Memorizing Poems

A man learning
to juggle; a line
clatters to the floor.
On the walls of the cave of the mouth,
the words like horses at Lascaux.

The words aren’t just what we remember; they are how we remember. Etched in our mouth, our memories, words become the way in which we tell our future selves, “Yes, I was here. I was here.” The words become our memory itself, the traces of poet past, or thoughts, or life, or dreams. - Heather Bulliss, age 21

Blind man led by a dog:
nice brain, good brain,
thank you, brain.
the body of the poet
in the body of the poem
in your body.

This stanza is my favorite, with the repetition of the word body making a beautiful rhythm and expressing the most important part of memorizing a poem. Besides just learning the words, it is important to bring them to life, feeling and experiencing the poem to the greatest extent. - Laura Crouch, age 20
This triple layer of imagery is fascinating. It truly invites the reader to imagine oneself creating the ghost of the poet by using one’s own body to echo the poet’s words. I could read this stanza over and over again and still feel thrilled by the idea, and the cleverness of the phrasing. - Kara Madden, age 24

On long runs,
the poem beside you
on memory’s leash.

I find "memory's leash" a facinating image to consider. Our interaction with memory is fluid and extremely personal, and it's odd the ways in which our memories change with the passage of time, remaining constant only in their ability to inform present and future thoughts, actions, and perceptions. - Kyle Austin, age 25

A bit of poem stuck
between two teeth;
flossing the poem away

This is my favorite stanza. I love the ending imagery of a poem stuck between teeth. I feel like writers experience this quite often, one may have a wonderful idea but not a way to express it. - Rachel McGuinness, age 20
The almost surreal images this poem creates perfectly mirrors the act of memorization. With short, jagged pictures, Dacey creates a very clear image that perfectly describes what he sees in his mind’s eye. That’s great poetry. - Rian Bosse, age 23
It is interesting to note that each stanza explores a different physical expression of the poem’s subject. The memorizer of the poem is using his hands to juggle words, his legs to run with them, his teeth to chew them. His mind is like a dog, which he trains, and then the poem is like a dog, which he exercises.
- Kara Madden, age 24
Playful—as Dacey seems to often be—these six stanzas illustrate the task of memorizing a poem in aphoristic images. And with no grand consistency of form or tone, perhaps, these fragments reference the process of memorization itself—a compiling, piece by piece. Inconsistency, however, does not denote weakness. There’s certainly an excitement here in approaching each image and finding it richer than the last. - Justin Majetich, age 22
Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.