“A New Spring for Poesy” by Steen W. Rasmussen

There, it lay, after centuries
The once-wild beast, beaten
Humiliated and enslaved
Straitjacketed and imprisoned
Paraded around in a carnival cage
With evenly spaced iron bars
And an unpickable lock
Left, it was, in a state of putrefaction

This would have been its demise
Had the South not lost the war
Had New Orleans not had a port
Had a glut of Confederate drums
Not been pawned
Had free men and women
Not marched second line groove
Down to Congo Square
Where Dee Dee Chandler’s pedal bent
The prison bars
Freeing the beast
And with it, lifting poetry
From the bards
Their crime punished, the final sentence:
“Mortem ad rigidus poeta”

As well, the poem had to die
To be resurrected in the ragtime beat
The beat of jig
The beat of jass
Back beat, 4-beat
Rhythms growing in intensity
And eloquence

No longer confined to the mulish minds
Of despotic poets — instead, thriving
In the daring hands and feet
Of Baby Dodds and Earl the Metronome
The word returned to the people
For them to re-imagine
The singers, the dancers
The beaters of drums
The snares, the bass, the tom-toms
Rockin’ around the cell house bonfire
With clash, hi-hat, and splash

And would-be poets
A multitude
The medieval meter
Had run its course
And a New Spring
Of words set to music
Had sprung

Steen Rasmussen is a native of Denmark. His interest in writing, and writing in English specifically, is rooted in many years of songwriting – singing, playing and recording his material with various garage bands. He is a contributing member of ‘Woodside Writers’, a literary forum based in New York City, where he lives and works as a real estate consultant.

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