Running Out of Me

What is a poet to do
when he has nothing left to say?
No matter where I look,
I see nothing that would move me
to some emotional spillover
like a simple blade of grass,
the aroma of bacon on a griddle,
a baby’s smile, or you just existing
once did.
I don’t know why this happened.
Does a painter run out of form,
light and color to paint?
Does a composer run out of tones
to string together? Of course not.
Then why have I lost my capacity
to sense and react with words?
Maybe I’ve just run out of Me.
And I don’t know where
to find Me’s anymore.

To a Muse (Even If You Don’t Exist)

If you were my muse, then I have failed you.
Even if you weren’t, it seems I’ve dropped the ball.
If I was your poet, apology’s due,
since yours was never my story at all.

But you’re ever in my mind, even now,
when I have no thoughts left to inspire me.
There’s no sense in giving you a reason how,
since at last count I think it required three.

See, this so-called poet has lost his way,
the words, like crumbs some damn birds have eaten.
Your inspiration I’d die to display,
but the losses have left me sore beaten.

And so I offer another prayer,
on wings of this imaginary dove.
Please reach out and let me know that you care;
nowhere will you need to use the word “Love.”

Love’s a construct lonely poets devised,
It’s Obsession drives their creative time.
Their made-up stories often go unrevised,
though some I’ll share, even if they’re in rhyme.

That’s the problem and sin today I share,
with any who’ve fancied themselves my muse.
I’ve run bone dry of what my soul laid bare,
and beg your kind indulgence without excuse.

My empty soul no more can work alone,
I need your whispered aid, if you’re listening.
A note would be enough, who needs a phone?
Once more, my writership you’d be christ’ning.

If you don’t care, then that’ll be the end.
Who cares if some hack writer goes unread?
But if you care for the man, once your friend,
please help him tell new tales before he’s dead.

Seriously, I feel I have nothing left within of this reborn writer. And that’s killing me more than you’ll ever know. Losses and depression have blown out the flame that flickered to life from a dying ember ten years ago. And this inability to create life from thin air is killing me. So today I sat down and let something or somebody within nudge me toward creating this rhyming (GAG!) bit of what might be verse. Maybe that’s what I need. Just the impetus to drive forward, sadness, loss and ills be damned.

At the Border of Art and Life

America
Walt Whitman
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

I remember when she almost lived up
to the beatification
old Walt granted her in ’88,
but even he knew the “equal”
in his first line didn’t equal “equal.”
Jim Crow decreed otherwise
and steel from which
the mountain guns used on Americans
at Wounded Knee two years hence
still lay in Mesabi rock.
I wish it was so, Walt’s America,
with its perfectly perfect children,
its forever Freedom, Law and Love.
But I walked Third Street in ’67
and watched that American neighborhood
fade from Walt’s words of greatness,
as others did.

He was right, though, about this place
we’ve been blessed to live.
It is enduring and capable,
even when Mom goes a little insane
falls off her chair or trips
on our scattered and broken toys.
She always manages to stand,
though scarred and maybe gimpy,
to help her children learn again
to pick them up, maybe even
to share with someone else’s kids.
Happy birthday, Walt, I pray
your America and mine meet again
at the border of Art and Life.

Heartfelt Circumspection

I remember times I thought of calling,
but then stopped short after some reflection.
See, sometimes I get that feel of falling
and can’t help but think about our connection.

Soon, though, I realize my delusion,
which is a step in the right direction.
I’ve always struggled with love’s confusion,
which led to many kinds of rejection.

I sit down and put these thoughts in writing,
which you might think is half-assed projection.
But really it’s my way of inciting
a muse-less artistic resurrection.

So this is my way of self-protection:
poems of love with no real affection.

Just warming up for Valentine’s Day, y’all, with this sonnet that needs a lot of correction.

The Conundrum of Carin’ From the Cairn

Here on this side of the craggy wall
my voice can barely raise a hum,
the music within me stillborn,
as I try, but any new words won’t come.
Yet still I sense your presence
on the other side of these stones,
idly waiting to hear a new song.
I can feel you in my bones.
I can’t dredge up a care if you’re there
just to hear what I have to say,
or waiting to catch if thoughts of you
I’ve woven in what I might spin today.
So it’s farewell to you and the words
you loved, hated, and even cried to.
My heart, my art, my gifts to you
can’t escape this cairn if they tried to.
Perhaps one day another might unearth
what’s buried ‘neath this rocky rubble,
a jawbone perhaps, which spoke once of love, hope
and grief before they all were too much trouble.

To: My Editor … From: Me

It seems so silly, just
sitting here striving
to find the words to a story
whose ending we already know.
That’s me, always trying
to get the words right
before they’re written.
It’s a habit I picked up
since almost forever saying
the wrong words when
your spotlight’s on me.
Not that I’m not the loquacious
soul of glib insincerity.
I have the bent nose and
singed eyebrows to prove that.
But the truthfully sincere, I find,
deserve more time and care.
Since I’ve only ever given you
my life’s first drafts,
I’m your blue-penciled mess.
And I owed you better.

Ten minutes of free-writing, since my mind is mush here in this current emotional miasma. This poem may stink as much as my fetid depression, but you know how much I love talking to you when I can. And I can’t unless I try.

Days When It’s the Ink That Runs

It all used to be so spontaneous,
how the ink would flow, run down the page
in a warm and thinly coded letter.
Writing these would be easy as a walk
with the sun and breeze at our backs.
We had a run of seven years like that,
when the fruits of the unspoken communication
tasted delicious on my mind’s tongue,
even after I’d previously suffered
another tangled trip and fall in this, my garden
where bloomed songs of elation and sorrow.
Lately, though, my heart has made
each new walk a downwind slog in a gale,
where the rain will blind my soul,
each drop a barb in my heart leaving behind
a scar that wouldn’t allow it to open
and beat to its full extent.
But along comes this thinning of the clouds.
Never a clearing, a dome of blue instead of
this blanket of the blues. Just enough
of a hint of light that I see things
not as they were, but as an example
of what they are. Not yet as they could be,
because we haven’t written those days yet.
In these moments, the ink once again runs,
the letters sometimes smeared by falling rains.
But you still remember what they might mean.

Here’s a poem I wrote today instead of the Story-a-Day effort I was supposed to write. I’ll do some of them later, I hope. No, this prompt was to write a story using each of the following words.: ink, previously, work, breeze, seven, run, delicious, example, spontaneous, and barb. These prompts always brought me a lot of joy, because they were a game, a competition between the dark and light angels of my creative soul. Today, the light one has her moment. Tomorrow, as I said, has yet to be written.