Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day Twenty One - Taxi by Elise Paschen


Why don't we cruise
Times Square at noon
enjoy the jam
I'm not immune
to your deft charm
in one stalled car
I'd like to take
you as you are

---Elise Paschen

TAXI by Elise Paschen

Before anything else, our first impulse is to understand. In our search for answers, we often carry our own baggage with us and put it to work. With our baggage in tow, we attempt to find depth, or create depth where it doesn't exist. What a mistake this can be! Because we want something more, something more literary, something more high brow and challenging, we miss out on the art right before our eyes. It's like showering the prom queen with attention, but ignoring the girl-next-door who's loved you forever.

Taxi by Elise Paschen is a perfect example of a small, but powerful poem that loses some of its truth and beauty when we try to read more into it than actually exists. In this poem, Paschen has fun with words and their sounds. There are rhymes and slant rhymes all in a neat package of eight lines, each containing four syllables. Paschen establishes pace very deliberately with the structure and she's chosen. It's a single image of the poet and a friend, or presumably a lover, in a midday Times Square traffic jam that sets the poem in motion. There's irony in the poem rumbling to life with a traffic jam. But the traffic slows the outside world so that the world inside the car takes center stage. Paschen takes this deliberate moment to highlight that she is "not immune / to (your) deft charm / in one stalled car." She knows it is charm and there could be pretense behind it, but she also knows that it works on her. In fact, it works so well that she understands herself and what she wants. She'd "like to take / you as you are." Yes, this poem has clever line breaks and a fun rhyme scheme. I could break these down and show how Paschen creates something truly great in the short course of eight lines, but sometimes you just have to pause, take a breath, and remind yourself not to complicate a piece of art that is already great without me and my baggage.

No comments: