This poem is both a stanza and a (rather decent, if I dare say so myself) specimen of blank verse. The nature of a stanzaic poem is simply that it has some rhyme scheme or rhythm pattern throughout. Thus the abcb rhyme pattern I chose for this piece. Blank verse itself needn’t and often doesn’t rhyme, and is written in iambic pentameter – in other words, each line contains five feet, each of which is two syllables long (iambic) – and these are an unstressed followed by a stressed syllable. There are only a few places here where I break out of the dip-lift, or unstressed-stressed, pattern, and these are intentional, of course. Blank verse is said to be the most similar to a normal speech pattern or conversational tone of voice. It is also the poetic form in which Shakespeare wrote much of the content of his plays, and great heavens if it isn’t incredibly difficult to do successfully without cheating. Quite honestly, I am very proud of this poem, and think it is the best I created all semester. I believe you saw an earlier draft of this, when I first wrote it. It hasn’t changed much since then – mainly it gained a title and dedication, and got the rhythm tweaked.
12:37 AM: He Called, Schoolfellow, And I Answered.
for J_____, for his own great qualifying list
You talk of boxes, life divided hard
and fast; one hundred ways to split a soul.
The adjectives before your name remind
you—all the ways you cannot quite console
yourself. You stand alone, in shrinking space,
the category you have left to live
inside is smaller than you could deserve—
perhaps. It’s taking more than you can give
to keep from feeling how your box’s walls
can press against the edges of your slight
and shaking self, can cut into your lungs
and leave you fire-filled, gutted, ashy white
with how you feel alone. There is no room
within your tiny box for any more
than just yourself; you are the only one
who fits into the sterile space of your
great qualifying list of what makes you—
be you. You talk of how that makes you feel
alone, sometimes. Alone, and sad, and yet
not lonely. That you know cannot be real.
You talk of dreams that can’t come true, because
of how your box fits snug around your breast.
You wonder, sometimes, if somehow it could
be true that you, divided, still are blessed.