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On August 9, 2016, for the “Next Line, Feature” that The American Scholar posts on its website, we were directed to write couplets that would extend and complete an ode to Woody Allen begun a month earlier. I chose couplets from three poets and added one of my own. Here are the couplets I selected:

Paul Michelsen

“You would’ve checked out, too, but you remembered this:
Strict Freudians charge you for the sessions you miss.”

Angela Ball

A cloud wears your mother’s face. She says, “Get a man”
“Or woman if you’d rather.” Something sweet and lowdown

Calls to you, suggests you borrow mighty Aphrodite’s
Magic, ask a stranger, “What’s new, Pussycat,” take a chance on life.

Charise Hoge

Ask Hannah and her sisters:
how hers is hers, she is his, and he is hers?

Magic of attraction has no trickery;
blame it on the moonlight, or heart’s thievery,

David Lehman

Or the marvelous piano soundtrack: Rodgers & Hart’s “Manhattan”
In Café Society, the men in tuxes, the ladies in red satin.

So here we are, a twenty-line poem, written collaboratively by six of us:

Lucky You

Watching The Purple Rose of Cairo on the Independent Film Channel,
You’re freed from all that’s tawdry, dull, and real by using your control panel.

You nosh on a slab of good-for-you chocolate, a victory for Woody,
And pour a snifter full of cognac, wearing your ex’s old hoodie.

Five foot five and vegetarian, like Woody, movies your lingua franca,
You covet the ivory dinner jacket Bogey wore in Casablanca.

Ask the clarinetist at the Carlyle: What is irony?
Is it success at running but failure to take the money?

Ask Hannah and her sisters:
how hers is hers, she is his, and he is hers?

You would’ve checked out, too, but you remembered this:
Strict Freudians charge you for the sessions you miss.

A cloud wears your mother’s face. She says, “Get a man”
“Or woman if you’d rather.” Something sweet and lowdown

Calls to you, suggests you borrow mighty Aphrodite’s
Magic, ask a stranger, “What’s new, Pussycat,” take a chance on life.

Magic of attraction has no trickery;
blame it on the moonlight, or heart’s thievery,

Or the marvelous piano soundtrack: Rodgers & Hart’s “Manhattan”
In Café Society, the men in tuxes, the ladies in red satin

Paul Michelsen provided the title and line one. Millicent Caliban wrote line two. The second stanza is half Angela Ball and half Christine Rhein. Angela wrote stanza three; I wrote stanza four.  

https://theamericanscholar.org/a-snifter-and-a-hoodie/#.XqNeIv9KiM8
https://theamericanscholar.org/play-it-sam/#
https://theamericanscholar.org/ode-to-woody-allen/#

 

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