- Pentameter [excerpt]Nature Theater of Oklahoma
In these stressful times when budgets are shrinking and economies are imploding, we must make impractical, communal, and overtly optimistic gestures.
The following are selections from Nature Theater of Oklahoma's now over 1,000-page rhymed verse epic PENTAMETER. This work is far from over and is even now being composed relentlessly night and day in multiple time zones by Rachel Bonds, Kelly Copper, Pavol Liska, and Robert Saenz de Viteri. The composition is done in the collaborative format of Japanese renga, with each person composing two lines in turn. The first line must answer the rhyme proposed by the previous writer, and the second line proposes a new rhyme.
The essence of renga is in the idea of "change" (変化 henka). Bashō described this as "refraining from stepping back."
Cans't thou escape the lure of perfection?Flee the grip of a sinus infection?We ought to dance underneath the moonlight.No one's yet flown a kite at midnight.There's so much to discover in the dark;I know if I look I will find the spark.The thing about searchers — they always find!Looking forward, there's no time to rewind;Always listen to your intuition!No inhibition! Who needs permission?_._._._._._._._.We do nothing without high ambition;If we fail, it's of our own volition.For instance: while dancing, we rip our pants;Well then, I'd say, now you've got this great chanceTo see the length of our dedication.Stretch the limits of your education!That is exactly what we're doing here.Our performance feats are without a peer.Watch us do it blind — or without a net!Put your money on us, we're a sure bet!So here we are in this amazing room;There's a light in the corners, not doom and gloom. [End Page 2] There's curtains and sequins and men in tights;During the break I'll snack, only two bites,Drink something, and get right back on my horse.I can tell that some of you don't endorseMy ideas about artistic duties.You prefer gratuitous nudies!Which you may get, if I get desperate.Here's my manifesto. There's no respite:Always do what you don't know with courage,Even though your past failures discourage.Here's a thought: What's the worst that could happen?Let that always be your secret weapon.Remember, things could still be so much worse.You could be driving away in a hearse,A stiff in the backseat, dead to the world.Oh the horrors that have themselves unfurled!The vision before me is naught but death:Grim reaches of darkness, absence of breath,The caves and caverns of purgatory,But suffering's not obligatory.For truth to be discovered and unveiled,You don't have to be totally assailed!Rejoice in this knowledge; give me your hand.Let's all together stand up and demandThat at the center of the universeIs a theater where time goes in reverse,Where actors speak in ornamental verse.Whether it's good or bad is not the point;Rhymes make me high, no need to smoke a joint.But why now do I feel so all alone?Hey! Over there! Won't you throw me a bone?You have come here for story and drama;Sorry I'm not like Barack Obama.With him you'd worship, and you would believe;To me you seem to offer a reprieve.But give me a shot, and I can move you,Change the world around us, make it look new.I'm desperate to make something useful,Help even jaded old folks feel youthful,Which may be more than I know how to do.But if I work hard, in a year or two,All my dreams are bound to come true for sure.This dancing perhaps some cancer will cureWith a wave of an arm, this graceful turn.OK, clearly I have something to learn.Dances can't make diseases disappear,But they're good for the heart, also the...