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Tennis with the Net Down


What frosty observation was it––

hinting at nothing, or child’s work––

despaired of formless wordplay?


Words, writers may want for leaded paper 

but, must there be a net to hit a ball?

Who opposes the serving poet, waits 

anxious across the net to compete 

only according to some metered rule? 


How much net is a net, or freedom from it––

A line, a rope, a laser beam? 

How much sag, how many holes, before 

the net is gone, the verse released, and free?


Would tennis be a lesser game

if all the rules applied except the net, or

played along some lesser travelled path––

Different, but less a sport for that alone?


Do words, poets exist only in approved form, variation; 

could art, like nature, emerge 

absent a plan, without a net, ruleless, 

design seen less in the contrivance, more in the result?


This net, this web, this form so needed

constrains imagining, mediates response;

one stands within, adapts towards conformity

one stands without, sees options of escape.


Poetry lies in the illuminated moment, 

Calming all fear of the forbidden.


About this:  "Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down”––Robert Frost, 1937


 © Philip Knight 2018