Monday, February 7, 2011

The writing life

In an ideal world we would honor our gifts everyday, and our gifts could be the perfect banana nut muffin, or child education, or philanthropy.  Some of us have waited to be transformed by a really cool inner gift.  I wanted to be a novelist, and kept waiting for the novel to get written.  I wanted to be a world traveler, and kept waiting for the train to show up.  Finally I thought, “Hmmm.”  With that profound thought a new direction began, one in which I just started doing something.  Anything.  It was poetry, I loved it and it calmed me down on nervous days.  Y’all who were born with a silver keyboard attached to your wrist—well I’m jealous, but as my redheaded grandson says, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” 

And I’ve been writing, in fits and starts since my Dad died.  A dear friend and sometime muse, Anne Perry, wrangled me into an online poetry group back then, and that Texas group read my sad, wilty little poems and were very kind.  Friend Ronnie Tomanio talked me into reading for a poetry group in Portsmith, NH, and that got a poem published in the local paper.  (yay!)  Thus began the cycle of sending out and waiting, sending out and waiting.  Receiving the many no thank yous.  Finally, Comstock Review accepted a poem and there I was, a REAL poet.  Maybe not a GOOD poet, but earnest and certainly sincere.

Since then there have been more journals saying, “Yes, thank you,” but each time I read over a poem for the second time it looks awful.  Really awful.  Time and rewrites and patience improve subsequent readings, but there is rarely an unflawed jewel. 

Because I’m interested in how poets come to this landing pad so individually, several poet friends will soon be talking about their own work here.  (You know who you are.)  If you are of the poetic bent, please talk to me about your own process.  I've got some questions for you...

Fixing the car was a straightforward task,
like writing a sentence from beginning to end. 
Noun, predicate.  Noun—
Take the wheel off, put the wheel on. 
But entropy works in the smallest corners of the universe,
and chaos manifests in each word—
of every sentence, every leaking valve.
Blown fuses. 
One misplaced lug nut. 
One superfluous adverb.

How can I write poetry when the Napa Auto Parts store
doesn’t carry small yellow boxes neatly labeled,
“angels with rusted wings?” 

(and does that question mark go IN the quotes or OUTSIDE?)


  1. I love this poem. And yes, I would frequent such a store if only we had one!