From Stratford to Sevastopol

They tick along in ten-counts,
multiples of what the romans termed X.
And everyone in the world speaks them
except me. They can tell you
the temperature in Istanbul even if
you can’t speak Turkish, let you know
how far you are from Sevastopol
even if they can’t read anything else
on that pole.

And they tick along in their petty pace
like some rapper’s stacatto stream,
a solo singer-songwriter’s dramatic dream
or Bill Shakespeare’s esteem
for the limping lilt,
the de-DUM, de-Dum, de-DUM,
of his princes’ pronunciations.

I can’t talk to you in any such metric,
for I am an American primitivist,
a poet who would fall flat on my face
if I tried, trippingly on the tongue,
my thoughts to express in centigrade, metres,
litres and pentameters. But free verse
I can write for miles, pour out in gallons
what I’ve heated to boiling at 212°F.
All the rest, as they say . . . is silence.

Poem #2 for NaPoWriMo Day 29 is a five-minute response to Robert Lee Brewer’s call for a metric poem. Herein, I spill what I know and feel about metric systems scientific, practical and poetic. Kinda.

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