National Poetry Writing Month, Day #17

Today’s napowrimo.net prompt is to write a poem using at least ten words from a specialized dictionary. I used International Paper’s Pocket Pal, a pocket-sized paperback of print and graphic arts terms and concepts. (The terms I used are listed in the tags.) I wrote it in the form of a double viator, a six-stanza variation of the viator in which the last line of the first stanza travels up as the first line travels down throughout the poem; by the final stanza, they have switched places.

I’ve never been able to justify the mask
it’s always felt like an imposition
an imperfect resolution
etched across my face
like a signature carved in the base of the statue
proof of history written by the victors

I’ve long hoped it might be a dummy
I’ve never been able to justify the mask
for years, struggling against the grain
of blanket expectation
proof of history written by the victors
with little tolerance for variation

No amount of dithering has staved off time
and the gutter has never felt closer
I’ve never been able to justify the mask
proof of history written by the victors
layers of opacity plastered over everything
slick attempts to varnish the truth

My attempts to rip through the layers
have been undercut at every turn
proof of history written by the victors
I’ve never been able to justify the mask
an unnecessary screen between me and the world
a permanent filter coloring everything

But we’ve all got our masks, don’t we?
Proof of history, written by the victors
to trap us here inside ourselves
where we can do the most harm
I’ve never been able to justify the mask
it’s not the measure of who I am

Proof of history written by the victors
is an impression to be overcome
cropped out like a spot at the edge of the photo
leaving a clean surface
behind which the truth can show through
I’ve never been able to justify the mask

(17 April 2016)

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2 thoughts on “National Poetry Writing Month, Day #17

  1. This is awesome! I love this form. I can see how selecting those two repeating lines is so important, and you’ve chosen well. Very nice.

    1. Thanks! I got lucky—I didn’t decide upon that particular variant of the form until I started on the second stanza.

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