POETRY EXERCISES by Ronnie Sirmans

October 14, 2017

Per the published evanescent instructor,
I breathe in ellipses through my nose,
and like him, exhale them from my mouth.
After eight weeks of this class, clauses
(both restrictive and nonrestrictive)
still cling to my spare tire, my flabby chest
remains like forlorn dangling participles.
Portraits of Frost, Dickinson, and other
vigorous visages in black and white
stare down at us. We forget conjunctions
for the moment amid sweat and strain,
energized like when we worked out
with our defunct typewriters.
“Your PCs and blogs
and inkjet color printers
have made you lazy,” the wordsmith
says as he bends to the floor, his body
as determined as a diagrammed sentence.
He speaks in haiku, although
I don’t think he means to.
Frost looks down, sternly weathered,
as we grunt like wild pigs farrowing
fat syllables among skinny birches
whose leaves twirl like pagan angels
with wings that have become twisted.
But instead of similes of leaves,
we have a pentameter of words
miskeeping time to our stretches
and Dickinson doesn’t look amused
with any of us, especially me as
I watch a fly alight upon a shabby
buttock of the poet in front of me.

Ronnie Sirmans is a metro Atlanta newspaper journalist. His poems have appeared in BlazeVOX, HOOT Online, Gargoyle, The South Carolina Review, Deep South Magazine, The Museum of Americana, Light, and elsewhere.
Follow him on twitter: @RonSirmans

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