Using alternate vocabularies is an old poetic strategy, but somehow it always works. To frame a topic — especially one as trite as love — in the lexicon of a sport, or a discipline, renews it. Refreshes a tired subject so that we see it new again. At least, that’s the idea!
Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt:
Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game. Your poem could invoke chess or baseball, hopscotch or canasta, Monopoly or jai alai. The choice is yours!
Here it is — Enjoy!
You were not the card dealt to me originally
If love were gin rummy, played by children,
You would have been the wild card.
But not a joke – far too serious for that.
You fit too well with the rest of my hand:
The four sisters, each a queen in her own right;
The knaves I left behind me, even the king
I discarded when you came.
Now, when each day seems a new win,
I think of how wild cards always fit,
How luck follows them into each hand
How my life rebuilt around you.
… all poets are sending religious messages,
because poetry is, in such great part, the comparison
of one thing to another …
to insist, as all poets do, that all things are related …
comparable to each other, is to go toward
making an assertion of the unity of all things.
~ Richard Wilbur
So it’s a kind of unified field theory, poetry. My family teases me that I see analogy everywhere: this is like this! And this is like that! It’s true; I even used analogy to teach grammar — grammar is like a strong skeleton (it is).
But analogy is just our old poetic friend metaphor. And as Lakoff notes, metaphor is the way we think: we ‘lose’ time; we ‘spend’ time. We ‘wage a war’ on drugs; we ‘fight’ cancer. Status is ‘high’ or ‘low’, which is impossible, literally. Status simply is… So metaphors are we are, really, how we even think. And poetry? It’s metaphor & image. In other words: poetry is in our bones, folks.
Hence my assertion that if you just learn poetry, your world suddenly takes on colour as if you were a bit blind before… ❤️ The world opens up a bit, like seeing in colour, or hearing music after silence. Try it — find a poem (or ask for one! I’ll give it to you in comments!), about something you love, and see if the poem doesn’t illuminate as if with a bright light your passion. Just sayin’…