Next Line, Please

Terms of Interment

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By David Lehman

December 8, 2015


 

 

Line 9 of our sonnet needs to introduce the rhyme word “must.” It also kicks off the last six lines in the poem. The previous line ended mid-sentence: “Then we will be.”

To complete the sentence, I chose Angela Ball’s

Two mourners arguing terms of interment. We must

I was persuaded by the alliteration (mourners, must) and wordplay (“terms of interment”) and pleased, too, that the line ends with the appearance of a new subject and verb and a wide-open set of possibilities.

Runners-up: Dick Humbird’s paradoxical “Compelled no more to suffer what we must” and Joanna Peders’s “The silent marker on lovers’ graves—we must.”

I’d also like to mention most honorably Vicki Peterson’s “loveless sans lover—you, buried alive, and I, must” and Berwyn Moore’s “Lovers refusing to grieve or believe we must.”

So here’s where we are:

Our dreams as disparate as our days uniform, Michael C. Rush
We crave a lovely scandal with someone well-known; Angela Ball
Midnight champagne, penthouse lit by thunderstorm, Christine Rhein
In this version of darkness, we are never alone. Elizabeth Solsburg

If marriage is a cage, we can force the lock, but he Christine Rhein
Clutches the key, a jailer too stubborn to learn Patricia Smith
To read the graffiti. If need be, he can turn  Paul Michelsen
A bouquet to a wreath. Then we will be Poem Today

Two mourners arguing terms of interment. We must       Angela Ball


What we need now is line 10. It must complete the sentence, preferably in a way that blends surprise and vigor. The requirement: the line must end with the words “subject to.”

Good luck, everyone, and please feel free to comment on the poem-in-progress and where you think we are headed. Would anyone like it if I submitted a line?

Deadline: Sunday, December 13, Noon.


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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