'Rhyme' by Jan Owen | States of Poetry SA - Series Two

States of Poetry South Australia - Series Two

'Rhyme' by Jan Owen | States of Poetry SA - Series Two

States of Poetry South Australia - Series Two

This ‘structural scandal’, tongue’s yen for kin
as family is a sort of chime, the thrift
of loaves and fishes unconsumed by scorn,

is natural as natural history
with all its modulations of again –
seed, crystal, comet, crocus, rain.

Even our code’s in rhyme – adenine,
cytosine, guanine and thymine – turn
and turn again (cynghanedd rules the cells).

Call cousin metaphor a silent rhyme,
flashy matchmaker signing What a catch,
this link and latch of things.

Say reason follows suit when politics spells peace.
Note In the beginning was the Word and it rhymed:
quark, antiquark, spin, counterspin.

Left and right are the first and best of gifts;
hand clap, bird flight. Born binary,
we lose and use our balance stepping out,

or, for embodiment of rhyme in tights on a roll,
ape Clem on his circus wire with music and meaning
weighting the opposite ends of the balancing pole.

Remember when first couplets of smile-frown
made enemy-friends with knee scabs for paired badges
as right played tag with wrong and gang was the full stanza?

And how sound conjures friend from stranger
– song belong song, half riff or exact pact,
sun moon one tune, a double cadenza,

with any word an aria centre stage
through (cymbals, please!) full frontal rhyme,
that glitzy tenor of derring-do. Soprano, too.

Irresistible, these prophets of philander,
intuition’s viceroys, double agents all:
Apollo tipsy, Dionysus in tails.

How they’ll subvert a poet and serve a clown!
Their Mercury conjunct Uranus warns
it’s no go the status quo, no go the Fall,

so if you want the moment’s CPR,
the breath and beat of second chance – yes no? –
rhyme’s team will clinch the deal.


The first line quote is from Roland Barthes’ ‘rhyme is a structural scandal’. I like rhyme’s tensile strength, its echo of the pattern of things, the way it can surprise and validate, and sometimes usefully influence a poem’s narrative. JJO.

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