Today, during yoga, the Random Rhyme Generator turns on again, and hands this over: “marzipan-pale, mandolin-frail.” What do I do with that? It’s so retro – those are the kinds of poems I was writing in 1999 – and if I ever wanted to describe women in terms of musical instruments (high-strung), sugar, and alliteration, I don’t want to do it now.
To be honest, there is a very, very regrettable and derivative poem I wrote that year, in high school, which is some kind of Rapunzel-Greensleeves-Shalott-courtlylove-clusterstuck, and that is SO a line from that poem, which I thought I had left composting in the backyard of my brain, to feed future poems but not ever to remerge. Surprise. It’s back, shuffling its overwritten zombie stanzas up the stairs, dropping rhymes like clods of earth all over the kitchen floor.
Maybe, as I write more poetry, lines from the poems I was writing ten years ago will keep coming back. It’s like you can’t turn it on without turning it all on.
I wouldn’t use a line like that now, but I’m still proud of myself that that skill, matching words to one another on as many qualities as possible, which I cultivated so exclusively and so extremely for twenty-two years, is still dormant in my skull. (No more rhyming and I mean it.)
The kind of thing I would do now, and I’m about to, is write a poem about thinking of a line you can no longer use.