The Ensemble by Floyd Skloot is today’s offering from Poetry Daily. It’s about a theatre troupe rehearsing an amateur production of Hamlet. Skloot employs quite a tight iambic pentameter but skilfully varies the rhythm from line to line – the poem never succumbs to a ti-tum ti-tum ti-tum monotony. The tone is informal and humorous but not ironic. The foibles of the characters are celebrated rather than made fun of. Skloot succeeds both in sticking to his rhyme scheme without anything seeming forced into the pattern and also in using the line-breaks to create various effects – often of surprise e.g. “inner/ hothead”, “together/ tomorrow”. I loved the lines:
Meanwhile, the Gertrude whispering her way
through another chest cold still does not know
her speech from Act Three, saying No more sweets,
Hamlet! instead of No more, sweet Hamlet!
Skloot captures the seriousness, humour, attitudes, fears, and hopes that run through a cast like that, and makes it simply an object of celebration in the final lines. Perhaps he could have done a little more at the end? Maybe, but I don’t think he wanted to, and at least he resisted the temptation to leap for some fake epiphany. The poem isn't aiming to be cutting-edge stuff, but it is enjoyable, authentic and very well written. 4/6
A strong finish for Kim Gek Lin Short at No Tell Motel with Death Certificate. She succeeds in combining motifs from plastic surgery, religion and magic in what appears to be a scene of death and rebirth. The death certificate, presumably, is the “coiled piece of paper torn from a soup can” and Harlan, the bugman, is “induced,” a word that might admit more than one interpretation. There’s a constant juxtaposition of the sacred and profane throughout the narrative - plastic surgery is compared to the Sunday church service, the configuration of the heavens gives way to an image borrowed from a typical TV magician. So well handled shifts of imagery, a sense of mystery, and good writing. Kim Gek Lin Short’s best of the week, I think. 4/6
No Tell Motel doesn’t post poems over weekends and, even though Poetry Daily still continues, I think I’ll make these posts a weekday-only thing. I’ve made the marks out of 6 rather than out of 5 on the all the posts – just to give me a little more room for manoeuvre.