Creativity Requires a Cave (an Apology for Form and Rhyme)

IMAGINE Gretzky “trapped” behind the crease;
or Pelé, deking, swarmed before the net;
Odysseus before he dons the fleece;
or Jordan, bodied, ere he stops to set…
It’s in tight spaces, when one is constrained,
when one is challenged, tangled, forced to find
a resolution or a route that’s aimed
forward and not down a path that’s blind,
that one can get the best out of oneself:
creating pathways theretofore unknown.
Rhyme and form are good in and of themselves,
if not for Song, then also as a cone—
some pylon that we dip around, contrive
so that in some End-Zone we might arrive.


Offensive Defense; or, Watching a Guy Play Ping-Pong

MOST of his offense is steady defense.
He spins the ball; he grins; he’s lightly taxed.
Methodical, stoic, surreptitious,
he’s out for blood and yet he looks relaxed.
Life is largely a battle of attrition:
he returns all that his opponent smacks
(with too much fury) in his direction.
Consistently defending— he attacks
his foe’s composure: gets beneath his skin.
He keeps his form while his foe slopp’ly spikes.
Whoever makes the least mistakes will win.
His type of play not everybody likes.
He doesn’t showboat, serve it super-fast;
his greatest talent is that he can last.


Reid McGrath is a poet living in the Hudson Valley of New York.

Featured Image: Wayne Gretzky Original Acrylic Painting By Steven Csorba

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5 Responses

  1. The Society

    [On behalf of Robert King,]

    This is a very good poem and certainly true of the process of writing poetry as art. The only criticism I would offer of it is that it utilizes present-day persons and activities to develop a point that is universal. Readers in the future will not understand the metaphors because they are dated.

    The point made by this poem – that rhyme and form are good in and of themselves – is also made in one of the blog entries on my website, See my 24th blog entry titled “Of ‘inversions’ and ‘resistances'” dated September 8, 2013. The poet creates problems for himself/herself so that in devising solutions the poem will resist time when it wants to undo them.

  2. Wilbur Dee Case

    by Wilbur Dee Case

    The first quatrain in Creativity Requires a Cave is particularly good because of its mingling of contemporary and ancient personages, Gretsky, Pele, Jordan and Odysseus; it’s of our era, but also recognizes traditional elements, the sonnet, iambic pentameter, and older poetic words, like ere. The diction is excellent as well, especially its sports terms, like crease, deking, set, et cetera. The structure of the first sentence is interesting, too, in that its subject is implied and its verb lies in the single opening word imagine, a nice point for the poem’s launch.


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