“Forcing twentieth-century America into a sonnet — gosh, how I hate sonnets — is like putting a crab into a square box. You’ve got to cut his legs off to make him fit. When you get through, you don’t have a crab any more.”
–William Carlos Williams
Dear Doctor Williams, with all due respect
For worlds of pleasure I’ve found in your verse,
On this account I feel I must defect.
I love your offhand lines — “so much for the hearse”
From “Tract” for one — and how you defied the norm,
Filled your poems with ordinary speech
And escaped the strictures of long-standing form
Extending by great lengths the poet’s reach.
But, gosh, the twentieth-century whole?
A crab so large should be delegged, declawed!
Who, dredging such a creature from the shoal,
Would not pull back in horror overawed?
A crab of such size must be cut to fit
Boiled, dipped in butter, eaten bit by bit.
“Boxed Crab” is reprinted from Able Muse.
Steve Potter was active in Seattle’s literary scene as board member and frequent emcee for Red Sky Poetry Theater in the ’90s. He performed at events such as Seattle Poetry Festival, Subtext, Rendezvous Reading Series and Cheap Wine & Poetry sometimes accompanied by guitarist Bill Horist or the sitar/tablas duo Bakshish. He edited an eclectic but short-lived literary magazine called The Wandering Hermit Review. While he keeps a lower profile these days, Potter is writing as much as ever. His work has appeared in journals such as; Able Muse, Blazevox, Drunken Boat, Galatea Resurrects, Knock, Marginalia, Raven Chronicles and Stringtown.