I wrote some poetry today. It was coming out in full prose sentences, instead of trippy snippets, little short sentences that I felt inclined to snip apart at line breaks. Scrolling back up to read some of what I had just written, I noticed too many gerunds (-ing endings) and use of to be’s.
The lines looked weak. They’re were not compact with surreal images nor were they spacey and elusive. They were basic like “It’s May 5” and “the cruisers pull up.” I aimed to depict an exact scene based on a memory (of course).
I think in this poem, because it was a story, I stepped away from psychedelic imagery. I felt nervous almost. I hadn’t written a story in so long. It is a poem, but this particular poem needed to get its story out to work. During the process, I was fixated on conveying this tiny tale effectively–clearly.
The last time I wrote a story-poem, it made people cry, but the majestic and talented poet, Li-Young Lee pointed out to me, that he as well as the others in the workshop didn’t really understand what was going on. Normally, I could care less if someone can’t tell what’s going on in a poem, but A.–this was Li-Young Lee, and B.–its whole purpose was its story.
So, today I obsessively tried to be as basic and undemanding as possible. After writing down today’s memory with organic, but well-measured line breaks, I realized it’s a stupid piece. It’s a a pebble of a recollection from when I waited tables. It’s not about oppression or dolphin captivity or the darkness in a garden. I left the studio thinking that I had just wasted the last two hours writing like a child about a childish thing I did once.
It’s night now, and I thinking about what happened at the studio this afternoon. By compartmentalizing the poem into pure memory-action-depiction, not emotion, just what happened, I’m forced to tell a true story. My laced thoughts are not sewn sneakily between sections. Readers can decide to feel whatever they want while they read it for once.