What was I thinking when I decided to write a blog? I don’t write every day, much less blog. I COULD post everyday and tell you I ate oatmeal with nuts for breakfast and describe the cute funny things my cats did last night, but that’s what Facebook is for. So, yes, I know I SAID I was going to blog every day, but poets aren’t all that reliable. (They keep changing Poem in Your Pocket Day. I thought it was the 28th. It was LAST year!) so there will be gaps.
Poems, like stories, have an apparent level and an underlying, simmering one. Take for example the draft of a poem my friend Elizabeth wrote, a brave and lovely poem seemingly about her belly(which I will NOT be sharing with you. Drafts are like Vegas. And I want to still be friends with her,) yet what shimmers under the surface of the poem is an ineffable link to her mother.
A poem works when we can pull back the layers and think, ahhh, yes. For example, Billy Collins’s poem The Lanyard. What kid over fifty doesn’t remember making lanyards at summer day camp? On one level, the poem presents itself as a simple childhood memory with its gentle humour, yet we walk away realizing NONE of us has lived up to the valiant act of our mother’s giving birth to us and facing the daily grind of raising our self centered selves. The poem asks, Do we ever repay that?
So if a poem is to be successful, most of which mine aren’t, the reader will walk away with a universal question, and that question could be what sparks your own poem.
Here are the first few, very crappy lines of my response to Elizabeth's poem:
I have become my mother.
wide hips, bruise to the touch
“I can think about food and gain weight.”