Pinatas by Melinda Thomsen uses an open ended couplet, so that the ideas presented cascade from thought to thought showing a great deal of slipperiness, a quality that is often valued in modern poetry. Her poem deals with strikes upon herself and family, like slaps or an owie received from a slammed door. Here it is very ironic since pinatas are used in party games and people blindly hit at them until the candy is released. When it comes to personal pleasure in families, kindness is more the norm than seeking pain, but here it is used in a surprising fashion with the metaphorical pinata helping to build and clarify the conclusion. Her poem is an honorable mention.
The Coyotes Hunt in Open Light by Megan Merchant uses a closed form of couplet. The title is one line of the first couplet that uses a comparison to bring the sound of coyotes to the readers ear in an effective fashion. She uses a series of couplets that bring to the ear sounds that moves from hearing to sight into emotion, then cycles back to the beginning images to nail down how we relate to nature and society. It is a cool poem with slipperiness that slides in from the initial close couplet to more open couplets, perhaps freeing her to play with the ideas that come out.
Solitaire Confinement by C. Fausto Cabrera uses both open and closed couplets in a straightforward fashion that follow the way solitaire is played. The open ends of the couplets allow him to be precise about the way the game is played, using pauses to put down cards or think. He is mildly ironic in showing the game has a high cost. Then he combines the couplets to offer up commentary in the form of a final quartet.
I'll Whisper You a Quarter Cup by Betsy Anderson is a series of closed couplets that explain what she doesn't want to do, offering it to other readers, poets, or those in a relationship, the most open part of the poem is exactly who she is addressing, or referring to with the he, possibly God, possible the god of poetry. She makes her seduction first with title then with all the promises she won't do before finally offering up that quarter cup. So the slipperiness is in the language and the connections between seductive things.
Signatures For Susan Tepper by Jeff Santosousoso uses the two halves of couplet in the form Robert Hass mentions, question and response, to showcase the differences in the way he and the woman addressed, Susan Tepper, communicate. The poem slips from the personal to the interpersonal, interrelationship to offer commentary on communication. It is an homage poem in the sense that he shows his understanding of their relationship together.
We Must Learn to Praise the Mundane by Heather Hallberg Yanda is an amusing poem that cycles from the beginning to the end back to the beginning in order to complete. It starts in narrative mode and slowly becomes more concrete. The references seem less personal at first but become more personal as it goes along. Discoveries in ideas and reality surprise by the end of the poem.
This is just a subset of the couplet driven poems. A couple of the couplet poems use a single line interspersed between the couplets to effectively act like a tercet, offering commentary on the previous couplet, but act almost like a stop or yield sign, directing the pace of the poetry. Two of the winning poems use tercets which are almost as visually airy as the couplets.
Overall, this edition offers a suggestion to poets, if you haven't played with couplets in your poetry and haven't allowed poems to slip from idea to related idea, maybe you should.