Every time I go to post a poem
About my partner or family, or another poet
That little guy inside my head says,
Hey You Can’t Say That! And when I ask,
Why not? He says. Are You Serious?
You Re3ally Don’t Know? But, of course, I do
But you can’t fictionalize everything.
You take away the bite of authenticity.
So I slam the door shut on that censorious little freak
but he shouts out anyway: DELETE! DELETE!
“What’s the worst thing?” I was asked in my zoom workshop.
“The worst thing? What a writer can do? Let’s see.” I said. “The worst thing is being staid”.
I had to spell the word to make sure they got the right meaning.
“You know what ‘staid’ is?” I asked.
:Yes,” Tamara answered. “Unadventurous. Dull.”
“Correct. And you know where the word ‘staid’ comes from?”
There was silence.
“It’s the adjectival use for the past tense of ‘stay’ which is ‘stayed’ so the worst sin of a writer is being rigid, unadventurous, unchanging, unwilling to take risks, staying the same.”
I let that sink in.
“Living things evolve,” I said. “Let your writing evolve. Take risks. Don’t worry if some don’t take off. Others will hit their mark. But you don’t know if you don’t try.”
We took a short break … and we all came back a little different.
- do you agree? what do think the worst sin a writer can commit?
Don’t throw away your old stuff.
You will never have enough
new material to work with;
writing can be tough.
Put away your frail and flaccid.
put it in a book.
And in an idle moment, open it,
lighten up, have a look.
Give it iron, backbone,
a new voice, beat
find it a new form.
Let the old be reborn.
Everything will have its place.
Everything its time
the giddy, garrulous, the gruff.
Don’t throw away your old stuff..
You’re doing it again, he said.
Hiding behind metaphors.
What do you mean?
‘Claws’, ‘Whales’. ‘Billabongs’. All metaphors. Why don’t you say what you want to say? Get it out in the open.
Of how ugly it all is. All that anger.
Face it ! Stare it down !
What would it look like?
It would be a different poem. It would bang and bellow. Draw blood. Howl with expletives.
Would anyone read it?
Possibly not. But it would be honest. And it wouldn’t have billabongs in it. Billabongs have to be earned. Not brought in after four lines. Your poem is the most polite poem on anger I’ve ever read.
I’m sorry I said NO
all those times
diminishing yr world
I could have done better
withholding affection is a crime
against the human heart
I opened up a soft drink —
You know how it is —
One already opened
but it had lost its fizz.
It had lost its zest.
It had lost its tang.
It had lost its bite
& worse, had lost its bang!
So hang onto your hat.
Enjoy life’s gee whiz.
You gotta be where it’s at.
& Never lose your fizz.
Better watch that mouth
Through it venom pours.
It’s like a runaway train
You got a mouth.
You got a brain?