Fly me to the moon
and let me play among the stars.
Let me see what life is like
on Jupiter and Mars.
In other words,
hold my hand,
in other words,
darling, kiss me.
Bart Howard’s old song makes no sense! There’s no oxygen to breathe in outer space; no one can walk around on other planets. What does “play among the stars” even mean? But I kind of get the point when it says, “In other words, hold my hand.” Aha, that lets the gas out of the waffle: The song is trying to get across in a flashy way that it would be thrilling to hold someone by the hand. (The rest of it is a street crime in Doha.) The Beatles nailed the thing without the folderol: “I wanna hold your hand.” And “Why don’t we do it in the road? (No one will be watching us.)”
The folderol is the metaphorical bit, of course. It’s the stuffing of poetry, except poems don’t get to the “In other words” part. That’s left to the reader.
A useful rhythm can be extracted from “Fly Me to the Moon.” It clots in triplets, doublets and singlets:
LA-dee / da-dee / DA
dee-da-dee / la-dee / da-dee / DUM
dee-dee / dee-dee / la-dee-da
dee-da-dee / da-dee / DUM
dee / da / dee / DA
DUM / DUM / DUM
dee / DA / dee / da
DUM-dee / DUM / DUM
Word doodles can be built using the rhythm as a template — but with subtle variations!
molasses puddled on the roads
on bumper-sticker toads
play called foul
darling kiss me
(Can Chat-GPT do this? I wonder!) The doodles can window gaze real poems that aren’t other-wordable, such as this one:
In this unveiling: a rain-stabbed / blackbird’s obsidian sigh rises // from meat-fragrant slits / in our speech patterns, // where a way of seeing home,/ smeared on walls with elbow blood, // is also a way of nozzling / bird caw to thieved land, // or scissoring fog-lobed night / into crescent moons, // while a bell’s deoxygenated moan / weeping for its lost reflection, // is hauled away on a horse-drawn hearse.
(“Unveiling,” Sherwin Bitsui, Poetry, January 2023)*
I quote the poem in its entirety. I’m culpably ignorant of the detail of “fair use” and all that. I may risk one of Poetry’s lawyers pistol-whipping my ass with a copyright clause. My excuse is that when this poem starts there’s no stopping it until the hearse. In other words, actually, that’s true of life. Don’t sue me.
(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved