Dobok by J. Alexandria

Dobok

Cheap, creased cotton. White faded grey over years,

its loose embrace greets me like an old friend.

Crinkling cloth, zip’s rasp music to my ears.

A strip of black, with my rank on the end.

Balanced on the grubby floor. As one we bend,

chamber. Strike.

These are clothes for striking. But they can lend

a flexible structure. Now I can fight.

The words spill out, turning to smudges, smears.

I do not know where any lines should end.

No rhymes, no framework, paralysed by fear.

Determined, scratching, crumpling, I intend

to hem in my pen. Ballade. A new friend.

As one we bend, chamber, strike through, rhyme, redraft.

This is a form that restrains. It can lend

a flexible structure. Now I can write.

These twin constraints are a means to an end.

Not ruling, but focusing in the right

direction. Not dictators, instead friends.

Flexible structures. For me, it feels right.

(After all, a full ballade has three eight-line stanzas,

and a dobok can make a great set of pyjamas.)

About this piece

As you may be able to tell, I’m more of a prose person than a poet. This poem was borne out of my frustration around this, as, y’know, I’m a Creative Writing student, I kinda need to be able to write poetry. I eventually tried to approach it through the lens of something I’m actually good at, Taekwondo, realising that a lack of focus was tripping me up. In the same way that a dobok, the standard training uniform for Taekwondo, is a tool that shapes the way you move and fight, I found that employing poetic forms (in this case, ballade) similarly shaped and focused my writing.

About the author

J. Alexandria is a sci-fi and fantasy author who enjoys writing about themes of identity and powerlessness, and also how cool it is when large things explode. She can be contacted by email at j.alexandria.writer@gmail.com or by twitter @JAlexandria69.

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