The Trick

Let me be a ''poet of cripples" not

a patient etherized upon a table,

not a brain floating within a body.

In a moment I must be a body

in the place incision produces in a body,

previously intact. Inert, poor body,

inarticulate. Pain flees from the word "pain."

Between meaning and the unmeaningable

is the trick of thinking I can fix what I can name.

Inertia insists on comfortable

contraries, less on chastened patients.

Let me be any other word, any other body:

stone, swan, sycamore. Perform patience

full time; retirement a normate luxury

I will not be afforded. My need to mean

alien to the pain, yet I remain, unseen.

Dive in
  1. How does the poet attempt to translate pain into language? What are some words and phrases that stand out?
  2. What is 'The Trick' the title is referring to?
  3. What's the importance of naming in this poem?
  4. How does the word 'body' at the end of the lines carry the poem forward?
  5. Circle all words beginning with B and P in the poem. B and P are consonants that are often paired together because they take the same mouth position to say. How might knowing this impact your recitation and understanding of the poem?
  6. Pick two consonants to repeat and write a short one-stanza poem. Think about how you want your lines to end (annotated, parsed, or end-stopped).

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7 questions with Roxanna Bennett


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Bibliographical info

Roxanna Bennett, "The Trick" from Unmeaningable. Copyright © by Roxanna Bennett. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Source: Unmeaningable (Gordon Hill Press, 2019)




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