Cloudbank 8 includes poetry and flash fiction by Rebecca Lilly, Jake Young, Deborah H. Doolittle, Bill Brown, Dennis Saleh, Barrett Warner and others. Even So: New and Selected Poems by Gary Young, Animism by Dennis Schmitz and Floating Heart by Stuart Friebert are reviewed.
Issue introduction by Michael Malan
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Rhyme and Off-rhyme
Is rhyme cool? Or has it gone the way of Robert Frost and Richard Wilbur? There are signs that rhyme may be making a comeback. Kay Ryan, former Poet Laureate of the United States (2008-2010), is a practitioner, although many of her rhymes are really off-rhymes or near rhymes—they don’t rely on precisely the same repeated sounds. Here’s an example from her poem “Blunt:” “What is the / blunt of this / I would ask you //our conversation / weeding up / like the Sargasso.” “Ask you” doesn’t quite rhyme with the sea, but it’s close, and Sargasso is a fun word to include in a poem.
“Is the snail / sharpened / by crawling / over diamonds?” asks Ryan in another poem:
Sarah Murphy is also a competent rhyme-ster. Consider this excerpt from “Letter to the Past after Long Silence“:
I’d wager you wish to live in peace,
to wake at night to silence, no guns,
no thunder, flame and plunder, just
a cadence of rain, each drop erasing
failure’s stale taste. And I’d bet
my name dismays you greatly, so
let me state my case.
How many rhymes and off-rhymes can you find in these seven lines? “Thunder” and “plunder,” “flame” and “name” are the only pure rhymes. “Taste” and “case,” “rain” and “name” are very close. And unlike end-rhymes of past poetry, these little gems sneak up on you (and say “Peekaboo!”).
PRIZE WINNING POEM
Tanya, Tanya, Tayna
by Barrett Warner
Florida. Know it well. Drank kerosene there in 1970. My father wanted to know why I’d drink kerosene. I was thirsty. Looked like water.
Did it smell like water? No. Was it a fountain? Were birds bathing in it? It was a tank drum, I said. Skull marked with an “X” right above the word kerosene.
He hauled me to the hospital to have my stomach pumped. The next day we visited the Execution Museum and saw an electric chair from the 1920s.
Last night, Tanya called from St. Augustine to say her husband was sleeping in the garage beside the Mercury. I listened and closed my eyes and sucked air through my teeth.
I was so thirsty, lying next to my wife who was plugged-in to a book about Flanders, the cries of the wounded, mustard gases.
I thumbed an atlas, scanning varicose highways. What could forty years have done to Florida? When my wife asked me for water I reached for the bottle, drained half, and gave her the rest.
I wanted to say, because I’m a mean bastard. Instead of asking why I had done that, Lisa stared at the ceiling. The rain hammered our tin. Lisa said, Who’s Tanya?
Poets and writers in Cloudbank 8
Hannah Mae Bissell
Deborah H. Doolittle
Jennifer L. Freed
David Lee Garrison
Richard Michael Levine
Marc J. Sheehan