Abecedarian [Exercise #6]
Due Friday April 14
I’ve been blazingly busy the last few weeks (gearing up to travel for three months + taking a GRE + freelancing + reading for a literary journal), but that’s another post for another day. Our little corner of Medium has grown considerably, and Fresh Darlings is now up to 452 followers. Thanks for helping to make it vibrant and productive!
For this week I thought we’d try something totally different and tackle a crazy form that can be really interesting if handled right. You may be familiar with acrostics, where the first letter of each line spell out a word vertically:
Sometimes acrostics can be interesting
Not so much
Often they have a child-like quality
Abecedarians take it to a whole ‘nother level, forcing you to use the entire alphabet sequentially down the vertical line of the poem. Here’s one of my favorite examples from Natalie Diaz. Notice how she went above and beyond and put the whole alphabet just in the title alone :O
Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation
Angels don’t come to the reservation.
Bats, maybe, or owls, boxy mottled things.
Coyotes, too. They all mean the same thing —
death. And death
eats angels, I guess, because I haven’t seen an angel
fly through this valley ever.
Gabriel? Never heard of him. Know a guy named Gabe though —
he came through here one powwow and stayed, typical
Indian. Sure he had wings,
jailbird that he was. He flies around in stolen cars. Wherever he stops,
kids grow like gourds from women’s bellies.
Like I said, no Indian I’ve ever heard of has ever been or seen an angel.
Maybe in a Christmas pageant or something —
Nazarene church holds one every December,
organized by Pastor John’s wife. It’s no wonder
Pastor John’s son is the angel — everyone knows angels are white.
Quit bothering with angels, I say. They’re no good for Indians.
Remember what happened last time
some white god came floating across the ocean?
Truth is, there may be angels, but if there are angels
up there, living on clouds or sitting on thrones across the sea wearing
velvet robes and golden rings, drinking whiskey from silver cups,
we’re better off if they stay rich and fat and ugly and
’xactly where they are — in their own distant heavens.
You better hope you never see angels on the rez. If you do, they’ll be marching you off to
Zion or Oklahoma, or some other hell they’ve mapped out for us.
Another great one from Randall Mann:
Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958–2016
“Adore” was my song
Back in ’87 —
Cool beans, I liked to say,
Except for you.
Florida, a dirty hand
Gesture; the state, pay dirt.
Headphones on, I heard,
In a word, you were sex,
Just in time. Who was I
Kidding? Then, as now,
Love is too weak to define.
Mostly I just ran,
Not yet sixteen,
Overreaching. Track star,
Queer, of course. Adore.
Rewind: my beloved teammates
Sometimes called me Cinnamon
Toast Crunch, or CTC, being neither black nor white.
Until the end of time.
Vanity would never do it for me.
Would you? You were definite, the
X in my fix. And now,
You’re gone. The old, on repeat. The new
So try your hand at it! The only concession I grant you is for the letter x. If you desperately can’t figure out a word for that, you can fudge it a little and use a word that starts with ‘ex.’