And then, unkneaded – unneeded –
the viscid rebound of the dough.
And then, unseen, unsought,
the settling of the restive sea to salt.
Cessation of this sustenance calls
for no half-measures; untake this bread,
undrink this cup, undo this thing.
The cell,
Withered, unremarked, this ruled march and sweep
of fields; here, no amber waves of grain,
no vast pure reservoirs,
no sowing into fertile
soil, no seed, no
spark.

not so grandiflora

In the style of Kay Ryan’s “Turtle”


Who would be a rose who could help it?
A fragrant flutter of petals, fragile flora
grown to be gifted in fawning fealty
to females indifferent,
or flung away in elegant arcs
by brides so burdened with beauty,
that despite dethorning
– stiletto exchanged to sweetly spineless –
its weight is wounding.
Even basic blossoms – hedgerow not hothouse –
Soon appear unpalatable, a predictable perfection
tossed off in impotent apology
And presently, putrefying. To grasp
the thorn you also bring the rose,
though the rose – inbred, innocuous – is
inherently, unacceptable.

Harried

In the style of Kay Ryan’s Insult

Beaters circling shrubs
Raise but dust, and queries,
Such as: Is there a point to
this useless maundering,

And, For heaven’s sakes,
could you get
To the point
preferably
before death
or maybe dinnertime?

Neglecting to flush
From conversation
A single syllable of
substance is not virtue;
lovers of truth will,
Like a cheetah on its first kill,
Run it to the ground.

As I said, Kay Ryan is inimitable. However, we gave it a shot even if I did get called *cough* an overachiever for my repeated attempts! It still isn’t quite Kay – I missed her sly internal rhymes, – but this month, we all agreed: it’s about PROCESS. And the process is a gift! Andi for that gift, gave us mosquitoes; Sara found herself poem-ing about poetry once again, Tricia spun words beautifully, and Laura’s unsold house house was added to a rhyme analyzer — I’m afraid to even put my poems in there. Liz explores the dichotomy of the smooth, featureless egg, while Kelly pushes our roundup – uphill – to a close with a poem she “doesn’t mind.” Which is, indeed high praise.

Want more splendid poetry for this holiday weekend? Page through the selections at Tabatha’s.

8 Replies to “{p7 does poetry friday: “in the style of…”}”

  1. Dang! Not one, but three!!

    I really REALLY loved your unmaking of the bread. This part especially:

    And then, unkneaded – unneeded –
    the viscid rebound of the dough.
    And then, unseen, unsought,
    the settling of the restive sea to salt.

    but also the end.

  2. Holy crow, three poems! I had to swallow hard to actually share one. These are amazing! I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea who Kay Ryan was until this month. I’ve had no time to explore, but boy do I want to now. Actually, I spent all day yesterday out running errands, so when I popped into my local used bookstore I went directly to the poetry section. I got a copy of THE BEST OF IT for $5. I haven’t been able to put it down.

    As to YOUR poems … I, of course, adore the first six lines of Unmaking The Toast. The whole poem, especially “unkneaded – unneeded –” left me breathless. I love the second poem because I despise roses! I gifted myself with sunflowers from the farmers market today. I’m fond of daisies and tulips too, but no roses for me. And the last poem? Have you been rattling around in my brain, because I think this quite often:
    “And, For heaven’s sakes,
    could you get
    To the point
    preferably
    before death
    or maybe dinnertime?”

    You are amazing. Thanks for the gift of these poems.

    1. Going to a women’s college in Northern California for an MFA meant that I HAD to know about Kay Ryan; I’m pretty sure it was something written in the fine print of the English Dept. classwork agreements. However, I hadn’t explored her work too deeply, but she did write for a journal the college put out – and wow.

      I’m happily imaging you with sunflowers and gerbera daisies. I love all flowers, but there are those far more intriguing than the overbred rose, and when faced with a choice, I just don’t often choose them anymore, though I did when I was younger because GIRL and ROSE seemed to go together. At least in Barbie’s dream house. The rose hbecomes metaphor, here — what I meant was, “who would be showily, shallowly pretty, if she could help it?” Well, honestly, no one, but roses haven’t much choice – so I dislike them as well as the emphasis our society puts on the shallow, the showy, and the emptily fragranced. Which is maybe a lot to put on a single, rushed poem about a rose. ☺

  3. Holy smoke, you ARE an overachiever.

    That first one is my favorite–even though I had to go look up what the heck The Toast was.

    And then, unkneaded – unneeded –
    the viscid rebound of the dough.
    And then, unseen, unsought,
    the settling of the restive sea to salt.

    The sounds and repetitions (and echo in my mind of some of the things I thought about recently while reading SALT TO THE SEA)…yup, wonderful!

    But I also loved your skewering of the rose–

    brides so burdened with beauty,
    that despite dethorning
    – stiletto exchanged to sweetly spineless –
    its weight is wounding.

    Yowza!

    And that delightful, bloody cheetah comparison in “Harried.”

    Woohoo, Tanita. You rocked it!

  4. This –

    “Neglecting to flush
    From conversation
    A single syllable of
    substance is not virtue”

    exactly! Another reason to love virtual friends! LOL I am so impressed with all your poems; you’ve taken it to the next level.

  5. I’m not calling you an overachiever—-just an enthusiast. How’s that? 🙂 And I agree—the only cure for our struggles is more Kay Ryan!

    I love how you’ve captured the repetitive assonance of her style in lines like

    “the settling of the restive sea to salt”
    and

    “unpalatable, a predictable perfection
    tossed off in impotent apology”

    AND I adore the bitter humor of who would be a rose? Poor, over-rated things…

    In fact, the more I read your poems, the more I see how much you’ve put into them. Now THAT is a mark of excellent echoing.

    1. Thank you. I’ll take “enthusiast.” I really like Ryan’s style, and will keep playing with it, as I have time, I think. I could imagine a whole novel like this, couldn’t you? With those internal rhymes?

Leave a Reply