Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Letter to the Dance Pole - 17/30

17 days/poems in! I said it before, but this year is incredibly overshadowing last year's in sheer quality and quantity. Some mesmerizing stuff I'm reading (and hopefully writing too!).

As for today's poem, the prompt over at NaPoWriMo.net hit me in just the right way, at just the right time apparently, because I am very proud of how today's poem turned out. Mm. Let me say that again. I am very proud of today's poem.

The prompt was as follows:
Today’s prompt is an epistolary poem — a poem in the form of a letter. In particular, I challenge you to write a poem addressing an inanimate object — Dear Headache, Dear Goldfish Bowl, etc. But that’s not all. Try to include at least 4 of the below in your poem:
1) a song lyric
2) a historical fact
3) an oddball adjective-noun combination (like red grass or loud silence)
4) a fruit
5) the name of a street in your neighborhood
6) a measure of distance.
You can tick them off as you read through, but I'll tell you which ones I chose to include in the poem: 1, 2, 3, and 4. It's like a Highlights puzzle...see if you can find them all! 

A Letter to the Dance Pole 

Dear dance pole –

Records hold that Joan of Arc
dissolved in the arms of your ancestor,
a rigid, imperious backbone
bearing her shame
to a salivating mob.
Don’t ignore the resemblance.
You may have had six centuries
to change, but I can still smell
the wood in you, the smoke
in your mirror-colored ash
as girls blinking away
the same sadness rise to brace
against your vertebrae
for the flames you promised
would come, green
but no less carnivorous
for the jeers mistaken for adoration.

Dance pole,
they eye you a shiny apple,
but you’re hiding Grimhilde’s fingerprints
in this glitter and glistered acclaim,
these strobes that flicker
like familiar tongues and bid
each victim disrobe,
and these girls,
they call your poison empowerment,
but you know the truth.
Isn’t that right, dance pole?
You’ve got the heirs
of suffragists and feminists
propped up like beautified effigies,
their faces painted targets
for an ingrained and nostalgic hate
that ate Joan of Arc alive
and smoulders these girls
from the inside, while
someone in the distance pleads,
drowned out by hungry applause,
you don’t know what you’ve got
‘til it’s gone.*

Dance pole,
glory all you want atop
your stage of crippled victories.
Just know I’m coming with axe in hand,
but know,
it’s not for you.
Your complicit pillar
would be nothing were it not
for these seated witch-burners,
tongues lolling comically lupine
while your quarry whirls
and whirls, like desperate smoke signals
haloing Joan’s ruined heap.
I’m coming to rob you of your gawkers,
your glamour and your grief.
I’m coming to end your fame, dance pole.

Sincerely written,

* Lyric taken from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi"

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