Friday, January 23, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Book of Dreams” by John C. Mannone, Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Book of Dreams” by John C. Mannone, Poet of the Week.  One of Mr. Mannone’s poems has been featured every weekday during the week of January 18, 2015, and this will be the final installment.  Mr. Mannone’s biography may be found here:

Book of Dreams
John C. Mannone
            Nachash: Hebrew word for serpent

My wife was drop-dead gorgeous
But I wanted more than her body.

I wanted conversation with her:
Sports and politics, and even poetry

But all she wanted to do was to pet
The animals, and talk with them.

Frustration grew faster than kudzu
So I went to see the Enchanter. His store

In the center of town was where we never
Went before. His name was Nachash—

A seller of magic and promises,
Of potions and apothecaries.

He was dressed in a copper colored suit
And seemed to know what I wanted.

He reached to the top of a tall shelf,
Blew the dust off the Book of Dreams.

He said that with it I could turn the rattle
Of dry bones into living creatures; another woman

If I desired—one who would know everything
About sports and politics,

And she would make poetry with me
In bed. I lusted after that thought.

I said, What do you want for this book
That will show me these things?

The magical enchanter smiled a glittery smile.
He said, Not much. We can talk about that later.

He offered me the book in good faith
And even a token to take home.

But now, I have no peace, only evil
dreams. All I did was eat one of his apples.

My wife did, too.

Poet’s Notes:  The poem was first crafted during a poetry marathon for National Poetry Month in April 2013 by a similar title prompt: his book of dreams.

This conversational poem was inspired by a Twilight Zone episode about a young man who is lusting after a young woman and seeks out an apothecary shop proprietor to conjure up, so to speak, a love potion. It was cheap. But since it did its job too well, the Romeo comes back wanting to undo it. Now that was expensive. I adapted the story to an urbanized version of the temptation in the Garden of Eden.

The word for serpent as is translated in the Old Testament (placed in the epigraph of the poem) actually means “magical enchanter.” I play on the name and image to pull off the tale.

The poem is not lyrical as much as my usual work, so I had to be certain that the prosy lines would be lifted into poetry. A few the things, to which I pay close attention, especially in such poems, are: (hopefully) impeccable rhythm, at least a few really effective line breaks, and something profound (again hopefully) to reveal.

Editor’s Note:  As a general rule, prosaic poetry is a tough sell with me, but last line here was such an unforeseen surprise that I was truly sold one this one.

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