Wordy Mikado (Fragment #017)

I stowed the wreckage of the broken poem in my pockets and dragged myself to my room. It was there that I shook out this mishmash, onto the little table in the corner, and I fell to thinking how it could be rearranged into a new poem. Some lines stuck out awkwardly here and there, and I suddenly recalled how in my childhood I would play Mikado. This flashback was so quick and so bright that it slashed through my mind like a lightning bolt.

We preferred to play with fine aluminium wires, not with woody sticks. We bent the ends of the wires into loops, hooks, and waves. This made the game more difficult because every move had to be executed with surgical precision. (By the way, I’d heard of a variation of this game that was part of the professional practice of pocket lifters.)

I found myself mindlessly poking my finger into the pile of words. My angriness fumed away. The professor’s voice echoed in my head: “And don’t spoil such precious words for glamorous bullshit.” We played with literal junk when we were children, and we did it with style. Why should I fuck with such high class stuff now?

I pulled out a long, shiny wire from the pile and smiled. I knew what I needed to do. I accurately stowed all the wordy bits into a little box and went to the library.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

Testing, Part #2 (Fragment #015)

It was like talking to a brick wall. I elevated my voice slightly.

“Hey, four-eyes!”

Yuck. Not only is he blind, he’s deaf too… I was considering poking him with a ruler when I heard a semi-cough right above me. Again.

Any questions, young lady?”

“No, Sir.”

Question 2a: Define a metrical foot used in the following poem.

He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pair of boots—but the worst of it was,
He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to “Hi!” or to any loud cry,
Such as “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!”
To “What-you-may-call-um!” or “What-was-his-name!”
But especially “Thing-um-a-jig!”

1) Trochee
2) Iamb
3) Anapaest
4) Dactyl

Question 3a: What isn’t a forme fixe?

1) Qasida
2) Glosa
3) Sequence
4) Tanaga

I looked around helplessly. No help was within reach. Well… if plan A doesn’t work out then I have to use plan B. So, I gave a shit about that, and began to select answers at random.

The blank space below question 1a was very much in evidence, and my inner perfectionist demanded satisfaction. I knew it was better not to argue as this thought would be like a pebble in my shoe—it would hinder and annoy. I wrote something like, “Prompt at five o’clock, I busted a snaplock, and walked around town in a candy-striped nightgown.”

Then I hesitated over where an adverb of time should be placed in an English sentence. Damn. At the start? At the end? Without philosophizing, I repeated the first line at the end. If need be, I could say that I was nervous and forgot to cross out the wrong line.

With a feeling of satisfaction at a job well done, I turned in my paper and left the amphitheater. I felt a roaring hunger.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

Testing, Part #1 (Fragment #30)

The desk was a scuffed, sordid blue. I love such things, you know. They’re better at telling you the story of an institution than all those dull, fat conduct books, and they’re more entertaining. For example, right here someone had ably depicted the birth process of star-nosed moles. I sniggered. Considering their knowledge of such ‘niceties’, perhaps it was a future Darwin Medalist. Although… yuck! I reached for a pen.

Twenty two, dolt! Twenty two, not nineteen! I hate giving a lick and a promise! It’s better not to do at all than to do something sloppily.

I was nearly finished coloring the corrected snout when I heard a semi-cough right above me. Yipes! I raised my eyes slowly, and saw the sheen of a badge: ‘Mr. Turdman’. I snickered.

“Follow me, young lady.”

I got up from the desk and dragged myself after the badge wearer’s podge.

Some lanky guy stood near the door and droned like a jammed record: “Please put your cellphones, tablets, and other gadgets into the basket. Please don’t use any electronic devices during the test.”

I shrugged my shoulders and fished my old celly in its scratched maroon sheath out of my pocket. I put it into the plastic basket, right on top of the shiny, posh smartphones. It looked pretty funny, as if a behemoth had decided to join the dance of the little swans.

“Hey, are you dozing off, bimbo? Stop holding up the line!”

His derisive tone brought me back to reality. “I may suck, but you swallow,” I thought reflexively. I stepped into the study amphitheater.

Question 1a. Compose a limerick using the following rhymes: town, nightgown, lock, o’clock.

I scratched my nape and looked helplessly about. Some dweeb with huge glasses to my left seemed like a promising prospect. This dork obviously knows what the hell a limerick is. I whispered, “Psst! You! Hey, you!”

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017