Two Stanzas of Ottava Rima Written in Earshot of a Skateboard Park
I said, ‘It’s certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam’s fall but needs much labouring.
Willie B makes it seem so damned easy,
each iamb in it is appointed place,
but whenever I try it, I feel sleazy,
like a Wordsworth wannabe pissing in the lake.
Yet even to Yeats it didn’t come easy.
A line would take him hours. Better to “break
stones,” he whined, “in all kinds of weather”
than try “to articulate sweet sounds together.”
Form versus execution. I hear the clatter
of skateboarders’ failed attempts at competence.
They flip the board, fall off, curse, batter
their knees as they try to perform the tricks
they see on TV — as if mind over matter
weren’t a myth, as if practice makes perfect,
as if talent can be willed. I say
time to shut down this computer, call it a day.