The other “new” form

Hi everyone,

What got the conversation started yesterday about my fish poem was a note from Renee La Tulippe about a different poem, the one about a trombone, which I recorded as a video for her NO WATER RIVER The poem originally appeared in POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY, another great collection of poems published by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

Renee and a poet colleague got to looking at the structure of the poem and asked if it were original with me. Again, I admitted that it was something that seemed appropriate at the time and was written without being aware that there is such a form although there well might be. Here’s the poem.

by David L. Harrison

I play a slide trombone,
my teacher says I’m flat,
I’m not as good as I’d like to be
but there’s nothing to do about that.

I play the slide trombone,
at least I’m not the worst,
I’m one chair up from the guy who’s last,
25 chairs from first.

My teacher says I’m flat,
I sound all right to me.
First chair practices every night,
when does he watch tv?

I’m not as good as I’d like,
a trombone is not easy,
even guys I like a lot,
say I make them queasy.

I play a slide trombone,
my teacher says I’m flat,
I’m not as good as I’d like to be
but there’s nothing to do about that.

For this one I repeated lines 1, 2, and 3 from the first stanza in descending order to begin each of the following three stanzas. Rather than start the fifth stanza with the original line 4, I chose to repeat the entire first stanza because it made more sense than opening that quatrain with “but there’s nothing to do about that.”

I might try another one of these to see if I can pull off a repetition of all four lines of the first stanza. It will help to give all four lines of these stanzas the same number of stressed syllables. In this case I set a pattern of 3-3-4-3, which got me in trouble when it was time to repeat line three as the lead line in stanza four. Going with all trimeter or all tetrameter lines would work better.

Call this a work in progress. If I do a better one later, I’ll get back to you with it. If someone beats me to it, I’ll look forward to seeing the result!


7 comments on “The other “new” form

  1. Love this one (and it brings me back to my son’s first year on trombone!) If you wanted to write the third line with three beats and invent two more stanzas you could try:
    I’m not the best musician
    (of course that breaks the pattern with ending the line with an unstressed syllable–but I thought I’d throw it out so I could enjoy two more stanzas from you.)

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