Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dress Up Time

By Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy
My son Stephen, unintentionally
looking like Edward Scissorhands

Whether you celebrate Halloween or not, it seems like a good day to talk about how you dress up your poems. Do they always “say what you mean, mean what you say”? Or do you use them to get across a different message entirely?

Where you wind up with your poem doesn't have to be intentional. Sometimes heading for a clever twist is a sure way to come off stilted and contrived. I like to be as surprised by where my poems wind up as my readers (hopefully!) will be.

In that spirit (and for All Hallow’s Eve), I present here a poem I wrote for this day last year. Our neighborhood is one of the most trick-or-treated in my city, and I was thinking about the crowds of kids with their parents milling around in the dark, and began to describe it. I wound up at a completely different public spectacle. This poem is also an acrostic poem, like we discussed last week:

All is noise. No stillness is undisturbed.
Little children mill about with their parents
Like it is a festal holiday,
Hoping for special things and spectacle.
All around are people dressed as soldiers,
Like maniacs and like kings.
Lots of blood and gore are par for the course.
One hears sounds of screaming
Which helps orient in the darkness.
Soon it will be over, people will go home.
Everyone will return to normality,
Vicariously having participated in the
Evil of the crucifixion.

Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy is a freelance writer and poet living in the upstate of South Carolina with his wife and four children. To find his daily poetry entries, log onto: 

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