Wednesday, May 12, 2010





A Rant is usually a long poem in which the poet explores a subject in a noisy, fast paced, declamatory or bombastic manner. It was a form developed by the beat poets in the1950s in California. It is a form

presented in free verse, or as a series of prose paragraphs. Allen Ginsberg’s Howl is a well-known

example. Rap is similar to this form, but rap usually incorporates rhyme and rhythm accompanied

by a drumbeat or electronic percussive beat.


This poem began in a class taught by John Rybicki, in Michigan. He had class members write down

words that had great importance for them. These were “words of power.” We all exchanged our words,

and I drew John’s word, brick from the hat. At first I thought I could not relate to the word at all.

My resistance reflected my anger and led to writing this rant, which in the end I discovered I liked.

It turned out to be a word of power for me after all.


Resistance to something is a good indication that there is some suppressed emotion about the thing

being resisted. If you encounter it in yourself, you may find it will provide fuel for a poem

(or even another writing form) you had never thought about writing. Try this as a writing exercise.



Begetting Bricks

Dedicated to John Rybicki



The bow-tied gift is painted

in hard brushstrokes, mortar

scraping the hand, drawing blood.

Unwrapped, I see only brick.

Bricks are unyielding, brittle,

I become hard in saying it.

I am like my friend who built up walls

without windows around herself.

I tried for a while to knock them down,

but learned self made walls,

regenerate themselves.

resistance is a pointless effort.

From the brick,

I learned something about resistance.

I accept the gift.



I try to be flexible, creative

even with bricks.

Firebricks piled grandly

in the basement of my childhood home

for years were the source of imaginary

playhouses and yellow brick walkways.

In my youthful fantasy,

I built a kiln with those bricks,

and in that primal oven,

fired sculptures, bas-relief,

tiles, tablets, containers,

to hold all manner of bounty.

I once wanted to fire clay into pots.

Foundries, ovens and kilns utilize

fire to harden objects

molded to the will of a creator,

but the bricks and daydreams

stayed in the basement,

sold by my father with the house.



Bricks are artificial shapes

in a natural world with a life force

of their own, which expand

upward, hard and linear,

against an ever more distant sky.

Bricks and concrete are allies with asphalt,

infrastructure crusting the earth.

Brick structures become wedged against the

natural boundaries of organic space.

Bricks are mortared into inflexible walls,

forming a fortress of power over others,

as well as the impenetrable prison

holding some within, and barricading

others without, exiling the poor

often without resource.

Bricks break the windows of the dreamer.

They become bunkers for predators

Bricks become tombs,

gas chambers; crematoriums.

Bricks become the poor man’s bludgeon;

the means for crushing the structures

which crush them; the means of survival

for the fittest, as the poor feed on each other.



Kilns are brick wombs birthing

clay offspring; bricks, whose families

will become other ovens.

Bricks are loaves in the oven, bread

to feed other bricks.

Societal forges burn, melt,

reshape other material

to the will of the mass mind of Brick society,

structures built in modular sequences as

hard and linear as the original unitary shape.

These structures, brick by brick

expand upward but have limits,

which demand glass ceilings to limit

higher achievement by other material,

Unless allied with concrete and steel.

I overheard an unkind remark, harsh,

bruising. The words fell like bricks

on the ear, hard rectangular shapes,

mortared together in rigid concrete

structures, prototypes for conformity,

blocking territories in the mind.

Bricks are the foundation and walls

of homes and churches, nations.

patterned in conformity

molded by invariable formula.

and in turn, they are the structures

housing religious family values

that would demand conformity

as regular as salt crystals,

cubed and cloned in exactly the unitary shape.

the ultimate Nirvana brick where

the ultimate family values

are of one mind, one cube, one hive,

with computers, mass media

and assimilation for all.



The ikon god of bricks

would be as indestructible

as the ominous obelisk

from 2001 hurled into space.

That brick, morphed into a monolith

in its trek to other worlds

(where no brick has gone before)

has become the robotic ship

inhabited by Borg. Resistance is futile.


If you would like to see more of Ruth Zachary's Abstract Art, visit her blog,

Writing and Images are the Copyright © of Ruth Zachary.

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