When I started an English course, my teacher said, “If you want to become a jockey of words and maneuver the English language so that splendor shines through the letters aligned in row after row, a poem must be written every day.”
“I’m not a poet, and I’ll never be a poet,” I said, and thought that rhymed.
My teacher said, “Try to put music into your words, try to meter your speech, try to rhyme the words you use, and you’ll soon see that even someone like you can be a poet,”.
“Why would I even try? I’ve never met a poem I enjoyed!”
“There’s beauty within everyone that needs to be expressed, and words are the means used for it to bloom.”
I decided to try. I wrote, “A golden orb slowly comes into view. The world awakens to the tap tapping of my fingers touching black & white keys, trying to make beauty from a language that isn’t at all passionate or easy on the lips.”
“Not bad, for a first try,” my teacher, Miss Sprite said, “but I’m giving you a D. You need to learn that a word like passionate can be said in many ways: avid, adoring, obsessive, ardent, fervent, zealous, fanatical, loving, are other words that could be used.”
My eyes were opened to so many connotations. I decided to try again using other language, terms, expressions, terminology, vocabulary, or lexis. I wrote, “Once again, once more, for a second time, I’m trying to write a poem, a verse, a rhyme, an ode, a sonnet, an elegy, a limerick, a couplet, or maybe an epic. It’ll be about war, conflict, combat, confrontation, hostilities, battles, fighting, and finally peace, harmony, or serenity.”
Proud of my poem, I showed Miss Sprite what I had written. The look on her face forewarned of what was to come.
“Joe, you may be right about never being a poet. You don’t seem to understand that rhythm gives a poem its sound, and there are many ways that rhythm is used, and lots of elements in poetry that are related to rhythm. This time you get an F for failing to listen to what I said.”
I thought she was mistaken, incorrect, off beam, just plain wrong. I’d show her I knew how to rhyme. I wrote another poem, a verse, a rhyme, an ode, a sonnet, an elegy, a limerick, a couplet, or maybe it was an epic. I showed it to Miss Sprite and her frown, her puckered brow, her scowl, her glower, her grimacing glare, warned me that she wasn’t pleased.
“I’ll give you an A, for effort, but another F, for your failure to understand. You must know there is no one way to write a poem. A foot is a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. Meter is the number of feet that is in a line of poetry and a line of poetry can have any number of feet.”
“What’s a syllable, what’s stressed and unstressed, what’s a foot? I know what a gas or electric meter is, but a poetry meter? Is it something that counts the words, or the rhymes, or maybe the syllables used?” I said.
I was tempted to quit, but I decided to try to make sense from all this gibberish Miss Sprite talked about. I wanted to write one more poem. I couldn’t decide if the first stanza should be a couplet or a quatrain, should it be a ballad, an epic, an elegy, or maybe a long narrative or sonnet? I’d use rhyme, rhythm and meter if I could decide what to write. Maybe a poem about Miss Sprite would influence her thinking and she’d approve?
I wrote, when the Devil recruited teachers to spread his awful words, he chose you as his special envoy to make my life hell on Earth. Why even your name is a derivative of his. You have helped me to understand the evil and ugliness of this world, and I have sinned because you wanted me to.
When the fiend made you his disciple, he enabled you to make me decide to do wrong instead of right, and to write words in a line that showed wickedness was the only way.
When the imp recruited you to recruit me to show the rest of the world that his way was the way, you bargained for a place in hell where you could teach wayward souls that they had done well by following the words you had taught.
When that mischievous sprite meets me face to face, I’ll tell the Prince of Darkness that you fell flat on your face when you tried to teach me about poetry and feet. Then he’ll teach you all about how he loves to put your foot in the fire so he can hear the blasphemy pour from your lying mouth.
When the Fallen Angel asks me why I say, ‘lying mouth,’ I’ll say, ‘Miss Sprite told me my poetry was good.’ And then I’ll watch while he puts your tiny white feet to the flames, the conflagration, the inferno, the flames and those are no clichés.
“I’m sorry that an F, is the lowest mark I have. The poem you have written is gross, and I’ll have you know, I take a size ten, and as far as putting my feet to the flames, I’ve already arranged for that to happen to you. It was part of the deal.”
I watched all my poetic words burst into dancing flames with a touch of her finger and a smile crossed her face.
“I’m sending your words straight to Hell where they belong, and pretty soon I’ll send you there too, if you dare to write another poem.”
I started to write, “This poem is for y…” the pen exploded and pierced my heart, and it was too late to take back my words.