Poetry: Dissecting a Poem

[This was published in the Spring of 1991 in the New Mexico English Journal.]

The Poem,
Sitting there, dead.
The Poem,
IT is no longer read.
As it lies on the table, it makes no movement, it spreads no joy.
I get the boring task of cutting it open and pulling out the guts.
It doesn’t matter if a noun or two falls out, as long as I see what it was composed of.
The dead carcass of a poem spreads no joy or misery, it doesn’t warm the heart or make you think any longer.
The first incision.
A long deep incision like the cut on Zeus’ head.
But a goddess does not spring out.
I see that I am dissecting one of those common poems called a “Free-verse”.
I don’t expect to find much, just a bunch of words crammed together.
The incision is deep.
The clips hold back the carcass so I can look inside.

there is a lot more than I expected.
It is or was full of joy, hate, love, misery, gratitude, cheerfulness, and every other emotion I could think of.
Slowly I pull out the bad emotions.
Hate, jealousy, misery, and depression are pulled out and put into a petri dish for later examination.
Next comes love, joy, cheerfulness, gratitude, and an overall feeling of greatness.
They need a bigger dish I see.
Next I peer inside.
There in every part are metaphors and similes.
The long task of removing each one so as not to injure any other parts.
Many, many similes pour out like a riot trying to break out of jail.
Hundreds of metaphors jumping out like parachutes in danger.
Behind the similes there lies mood.
A small incision reveals hundreds of moods that have been put into “Free-verse” here.
Finally I find the description.
Literally billions of words in every combination flow out.
I get a glance at the last few words that come out.
The few small words that mean a lot go past.
I think back and see how I didn’t want to dissect this carcass of “Free-verse”.
But now I think this is the best dissection I have performed.
Who knows?
Maybe I’ll get to dissect a sonnet tomorrow.

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