At OCWW (Off-Campus Writers’ Workshop) last week, we had Stuart Dybek who talked about poetry and how it can help fiction. He read a lot of poems (and had even more in a massive handout). His observations on how metaphor is steeped into our entire lives was revelatory, though it shouldn’t have been. Head of a corporation, foot of a mountain, tip of the iceberg. The lecture was probably my favorite of the four I’ve attended. Enlightening and inspiring.

In high school, I used to write very angsty poems–most ending in suicide, because, at the time, that was the most dramatic thing I could envision. I even had an English teacher ask me if I was suicidal. It was funny at the time, but in retrospect, that was pretty cool of her to check on me.  I never really did much with my poems beyond writing a few for boyfriends and playing around with friends. But after the class on Thursday, poems have been on my mind. 

What I like about writing poems is that it doesn’t have to follow any rules except those that the poem utilizes. It can be lyrical or not. It can rhyme or not. It can be translucent or opaque. It can be literal or figurative. One of my favorite scenes to write in fiction are ones where the POV (point-of-view) character is in an altered state of consciousness–drunk, traumatized, sick, delusional. And I think it’s because of the poetry of it. The narrative doesn’t have to make sense, thoughts can flit from one to another like lily pads across a pond. I love that. 

So, one day during my daily writing time, I decided to write a poem. I need to write about 500 words a day for it to be counted as a writing day, so I dedicated all those words to a poem. I let myself free-write, allowing my thoughts to jump wherever they wanted to go without guidance from my conscious brain. The idea I wanted to center the poem around was the frustrating process of writing. 

It’s been a while since I wrote a poem, but I was actually pretty happy with what I wrote. I’m not sure anyone else would understand the meaning and the references, but it came from a place deep enough inside myself that it resonated. That sounds so very hippy-dippy. Now I feel like I have to buy some hemp clothing and go vegan. 

The purpose of this blog is to talk about writing and the writing process, not to showcase my work, but I decided to post the poem. I haven’t edited it because I like the ramshackle way it turned out. Poetry in the raw, my friends!


The sickle falls like a pirouette, like a downward dog, like a parting the wild horse’s mane
Blood spatters, the splatter a Rorschach test with no right answer
Find the meaning and let it reflect your soul.
You don’t know me, but you think you do.
I smear the blood, finger painting with the soul of the child I used to be
Deep inside myself, I pick out threads of veins and chunks of muscle.
I save the heart for last
I always save my heart for last
Are there really cultures who eat the hearts of their enemies?
Or is that a Game of Thrones construction?
Which is more real? Which tells the most truth?
My heart is slick and fat and beats without a drummer.
It is its own drummer and it scares me
What if it needs me and I don’t know how it works
Or I know too much about how it works
and suddenly it thinks that I can help
it wants to take a break
I’ve got no clothes
I’m in a play
I can’t remember my lines
my part
my purpose
In the halls at school.
It’s been so long and no time at all
because it follows me or I carry it with me
which is more real? which tells the most truth?
I spin and spin, not checking the direction, never spotting.
No, I get dizzier and dizzier, which is my art and the only way I know how to twirl
Jackson Pollock
I can’t see the picture, but I keep spitting out dots and dashes
the Morse Code of art
Can you follow?
I don’t expect it, yet I yearn for it
Feel what I feel, damn it.
or don’t
It doesn’t matter. Does it?
Does it matter?
Follow the path, the drips of blood that spit and slop on a floor that I had thought was clean, but now I see that it isn’t. It should change everything, but it doesn’t. Tell me what you see that I might see it too.
which is more real? which tells the most truth?
Sing for me in sleep
The notes carry more than sound but substance and the dream carries more than sound but a living panorama of…of…of…
I walk through the room, leaving bloody footprints.
That’s a mistake. They’ll catch me for sure.
My feet are flat, my second and third toes crossed
Like Cinderella, the Prince will know my feet by how they fit the shoe.
I don’t want to get caught, but I want to be found
I push and pull at the same time. In the same direction.
And I go nowhere. Yet I move.
Follow me.
Close your eyes and follow.
Do you know which is more real? Do you know which tells the most truth?

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