modern poetry

Every new generation of poets seeks to build on that which was before and push boundaries of language, metaphor and meaning. As a lover of more “classic” poets to whom we all look for guidance and inspiration, but who struggles to say things in new and fresh ways, I’ve had a love-hate affair with the beautiful pretentions of contemporary verse. Perhaps there is just too much genius for me to capture. Perhaps I am destined to speak in an older voice with newer words? Perhaps I need greater patience to see what is ever before me? I ask here some questions in verse.

a medicine cabinet

stuffed with placebo


a closet full of clever


a basket of plastic apples

half-eaten, half-observed

spit back out where they too

become poetry


Hermes has a message

but his feet are raw

from too much slogging

in circles through the plumage

of the self-engrossed


t.s. eliot squints from

the writing chair

he’s but the worn-out scrivener

too tired to interrupt

from his tidy perch

hidden beneath our dust

and pretention


dickinson donne blake and hopkins sprawl

themselves out prominently

under the african violet

on some coffee table

but with coffee-stained faces

that sag bored from hearing

glorified journal entries

too minute for verse


was it williams’ red wheelbarrow

or mary’s kingfisher

or a d. h. lawrence butterfly

or even the silence of e. e.

that first whispered



was it too many commas

and too little rhyme

to make something live?

did the truth live among the 

dreaming gemstones

where words give birth

to flight? 


or maybe those words

were bled from the same

shaky pens

leaching the heart

of day-starved paper still

straining to see?

4 thoughts on “modern poetry

  1. “Glorified journal entries” Ouch! But, yes, I feel similar although a few ‘moderns’ have managed to get under my skin and nestle alongside Donne and Blake.

  2. Seymour, here’s the thing – I actually adore so much of it. It inspires me. At times, however, it can feel like it giggles at its own cleverness, pointing us back toward itself in an effort to say “my, my, look how far I’m pushing convention…there, do you see?”

  3. I know so little, really. And some times, gasp, I just don’t understand, no matter how long I stare at the words and wait for enlightenment. Reminds me of a poem I just wrote which I will copy here because it is so wonderful I must share it… ha, just joking!!! Love your wit, Rob.

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