White Noise

To make sound, I need peace so the disturbance may pass through a medium. To make love, I need sound so peace ensues as bodies become equal again. Love is greater

Than sound and subsumes it as light subsumes the same properties at higher frequency.

I am on the same property, common ground, hearing our talk at the log fence, Queen Anne's lace

Like so many silicon microphone heads at the hip, recording the disturbance.

We are magnetic now as love happens without sound, silent movie in black & white,

White noise as it is known in circles of science encompassing all frequencies

Within the ring cycle of wood, logging our longing so when you leave and I pass this place,

I can hear the timbre rewind or fastforward at will, pause and play back the sound

Love makes when peace has no medium, no body to balance the wave.

Analyze the shape of the above excerpt, and you will see that it consists of three units of three indented lines. (More about the last two lines later.) The units are not typical stanzas because no white space separates them. Space is inserted, however, between each three-unit shape (or stanza pattern). You can design any shape, of course, but you should repeat it —at least until it is recognized as a pattern. In my poem, the last two lines violate the pattern intentionally. Read them again for theme —"peace has no medium/no body to balance the wave" — and you can see the pattern break down visually on the page as it does thematically in the poem.

To familiarize yourself with the myriad uses of the stanza, try these exercises:

1. Analyze the stanza in works appearing in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. This will give you an idea of how poets have used the stanza in past and recent eras.

2. Analyze the stanzas in works appearing in at least three literary magazines. This will give you an idea of how contemporary poets use the stanza in different publications.

3. Analyze poems in three new collections of poetry. This will give you an idea of how individual poets call on the power of the stanza to enhance their verse.

To get you started, let's preview the poems in the mini anthology:

• In "Stanzas" by Byron, note the indented formal end-stopped stanzas that punctuate his pithy observations on war.

• In "This Living Hand" by Keats, note the run-on lines in one fragile stanza.

• Laurence Lieberman, poetry editor at the University of Illinois Press and author of several collections, is a master of the modern-day stanza pattern. When you read his "Tartine, for All Her Bulk," you'll encounter a pattern that not only contains units and indented lines but three individual stanzas (mostly run-on) of five, eight and six lines. Instead of white space to signify the start of a new pattern, he starts each by flushing left on the page and using white space. Each nine-teen-line pattern is repeated four times in his ninety-five-line mosaic.

After you read this and other poems reprinted here, you should appreciate the power of the stanza, an important tool in the making of verse. The more tools you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to compose, revise and express yourself as a poet.

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