• andrew jeter

Mirror, Mirror

Updated: May 12, 2019

(from the napowrimo prompt: “remix” a Shakespearean sonnet. Here’s all of Shakespeare’s sonnets. You can pick a line you like and use it as the genesis for a new poem. Or make a “word bank” out of a sonnet, and try to build a new poem using the same words (or mostly the same words) as are in the poem. Or you could try to write a new poem that expresses the same idea as one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, like “hey baby, this poem will make you immortal” (Sonnet XVIII) or “I’m really bad at saying I love you but maybe if I look at you adoringly, you’ll understand what I mean” (Sonnet XXIII). If you’re feeling both silly and ambitious, you might try writing an anagram-sonnet, like K. Silem Mohammad has done here.)


When I was 16 my AP Lit

teacher was writing a book

of sonnets in English and

translated into German—

the poems facing each other

across a Checkpoint Charlie

binding and author’s will.


So, he made us memorize

one of Bill’s sonnets because

his own would have been too

obvious and I chose 55—

I was over it all the love

and kisses and roses

and flashing eyes at

girls who wanted it

and boys who didn’t.


Fifty-five seemed like

it was about the end and

coldness and not caring

any more because every

single love was dead.


Of course, I was completely

wrong.


In my Public Speaking class

I make my students memorize

something—monologue, famous

speech, poem—but a poor

fellow, freshman blond and kempt,

wanting to please, couldn’t find

anything that worked for him.


“Try 55,” I said.


Three weeks later, I was

actually looking forward to

hearing the past rise up

to be better than I was, to

hear a 15 year-old know

what he was talking about

and reminding me of my

folly-filled past when I was

not nearly as smart as I

thought I was. He began:


“Not marbles nor the gilded…”

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