Our Lives Are Like Pantoums

Those lines come back.

Say your mantras, make your peace.

Any slur can slay you:

Something dies within and is released.

Make your mantras, say your piece: You are worthless, dear. Something dies within and is released. Let your goodness go —

You are worthless, dear—

And learn to deepen pain of lovers.

Let your goodness go

To waste on all those one-night stands

And learn to deepen pain of lovers. You remember lines To waste on all those one-night stands: You're a real letdown.

So sabotage the heart:

You're a real letdown.

If you're nothing, you have nothing to lose

So sabotage the heart.

Any slur can slay you.

If you're nothing, you have nothing to lose.

Those lines come back.

The metered pantoum still conveys a sense of control, each line repeating according to a beat. But it has lost that extra layer of sound without rhyme. The free-verse version emphasizes certain lines, giving them more clout; but the loss of meter undermines the theme. I wanted a sense of control and sound to enhance my pantoum, and so I still prefer the original version.

Let's end the chapter by considering lesser-known form poems.

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