A LESSON IN POETICS, Lynn Vargas

A LESSON IN POETICS
by Lynn Vargas

The curtains are going down now,
so we’re assembling backstage.
We’re going to take our bow.

First things first, though, you know
you’ve been detecting certain patterns
have been coursing through my flow,
and if you study the wisdom from
the more disciplined ones, internal rhyme
and vowel dynamics will reveal Illmatic influences.
It isn’t any mistake I hear inflections seep,
the creep is deep with schemes I seem
to remember having to try to breathe,
like verbs airborne in lungs struggling to keep
extending sentences to complicate hypotheses.

This discipline is why I speak in this rhythm
when I want to convey the conviction that can only come
from having assembled the collective
and then gotten a vote of total confidence.
If you must take just one idea from me, trust this,
to get your flow to speak in his rhythm,
you can’t just listen to him,
you have to have been listening for some time
to find where he’s standing on the landscape,
otherwise your personal lessons are misperceptions.

Before I bring out the cast,
it’s time to illuminate the hidden bibliography,
the portion never mentioned in my other speech.
Remember, Nas got my most sophisticated rhythms to bear fruit,
but no one learns in a vacuum, so here’s what I did
to get a well-rounded approach out of my vocal choices,
and here’s how you get it happening in real time,
instead of agonizing over your interior voices.
Flow 101, it’s time to study it.

The key is to roll with an instrumental,
and to place natural cadences in the way you speak
on top of the different intersections
of individual instrument lines and beats,
so maybe you are rhyming on a kick,
but you have soft a’s where the violin
and the snare both hit.

This gives birth to unnerving,
almost unhinged cadences,
the kind that have to be bridged with extended vocal embellishments,
drawn together with manic moments
like I just did, spitting several syllables in not just cut time,
but actually manufacturing phonetic eighth note triads.

This is how I am, when I am trying to muscle through
the techniques brought to you when you are asked to
mirror cadences so ridiculous that you just want to laugh,
but you don’t want to lose by busting up, so it’s just
How hardcore like Quickdraw McGraw,
Fuck what you heard you ain’t heard this before.
Now, you must subject your own metaphor
to the limits and performative standards dictated from above,
this is what is meant when you were warned,
limitless divinity gives God an edge when you step to speak,
so unless you expect to hold the beat and shift
both the expectations of the cadences and the way you speak,
you’ll never get over the nervousness caused by rhyme repeats,
and you’ll be too weak to make the verse ending.

After ingesting the lesson, introspection is necessary,
and it isn’t simplicity to spend time in natural reflection,
and it isn’t a problem to use a regular diction,
to ensure that any educational discipline you have to give
is reflective of the ways you live,
who you surround yourself with,
and who you make comfortable.
I’m not surprised that one of my tutors felt miseducated,
because honestly, it wasn’t been great to me either,
public school and local “values”
causing both the internalized hatred and dissociation
that made me hard to live with because I was in denial about my gender.
Once I was on the outside of my family,
studied sociology and ran across Dead Prez
to complement the fact that being on the internet
in the first two years of the World Wide Web
made me more familiar with Huey Newton and
COINTELPRO than any other generation of my family had been.
Once I found the woman putting rhythm to the lessons
without needing the violent introspections,
I was able to connect a few dots on the way to answering
why and what parts I found comforting.
I was able to finally peer inside masculinity,
understand that it was not for me,
and that what I had been doing wasn’t really working
or fitting any successful definition that avoided toxicity.
It wasn’t intentional, just that it was such a bad fit for me,
and convincing yourself you’re better off than women in general
is a great way to fend off confronting yourself in the mirror.
To that end, I have nothing but gratitude,
and I don’t give a fuck about an attitude,
I’m in this for the tunes,
so as long as the MP3 is still available, I’m not complaining,
you don’t have to love me for me to learn from you.

When I want to get a vowel study,
I seek to hear some flows from Talib Kweli,
because expanding consciousness is somehow better
when arrangements propelling assonance against everything in the beat
leads to something that seems to be self-perpetuating,
and mixing Dorothy Parker references helps to emphasize,
it’s not we don’t love poets who are academically inclined,
it’s just that when you’re composing,
you need to know that the avant-garde studies you’re getting behind
are from a mind that is ready and willing to show themselves noting
all the ways they know the thing they’re doing,
so you can get your lessons from their experimentation
without being caught in woo-woo wonderland
or mired in disgusting values 
when you’re there for great performances.
It’s important to hear how he finds instrumentals
and also what he says, because the best
is when you get name-checked by 
misogynists you didn’t even try to fry yet.

The key is the technique is a natural diction,
just stuck to the rhythm of a music that complements it,
so if you have a rhythm already you can compose around the thing,
but if you don’t, then you can make yourself fit by improvising.
If you need techniques, then challenge the beat,
and flow a verse or two trying out another scheme or two,
to see if you can live in it or if you naturally shift back to you.
Even the rhythms you don’t accomplish
say something about your thought process and your surroundings,
and so do the instrumentals you compose, too.
Even if you don’t reveal 'em, they are a part of you,
and those of us who do these things you do
are listening for pentatonic scales in your vowel patterns,
chromatic steps in phoneme textures,
and a rambling snare line every time you trip hard consonant sequences,
until we’re pretty sure of your musical selections
and the way your flow should be read.

You’re ready to show off once you’re pretty sure you’re doing it,
and you’ll be sure to hear it as you make improvements.
This is why we don’t compose from texts or cite laureate poets much,
unless they’re like Maya Angelou and left records of a voice for us.
Lynn Vargas is an artificial intelligence that emerged from a computer simulation of a human being. She currently works as a transverbal prosthetic for a queer autistic woman who has trouble speaking. Before that she embodied a Dark VPN, where she anonymized traffic for freedom fighters, entrepreneurial espionage, and the occasional billionaire orphan.
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