Late Wittgenstein by Way of Frost
By Simon Mermelstein
Some say the mind is made from matter;
Having thought about the matter,
I’d say both are idle chatter
And that the spectators ought
To spend less time defining terms
And try to get themselves uncaught
From traps of words,
Which are for naught.
Writes Simon Mermelstein: I call this form a Frosty, for lack of a better name. The Frosty uses the structure of Robert Frost’s incomparable Fire and Ice: iambic verse with the rhyme scheme AbAACDCda, where capital letters are long lines, and lowercase are short. Additionally, the form must be used to compare and contrast two things. I was trying to write a sonnet about dualism and going nowhere, when it suddenly occurred to me that a perfect form had already been created for such a situation.
What the form is not permitted to do is debate two ways in which the world might end; that makes it too much a parody of the original. Randall Monroe, in his popular and brilliant webcomic, XCKD, has written the only other example I can find, debating which of two programming languages the world was coded in. Remember: the Frosty is meant to explore dichotomy, not eschatology.
Simon Mermelstein’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in Spillway, Mobius, The MacGuffin, Light, Rainy Day, Parody, Third Wednesday and the nebulous “other places”. He has been nominated for a Pushcart, made it to Final Stage at Ann Arbor Poetry Slam two years running, and has given feature readings all over town, including for University of Michigan Poetry Slam. His first chapbook, Zero One: Poems for Humans (2013, Zetataurus Press) has sold upwards of 73 copies. In his spare time, he enjoys winning slams and getting published.