I'm accustomed to thinking of my verse as formalist. The Montpeliad [Bristol 24/7 c2016] is 620 lines of heroic couplet, and I don't think there are more than three or four deviations into e.g. Alexandrine. The same goes for my ongoing heroic couplet mock epic, The Modern Hudibras. Things are admittedly quite a bit more lax in my Jacobean revenge tragedy, The Senseless Counterfeit, but then again Shakespeare isn't wall-to-wall iambic pentameter. I also experiment with free-verse in The Wasted which however, like the great work of which it is a blatant and egregious parody, reverts back to iambic pentameter and often heroic couplet.
I'm particularly accustomed to thinking of my sonnets in particular as rigidly formalist. That's not to say that I don't experiment with rhyme schemes. On the contrary, although the majority of my sonnets are Shakespearean [i.e. ababcdcdefefgg], I reckon I've written more sonnets with experimental rhyme schemes than Petrarchan and Spenserian sonnets. When I describe my sonnets as formalist, what I'm saying is only that each sonnet I write consists in fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. And what I mean by rigidly formalist is that rhymes are perfect.
So it comes as something of a surprise to discover that I'm not exactly the formalist sonneteer of my imaginings. Consider XXVIII, which is from my Odes, Epigrams, & Further Sonnets - another ongoing accumulation - and is the final item of the nine sonnets published by The Hypertexts last week. To put it in context, it's about a mattress I encountered a year or two ago propped up against a wall in St Pauls, on which somebody had written "nothing mattress anymore".
XXVIIIA Sapphire in the Mud
Inscribed Mattress, Ashley Road, St Pauls, Bristol
Behold the “nothing mattress anymore”
mattress—king-sized, warped, stained, propped up against
damp brick. Beguiling like an unlocked door,
the truth thus written is, without pretence:
this mattress, having lost its function must
no longer as something mattress exist.
Instead, a canvas for a wit’s mot juste,
the mattress bears the koanistic gist
of its own annihilation. Just this once,
one countenances some conceptual art
as something not shat out by blue-haired cunts
with attitude who hold themselves apart.
This thy Upanishad, thy Torah, Tao.
Away to the recycling centre now.
"Must" and "just" are assonant. And "once" and "cunts" takes a certain liberty with the concept of rhyme, which "against" and "pretence" arguably abuse.