Friday, March 4, 2016

Poem of the Day: "The Rocket Ship in the Attic" by John C. Mannone, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “The Rocket Ship in the Attic” by John C. Mannone, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week’s Poet of the Week. The poet’s biography may be found in the “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” section.

The Rocket Ship in the Attic
John C. Mannone

I count down each step to the attic (I know)
            and the lights in the room distort.
                        I feel my body fading in the shadows (quick shadows),
I shudder as I open the door.

The lights in the attic distorting,
            there’s a blur in my eyes (then vertigo)
                        as I shudder when I open the door string
to a closet where a toy chest glows.

In a blur, my eyes fall in vertigo,
            I hold on to my life, this dust; dust spinning
                        all around me—in the closet, the toy chest aglow—
and a rocket caught in the swirl. It is floating

and I hold on, my life feels like dust, this dust spinning
            out of the chest. I see in a window of the rocket
                        caught in that terrible swirl, floating
inside is its captain—its eyes painted and bulging from sockets.

Out of the chest I saw it, in a window of that rocket,
            a clown glaring with laughter. Am I insane? So it seems
                        it is the captain, eyes painted bulging from its sockets.
Perhaps it’s simply a nightmare or dream

about a glaring clown insane with laughter. How it seems so
            impossible, a shadow in the other porthole staring back at me,
                        perhaps this is simply a nightmare in a dream,
I look closer and see a little boy inside… It is me!

Impossible! This shadow in the other porthole staring back at me.
            I count down each step away from the attic. And I know,
                        it looks closer and sees (that little boy inside… it is me).
I feel my body fading into shadows… very quick into shadows
of me.

Poet’s Notes:  It was close to Christmastime when I considered this poem, so toys were on my mind, but not your everyday toys. As I began to write “The Rocket Ship in the Attic,” I knew I wanted it to have a “Twilight Zone” feel. I elected to write it in a traditional form—a slightly subverted Pantoum with an abab slant rhyme scheme.

Whenever I write a form poem, it has to be fleshed-out beforehand by a process of brainstorming. In other words, I have to know where the poem was going; i.e., the story line in this case. The intermediate lines did evolve a bit more spontaneously as with free verse, but the "editor-brain" kicked in earlier in the process.

The predominant anapest rhythm sustains a level of tension while moving the poem along, especially with the stepped lines. The requisite repeated lines are altered by syntax to give them a different nuance of meaning.

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