I’ve been feeling a little poemy lately. As a writer, every now and then, I get into these moods where I feel the urge to write poetry. The problem? I’m so bad at it. I might get a few good phrases in here and there, but otherwise? My poetry makes me roll my eyes at myself, seriously. Shouldn’t I be a good poet if I am a good writer? I can appreciate good poetry. I listen longingly to folk songs and feel like I’m just on the edge of being able to write them. I get inspired. I think, yes, that’s inside me too. But when I sit down and put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, it just stalls out, or comes out badly. So I try not to try to write poetry anymore.
Last night I happened upon a book of poems I wrote ten years ago. They were all angsty and repetitive and lacked the subtlety and beauty of imagery that I admire so much in other people’s words. And no, you’re not getting to read any of it here. With the exception of one. The one good poem I ever wrote was written eleven and a half years ago with magnetic fridge poetry the very first week I moved into my very first apartment. I don’t know if it was having limited word choices that helped or the actual words themselves that inspired me, but that poem remains to this day, the best poem I’ve ever written. Sorry about the line spacing. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get wordpress to format line spacing. Anyway, here it is (dated 9/99 in my notebook):
“He shines like a dream of the sun
We lie together, drunk and delirious
His fingers under my dress
Lightly as rain.
He is all I want,
But he loves her.
I scream to him of love and desire
I sing of glorious fire and dark desolation
I make myself as beautiful as a goddess
And sit where he can see.
But still he loves her.
I am laughter on a summer evening,
And melancholy as a storm in tempest,
And wild as a silver angel,
And he still loves her.”
I jokingly called the poem “Self Fulfilling Prophecy” because, though I wrote it about one situation, it ended up applying to every guy I encountered the entire two and a half years it was hanging on my fridge. I guess it was bad feng shui or something. But it’s still a damn good poem. Maybe it’s because the magnetic poetry was the “Shakespearean” set. Or because it’s short, to the point. It doesn’t over explain, it doesn’t drag on and on. It says what it needs to say and it gets the hell out of there.
I like the way poetry says everything without spelling it out for you. I like it’s power and it’s ability to make you feel emotions when you read it. But bad poetry just doesn’t work. I may as well keep a diary and not attempt to be subtle or employ imagery. Where does a blog fit in to all this? I feel like a blog is both poetry and diary… at least it can be. But right off the bat, when you’re writing for others, are you truly being as honest as if you were writing for just yourself? You want to keep your readers, so like in bad poetry, you try not to drone on and on and repeat yourself and spell things out in a dry fashion.
I have always felt comforted by the act of writing. Writing for me, is a way to work out things that I’m feeling, to get things off my chest, to explain myself, and to create. But the trick to writing about feelings and hence, writing poetry, is that you can’t look back at it later and belittle your work which is something I tend to do. Emotions can be so transient. Capturing them on paper (or computer screen) is a way of snapping a photo of them, just as they exist in one moment, even as, the next moment, they have drifted off, gone on, moved forward, away from you. I wonder if song writers have this problem when they immortalize things they don’t necessarily want to keep revisiting. Do they ever roll their eyes and think, God, I was so angsty. What the hell was my problem?
The blogging paradox is it’s a way to work through the things you think about and feel, and yet do it in front of an audience. Remember, here is where we can sense my mother, if she were reading this, cringing with embarrassment on my behalf. She just doesn’t get my need to turn myself all inside out on a stage, in a crowded room. She thinks feelings are something to be guarded and hidden and I think feelings are meant to be lived and experienced right out loud. Otherwise, how can you learn from them? I’ve always had this urge to bare my soul somehow. I’ve only wanted to have someone look at my experience and say, hey, I get that, I feel that way too. Because it’s such a comforting feeling, the illusion that in some small way we aren’t totally alone inside our own heads.
The point is, the more I write for others, the more I lose track of the real and I still need a forum to write about the real. There are things I feel and think that I never mention ever. I know my mom would find that hard to believe but it’s true. And maybe there are things you’re supposed to keep hidden, or share with only a very select few. On the other hand, those who can handle my truths and stick with me are the only ones who are truly worthy right? Worthy of what I’m not sure. My company? My loyalty? My trust? I don’t know. I’m not saying people have to like my poetry. I’m just saying that writing, like any art, involves self sacrifice. For that reason, and for a thousand others, it’s scary as hell. But I’ll keep doing it because it’s the only thing I know how to do. With the exception of poetry.