July 13, 2010

Stephen Kessler

ANY HACK CAN CRANK OUT A HUNDRED SONNETS

Any hack can crank out a hundred sonnets
if he has to; all you have to do
is set up your metronome and start typing,
taking dictation from the day’s small gifts,
whatever presents itself in the street
or dredges itself up from memory
or dreams itself out of your transcribing hand.
It’s an insidious form, because it’s almost
easy, leading you by the wrist through rules
and rhythms as old as the English language
translated down the ages in idioms
transformed by time and driven by dying breaths.
It gives you a false sense of what you meant
when the closing couplet clinches your argument.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009
Tribute to the Sonnet