I’ve stripped off the writing habit. I’ve not written for weeks. But I’m here again to start again. I am trying a new trick of discipline to get the current of words flowing: found poems. I’ve watched a friend post them daily on Instagram, and it takes me back to the days of being a middle school English teacher. I had a corner with a metal filing cabinet covered with magnetic words for creating poems. Even my most reluctant students loved this exercise. The words are all there. Just arrange them. How hard can it be? Baby steps. So I’ve posted my first and my habit is to create one a day; find my corner and find some words and lay them out to be swept away after being photographed. Nothing too serious or permanent. The first is below.
Sometimes the pathos of this planet arrests me,
and tears push out along with despair.
The darkness has infiltrated all, and we cannot stop it:
this multiplying force like yeast or spreading smoke that fills every empty place.
I don’t have any remedy or answer.
Nothing I have done in my zeal and longing is a match for it.
Not one of us,
upon entering this world fragile and fresh,
sets out to commit the crimes we commit.
But we get twisted along the way
by the crimes of others who
entered this world fragile and fresh
and got twisted along the way, too.
Who is to blame?
We are all victims.
We are all perpetrators.
It is no one’s fault and everyone’s fault.
It has been this way for a long, long time.
When will it end? this wretched, determined blood-guilt on repeat?
Unto us a child is born.
We murdered him,
but the joke is on the encroaching darkness
because in the blood-shed,
torture and tearing up of the only light this planet has ever seen,
something new was born–firstborn–from the dead.
He became like yeast or spreading smoke that fills every empty place,
multiplying, filling all in all.
I don’t know how or when or where the madness
of this crooked and spinning pale-blue dot will end.
But I’ve been told that it has–
I’ve been told:
It is finished.
I need eyes to see it,
the faith of a child to stick it out–
this time in between:
when the loaf is still rising and I’m a raggedy and starving waif
staring through the glass, darkly, with big eyes,
waiting for the wedding feast to begin.
I’ve got a crush on Writing.
It’s the kind you’re pretty sure would deepen to passion
if just given half a chance.
I’ve been dreaming of him forever,
but I’m afraid and I run
at the first sign of conversation,
never mind a commitment.
Sometimes I get up the nerve
to sit across the room from him,
gazing with longing,
dropping my lashes coquettishly
every time he looks my way.
But when he approaches,
tries to speak to me,
I excuse myself to the ladies room
for a panic attack.
My best friend seems happily married to Writing.
I know they are still just honeymooning,
getting to know one another,
but anyone can see it’s true love.
I’m afraid to find that I love him,
but he doesn’t love me back.
In a labyrinth-like forest,
pitchy-black and numbing,
I come upon a fire.
There’s a figure
warming hands close in.
She smiles and gestures.
watching sparks and smoke,
letting the heat wrap
around my spine.
She invites me to stay,
rest, eat, sleep,
near the fire.
I ask her name:
Hope, she replies.
And so I move on,
for I know
she is a will-o-the-wisp,
incalculable and vacillating
as the fog which settles
and obscures the sight
of what is right in front of you.
Hope is not my friend,
not in this wilderness.
I’m on my own road,
walking, muttering dark words.
Haven’t you heard?
The worst has happened.
Hope is lost.
But then a traveler comes alongside,
puts himself in step with me.
His feet are dusty, too.
Something in me unfolds like paper
that was wadded up tight.
A spark snaps out of the flint of his words.
Smoldering begins from the dry kindling in my soul.
A flame spurts, catches, surges.
I look again, a little in awe, and
There is a sacred ringing in everything–
a holy reverberation
through the brass of humanity
belying what seems to be,
peer beyond invisible.
Reach beneath the sordid dying of this world.
Listen for plangent life:
willows, oaks and pines applaud
and river rocks cry out.
Hear true of true:
a child singing in the dark.
Look to the morning star,
shining for even one to see.
Hear the sonorous melody
rolling out like laughter.
For the Holy Deep
is calling out to deep.
And we must answer.
Since beginning this little space for writing, I have realized how much I want to communicate my understanding of a concept which I used as the title of this blog: draft and shadow. I wrote my first piece in a prose-y poem that really is not poetry. But something in me makes me break it into lines that look like a poem. It’s never satisfied me, so I’ve continued to roll it around in my head. Now I’ve written a second draft (draft! there it is again!), and I’m relatively certain that I’ll continue to think and hone and edit it into another form. But isn’t that writing? I don’t want this space to be about an attempt at perfection, but rather a confession of imperfection and an embracing of the process of writing. So here is Draft and Shadow II:
These words are draft and shadow,
only intimations of ideas beyond
and outside of language.
I, too, am draft and shadow:
a breath, a vapor, a transient pilgrim
on her way home.
This world–but draft and shadow–
near riddle, if truth be told.
Nothing imperishable or solid,
all changeable and fleeting.
An exquisite whiff of a greater beauty,
an inkling of mysteries unfathomable.
Imagination beats its tiny fists
trying to open the doors of that reality.
I am drawn by its draft.
I am sheltered in its shadow.