“Use the line to create a surprise for the reader, a turn of thought, as in the opening of Sharon Olds’s ‘The Promise.’ We are introduced to a couple sitting together at a restaurant, holding hands, presumably having a romantic evening, and then get these lines:
we are at it again, renewing our promise
to kill each other.
The revelation of the nature of the promise dramatically reverses – or at least complicates – our expectations. Try something similar at the opening of a poem and go on from there.”
-Kim Addonizio, “Ordinary Genius”
So, I didn’t follow her instructions perfectly. I tried a couple twists throughout the poem but the best comes at the end, instead of the beginning. Enjoy.
New World Symphony
Let the goosebumps rise on the back of your neck
Terror shiver down your spine
The crash of cymbals, tremolo of strings
Listen to the sound
Trumpets wailing at the death
of babes caught sleeping in the storm.
Timpani pounds the marching feet
People’s Liberation Army hunting
The whisper of unwanted children to unwanted mothers
Soft melody hiding in their voices
The beat kept by swaying hips
Of prostitutes, strippers
The directors of the symphony?
asleep in beds