If you are my student, then you now know the weekend assignment will be to write a poem in the Bouts-Rimés form. You will also know that this idea struck me when I was flipping through the aforementioned Court Green donated issues. If you are not my student, you may want to explore the form anyway. Take a peek at the three that made my cut after a cursory read, please. And pay attention to the assigned rhymes, dear scribes; they’ll be yours!
“April Parade” hit the button because Camlot smartly mentions a film I love. In fact, I own it. It’s old and it’s called “Waiting for the Moon” and is a fictional glimpse into the lives of Stein and Toklas, tastefully and artfully done. Clever too. I love it. Plus, I like this poem, especially the breaks. And the references; yes, those too.
Before I saw the film, Henry & June
(starring Uma Thurman as hot mistress
of Anaïs Nin), Waiting for the Moon
had been the lit-bio-pic I obsess-
ed most about. The ear-whispering, snake-
like sighs of Paris-exiled, bookish, smoot
h-skinned lesbians, well, that took the cake
as far as my understanding of beaut-
y went. But Uma, she was like Garbo
on steroids, or some über-King Kong play-
thing. But real, too: a neighborhood, Hobo-
ken Parade Queen walking home the next day,
still in her gemmed tiara and rhinestone
bustier, but smelling of Fireman’s cologne.
I use the collaboratively-written play and HBO film, “The Laramie Project,” regularly in a basic literature class. Therefore, this next poem stood out well and poignantly.
FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD
Here they are again, the bright bugs of June
flittering the evening away, sun stressed
struts holding up the barbed wire fence, the moon
wandering dangerously, half dark, obsessed,
an abscess spilled into the deep holes snakes
have dug into the spiked hills. What is moot?
The question of love? Figurines on cake
don’t care about gender, stuck on a butte
of icing, Gable y Gable, Garbo
y Garbo, any part an actor can play.
O Shakespeare didn’t care if a hobo
wore a dress, a crown, as long as the day
was long, lovely. Each word a cut rhinestone.
Each touch, kiss, a dab of perfume, cologne.
– Dorianne Laux
Last, but not least, the next poem caught my eye because we analyze and dissect the tropes of Little Women in my Intro to Children’s Literature class. I love the main text for that course, incidentally. For awhile, I was using a traditional one that grew stale quickly. Then I came across this one by Perry Nodelman and Mavis Reimer. It approaches texts through a lit theory lens, boiled down but not dumbed down, that my about-to-graduate students are able to process with just a little help from me. Anyway, I read through this poem and enjoyed the twists. For your eyes only:
Jo in Little Women was not really June
Allyson. She was an actress with the stress
in pretending to be someone else, like the moon
in ovulation that never came out, the egg in obsess
that was your archetypal blank, that nearly killed her. I was a snake
to write my name in the sand near the water, first letter, moot
pont between time and eternity, she grimaced. The yellow cake
uranium was a free forgery, the horse I rode on a beaut.
I want to be alone, I said, like Garbo
but a dull boy’s awfully hard to play
and there you were as certain as a hat upon a hobo
that sublimity’s just one part of the day.
Don’t be sad, then, because we lost the rhinestone-
in-the-teacup; it was Berlin that kicked our legs up, not Cologne.
–Lisa Fishman & Richard Meier
One Response to “Bouts-Rimés”
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.