Ken Cormier
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THIS POEM

This poem is about my father, who raised me on a small farm in northwestern Connecticut and whose sternness and magnanimous disinterest have always been an inspiration as well as a serious obstacle to my development as a human being.

This poem is written in iambic pentameter, punctuated by perky rhymed couplets that utilize anapestic and dactylic qualities conjoined with clever use of slant rhyme.

This poem eschews sentimentalism. I do not intend to be sentimental toward my father, as he never showed the slightest sentiment toward me, though now and then he did command me to ride my little bike to the general store and acquire a carton of cigarettes or a flagon of whiskey for him, a gesture which, though fraught with illegality and smacking of apathy toward the sensibilities of a seven-year-old, still contained something of a loving symbiosis, the likes of which I will always cherish, not to mention it paved the way for me to start smoking and drinking whiskey at a tender age, which of course did not turn out to be wise or particularly healthy choices and which to this day I regret with all my heart and soul.

This poem is also a love letter to my tiny stuffed elephant, Bruno, who looms as a major figure in my young life. I have known Bruno since I could remember. He is blue and very soft and he jingles ever so sweetly. O Bruno, the things you and I have seen. Together Bruno and I milked the cows, fed the chickens, and watched re-runs of the Ed Sullivan show. Bruno is still with me, though he is so threadbare I was finally forced to have him sewn into the lining of my winter coat. Bruno, this poem is as much for you as it is for my dear father. Bruno, in so many ways you are my dear father.

This poem is an elegy of sorts, but it also uses some of the formal constraints of the limerick. Sort of an elegiac limerick, as it were, with playful rhyming but dour and dismal themes.

This poem uses constant alliteration. The letter “s” is featured prominently at the beginning and end of every line, as are the combined consonant sounds “ch” and “gl.”

This poem came to me in a sudden, brilliant burst of imagination, and yet it has taken nearly two decades to draft. Coaxing the words from my brain has been like pulling toenails with pliers. I took out a second mortgage on my house in order to finish this poem. I had to travel to Greece, Italy, Spain, and New Jersey to study the necessary archival material in order to finish this poem. I had to become an expert swimmer, a champion ice skater, and a perky phone solicitor in order to gain the kinds of experience necessary to write a poem of this quality and merit.

And now, without further ado, I would like to read you this poem.