Here is a thing my heart wishes the world had more of:
I heard it in the air of one night when I listened
To a mother singing softly to a child restless and angry in the darkness.
I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I could remember learning to read. It’s a habit passed down, indirectly, from my mother. My mother always had her nose in a book. I remember times when the house was so completely quiet I often assumed she was napping, only to discover that she was firmly planted on the living room sofa with a book in her hands. There was no way I could avoid being bitten by that lovely bug. And so my wildly passionate love affair with books ensued at the ripe, tender age of seven. I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on and still do. I must admit, however, that I am not a fan of science fiction. Outside of Octavia Butler, which I only read because she was a sistah, I steer clear of it. For a hopeless romantic like me it’s too doggone fake. But I digress. In my constant search for the next great read I would often look through my mother’s books to see if there was something short and simple enough for me to read and understand. Well, imagine my surprise when I picked up a book and discovered short bursts of riddles on each page. I thought, “I can read this!” On that day, poetry and I became lovers – unconditional, audacious, intimate lovers.
Outside in the street is the murmur and singing of life in the sun—horses, motors, women trapsing along in flimsy clothes, play of sun-fire in their blood.
Would you believe the book I discovered that day was written by an author named Carl Sandburg? Not Shel Silverstein, Robert Louis Stevenson, or even Maya Angelou. No, the controversial Carl Sandburg. The poet who didn’t believe in conformity or rules. Sounds like someone else I know…. I was seven and his poems were old. He had been dead more than twenty years when I discovered his poetry. Yet, there was something magical in the way he placed his words on the page. And even though I didn’t know enough to understand everything he was saying, I knew he was saying something. I felt with every fiber of my being that his words were extraordinarily important. Poetry had grabbed me, pulled me close, and gently kissed me on my cheeks. I was smitten. My first crush proved to be a touch act to follow. I read Sandburg’s book of poetry from cover to cover several times over the years. And with each read I learned something new that I hadn’t known or noticed before. In wonderment, I studied his style, his use of words, literary devices and I didn’t know what transfixed me about this form of writing, but I knew that it invoked feelings that I liked. My fascination with the art form transcended my inability to grasp the full meaning of his words.
How much do you love me, a million bushels?
Oh, a lot more than that, Oh, a lot more.
Today, I am a writer. I am a poet. Only recently have I begun to call myself either of the two. Even though I’ve been writing for more than twenty years now (started writing seriously in middle school), calling myself a writer or a poet still makes me slightly uncomfortable. I expect people to ask me what I’ve published (only other writers do that) or ask to share my work. I painfully cringe at criticism and instinctively hold my breath while others read my work, pretending not to care whether they like it or not. And reading my own work in public…? Vodka straight please! Yes, I still have growing to do as a writer. Part of the growth process includes learning and practicing the art of detachment. Yes, detaching is definitely an art which I have yet to master, but I’m getting there. I’m sharing more. In fact, last year, I even wrote a poem for someone I’ve never met and sent it with no expectations, but simply to honor the poet in myself. And of course, in honor of the recipient. 🙂 There’s something magically liberating about poetry. There are no boundaries. No rules must be followed or a particular form maintained. It’s wildly inconsistent or uninhibitedly honest. It beats around the bush just to convey one idea or just gives it to you plain and undiluted. It’s conventional and unconventional all at the same time. It’s raw, mild, hard, soft, passionate, tame, courteous, rude, it’s everything. Poetry is oxymoronic. How beautifully splendid is that?!
Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike.
Drive me into the girders that hold a skyscraper together.
Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders.
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through blue nights into white stars.
In honor of the poet within me and in recognition of April as National Poetry Month. I will be sharing one new, original poem everyday. This challenge is extremely important for several reasons. Not only will I share an art form I love, I will also exercise detaching further from results and outcomes. Writing a poem in a day, without over analyzing what others might think about the finished product serves to honor my artist self. I will put myself, my art, my talent, out there for all to see (well those who choose). I am allowing myself to be vulnerable without expectation and knowing that some will get it and some won’t. Sometimes, I may not even get it. Some will be finished and some will need more work. No matter, I will write and post anyway. This challenge is completely selfish, not in an egotistical way. In fact, Ego would prevent me from doing this challenge, but ego has taken residence here long enough. And this time, the lease is not being renewed. I am shaping myself into my Self. This is all about my evolution and growth. Here’s to poetry. Smooches!