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What We Might Be, What We Are -- X J Kennedy

       
(Poem #1327) What We Might Be, What We Are
 If you were a scoop of vanilla
 And I were the cone where you sat,
 If you were a slowly pitched baseball
 And I were the swing of a bat,

 If you were a shiny new fishhook
 And I were a bucket of worms,
 If we were a pin and a pincushion,
 We might be on intimate terms.

 If you were a plate of spaghetti
 And I were your piping-hot sauce,
 We'd not even need to write letters
 To put our affection across.

 But you're just a piece of red ribbon
 In the beard of a Balinese goat
 And I'm a New Jersey mosquito.
 I guess we'll stay slightly remote.
-- X J Kennedy
Today's poem strikes a wonderfully deadpan tone of self mockery - the
metaphors hover on the verge of the reasonable, with a violent overtone that
seduces the reader into believing the poem is 'serious'. Indeed, by the
end of second verse, Kennedy has set the stage so that he can, should he so
wish, continue the theme in an increasingly dark vein, using the not
uncommon technique of a nursery-rhyme form in deliberate contrast to the
content.

On the other hand, there's the ubiquitous "If...", with its promise of a
"but" to come, and by the time the third verse hints that the poem is,
perhaps, not entirely serious, we have already started building up our
expectations for the inevitable punchline.

Luckily, the last verse bears the weight of that expectation - it's both
nicely absurd and nicely deadpan, a combination that when it works works
very well indeed. I was unfamiliar with this lighter side of Kennedy, and I
must say it's a most welcome discovery.

martin

34 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Anonymous said...

they need to make a remake

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