Friday, April 10, 2015

Ooh & Aah

Ooh & Aah

April is National Poetry Month, so this morning, I was hoping to offer you a poem to read. Not a complex number, just something simple.

Some days, however, it's hard to come up with that central image, the little bit of glue that sticks all the pretty or weird words together.

I do have a bag full of metaphors under the sink, by the trash can, and I suppose I could go fetch one, but you see, I'm looking for something fresh, something you may not have seen before.

That's a tough gig.

Most of what needs to be said has already been said by someone somewhere.

So, originality sometimes seems impossible.

Everyone is a poet, of course, just as everyone, these days, is a photographer. Anyone can throw words together and call it a poem.

In fact, when I was a younger man, I threw a great many words together and called those little missives poems. I'm not sure any of that stuff was worthy of being poetry, but, hey, the world was always very forgiving. If I called something a poem, then people simply nodded their heads in agreement.

Today, I am sensitive to other people's poetry. If it looks like a poem, then I am the first to ooh and aah.

After all, I think the simple effort of writing a poem is what counts. For example, if a poem is the way someone wants to express a love for someone else, then I am certainly not going to be judgmental about that. Even if reading the poem creates that feeling you get when someone scratches his or her fingernails down a chalkboard, I still admire the effort.

Some days, I think that I have never really written a good poem. Perhaps you agree. On those days, I wonder why I bother to write at all. I mean, if it sucks, it sucks. The problem is that when any of us write a poem, we are so engaged in it that we think it's fabulous.

It's no easy task to take an objective look at one's own writing.

So if I'm writing for a lover, and I pen the lines:

You bring me a daisy
Even when I'm lazy
And its sweet perfume
Never leaves my room
It's no wonder I love you
And I'll always be true

Now, you might suspect that my poem isn't very good, but "good" and "bad" really don't apply to poetry these days. It's a poem. Ooh and aah. No judgement necessary.

Let's try a rewrite and see if these lines are any "better":

The daisy falters
In the jam jar by the window
Its scalding perfume permeates
Every breath I take
And I wonder
If love is like that

Is one poem better than the other?

Well, no, the same thirty-second effort went into the first as went into the second. Both are poems. Ooh and aah as you like.

There is, however, a difference between the two poems. You may recognise that difference. You may not. You'll like the poem that connects with you the most effectively. Nothing else really matters.

I honestly believe that people write poetry to release some internal nuance, feeling, or conflict that they are experiencing on a particular day. To that end, if the person gets that experience out there in words on a page, then the very act of writing has accomplished something. I admire that process. It's cathartic. It lets the pretty butterflies or the snarling hounds out. At the end of the day, there's really no sense in keeping things locked up inside.

Well, I was determined to write you a poem today, and I got off-topic and wrote all this instead.

Maybe tomorrow ...

Just don't expect it to be any "good."



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