Poem: Soardough


By request, here is the pantoum that restarted it all. I wrote it in 15 minutes during a workshop on pantoums at the Geneva Writers’ Conference in 2006 after a long time without writing, and the positive reception it received convinced me that I could still write if I tried. Two barren years later, it inspired me to embark on the Writing Cards and Letters project to so that I’d try more often. I still haven’t come up with a good name for it.

I dreamed I was flying around on a biscuit
raised by the bakers of the bread of life,
their hands cleansed by hand, and not sterile.
Many hands make gloves expensive.

Raised by the bakers of the bread of life,
I put bread in the shivering hands of the poor.
Many hands make gloves expensive.
I wish I could have done more.

I put bread in the shivering hands of the poor.
They ate, and wept in gratitude, and came back hungry.
I wish I could have done more.
By serving their need I prolonged it.

They ate, and wept in gratitude, and came back hungry.
They could not bake their own bread without flour.
By serving their need, I prolonged it,
I added dark minutes to their darkest hour.

They could not bake their own bread without flour.
I have flour, sugar, chocolate chips.
I added minutes to their darkest hour.
I dreamed. I was flying around on a biscuit.

You’ve probably figured out by now that a pantoum is a poem where the second and fourth lines of each quatrain are repeated as the first and third lines of the next. This is supposed to loop around so that the last stanza also repeats the first and third lines of the first stanza, but either through lack of knowledge, lack of time, or poetic license, I only did that halfway. I did not make the second line of my last stanza the same as the third line of the first, which I suppose makes it an imperfect pantoum. I later wrote a perfect pantoum, with more rhymes, but the extra constraints (and the fact that I introduced a murderer halfway through) probably make it harder to understand.

Cecilia Woloch, who taught the workshop, did not tell us what pantoums were until we’d written down several sentences, one of which had to begin with ‘I dreamed’. I really did dream I was flying around on a biscuit, some time in my early teens, and it was such a bizarre dream that I wrote it down at the time and I still remember it. So that’s what I wrote. As one of my other sentences, for which I forget the prompt, I wrote ‘many hands make gloves expensive’. These were the two sentences that Cecilia insisted I use in my pantoum.

By the way, if you think I should have written that many hands make light work, you should update your general knowledge. Many photons make light work.

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  1. #1 by philosophywithfries on July 11, 2010 - 11:30 pm

    I love this. I love pantoums 🙂

    Like

  2. #2 by slpmartin on July 12, 2010 - 3:29 am

    Very interestin poem…reminded me of the line about “if you teach a man to fish…” …thanks for sharing your knowledge and poem.

    Like

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