Poems I Might Never Have Written

Poetry is kicking my butt right now (ok, please don't tell my children I just said that). What with my Poetry by Firehose class, trying to write a poem a day for NaPoWriMo, and working on a contest deadline (manuscript due 4/30), I'm pretty exhausted. By poetry. Which seems kind of hilarious as I write it, but I digress. So yesterday when I logged on to see what the NaPoWriMo prompt for the day was, I wasn't too excited to see: Write an earth poem. Nah, I thought, I don't think I will.

But then the Muse started whispering in my ear. She said Dear Earth, I have always longed to see you from afar. She said one raindrop, here where the river hooks to the north.

So I thought OK-fine-I'll-do-it-Jeez-can't-you-ever-leave-me-alone!?

And I wrote two unremarkable stanzas and settled in to take a nap.

And then the Muse started whispering again. She said Listen, there are things that tie me down. She said Whispers in the dream-time and hands that slip into my palm.

I almost ignored her. Really, I was This Close to letting it go. But I have learned over and over again that if you are gracious toward the Muse, if you take what she gives you, she is generous. And if not, not. I believe the novelist Philip Pullman has explained this phenomenon this way: "I don't know where (the stories) come from, but I know where they come to: they come to my desk, and if I'm not there, they go away again." (read more here)

So I dragged myself out of bed, went back to my notebook, and here's what happened:

--this draft has been removed--

And after I wrote the poem, I was pretty glad I'd written it. It made me realize that I've been thinking a lot about the grand ambitions I once had, how I let them go to raise my family, how the small moments and the commonplace beauty of this life, this world, are enough for me. But that the pull of the grand is still sometimes there: Ah, to see the world from outer space... . Then, the bittersweet moment of knowing there are some things I will never do, and never see, in my lifetime.

And it made me think about other times I ended up with a poem I might never have written. Like this one, which I wrote after my friend, The Poet A.O.D., said "200" when I asked her for a number between one and 250, and on page 200 of my old stand by book of poetry exercises was this exercise: Try a villanelle. Ugh! Ugh, ugh, ugh! I didn't want to try a villanelle. And if you followed the link, you may have noticed that the first line of that poem is an excuse for why I shouldn't have to write it: Somebody already wrote this poem. But, wow, did I have fun writing it, and it's probably one of the strongest poems I've written.

So this is my long-winded way of saying I've been thinking a lot about resistance and yielding in my writing life, and in my regular life. What do I resist and why? What am I missing out on if I resist something? What might unfold if I were to yield?

What do you resist in your life (creative or otherwise)? Why? What might unfold if you were to yield? Just something to think about.

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