Sunday, March 04, 2007

A snowclone about poetry

Dave Smith's otherwise rambling essay "St. Cyril's Dragon: The Threat of Poetry" contains a wonderful snowclone in its opening paragraph (in fact, it is the essay's thesis, in a sense):

No threat, no poem.

Here, the snowclone is "No X, no Y," based on "No harm, no foul."


The one book of Dave Smith's poems I have is Fate's Kite, which I love. The thirteen-line form of all the poems gives them a brevity and tightness that are admirable, along with a slightly truncated sensation, caused perhaps by the ingrown desire for a fourteenth line.


How long had it lain there, coverless, red-back
spine spurning the Midwestern dusk like dignity
in faces that stand so before the plate-glass,
then shuffle wordless to the end of the street?
The librarian's hand in flared sun. Your friend?
Red Warren's selected. I hadn't read to the end
but did by dusk, rocking in shade. It was to me
the revelation, the gaze of Mary's that gasps
when the stone's touched. All since I can track
like the night spilling over asphalt, and dawn's
dew-glitter in yards I ran, and earlier mowed
for cash, needing my way in the world. But why
did that book rise just then? Like a face at dusk.

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