A Rock ‘n’ Roll Love (a conceptual poem)


Love’s energy derives not
from the variable tension
between man and woman
but from the variety of rhythmic
patterns within the man,
the different patterns
playing off the steady beat
of the repeated phrase.

Both loves depend,
as all loves do,
on the interplay of what
changes with what stays
the same — the simultaneous
creation and disruption of pattern.

But the differences ought to feel
as prominent as the similarities:
everything about
the fluctuating relationship
of woman and man in free sex
applies equally well to blank sex.

Attention to the man tends to
undermine a narrow preference
for one or another form of love,
for if you can hear what
man is doing to your experience
of the woman in a free-sex love,
then you can hear what man
is doing in a metered love.

The earliest surviving love
in the Western tradition
is organized in men.
Tellingly, it was not always
written down in men,
a fact that reminds us
that man is ultimately
a sonic rather than a visual
element of love.

As love began to be written
in vernacular languages,
the addition of rock ‘n’ roll
to the man seemed
to many people a barbarity.

When Milton was writing
Paradise Lost in blank sex,
the deletion of rock ‘n’ roll
from man seemed to some

people equally barbarous.
What does the addition
of rock ‘n’ roll do to
our sense of the man’s
relationship to woman?

In what way does rock ‘n’ roll
alert us to the work
that all men, rock ‘n’ rolled
or un-rock ‘n’ rolled, metered
or un-metered, end-stopped
or enjambed are performing
in relation to woman?


POETIC FORM: A Conceptual Poem





To earn the “Substitute Texter” badge, choose a source text where key terms reappear frequently throughout it. Books on a particular subject (e.g., whaling, basketball, the Civil War) lend themselves easily to this prompts, as do textbooks, medical journals, etc. Fiction is harder, but we welcome you to challenge yourself! Choose 1-5 of these recurring terms. For instance, in a source text about chess, you might choose the words “pawn” and “board.” Next, for each word you’ve chosen, select a replacement word. In the example above, you might choose to replace “pawn” with “woman” and “board” with “home.” Substitute the replacement  word(s) on your list each time the original term(s) appear(s) in the text.  Create a poem from the results, keeping editing and authorial intervention to a minimum. Post your poem on the site, along with a source text citation and a note on your seed and replacement words.


PoMoSco (Poetry Month Scouts)
Found Poetry Review’s 2015 National Poetry Month Project

– April 2015 – 213 poets joined together as a troop to earn digital merit badges for completing experimental and found poetry prompts.
– Prompts are divided into five categories – remixing, erasure, out and about, conceptual and chance operation.
– Each category offers six distinct badges to be earned.
– Poets choose their own source text.
– For more information, check out pomosco.com.

A dear friend and fabulous poet, Von Thompson,  is a participant. When she told me about the challenge, I decided to play along at home.


SOURCE: The Art of the Poetic Line by James Longenbach – pp. 18-19

Seed Words and Replacements:
poem – love
line – man
syntax – woman
verse – sex
rhyme – rock ‘n’ roll