Pantoums

Despising the Pain: A Pantoum by Jenn Cavanaugh

 

I face death every day

For the joy that is set before me.

Dust returns. Death loses the fray –

The happy end begins the story.

 

For the joy that is set before me

I ride the eternal like a tide.

The happy end begins the story –

We’ll wear our spirits on the outside.

 

I ride the eternal like a tide,

Dizzied and spun, despising the pain.

We’ll wear our spirits on the outside

For the work that is not in vain.

 

Dizzied and spun, despising the pain,

Dust returns. Death loses the fray.

For the work that is not in vain

I face death every day.

Poor blog, doomed respository for my second-tier poems. I post this one as an example to accompany yesterday’s Writers Workshop post on the pantoum form, so you can see what you can get out of working in the form in short order. It’s only the third or fourth one I’ve ever written, and the results still feel blocky, compared to writing in unrhymed free verse. If you get something out of the theme or a phrase, I’m glad. Otherwise, this is what a writing exercise looks like!

So far, the best part of writing pantoums is that they practically write themselves – you put a couple of lines together, give them a flick, and you have a perpetual motion poetry machine. For me, they are line-generators. You put a line in, you get a line out, because the form is going to take you there. To write one that stands up as fine poetry, like the one I’ll leave you with here, I will probably have to give up the rhyme, as she did, make my lines more grammatically creative, and incorporate more narrative detail. A pantoum doesn’t have to tell a story, but the ones that appeal to me most suggest one. Do you have a favorite or one of your own to share?

Stillbirth by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

 

On a platform, I heard someone call out your name:

No, Laetitia, no.

It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing,

but I rushed in, searching for your face.

 

But no Laetitia. No.

No one in that car could have been you,

but I rushed in, searching for your face:

no longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two.

 

No one in that car could have been you.

Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen.

No longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two:

I sometimes go months without remembering you.

 

Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen:

I was told not to look. Not to get attached—

I sometimes go months without remembering you.

Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.

 

I was told not to look. Not to get attached.

It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing.

Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.

On a platform, I heard someone calling your name.

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2 thoughts on “Pantoums

  1. Pingback: Another E: The Empat | Phoenix's Poetry & Stories

  2. Pingback: Another E: The Empat | The Bee Writes...

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