Stonework is published by Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts college located in New York’s rural Genesee Valley. Stonework seeks a diverse mix of mature and emerging voices in fellowship with the evangelical tradition. Published twice a year, the journal reflects the arts community at Houghton College where excellence in music, writing, and the visual arts has long been a distinctive.

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  • Issue 6
    Poetry by Paul Willis and Thom Satterlee. Fiction and interview with Lori Huth. Essay by James Wardwell, and student poets from Christian campuses.
  • Issue 5
    Poetry by Susanna Childress and Debra Rienstra. Fiction excerpt by Emilie Griffin. Art from Houghton's 2007 presidential inauguration and a forum on women writing.
  • Issue 4
    Matthew Roth--new poems. Diane Glancy--from One of Us and an interview. John Tatter-on gardens and poetry. The Landscapes of John Rhett. Stephen Woolsey--on the poetry of Jack Clemo. James Wardwell--on Herrick.
  • Issue 3
    Poetry by Julia Kasdorf, Robert Siegel and Sandra Duguid. Fiction by Tom Noyes. The portraits of Alieen Ortlip Shea. An anthology of Australian Poets
  • Issue 2
    Thom Satterlee - Poems from Burning Wycliff with an appreciation by David Perkins. Alison Gresik - new fiction and an interview. James Zoller - Poems from Living on the Floodplain.
  • Issue 1
    Luci Shaw — new poems with an appreciation by Eugene H. Peterson & Hugh Cook — new fiction and an interview

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My First and Indeed My Last -- A Poem in 12 Fits or Starts

~William Griffin

Not that there's anything wrong with that, no,
a poem on water? if I may begin where I'll end. My mistake!

I'd complained in public,
I should've known better,
that never in my writing life did anyone ask
me to write a poem, or assign me the task.
And so the Poet, the Master Poet, the Poetaster,
the Sonneteer Siníster, slapped me in the face with one.
What's more, he laid down the rules.

Typically, one would have thought him Roman or Italic,
but no, typographically, he was Greek Orthodox,
Extra Bold Extended, Display Caps only.

"Title?" I asked.
"‘A Poem on Water,'" he replied.
"With water music?" I asked. "I could Handel that."
"No music," he replied, unable to handle a note himself.
"First word?" I asked.
"Not," he replied.
"Not?" I asked.
"Naught but a not," he replied.
"Naughty but nice," mused I, notting along to be nice. "But
many are the nots, not spelled the same, not meant the same."
"It's nice to be naughty," he nodded,
his reasoning knotted. "End with a not or else pay the price!"

"Stanza?" I dared ask.
"Four Tercels, or three Quattros," he dared reply.
"That's more than I can afford," I humm-mm-mmed,
but to a dealership I hied where a parking lot of Stanzas I espied.
Who'd ‘ve thought a Stanza Civic to be so pricey,
but I did find a pre-owned one that was rather nicey.

"Caesura?" I asked further.
"I come to bury Caesura, not to phrase him!" he replied further
with what I thought was a little too much bravura.
"End rhyme?" I had to know.
"No end rhyme!" he had to tell.
"No end rhyme? Did you hear that, ladies and gentlemen? He says No
end rhyme!"
"It's about time, don't you think?" he asked rhetorically.

"But what about feet?" I countered sillily.
"Surely a poem has to have feet if it's to travel, not to creep."
"What think you of Mr. Iamb?" he asked icily.
"I'm nuts about Mr. Iamb," I replied heartily,
"and I'm crazy for his hat."
"Miss Anapest it is then," he said irenically.
"Not in your top knot!" I announced iratedly.
"Mr. Iamb it is then," he spouted apophatically,
"but you'll live to regret it!"

"I-amb Who-amb," Mr. Iamb once said to me
in a moment of private revelation;
"thou shalt not have false feet before thee!"
So iamb it is then, iamba cum viol de gamba!

Those were the rules, that was the assignment,
flung like a pie right into my mush.
Cream, yes, but shaving, not whipped—
such was his menthol operandi that
I sent him tumbling onto his tush.

A Laureate without laurels he was;
a Poet on water himself,
in summer swanning in thick algae,
in winter coruscating on thin ice.
More Neptune than Naiad,
drowning end rhymes like kittens—
that was his devious intention...
but he was ill, the Poet;
something to do with water retention.

His wooden frame topped by a facial fuzz,
in smart contact with smooth surface,
would leap to flame.
Alas, it was me he wanted to torch
with this "poem on water," and I
in my humility am all too incendiary.
To burn or to drown, those were his only concerns.

I shall end where I began, with a naught,
not that there's anything wrong with a knot,
as long as it's a knot with a knoose,
not a burnoose, just a nuisance to be noosed.
To tie a knot, alas, I cannot, at least all by myself;
someone else must help.
But now, alone at last, all by myself,
more ebullient than a Booleant,
I can write a poem truly my own,
not having to begin with a not, or a knot, or a naught].
Not that there's anything naughty with a not....
But I won't!

Definitely Not Dedicated to Scott Cairns.