From poetic forms to juggling to non-verbal communication – I have a long-standing goal for myself to master several different forms of self-expression; and so, accordingly, with chin and cheek to grindstone daily I, quietly, practice, at the very least, one or more forms of poetry, gravity bending ball tosses or find myself, with lap bepugged¹, watching some Desmond Morris documentary regarding man as the animal he is.
Recently having been given an assignment for a poem having more of a terror, or horror, leaning; I began to imagine a caste of estranged and decaying, zombified cabaret performers scaling the walls around the bars and shops I was passing so that they may entertain some crepuscular crowd of unseen ghoulish eidolons…
Coupled with the daily dabbling of form I set out to permeate the Alfred Dorn Sonnet with content fit for a burlesque-eXXXorcism…
And yet, as seems to be the case with all the forms I study, I found that I couldn’t simple imitate the guidelines and rules set forth without first researching and understanding them as much as I could.
“Alfred Dorn, poet, critic and art historian, […] former Vice President of the Poetry Society of America, he is the Director of the World Order of Narrative and Formalist Poets, which has sponsored inter-national contests since 1980. He is considered one of the leading and guiding lights among the New Formalists.” – TheExaminer.Com
The crude form of the Alfred Dorn sonnet is an Italian Sestet and Sicilian Sestet linked together by a couplet with the consequential rhyme scheme of a. b. c. a. b. c. … d. d. … a. e. a. e. a. e.
Although, when I was refreshing my knowledge of the Italian Sestet, I found several sources vying for a hendecasyllabic (11 syllables) count and other sources rooting for Team Iambic Pentameter, it was apparent by the provided examples that there was no set meter expected. This was also the case for the Sicilian Couplet.
Regardless; I decided to set out into this sonnet intent on iambic pentameter. This choice, too, was connected to my pug whom, while prancing ahead of me on his leash, caused my hand to bounce rhythmically with my footfalls in a da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM manner…
(I found that, as was the case with the sestets, I had to refamiliarize myself with what would, exactly, be considered stressed and unstressed syllables and came upon a stallion of a teaching tool regarding just this…)
As with all poets and their poems – this attempt is complete only in being unsatisfactory.
Upon this avenue the dead are found.
Behold; in tarnished bricks and alleyways
a corps of corpses climbing ladders long².
At the fringe of sight, the umbra of sound –
are raucous, rattling carcass-cabarets
careening to some rhythmic hollow song;
Tied hairs to spines a lyre on which to strum –
Their skin stretched flat on vats on which to drum.
And to this burlesque show their souls are bound –
(this blighted, moribund Le Chat Noir).
From gun, to knife, to rope or victims drowned,
seen gravely dancing flaunting chic-bizarre –
bedecked in mud and wounds and scars abound
the thriving dead still cast a gleaming star.
—¹ /bi’pəggd/ 1: verb. (of a person, lap or object) upon which one finds their pet pug. “a bepugged and snot adorned couch” ² While unnecessary to point out, the combination of the words, “ladders long,” came from an old memory of a favorite poem written by a fictitious poet named Nicholas Underwrought in a Hermann Hesse short story called, “An Evening with Dr. Faust.”