Easy enough, the people in the park,
A subway addict, or some screaming child:
Knock off five lines from some chance-heard remark,
A tic observed, or mood or clothes gone wild.
A longer piece for loves, coworkers, friends,
People you’ve bonded with, played some life game;
Can’t be so flip – unless the portrait bends,
Fictionalizing thoughts in formal frame.
And closer to you than your own bed mate
Is, tougher yet, perspective and full view
Of parents, more than threaded through your fate,
They’re warp and weft, the loom, the weavers too.
So, last of all, the golden trophy shelf:
That great and grand grotesquery, yourself.
… which is merely to say that writing about people has difficulties that increase as the subjects are closer to you. Technically, a Shakespearean sonnet (iambic pentameter, rhyming ABAB CDCD EFEF GG), though without a volta, that delightful twist that reverses the mood or imagery or argument. Oh well.
Originally published in The Poetry Porch, edited by Joyce Wilson.
Photo: “National Portrait Gallery” by Joe Shlabotnik is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0