I’ve often struggled with writing list-poems. There’s an inherent challenge involved that I’ve never quite mastered: balancing the implied equality of items in a list with the need for progression in the argument of a poem.
Given this week’s theme from The Daily Post, I thought I’d dust off an old list-poem of mine. I had recently read Ander Monson’s collection Vacationland, and was particularly taken with his “list sonnets”: lists of items that told relationship stories. I decided to attempt a variation on that theme, the story of someone’s reaction to unfavorable election results (the 2014 midterms were fast approaching).
Post-Election-Day Survival Kit
- maps, color-coded for inconvenience
- wastebasket filled with bumper stickers, pins
- Wi-Fi connection for the airing of grievances
- half-empty Folgers and full-empty gin
- shredded copies of the Washington Post
- television off, blues records on
- fresh gin and coffee, bacon and toast
- for-sale sign to plant in the lawn
- draft-dodger anthems from the Vietnam War
- passport, suitcase, accent tapes, keys
- GPS set to find to Lake Erie’s shore
- plaster to puncture, stress-ball to squeeze
- head on a pillow, ice on the brow
- calendar turned to four years from now
Looking at it now, I’m a bit frustrated with its indecisive sense of rhythm — not even meter, just anything mellifluous — and the progression in the third quatrain seems off. But some of these lines still make me smile (“airing of grievances,” “full-empty gin”), so it’s not a total waste.
Perhaps come November, I’ll be inspired to write a sequel (though God, I hope not). Until then, I think I’m happy laying this one to rest.