White Picket Fences

Untended fences falling down, they hide what they impart
consequential actions fickle, blindsided and senseless,
where children roam the streets as families are torn apart,
parents wrapped in selfishness care little for their fences.

So babes decide to arm themselves with knives and loaded guns,
walking streets in gangs for safety, readying for warring,
forgetting that they’re killing someone’s daughters someone’s son.

Streets turn sticky red with blood of innocents outpouring
where vengeance is the new decree there’s no where left to run
laws are bent and broken on the pavements we’re ignoring,

a currency of coke and skunk, and debts paid off with sex
futures ruined, headstones laid un-mourned and disappearing.

We’re not to blame the voices come, we’re sitting here perplexed
curve balls hit the heart of those who love the kids they’re rearing.

This is the Sonnet version of the Stress Matrix Dectet/Stress Checkerboard Stanza –

14 lines, 14 syllables per line – aBaB cDc DcD eF eF

where lowercase are iambic heptameter (7 beats/stresses per line), and uppercase trochaic heptameter. This yields a perfect ‘checkerboard’ of stressed and unstressed syllables (14 x 14, equalling 196 syllables).

Depending on where the Volta arrives (the ‘turn’ – resolution, or at least, change in tone, crucial aspect to a sonnet), there are 3 different stanza layouts (the rhyme-scheme stays the same). My turn quite obviously arrives with the last two lines, as is traditional in English Sonnets, hence the layout with a couplet to end on.

If the turn comes after the first eight lines, as it does in Italian Sonnets, the layout is aBa BcDcD cDe FeF.

If it comes after line ten (unique!), then it’s aBaB cDc DcD eFeF (same as English but ending on a quatrain rather than the two couplets).

Be original give it a go, but be warned…it’s flipping hard!

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27 responses to “White Picket Fences

  1. I absolutely loved the form and architecture of this piece. Wonderfully done! The message is delivered in such a profound way it rings of pure poetry. Lovely write ~ Rose

  2. vicious write shan, a great bit of social commentary. the symbolism of the fences as well…lovely.

    and have fun visiting everyone else…

  3. And the standing ovation echoes throughout cyber space! Brilliant write, Shan…and the effort you put in to presenting your pieces is always so appreciated by me..You go, girl! Soon, you’ll be able to rest! lol Happy friday!

  4. A great piece of writing from the heart and conscience, whatever the form. In all likelihood I’ll never write another sonnet, but I can definitely admire those who do.

  5. I thought it a great poem, then I read the notes on the form.
    When I finally got my eyes uncrossed and my brain cooled down, I realised it is a brilliant poem and I am not good enough to touch it. I might have a bash late though.

  6. cool shan – i always wanted to try one myself but somehow never made it so far…sad reality in your words…i wish it was different but i guess it’s all too true..

  7. Shan, This is such a complicated format and you pulled it off so well. I thought that your topic choice was current and well thought out, and the lines flowed together quite well and read really smoothly. One of my favorites so far that I’ve seen done in this format!

  8. a write that brings so much forth about the streets, it does not matter what city in the world…there are back streets filled with ignorance everywhere….sad they seem to always exist…I truly believe in education…well done Shan…bkm

  9. I enjoyed this as I agreed with the premise of the poem! The breakdown of society is everywhere and it began with selfishness somewhere, whether it was with corporations who wanted to make more money by promoting Sunday shopping, or parents who left their children in limbo so they could both work to have money for another car, boat, cottage etc. Maybe it was the father who abandoned his family, but it started somewhere. Thanks for sharing this excellent poem and for being a relevant voice. Keep writing! Elizabeth.

  10. The sad truth of reality in the big city. The sad truth of reality for to many kids. 😦 A well written sonnet coming from one you helped teach their workings. 🙂 Oh by the way you rock.

  11. Intriguing form, this checker-board sonnet.

    I feel the rhyme should reflect the place of the volta, so only a turn after line 10 seems appropriate here

  12. That’s some fine structure there, Shan.. and an excellent (albeit grim) message too! Sometimes reality needs to be TOLD! The way you did here!
    Bravo, my friend!

  13. wow, first of all, I love, love the poem. So many hard hitting lines about the sad truth of our times. Second, you executed such a complex form so smoothly…nothing sounded forced, very impressive, S. (as always 😉

  14. and this is one reason you are Poet Laureate! i so admire your ability to evoke the imagery and emotions that you do while using such complex forms. brilliant!

  15. “forgetting that they’re killing someone’s daughters someone’s son.”

    That doesn’t seem to matter anymore, human life has become so cheap.

    Bought a tear to my eye reading this.

Put me out of my misery people!

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