Next Line, Please

Play It, Sam

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By David Lehman

August 2, 2016


 

This week we extend our ode to Woody Allen, the perhaps ironically titled “Lucky You,” adding a couplet. You were asked to write a polysyllabic rhyme—for example, “money [or honey]” to rhyme with “irony” or “catastrophe / laugh at me.”

I chose Angela Ball’s

Five foot five and vegetarian, like Woody, movies your lingua franca,
You covet the ivory dinner jacket Bogey wore in Casablanca.

The rhyme is clever, and the reference to Bogey in Casablanca is perfect for the director of Play It Again, Sam.

Kate Saffin wins the silver medal with this allusive (“Manhattan,” “Bananas”) couplet:

Now you’re pacing the floor and talking too fast, a rhapsody of going bananas.
Sit tight and wait for the Manhattan dawn, you’ll be safe in your flannel pyjamas.

Bronze goes to Elizabeth Solsburg:

Your ex sees you as Annie Hall; and he has always been your Alvy
Now all you need is a spider; and a triple shot of irony.

I thought I would add a couplet, using one of the suggested rhymes:

Ask the clarinetist at the Carlyle: What is irony?
Is it success at running but failure to take the money?

So now we have:

Lucky You

 

Watching The Purple Rose of Cairo on the Independent Film Channel,
You’re freed from all that’s tawdry, dull, and real by using your control panel.

 

You nosh on a slab of good-for-you chocolate, a victory for Woody,
And pour a snifter full of cognac, wearing your ex’s old hoodie.

 

Five foot five and vegetarian, like Woody, movies your lingua franca,
You covet the ivory dinner jacket Bogey wore in Casablanca.

 

Ask the clarinetist at the Carlyle: What is irony?
Is it success at running but failure to take the money?

 


For next week, I say let’s bring this thing to a close with a flourish: a couplet—or two, if you are so moved. Only requirement: must name or allude to a Woody Allen movie—and must work with our rhyme pattern.

Thanks, everyone.

Deadline: Sunday, August 7, midnight any time zone.


David Lehman is a poet and the general editor of The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.

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