the ghosts of poems


I woke this morning in the dark with a mouth full of poetry. I felt that I could write it gently and thereby gentle my world in the way only poems can do, as if they are fine-boned branches with one or two blossoms, placed in an empty room.

But when I put the words on paper, they were only words; they did not fit together. They were what becomes of dreams in daylight: all the glamour faded, the motives confused. I don't really mind. I spent yesterday afternoon reading old poems beneath a tree, beside the sea. That probably explains it.

A poem is such a little thing, but it takes time to write. Not so much in the putting words down, but the readying of the space inside. I always found that poems were wild things drifting through the day, and some came to rest a while in my heart and, if I was lucky, stay. At least, for long enough that I might compose them, until they drifted away again.

I have been writing too much these days to make a wordless space for poetry. Still, I feel them in the ambience: new poems, and old poems that have been waiting so long all their words are now lost - ghost poems, and poems in pieces I might be able to compose if I had the time to compose nothing for a while, and let the word-bits coalesce. If I had the energy to be more inside myself.

I do miss little poems, and just a few words on white space. And I am aware that, when poetry starts coming for you, there's nothing much you can do. Just get a pen and hold on. It's magical, far more magical than writing a novel.


4 comments:

  1. This is lovely. The image of the poems as ghosts that flit and never come to rest or coalesce into words on a page.

    It reminds me a bit of a poem by Wendell Berry that, I think, Karen Edmisten shared. At any rate I have it open in a tab on my computer.

    "Make a place to sit down.
    Sit down. Be quiet."

    "Accept what comes from silence.
    Make the best you can of it.
    Of the little words that come
    out of the silence, like prayers
    prayed back to the one who prays,
    make a poem that does not disturb
    the silence from which it came."

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/41087



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    1. Thank you Melanie. As always, Wendell says it perfectly. "Make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came" - this for me is the exquisite art of poetry, laying down each word so precisely that altogether they speak their birth silence. I am not particularly good at it!

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  2. I have kept a few images in my heart for years, images and experiences that spoke to me in some way, thinking that they could be a poem if only I were more of a poet. Sometimes I wonder if they couldn't just be expressed as an essay instead, which comes more natural to me -- but I am afraid to set them down in essay form, because I guess I am worried I might destroy the poem.

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    1. I understand how you feel. On the other hand, an essay can be lyrical, especially if it is your more natural way of writing. Better to write a beautiful essay than a mediocre poem. :-) Also, you could write an essay and then break it gently into poetic form. I did something like that with a story in The Coracle Sky.

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