She wrote him scented sentences that curled from page to page,
like circling smoke from burning beds—like passion, fiery rage:
You know, my husband never guessed a thing until the end.
You know yourself I can’t be blamed; I don’t think that I sinned.
I left my heart behind with you and miss your searching gaze,
and why, my love, don’t you come by on Visitation Days?


Tonight at dVerse FormForAll, host Gay Reiser Cannon is reminding us of the traditional structures of prosody, namely line and meter. I strongly recommend reading her post; it is informative, especially since most poets today favor free verse and  ignore traditional lines. Even if you aren’t fond of formal poetry lines, you can use them for practice in the same way a musician practices scales–before you become a good improviser, it helps to have practiced your scales enough to have a developed ear for what works sonically. 
The above dark little piece–birthed from watching too many 48 Hours special reports, I suppose–uses an iambic heptameter line (that is, seven baBUMPS). I also used rhyming couplets. Both of these were stylistic choices, hopefully adding to the feeling I wanted to create. Below is the original draft of the free verse poem I started working with. 
She wrote him letters,
long scented sentences
curling off the page
and into the margins.
They said nothing,
they said everything:
how she left
her heart behind
with him, how she
missed his inquiring
touch, and how
her husband never
suspected a thing.

21 thoughts on “Visitation

  1. Really powerful I think more so in the couplets. The alliteration reinforces the character's mindset. It also becomes more immediate when you move into her viewpoint. Meter and rhythm = flawless. Excellent work!


  2. Top of the morning to you!
    And definitely top of the class!
    Superb transition and both delightful to read in their own way.
    Visitation days has me wondering though.


  3. Excellent. I liked seeing your original and then your iambic heptameter version. As Bjorn said, you have proved that meter CAN enhance a poem. The story is great — in both versions!


  4. Oh, it was a PRISON visit! I was thinking of a nursing home. But that is my personal preoccupation, due to my recent past. I guess I should have known, by the term 'visitation' – though not sure we use it in Australia (except for Divine visitations, lol).

    Anyway, although I appreciated both, I loved the first version better. The long lines and rhyming couplets seem perfect for both subject and language. It's a beautiful poem and intriguing story.


  5. Well, I know Im late here, but wanted to express how MUCH I enjoyed both versions of this. To me they have such different flavors…the line and meter version reminded me of something darkly Seussian and the other was sweet and romantic and naughty.


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