American Spunk Catalog


Another sestina from the mind of Mary ….

American Spunk Catalog

a)    American
b)    Marvel
c)    Spunk
d)    Dream
e)    Catalog
f)    Change

Look! It’s an American!
Is he ugly, or a marvel?
You have to admit, he has a certain spunk.
In his eye, there is a dream.
In his mind, there is a catalog.
His gait speaks of restless change.

Hey, buddy, can you spare some change
For this impoverished American?
He wants to buy a catalog,
Flimsy pages of pictures over which he can marvel,
Pump hope into his dream
Of adventures filled with spunk.

What is this thing called spunk?
Can its energy foster true change
Out of an invisible dream?
Or will it cause our American
To merely twitch in impotent marvel
As he gathers ideas while perusing his catalog?

And here we see the catalog
Itself, packed with items sure to inspire spunk,
Its black and white drawings intended to make kids and adult marvel
Over each product’s promise of change.
The story of the idealistic American
In reality is no more than a dream.

But, hey, why not dream –
Keep a running catalog
Of all things uniquely American?
The rugged individuality, the classic spunk.
No need to wait. It’s time to change,
To become a Captain Marvel.

For without the ability to marvel,
The mind’s rattling dream
Would remain mere pocket change,
An empty catalog
Of immaterial spunk
Giving no definition to our authentic American.

Truly, the delightful marvel of our American
Is that he is not some dream, nor a cliché of spunk,
But a kaleidoscope of change, a page-turning possibility catalog.

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6 thoughts on “American Spunk Catalog”

  1. I can’t quite get it (don’t know English well enough), but don’t you think the problem there is that the gap between the LOL and WOW people and your kind has become too big?

    It is awful to see.

  2. woowooteacup said:

    I’m not sure I understand your comment, cantueso. What I’ve written here is a sestina, which is a rather arcane form of poetry that follows a particular pattern with repeating end words. Like anything (whatever the LOL and WOW people know), it can be learned by anyone if they put their minds to it.

    If WOW stands for World of Warcraft, I have a couple of avid players in my household. Their explanations of the complexities of the game lead me to believe that they’d have no problem learning the form of a sestina if they wanted to. I have great faith in the human ability to learn new things, so whatever perceived gap there is between me and others does not bother me. It means I have lots more left to learn.

  3. No! I don’t know anything about World of Warcraft. I meant inarticulate writing, people who use WOW or LOL to express surprise, indignation, anger, excitement, admiration, shock, hope, disbelief.

    I also did not know what a sestina is, but I will look it up. I read a lot of poetry, but few poets, and I have never really tried to learn — what would it be called? Metrics? The rules that govern the patterns of poetry?

    And I have not read much American poetry, because it is too difficult as to vocabulary and intention. So, for instance, I cannot discern whether the kaleidoscope mentioned in the last line is meant critically or approvingly. And I did not even know that the word “spunky” is a well-known word.

    Now I am at work, and I don’t feel free enough to read the poem again now.

  4. woowooteacup said:

    Thanks for qualifying your comment, cantueso. Funny that I would automatically assume WOW stood for World of War Craft. That’s what happens when the kids discuss it all the time.

    I think the word you’re looking for in terms of poetry is ‘meter.’ Here’s a link to the definition:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meter_(poetry)

    I don’t read a lot of poetry myself, but I belong to a writers group that has a few poets and I find that writing poetry sharpens my description for writing prose. Even if you are familiar with a language, it can be difficult to decipher poetry because the poet’s thoughts can leap from line to line without a clear transition.

    For my sestina, kaleidoscope is a positive word. Think of toy kaleidoscopes that you look into and see the pretty colors and how with every change, the view is still pretty.

    Periodically I fall in love with a particular word. Spunk is one of the words I love, both because of the sound and the meaning. Spunk is having energy and courage and not letting people stomp all over you.

    Before I wrote this sestina, I came up with the title, American Spunk Catalog, and I imagined it as an actual catalog filled with wondrous things.

  5. And now this: when I read this poem for the first time, I scrolled up and to see the name of the author and you’d have heard me say WOW! It’s a woman!

    I can normally tell from a mile, so much so that it took me years, maybe three years to realize that other people don’t see that so clearly, when, indeed, I realized that everybody took me for a man because my nick ends in an -o. It means “lavender”.

    …………………………………………………………………………..

    But I must say that the kaleidoscope nature of US things, as seen from afar, is oppressive, because it is so far from the way most people see things elsewhere, and as an unresponsive extravaganza even looks threatening.

    So what comes to (my) mind instantly is farthest from what you might imagine: the US dollar printing presses.

  6. woowooteacup said:

    Cantueso, I have to admit that I was thinking you were a man precisely because of the ‘o’ at the end of your nickname. With all the avatars one finds online, all of us look for clues to tell us something about the identity of those we communicate with. I love that ‘cantueso’ means lavender. Such a beautiful scent!

    The wonderful thing about language and art is that both can be interpreted so many ways. I have had people look at art pieces I’ve made and they don’t see what I saw when I created them. Rather than be upset about this, I revel in the idea that people are bringing themselves into what I’ve created – which means we are co-creating the experience. It is the same with my writing, particularly with the poetry, which operates on a subconscious level for both the writer and the reader.

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