Notes: When You Bit...: Clustering

Since Fortune tends to favor the bold, I am going to make a bold assertion: until Neo-Romanticism, including post-avant, there is no serious prosody in American poetry. Frost and Dickinson write Hallmark-level jingles; Whitman’s use of anaphora is cheap and barbaric the wrong way round; and even semi-Americans Pound and Eliot do not build the kind of melopoeia into their poetic constructs to vie with the Romantics and those who preceded them. I call my wonted prosodic manner “clustering”— that is, I avoid regular end-rhyme structures and build in melopoeiac devices (rhymes, near-rhymes, off-rhymes, assonances, alliterations, anaphora, etc) in a clustered fashion, where the devices fall in the poem where they will, which grants me much greater narrative-thematic freedom as a quid pro quo for musical solidarity and traditional poetic scaffolding techniques. In terms of my books, When You Bit… from 2008 is the most musically rich, with an intense focus on melopoeia in the context of a traditional form, the sonnet:

(a) My spirit is too weak— mortality
(b) Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
(b) And each imagined pinnacle and steep
(a) Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
(a) Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
(b) Yet ‘tis a gentle luxury to weep
(b) That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
(a) Fresh for the opening of the morning’s eye.
(c) Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
(d) Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
(c) So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
(d) That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
(c) Wasting of old time— with a billowy main—
(d) A sun— a shadow of a magnitude.

(a) Asinine, as is, this ass is:
(b) ass I zip down into zero:
(a) anal, a null, a void this is.
(c) I’m behind a behind that
(d) sits smoking, rubbing, pink-
(e) tipped, tender, butt, button.
(f) She watches me watching as
(e) I go brown-nose in another.
(g) Only her car-ness, averted by
(g) eyes to the wall, seems happy.
(h) Only she can stomach rubs
(h) of the kind that want plugs.
(h) Sparked tank, here comes
(h) no come, & aggravation.

Keats’ Elgin Marbles sonnet here conforms tightly to the Petrarchan mold— both in the end-rhyme scheme, and in the way the volta (turn after the first eight lines, a sonnet convention) plays against the first portion of the poem. My spider on LSD rhyme scheme demonstrates how cluster-forms of prosody can work— the end rhymes fall in and out, and the last four lines sharing an end-rhyme have a sense both of (potentially) absurdizing the poem, and giving it an adequate crescendo.