WRITING A RANT
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.
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,
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.
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