It’s not a poem unless it rhymes

Poems are not fossilized insects, caught mid-buzz
in amber, shakespeared museum pieces
with the correct number of feet in the meter,
waiting to be dusted off and counted,
or fizzed in pop culture, orange soda shaken
and hallmarked to the singsong tick
of a driveled metronome.

It’s not about form anymore.
This playing tennis without a net
volleys inside what’s spoken–call it poetry
or pretty prose, the difference is felt in the bones,
strung by breath and assonance if we have ears for it,
or blood pulled by a moon in full perigee, and the surety
of knowing night sings to us in the voices of crickets,
certain as day shouts the hard blue of sky, broken
by sunlight and poured into valleys.

A Dali is no da Vinci, though his art filters light
like stained glass does sun, from somewhere under the canvas,
and vanย Goghย stars reel over the world
in no known constellation. ย Unchained, this art of paint
or words stretches past what’s expected and touches spirit.
Even if the face is jumbled.
Even if the words don’t rhyme.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in New Free Verse and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to It’s not a poem unless it rhymes

  1. oneofaclass says:

    Putting the WriM in NaPoWriMo ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. purple says:

    I detect some ruffled feathers from a soul who knows she writes from that place within, and cares not for those who try to declare nothing more than their inflated opinions of what is and what should and what cannot be … keep writing your beautiful poetry, especially if it doesn’t rhyme! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. well played – “the singsong tick of a driveled metronome” is delicious

  4. davidtrudel says:

    Brilliant! This is a tour de force Susan, I love it.

  5. This is fab Susan – I have a pet hate for poems that get read dum-de-dum-de-dum in that patronising sing song voice, like nursery rhymes. So this speaks to me! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Holly, thanks! Came out of a comment discussion somewhere in internet land, where the guy was insisting if it didn’t rhyme, it wasn’t a poem ๐Ÿ˜‰

      True perhaps 150 years ago…

  6. Brilliantly written as always my poetess friend!

  7. yeoldefoole says:

    ‘orange soda shaken!’ that’s a great poem, Susan!

  8. This is stunning. And…it doesn’t rhyme. Point made I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Pingback: Praise Sunday: Best Blogs (w/c April 28th) | I am a heathen.

  10. dustandsoul says:

    This post featured in my weekly best blog round-up, Praise Sunday: ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Pingback: A Poem Is | faceatthewindow

  12. Absolutely brilliant! There are many types of poems and this most certainly is a poem. I like all types of poetry from the sing song to the free verse and I love exploring it all. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Morgan, as do I–with the exception of the Hallmark variety. I love experimenting with form and rhyme, and enjoy some more traditional forms now and then in my own reading. This actually was in response to a chucklehead who was insisting that a particular poem (not one I wrote) was NOT a poem because it didn’t rhyme.

  13. Beth Camp says:

    Sometimes I like the discipline of a rhymed poem, but I LOVE the freedom of an unstructured poem, with lines made and words chosen that power the poem. And I love the poignancy of those last lines here. Will you write poetry past April???

  14. seekingmeme says:

    “the difference is felt in the bones” and my bones insist this is poetry at its finest! I’m curious if the comment that ruffled your feathers came from those following Amanda Palmer’s poem…

    • Hahaha–yes, they did. Now, I didn’t like her poem for other reasons, but that guy who kept insisting that it wasn’t a good poem because it didn’t rhyme…that pissed me off. You found the source for the inspiration. This has been cooking for a week and finally rose to the surface today.

  15. Trent Lewin says:

    Even if the words ‘just’ don’t rhyme? Well that’s a great thought and a great example of why poetry need not rhyme. Seriously Susan, rhyming poetry is kind of for children, who appreciate the subtle similarities between “cat” and “hat”, and “blue” and “poo”. Rhyming gives us a sense of comfort, like eating McDonald’s on the first leg of a road trip or tucking into that sordid novel to find the really juicy scenes. It’s a trick, glamorized and popularized especially in pop music, and so heavy in our culture now that we come to expect it – to our detriment, more than likely. I think we should stick a fork in the rhymers of the world (we should dub them “rascals”, that’s a propa old-style word that needs a refresh), literally piercing their carefully crafted odes to the final syllable until they bleed out in some ditch somewhere. I know this sounds harsh, but I have to be honest here, when I reach for poetry, it always rhymes. Oh the guilt! The horror! The horror! The sheer lack of poetic competence and delicacy! Anyway, you seem to seldom rhyme and that’s excellent, for you always deliver the goods. Continue delivering the goods, strange lady!

    • Lewin, I love, love, love this comment!

      My thoughts on rhyming: It’s fun. Not something I would want to do on a daily basis, as it would drive me crazier than I already am. There is some exquisite rhymed, metered verse out there, and none of it anything I could write (although I like to read it from time to time). Since I can’t bubble and burble over as wonderfully and magically as Dr. Seuss did, I will limit end-rhymes in my own writing, and sneak it in internally. Love the idea of poking the juice out of overused literary devices, though–I can hear the hiss and spit now. I think it is easier to write rhymes than to write poetry. This response was generated by a chucklehead comment I read online (can read above if interested), and I am so glad it did. Glad you liked this.

  16. I stand and I applaud ๐Ÿ™‚ and even through you and Face and RoS I have learnt to write differently than what I was doing when I first started, so I thank you.

  17. doncarroll says:

    I’ve never been one for forms. it’s all about how it drives out of the veins and unto the paper. playing tennis without a net is absolutely my favorite line. nicely done susan…:) please keep in mind I can’t keep up with everything. the combination of what i’m going through, multi posts and a quite the list I follow. it’s hard to keep up and get everything.

  18. passing what is expected, YES!

  19. “the difference is felt in the bones. . . stretches past whatโ€™s expected and touches spirit.” Yes! This is it. You have added your poetic definition of poetry, and to my mind it’s right up there with “emotion recalled in tranquility,” or an imaginary pond with real toads.

  20. nelle says:

    …he difference is felt in the bones,
    strung by breath and assonance if we have ears for it…

    High praise of your craft, in the words, in the doing.

  21. Patricia Chenayi Nyandoro says:

    i love you!
    dont think so
    still love your work anywhere!

    keep on writing!!

  22. Patrick says:

    Hi Susan, can’t say I would agree with anyone who says that “it’s not poetry if it doesn’t rhyme”. I also would never say that rhyming is for children or “feel good” pablum. If one is going to write free verse though, I wish the vocal majority (the poems we see in publications) would wake up to poets like you. When is the last time we’ve seen anthimeria (my favorite rhetorical figure) in the august pages of Poetry magazine? Your word “shakespeared”, is an example of that. War was also declared on rhetoric with the advent of modernisms (not only rhyme); and your poem is stuffed full of rhetorical figures that would probably get you a polite rejection slip from most modern journals. Despite many of the comments here, your great little poem has more in common with traditional poetry than contemporary poetry. You use elision, simile, analogy, metaphor, verbal metaphor, anthropomorphizing, etc… All these compressive techniques separate poetry from whatever (these days) isn’t poetry. For me, personally, it isn’t poetry if it’s prose. Line breaks don’t turn prose into poetry.

    • Hello Patrick! Thank you for such beautifully expressed thoughts here. I agree that this little poem is stuffed with devices and language that make it what it is, and not an essay written in skinny lines. That’s what makes it fun for me. I am afraid I would never be a good postmodernist poet.

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  24. Susan, this is a beautiful and a major contribution to aeasthetics. I remember our exchanges with Obinna who believes that good poetry is only accessible to the dedicated few! I am reblogging this.

    • Thanks, Noel! I remember those volleys with Obinna, and perhaps there might be about three out of ten who completely “get” what is being said in a poem. However, the other seven might just appreciate the beauty of it, and that is more than “good enough” for this woman ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. Reblogged this on visionvoiceandviews and commented:
    The test for poetry is if you can taste it with your bones!

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