The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Peter Kline

Mirrorform: Daredevil


I fall off the right way––
I put the bike to bed
then slide for my better side,
blowing a kiss to the DJ.

I get gauzed by applause. The day
I die my body bag
will be the American flag.
I fall off the right way.



Peter Kline

Mirrorform: Convalescent


Now that I’m pissing clear
I’m fit to love again.
Bailiff, put me in.
There are no victims here.

It’s been a dirty year
since I got passed the mop.
The spigot’s on non-stop
now that I’m pissing clear.



Peter Kline

Mirrorform: Minimalist

           I despise variety for its own sake.
              ––Brian Eno


Despise variety?!
Knife-jugglers lose eyes
trying to improvise;
Late Late Shows lose emcees.

boggle the master clone,
but we do love our own.
Despise variety.



Peter Kline

Mirrorform: Agnostic


I won’t be what you think
or knew, after I’m gone.
The white king’s wayward pawn,
a ring down the kitchen sink

will be realer to you. Thank
God for the human skull!––
If I’ll exist at all,
I’ll be just what you think.



Peter Kline

Mirrorform: Adolescent


I carry my own death.
Under my tongue it’s a spot,
dissolving. In the slit
of a skirt it’s the egg of a moth

making riddles of my cloth.
Which of you on this street
has fire for my cigarette
now that I carry my death?




After having written in traditional metrical forms for many years – particularly the sonnet and the triolet – I invented the mirrorform in 2012 as a way of exploring a new kind of verbal music and a new structure for rhetoric and thought.  The absolute compression required by an eight-line trimeter poem, coupled with the two-stanza binary and the repeated final line, presented a daunting but generative challenge: what could I say in a complete way in such a constrained space?   What began as a one-off experiment turned into a four-year obsession; almost all of the poems I’ve written over that time have been mirrorforms.




PETER KLINE teaches writing at the University of San Francisco and at Stanford University. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he has also received residency fellowships from the Amy Clampitt House and James Merrill House, as well as First Prize in the 2015 River Styx International Poetry Contest and the 2010 Marr Poetry Prize from Southwest Review. His poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, Five Points, Poetry, Tin House, and many other journals, as well as the Best New Poets series and the 2015 Random House anthology of metrical poetry, Measure for Measure. He directs the San Francisco literary series Bazaar Writers Salon and is a founding member of the poetry/music collective Nonstop Beautiful Ladies. His first collection of poetry, Deviants, was published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press in 2013.



Previous  |  Next