Two poems for my sabbath...

Last night, my wife helped me find a book we had bought years ago: Poetic Medicine by John Fox. "You want to write poetry?" she said carefully, "this might help." And I do want to write poetry - but I've always been better at interpreting than creating - so we shall see. Still, this is a good place to start.

For the last year, I've been wandering back into the world of the poets more and more. Who knows why but I find myself leafing through their thin volumes at home and in bookshops with such regularity that I need to pay attention. (Like back in the old days when I was involved in the rough and tumble world of Cleveland politics as a novice school board member where it was a regular thing to have the shit kicked out of me by political professionals. So I started bringing home Clint Eastwood movies from the video store: "Do you feel lucky TODAY, punk? Well do ya?" And after a few months of this - along with Sigourney Weaver's ALIEN series - it hit me: I need to see the good guys win at least sometimes - even if it is only in the movies.) So this poetry is calling to me in a way that warrants my attention.

This morning I read a new poem by Marie Howe: "Hurry."

We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.

Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?

Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I'm sorry I keep saying Hurry -
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.

And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.
(Marie Howe, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, "Hurry," W.W. Norton: New York, 2008)

And now my wife is playing "Heaven Can Wait" on the piano we brought back from her mother's house after she died... after which we're going for a slow walk together. Blessed sabbath.

Comments

Black Pete said…
In my experience, a good way to write poetry is to read good poetry. Invariably, it gets me wanting to write poetry again if I've been slacking.

The other good way to write poetry is to simply write poetry. And again. And again. A daily regimen of some kind, even a few minutes' worth, pays off handsomely when the "oh wow!" inspiration comes along: you're ready for it, then.

I am very blessed to have Tom Montag's weekday morning challenge in the form of a poetic dialogue--really keeps me on my toes; for about six months awhile back, I wrote a poem a day. Very good discipline, whatever the quality of the results.

Then there's songwriting, a sibling of poetry.

Hope you get going on this, RJ.
RJ said…
thank you for your encouragement, Black Pete... it feels like the time is ripe. and i really love reading the dialogue poems you and Tom share each day.

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