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Poet Submits Piece Containing Every Literary Device

By Zoha Arif


They say that Einstein birthed the theory of relativity in the mystic dungeon of a Swiss Patent Office. They say that Isaac Newton plopped his laws of motion while witnessing an apple spiral to the ground. They say that Vincent Van Gogh would rather indulge himself in an intellectual masterpiece than see the light of day. I am of the same breed of creative and intellectual genius.

Poets these days are too humble for my taste. They stir a few metaphors about the beating of the sun, a few rhythmatic alliterations on the pout of a past lover, and a light peppering of assonance. They stir the few spices together and call the production *chef’s kiss* “poetry.” Little poet padawans, how you are mistaken. If the insanity of Newton deriving the laws of motion from a red apple fresh from Costco and Einstein defining the universe in a patent office does not inform you about the path to creative and intellectual genius-hood, then let me bluntly outline how real poetry is done.

The act of restraining oneself is treasonous in poetry. If you were an elephant and you were very hangry because another elephant ate your secret stash of food and some human magically popped in the middle of the Sahara to give you a bag of peanuts, you would not hesitate to devour all of the peanuts given to you. Restraint has no place when you are a hangry elephant. So if you call yourself a poet and if literary devices are your tools, then pretend that you are a giant, hangry elephant, and do not hesitate to unleash the full power of every last literary device known to mankind. To demonstrate this principle of good poetry, I will reform one “renowned” work pushed underneath the holy facade of “poetry” and present its hidden, plump potential.

Exhibit A:

“Poet”: Pablo Neruda

The rough draft:

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,

or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:

I love you as one loves certain obscure things,

secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries

the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,

and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose

from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,

I love you directly without problems or pride:

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,

except in this form in which I am not nor are you,

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,

so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Now I don’t entirely despise this piece and will give it a solid rating of 2/10 stars for the effort of sitting and writing this abomination. I respect that there is a healthy number of similes for the size of the thing and a light salting of metaphors, but, other than that, my man Neruda really held back here—he failed to become the hangry elephant. Where is the anecdote introducing the star-crossed lovers? Where are the hyperboles? It is impossible to feel Neruda’s mad (and slightly creepy) love without the juxtaposition, the oxymorons, the assonance, the allusions, the allegory…. The list forges on forever.

Behold the reincarnation:


You and I met on the border of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean and

you hollered hi, I heaved hello, and [Alliteration]

I hooted I love you and you blushed like a beat and [Simile]

then 15 years later, when we united on the border of the

Pacific and the Arctic Ocean

We tied the knot and you became my sidekick. [Allusion to every super hero, but especially Robin and Batman]

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, pepper, sugar [Metaphor]

or an arrow of carnations that propagate fire: (we’ll keep the big boy words here like “carnations” and “propagate”)

You are to me what fire is to water,

No, wait, what a firefighter is to fire, [Analogy]

Boom beep boop boom boom lub dub lub lub dub [Onomatopoeia]

That is the sound of my heart, which symbolizes

my secret love for you, that hides

In my dark shadow and wilting soul. [Personification of love] [Enjambment]

O little boy by the gas station! [Apostrophe]

How is your left pinky toe doing? [Rhetorical Question]

You must know I love that girl

as the plant that isn’t a plant because it’s actually a mushroom,

as the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself and myself and everything,

as the thicc eraser and the pencil

as the five dollar bill and the ten dollar bill comrade

as the hand and the foot [Anaphora]

and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose

(I promise you, reader, I’m not a creep) [Authorial Intrusion]

from the earth lives dimly in my body sack.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,

I love you directly without problems or pride:

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love, blah blah blah blah blah BORING!

except in this exotic form in which I am not me and you are not you,

so keep your hands away from me, as our kindergarten teacher used to say


And close your eyes when you sleep,

And please don’t steal my dreams cuz i actually enjoy them.

Now, from Exhibit A, I think that we can observe the benefit of becoming the very unrestrained hangry elephant. The second version is much more captivating, fresh, and arresting. From the anecdotes and flashbacks, we come to understand the poet as someone who is extremely profound and self-reflective, who refuses to let significant, past events fade away into the dust of forgetfulness. The fact that the poet addresses additional people besides just his over-hyped lover (the reader and the gas station boy, for example) shows that he is in constant need of advice and self-validation. The metaphors, analogies, and similes are profound as they allow the reader to grasp onto concrete symbols such as mushrooms, feet, and erasers and to understand that these concrete symbols are tangible representations of the poet’s emotions. The rhythmic devices, namely the alliteration and anaphora, bring about a gentle, thrumming rhythm to the piece that allows the words to melt off the tongue. Overall, the resurrection of the honestly detestable sonnet beforehand is a complete turn-around and solid Nobel prize material.

Now, dear editors of Polyphony Lit, it is probably well known to you that I submitted a delectable masterpiece to Polyphony in full certainty that it would be accepted for publication because who can deny the raw power of literary devices. I received a thorough rejection letter in my inbox, and apparently, my literary devices lacked depth or purpose. As it is frankly clear how misguided you beings are, I have taken it upon my giving, charitable self to educate you and will shortly be releasing my own literary workshops. I do also expect a full apology letter accompanied with the necessary complements of acceptance and will sit idly underneath my dining room table awaiting its arrival.


Zoha Arif is a Second Reader at Polyphony Lit and the Managing Editor for Voices.

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