The Ancient Modern

To Write A Poem Like Baudelaire /  Joshua Alan Sturgill

To write a poem like Baudelaire,
            take any object lying there
and see it suddenly alive
            —a chair becomes an insect hive!
Next, add emotionality:
            the insects all have deep ennui.
But chairs are sinister, as well.
            Hélas! They drag your soul to Hell.
Use “perfume” somewhere near to “blood,”
            Refer to jewelry (or to mud),
and pair some opposites in turn
            —like nonchalance with fierce concern.
Then something flutters in the dark
            —an animal? No.

It’s the pain in your heart.

Be strict with the rhymes
Make 12-syllable staves
Like the robber his crimes
Or the master his slaves

And oscillate quick
Between real and fiction
Your readers can’t guess
If it’s love or addiction

It might be ironic
It might seem quite gaudy
(But if you suspect it,
It probably is naughty.)

           Yes,
You’ll wink, and chuckle knowingly
while writing darkest poetry.
The world will fly with tragic birds
vague temples grown with forest words
And everyone will say you are
their poète préféré noir!


All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2020 by Joshua Alan Sturgill. All rights reserved.

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