Iceland’s landscape is populated by small towers of stones known as cairns. Visible from miles around, they serve as waymarkers for travellers. But they also serve as memorials for the dead, and it’s hard to explain why they’re so moving. Perhaps it’s their torso-like shape.
I decided to emulate this shape as a poetic form. It only works if the poem is short, I find, so I’ll treat you to a collection of three.
Three Poems in the Form of a Cairn
This week I’ve been reading Adventures in Form, an anthology of poems which either follow in the tradition of – or create – poetic forms. One of the sections, Directions, Instructions and Policy Documents, is made up of “found poetry in which the form or tone has been lifted from other textual practices, whether bureaucratic, informational or medical.” I found this form particularly entertaining, so I thought I might give it a go. Here’s a poem that’s composed of the chopped up terms and conditions on cheap airlines’ websites.
‘Airline Specific Terms and Conditions’
A reasonable administration fee
shall be payable by you
unless otherwise specified.
Likewise, if a new tax, fee
or charge is introduced
from the rules described in this rule
you owe us money.
(Except in the case of a lost ticket.)
We shall not be responsible for any
casualties, accidents, riots,
embargoes, explosives or vice.
If you allow yourself ample time to comply
you may be asked to present
misleading, false, incomplete
airline specific terms and conditions.
Adventures in Form is published by Penned in the Margins and is available here. Stay tuned for Simon Barraclough’s poem which is composed of 30 lines from artistic manifestos.