What Could Be Verse?

The first time that I ever wrote a sonnet,
’Twas filled with grand Romantic affectation,
As tho’ perhaps Shelley or Keats had done it
And I had merely taken poor dictation.

And so I tried to write free verse instead,
Which left me feeling somewhat loose and sore
As if, instead of a four-poster bed,
I’d slept in random rags tossed on the floor.

Up next, I thought maybe my talents tended
Toward more sentenced verse—the prosy poem.
But how to tell when such a thing was ended?
If there are secrets to it, I don’t know ’em.

So back to fourteen lines my hand has come,
And five fixed feet remains my rule of thumb.
—Lester Smith
(Originally appeared in WFOP Museletter, summer 2009.)

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