If you ever loved poetry but got away from it, I encourage you to spend some quiet time letting it unfold inside of you. The world needs more good poets and memorable, evocative poems.
Everyone had a poem inside. It’s just a matter of writing it down. This past year I wrote three. (posted below if you’re feeling impatient)
Each came to me at an incredibly fast pace, without much premeditation. Which to me, is the best way to capture a feeling in a poem, though admittedly, not exemplary of sound craftsmanship. Like any art form, poetry has its rules for proper execution.
However, when rediscovering any form of writing, it’s always more productive to go at it without inhibition. “Write now, edit later” is how I was taught and my mantra when working with the students at Mighty Writers where I tutor and mentor. Unless you have the words, there’s no where else to go, right?
My impetuousness aside, after hearing Nikky Finney read aloud on Radio Times (thank you, Marty Moss-Coane for the introduction) last year, and finally reading Love That Dog, I am taking my reignited love of poetry more seriously and looking to re-learn the craft in a more legitimate fashion. So if any of you have courses, books, etc. to recommend, I am all ears.
I have no shame in sharing the raw versions because they were all written with clarity of mind and heart, and if there is one thing all poems should be built on, it’s emotion. (Think about all those classic poems from Yeats, Keats, and Brontë.)
The relevance here is that somebody asked me the other day what I was doing when the news that John Lennon had been assassinated broke. I knew instantly: writing poetry in my journal in my rainbow-, album cover-adorned bedroom. Being able to go back to something I loved so much as a teenager, and that soothed all that standard-issue angst, feels really fun and comforting at age 51, especially after a rough year.
without further ado…
Tears fall inside out,
and broken glass.
Sandpaper across my heart.
Dust mixes with blood,
veins turn from blue to gray.
Not enough concrete
to block the pain.
—22 May 2014
gentle hands caress
trails of trust between two skins
his shoulders a raft
—21 November 2014
and my most recent…
cold air pushes through the tightly woven scarf
this one morning carelessly coiled around her neck
her skin fights back, goosebumps and taut muscles
don’t move she commands her shoulders and
mistakes happen this way
her soldier stance is no match for the frigid fingers
trying to claw their way between the layers of her scarf
and the layers of her skin
her half-mittened hands tug at the fringed edges
forgetting in that instant, her own exposed thumbs, pointers and pinkies
in that instant
the arm-length gloves lying dormant in her dresser
in that instant
winter’s sharp edges scratching at her unpainted fingernails
in that instant
i am unprepared
she waits eyes closed, heart, breath and mind still
frozen in fear wishing it away
she can hear the determined chill forcing its way through her body
popping cartilage and tendons
bursting through blocked veins and capillaries
leather digs into concrete but she can’t push herself down
away from this feeling
even before it happens she feels the cold air hitting
the space inside
the place where no one goes anymore
take me anywhere but here she pleads
she feels the cold air settling
wondering, is it just resting?
noticing, the pain sounds different this time
hoping for a fissure not a fracture
she’s barely breathing now, afraid of what’s coming
of what’s not coming
of who’s not coming
please, she asks the sky above: get me out of here
still she waits
everything has a crack
that’s where the light gets in
—6 December 2014