The Brooklyn Film Festival at Windmill Studios poem

The Brooklyn Film Festival at Windmill Studios

A windmill guards wonder pictures:
blades hedging bad ideas.
Festival goers’ fists and feet
vote as teams, very to very,
sparrows—they echo spite for spite,
but they aren’t right: Thous aren’t here.
The windmill unwinds weathered not
from spins unwound or spurning found sins.
Windies gone whence called:
nailed and neutered, naught milling here.
It waits. It dates waves of critics’
protected programs — posh thoughts in
tiny tins, Tiny Tims
unwelcomed by codes, unwell minds and
well alike, aligned. Alight in pyres
built of prying prudes martyred
for vows they vowed, vowels howl from
faithful ones hung (fading wonders):
“Can not and never can recant.”
No ashes nor knowing masks
that judge our judging as we ask an
honest question to ourselves
about our little burnished hell’s mill:
“By what did dem blades get cleaned?”

On odd years, I’ve made this habit of doubling my age and writing that many poems. I did it with the 46 @ 23, the 50 @ 25, and the 54 @ 27.

This year, for the 58 @ 29, I plan to focus on alliterative meter as you saw above in this poem about the Brooklyn Film Festival. It’s the meter used by Middle English and Old English poets as well as Latin and Greek poets. Basically all epic poets use some form of alliterative meter and it hasn’t been used in English for a thousand years. I will be pulling from the rules offered in Lewis’ article on The Alliterative Meter:

In the general reaction which has set in against the long reign of foreign, syllabic meters in English, it is a little remarkable that few have yet suggested a return to our own ancient system, the alliterative line…. Alliteration is no more the whole secret of this verse than rhyme is the whole secret of syllabic verse. It has, in addition, a metrical structure, which could stand alone, and which would then be to this system as blank verse is the syllabic….

A few successful specimens of alliterative meter would be an excellent answer to the type of critic (by no means extinct) who accuses the moderns of choosing vers libre because they are not men enough for meter. For if syllabic verse is like carving in wood and verse libre like working with a brush, alliterative meter is like carving in granite.

“Vers Libre” for those who don’t know is Latin for “free verse.” Lewis has, ultimately, offered for my poetry just the kind of reaction I prefer in all of my life: a reaction that is, deep down, orthodoxy. A reaction to dead branches as radical as the radish itself is to its dead leaf: radical because it is the root of the thing.

Here is the table of contents for my 58 attempts over the next year. After the monogram, I’m including a quote from Chesterton’s An Apology for Buffoons because it defends proper use of alliteration in English:

Go here to see all of my 58 poems written at 29 years old.

lancelot tobias mearcstapa schaubert monogram

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