Jericho Brown has won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
He is, among other things, the inventor of the Duplex Poem.
*This is a poem of fourteen lines in seven couplets.
*The second line of each couplet has to be echoed in the first line of the next couplet.
*The first and the last lines are the same.
Here is my attempt at a Duplex poem.
A murmuration of starlings swirling high
Clouding, unclouding the bleak grey sky
Then turning to magic that bleak grey sky…
Their unending rustle rouses something,
A something which awakens a tender shoot
That branches as starlings do in flight
My starlings in flight, brightening swirls
Lightening the dull grey mindscape… .
If starlings can lighten the dull skyscape
And turn magical the cold grey scene
Surely some magic can star this grey mind ?
All is not lost, says a murmur within;
All is not lost when you see in the sky
A murmuration of starlings swirling high.
From Russia with Love
Pretty, preening doll;
Painted black and red;
I looked, I saw, was conquered;
I longed to take you to bed.
When you shed a whorl
Before my wide eyes,
I found a double within,
Only, smaller, less bright.
When you shed the next
Before my sad eyes
I found another,
Lesser in height.
You do it again
Cast off a whorl,
To my sight… .
And so you diminish
And bit by bit you die;
Smaller and cheaper
As the days tick by.
A SCHOOLBOY SPEAKS
That white thing out there,
sunk in our brand-new lake…
That’s Desert Star, the bus we go to school by;
Abu‘s father bought it when he returned for good
From the Gulf.
Abu is fine, thank God !
Abu, my best friend
Whose pockets bulged with strange sweets
When his father still slaved over there;
Abu is safe: his house didn’t break the way mine did.
Leena too, God be praised; her family moved
Just before the deluge – will I ever touch that Krishna ring
On her creamy finger or carry her Angela schoolbag?
Oh! Our books are pulp; dissolved in tears, my mother said.
How will Tiger Sir twist ears
When there are no books to mug from?
My football is safe.The outhouse was spared
When our house caved in.
I was outdoors, running after Bruno as he dashed out barking
At the strange roar above.
He escaped, though.
They haven’t found my body as yet.
Relax, croons the super beautymaker,
Though this will hurt a bit,
It makes your dead skin burn
And fall in tiny bits.
So you look smooth, sleek, young.
I lie back, tense.
Will it work with you, I wonder…
Some burning some scraping
Till I am free of you ?
Half animal -half stone,
Will I stop hungering for a lick, a pat?
Will I rise, turn two-legged,
While my passion shatters in pain
and lets fall its shards
on your inert face,
Leaving me old, cold, sane?
*the process of changing one’s heart, likes, self.
Too Early, Too Late
At the temple that evening
I was early, too early.
The flowers were still askew upon the tiled floor,
The lamps rested like soldiers, on their sides.
Walking around, I saw the old priest,
Lean legs exposed,
Crouching by the well,
Scrubbing a figure.
It was dull grey and big
I saw him right it ; a human shape
With a projection for nose, sockets for eyes and a dent for mouth.
I hastened away and waited by the gate again.
The sanctum was closed.
He shoved it open
With his towel-wrapped burden.
In time the bells pealed
The door swung open
A hundred lamps sent flickering rays
Upon His ornate face.
Big lustrous eyes
Scarlet smiling mouth
A gleaming crown
While the devotees swung in worship
And in praise;
I too closed my eyes…
All I could see was that grey figure,
Stripped, wet, true.
Your practised steering
That moved over swells, fore and aft,
And made no swerves to search the hold within
Senses soft gold today… .
Tug after tug that I sent
Have guided you close, again.
Lie alongside, then,
Pirate, caulk your vessel
With that molten gold
That will seal it, steal it
From storms and winds of chance
That threaten every clime;
And help to hold your hull together
In weary weather.