Thursday, July 23, 2009


Lately I've been thinking about poetry, what is it? why do I write it? and where does it go when I'm not writing it? It has been said that it is not so much what poets say, but their ability to tune into poetic language rhythms that makes their poetry great. In the case of Dr. Suess this is completely true.

About 16 years ago I began crafting and publishing poems, and for about 10 years poetry was within my grasp constantly. I wrote poems sitting on the floor of overcrowded buses, at my desk surrounded by candles and incense, curled into scratchy plaid chairs at the campus library, wandering lonely through parks; I even wrote poems in my dreams.

The word poetry is originally derived from the Greek poiein, to make or create. From agriculture to architechture humans are driven to create order. We make our world systematically, efficiently and beautifully. When we say something is poetic, it generally has an elegance (from the Latin root eligere, to choose out, select).

One reason I write poetry is for the satisfaction (or is it a need?) of creating an elegant structure for the raw, chaotic, fertile mud of existence. Indeed when I am in sync with the poetic energies of existence there is a rhythm, an orderliness to that feeling. The anxiety, existential quandries and whatever else climb out of the archetypal earth of my mind is soothed by the meaning and purpose of composition.

Here's a poem I wrote during that first prolific period of poetry -

A Half-Sleep Dream

Night, when it is still
The dark air offers its voice
And the house settles
As a man of soft
moldering bones eases in
to his rain-damp grave
Strong black boots echo
slow steps, sauntering to the
far end of the hall
The giant starfish
of his hand sliding along
the cool milk white wall
The wind stirs the chimes
their song, and the rains', distant
like him, at my door
I see this in my
head, as the clock ticks away
the silence of night

I wrote this poem in the Americanized haiku form of 3 lines, with 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Do you feel the rhythm? Footsteps, rain, chimes, a clock ticking. My heart beating.

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