This is a poetry challenge.
Think back to that great song in West Side Story when the women argue about whether it’s better to live in American or Puerto Rico. Sing this in your head:
I like to be in America!
O.K. by me in America!
Ev’rything free in America
For a small fee in America!
Rhythmically, this is a fascinating lyric. It combines 3/3 time (waltz time for those of you who didn’t get piano lessons) and 2/2 time on the word “America.” Let me count it out for you.
I like to be in A mer i ca.
1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2 1-2 1-2
Notice that all the ones are the heavy beats while the twos and threes are the weak beats. All the numbers get equal time. You can beat this out on your desk with your left hand doing the ones and your right hand doing the twos and threes.
Most poetry settles for a fairly settled rhythmic pattern like iambic pentameter. You’ll find it in Shakespeare sonnets and in a line from Keats below:
2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a few variations to make the words fit the rhythm, that’s the way it is through the whole poem or sonnet: sets of 2-1s (iambic), repeated five times (pentameter).
Now, along comes composer Bernstein, and he wants to mess around with the rhythm and time. He’s not the first, but he does it so well here that this becomes a song (actually the chorus) we all like without quite knowing why.
So your challenge, should you choose to accept, is to either use Bernstein’s rhythm or come up with a crazy—but compelling—rhythm of your own where it is not consistent within the line but is consistent across the different lines.
Your content is your own choice, whether funny, serious, or musical. I know you can do it!