Poetry Mixtape 31: Light-Fingered

I have a tendency to love what some may call modern sonnets – fourteen line poems that may not follow the strict formal rules of rhyme/meter/syllables but somehow convey the same sense of movement and attention to language that a sonnet requires. One of my favorite of these “modern” sonnets is from one of my favorite collections of the past few years – Rough Honey by Melissa Stein.

Robber girl

I took what I needed and nothing more –

not that last gold bracelet, fine as a braid

twined from three strands of a child’s hair,

not that ruby tear, clear and faceted

as a pomegranate seed – just a blouse with gold

threads, just a coat with red glass buttons.

They always said I was too smart

for my own good and good only for

making trouble. And I thought trouble? What

a beautiful word, half of troubadour – 

wineskins, ballads, riotous by the canals

with much lifting of skirts and telling

of tales – syllables strung like pearls

on a backbone of half-light and gain.


This poem’s structure is not the only thing I like about it. The sounds in the poem are so lovely, with many internal rhymes  – fine/twined, tear/clear, threads/red – and great line structure (for my own good and good only for almost reads as a palindrome). It uses the tradition of the sonnet turning on the ninth line to its true subject – here, the very clever wordplay that makes trouble half of troubadour and sends the reader into the mind of the speaker/robber (some may say the poet) who steals needing only syllables to string and sing her tales.

If you want to write:

1. Use Stein’s title to create the persona of a robber girl. What will she steal in your poem?

2. Find a word within a word (as with trouble and troubadour) and find a way to connect them.


12 thoughts on “Poetry Mixtape 31: Light-Fingered

  1. Pingback: Come and Get Your Friday Freeforall « Margo Roby: Wordgathering

  2. Pingback: The robber girl, a sonnet | Vivinfrance's Blog

  3. Pingback: tuesday’s poetry from prompt | naked

  4. Pingback: OPP #12: Melissa Stein | Put Words Together. Make Meaning.

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