I first read this poem in college and really loved that move, the sort of exposed revision. And I do think of it as a "move" now, though I'm not sure I did then. I guess this comes from having both read and written a lot more poetry and being able to recognize techniques and strategies as patterns. Realizing not everything is original and born of pure inspiration. Poetry is kind of like chess in that way: there are an infinite number of possible games, but experienced players know the classic openings and defenses and so on.It was fun to flip through my poetry books and identify a bunch more moves. If you know me, or if you don't, you might find yourself on the list.
The other day I read a poem in the new Ploughshares that was chock-full of one of these moves, the "X of X" construction (as John Skoyles once phrased it). It's hard if not impossible to write memorable poems without using identifiable moves (all the better if they're of your own invention) but moves always run the risk of becoming tics, and I think this move is especially prone to that. It has the instant effect of making a phrase poemier (see "light bulb" vs. "bulb of light"), so it's easy to abuse.
Here's the poem (by Lisa Russ Spaar), which I can't really figure out. Some of these X of X's are just so outrageous. Is she joking? Emphases mine.
Out of a cinched sack of bones, the dog's half-cast
opiate eyes ask can't you hear the moths, pelting
the pear glass? & then there is nothing else I can hear,
bulbs opal and ignited as felted anus-stars
of snow spot the porch, blast the poplars:
the thumbscrew aortal pulse of Philomela.
Whose fork is this? my mother asked me, pointing to her cane
in the dark of the backseat last week. I was driving.
Probably one of the kids' I replied, they're always trashing
my car, but truly they are the brillant canto of my antiquity.
I search her eyes, terrified for signs of pain.
She is light, and waits not for the flip of a switch.
Nor is my love portable, quick lick in the history of the world.
For her, do I get down. For her, my fork and cane.
Her other poem in the issue has its share too: "bathos of years," "my impatient turning off of the lamp." I mean, "felted anus-stars of snow"? "the brilliant canto of my antiquity"?? I don't know. It's so OTT it really is almost funny, but I can't fully bring myself to believe that's intentional.
What moves are you guilty of using and abusing?