Perfectionist Inclined

Maligned by self-encasing brine, defined
By certainty’s demise, self-image lies
Within a shrine. Perfectionist inclined,
I crouch transfixed in infinite surmise:
Confined by shell, by husk, cocoon intact,
Unshattered yet, afraid to fall, afraid
To try to fall, while each and every act
Desires a release from masquerade.
Deception at its finest is retreat
Of false regret; stagnation is my lot
While I remain still mired in self-conceit.
And I as yet remain unformed, unwrought.
But when I’m stripped of each and every rind,
My soul, unmasked, will flutter unconfined.



Crown of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Ten thousand naked skulls begrimed with glee,
All petrified in fleshless grin, do gloat
At life’s incessant loss of dignity,
Of its ironies they roguishly take note:
The irony of heedless youth that deigns
To ponder the unthinkable, one’s death;
The irony of youth that dares to wean
itself of “mortal coil,” to sever costly breath.
With cemetery eyes the mirthful skulls
In glum hilarity at life’s demise
Inspect the decadence of dust and mull
on Death’s flirtation with the wise.
Behold the smile upon their fossil brows,
As tainted as humanity’s first vow.

As tainted as humanity’s first vow
Is bloated leprous “painted word” entombed
Beneath a cloying opal-powdered brow
And layers deep of sophistry assumed.
Not only is the act of sophistry
assumed as deftly as a fall from grace,
Now, in this splintered age duplicity
Comes with a double, no, a treble face.
Yet hardest still to bear is breach of faith
When friends like Judas lacerate with kiss,
With travesties of truth and fretted myth,
Pronouncing follies, strewing woe. Note this:
When others strive true discourse to obstruct,
Then we become like pipes too nimbly plucked.

Like pipes too nimbly plucked our souls at times
are deftly bared to our dismay. A glass
Is held up to our eyes: two stricken mimes,
Afraid to meet self-stare, stuck at impasse:
Afraid because our lines fall flat within
A tumor-burdened, cancer-harrowed soul
Beset upon by self, by eyes, while thin
Grey net ensnares, engulfs all staged control.
And as our play proceeds we—like those mutes
Of old, diseased cartoons who dare resist
grave facelessness, their scenes in ill repute—
Act as a foil for main protagonist.
But when the playwright’s pen effaces all
Facades, our tales, once told, will e’er enthrall.



Lynn Kong is an 11th grade student at Cary Christian School.

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8 Responses

  1. Norma

    Your poems praise the dead smiling from the grave. It is a praise to deceit and let behaved humans who hide their agendas. Take it to their graves. The good of it all is art will outlast all bad and all you talk about.

  2. C.B. Anderson

    Your diction, Lynn, is far beyond what I would expect of an 11th grade student, and you probably have the verbal SAT scores to back it up. One thing I would suggest, though, is that you unscramble your syntax a little bit. For instance, the passage that begins “The irony of heedless youth that deigns” and the long sentence that follows it are somewhat tangled. Strive for more clarity of expression, place commas where they are needed to fortify the integrity of dependent clauses, and find a way not to drop so many articles. Also (and this is a matter of taste), don’t try to rhyme ordinary words with similar words that have an added sibilant ending (brows/vow). For me, at least, this is an ugly practice, though a common practice. Take what I have written under advisement, because you are on your way to a stellar future in the art of word-crafting, and you will figure out all this nitpicky stuff in your own time and to your own satisfaction.

  3. James A. Tweedie

    Lynn, I want more of this. Keep posting at SCP. You will keep us on our toes and inspire us to rise to our own best, as you have clearly done with your set of sonnets.

    I especially liked the way you saved the denouement in your first sonnet until the very last line. I knew it was coming and, when it finally arrived, I was more than satisfied!

  4. Margaret Coats

    Lynn, I really like that simile, “pipes too nimbly plucked.” These poems read quite well, but may I suggest a few lines where you might consider improvement? All in the Crown:

    I, line 3: place a semicolon at the end; you start a new independent clause in line 4

    I, line 4: to regularize the meter, leave out “its.” It’s not needed, because you go on to specify which ironies.

    I, line 8: line seems too long; maybe leave out “costly”

    I, line 11: put a comma after dust

    II, line 10: “lacerate with a kiss” is better diction, and you can do this as a slight metrical variation, rather than counting syllables and creating an awkward expression.

    III, line 7: “beset by” is proper diction here, and since you lose two syllables by removing “upon,” you have room to add “by X” (a third thing the soul is beset by). And just to show that you are not rigidly counting syllables, say “while a thin” Again, the slight metrical variation makes the language more natural.

    III, line 12: “for the main protagonist” Once more, a slight variance in meter to create more natural speech.

    If you like any of these suggestions, or have any other perfections you want to make, I believe the Society will apply them at your request, sent to
    Ponder it to be sure, and best wishes on your poetic career!


    Both poems are quite accomplished. I am humbled.
    I think you are right about youthful obsession with death, but I think it gets trivialized in the process, especially in view of the suicide rate among those about your age. Do we need to see any more skulls and crossbones (outside of 10/31 and 11/1, perhaps)?
    And yet, Ash Wednesday gives to us the chance
    to contemplate our end, the end of each;
    and summons from us prayers that we may dance
    as our Creator deigns, and we can reach.


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