I happen to be a fan of ingenuity too...
(Poem #195) Juggler, Magician, Fool - A Pantoum
You mysterious jongleur, abstracted, absorbed, you slowly pace the street. You stare, detached, through a curtain: silver balls in the air. You slowly pace the street, tossing coins, cups, scarves, silver balls in the air, making a skydance --- tossing coins, cups, scarves, each in their separate paths, making a skydance, chaotic, hypnotic; each in their separate paths, dancing (chaotic, hypnotic) the random paths of stars; dancing through and around; the random paths of stars, moons, comets, and the sudden flare-fade streak through and around everything, the mystical hands tossing destinies; moons, comets, and the sudden flare-fade streak of your hands ordering everything. The mystical hands tossing destinies --- the feel of your hands ordering the planets to dance. The feel of chaos put in order. Tell the planets to dance on your palm. Of chaos put in order, tell the stars in their places in the lines on your palm. Whirl the stars in their places in the lines. You stare, detached, through a curtain. Whirl, you mysterious jongleur, abstracted, absorbed.
Here's what the author himself has to say about his chosen poetic form: "True, it's an unusual pantoum. Here's what Clement Wood says about the form in his Rhyming Dictionary (Doubleday, 1936): "Ernest Fouinet introduced the Malayan pantoum into French versification, and Victor Hugo popularized it in the Orientales. It is written in four-line stanzas; and the second and fourth line of each stanza become the first and third of the succeeding stanza. In the last stanza, the second and fourth lines are the third and first of the first stanza; so that the opening and closing lines of the pantoum are identical. The rhyme scheme would then be: 1, 2, 1, 2; 2, 3, 2, 3; 3, 4, 3, 4; . . . n, 1, n, 1. " Notice that he says nothing about meter. Juggler, Magician, Fool began as a strict pantoum in that the lines were correctly repeated according to the dictates of the form; however, they varied in length. The author then discovered that the poem read better with long lines than with short, so he eliminated every second line break. This poem is the result. " -- Peter Schaeffer Are we sufficiently impressed yet? Pantoums put villanelles in the shade - they're far more complex, more constrained, and more convoluted. To write a poem which is 'good' in absolute terms  while adhering to the straitjacket of this particular form requires astonishing skill and ingenuity, and I for one confess myself thoroughly impressed. While on the topic of form (and I don't see how we can stray too far from it, in today's context), notice how irregular the (implied) line breaks are - in length, in content, in lexical position. It makes an interesting game, spotting them and (even better) trying out various substitute lines/phrases. Of course, I couldn't possibly mention form without bringing up her old partner-in-crime, content . The connection here is obvious: the repetitive, almost hypnotic words mimic the juggler's whirling silver spheres as they trace their convoluted paths; yet underlying them both there is a pattern, a cyclicity - not, admittedly, an easy one to spot, but nevertheless one that's crucial to the whole. And both words and objects contain (or seem to contain) stars, galaxies, whole universes of meaning. The poet is both creator and created; his identity merges with that of the juggler as he brings order to the chaos of the written world. Wheels within wheels within wheels - intricate, and marvellous. thomas.  and I do think today's poem is a good one by any standards.  did I hear someone say "Oh no, there he goes again..."? PS. form vs. content, self-reference, poems about poetry... boy, I really struck gold with this poem :-) PPS. an afterthought: rereading Martin's comments to yesterday's poem - "[Self-reference] is a not-too-unusual device in poems whose main focus is their form - inverting the scheme of things somewhat, the content highlights and reinforces the form, explicitly pointing out its various features." - note that although form _is_ emphasized in today's poem, it is not the be-all and end-all; its primary role remains the reinforcement of content. This is an important distinction; it raises 'Juggler, Magican, Fool' above the level of a mere intellectual curiosity and into the realms of 'true' poetry.