STARTING 5: USING A SNIPPET OF SPEECH

starting  a poem 5Objective

Use a snippet of speech, imagined or recorded, to get the poem going.

Starting

We start with a scrap of speech. It doesn't have to be as actually recorded, but it should be vivid and memorable, bringing to life the speaker's situation and/or personality:

Okay, that's better. And a lot, lot more soda —
Go on then, loverboy: let's cut the deal.

Perhaps something like this, setting the scene by dialogue and/or interior monologue:

I'd walk away from it. I would. That's
What this honeypot is going to do right now.
Okay, that's better. And a lot, lot more soda —
Go on then, loverboy: let's cut the deal.

Another Malibu. Which kills him.
Wheezing suddenly, he moves me on. You reckon?
I counter, taking one more hundred: Sweetie,
Let's keep it from her. You'd like that? Sure, he says.


We have the characters sketched in — professional 'honeypot' and tight-fisted client/partner — but is it an affair, pick-up or business deal? To answer that, i.e. to make a compelling story, we need a conflict between the characters, from the viewpoint adopted, which is the woman's. She can give her thoughts and comment on the man's reactions, but his motivations have to remain inferred. So:

Girls Get Around

I'd walk away from it. I would. That's
what this honeypot is going to do right now.
Okay, that's better. And a lot, lot more soda —
Go on then, loverboy: let's cut the deal.

Another Malibu. Which sort of kills him.
Wheezing suddenly, he moves me on. You reckon?
I counter, taking one more hundred: Sweetie,
let's keep it from her. You'd like that? 'Sure,'
he says.

So with the dress and shoes. . . another four.
'What, on top of it, the thousand bucks. Christ,'
he wheedles, small eyes drooling on my cleavage,
'I mean it's just the office dance or isn't it?'

Plus promotion when I get to Bigshot
Blumenfinkel. 'It's Finkelblüm.'
Sure, whatever, and half up front: girls
like me with the altogether don't
come cheap.

Yea, I shouldn't have said that, but in I went:
Delighted to meet you, Mr. Finkelblüm.

The dummy stood there snarled up like a traffic jam.
Anton's told me all about you: sure am thrilled.

I took his arm. Your boss and me are going
to talk, right, Anton? You don't look well. It's

about your prospects, honey, and I'll have the white,
please Mr. Finkelblüm, and not too much.

"How dare you try to blackmail me, you little. . ."
Trollop, hooker? You're kinda cute, you know that,
Felix, when you take your pills. So just
you keep your hair on and that big mouth shut.

"His wife will when this dance is over, don't
think I won't, you little bitch." For what?
Nothing happened. Unlike us. Twice a week,
some crummy hook up on your flash expenses.

He'll pay, I said to Anton afterwards. Honey,
it's ten more grand a month. For that, you owe
another big one. Girls that get around
will go around. Something like that, o
kay?'

Assessment

A bit light. Apart from the problems the English have with American dialogue, there is the story. Man hires escort to impress boss. Escort recognizes former client and blackmails him to get rise for man. Man pleased, but finds escort's fees have been upped. To carry emotional charge, a poem has to involve us more in the characters, as perhaps here.

But we might look at the verse. It's stress verse, generally five to the line, but very irregular.

Another Malibu. Which sort of kills him.
Wheezing suddenly, he moves me on. You reckon?
I counter, taking one more hundred: Sweetie,
let's keep it from her. You'd like that? Sure,
he says.

How do we arrange the stresses, and shouldn't suddenly carry two stresses? Try it in more regular verse:

Wheezing then, he moves me on. You reckon?

Flatter: some of the energy has gone. I couldn't justify the phrasing in any metrical system, but the phrases seem to 'ricochet' against each other within the outline of line envelope, and that the 'rightness' to the ear has something to do with the sense of regular unstressed syllables being crowded out — i.e. it's the departures from regularity that make the patterning effective.

 

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