Recapturing His Muse to Let Loose His Wolf

I’d like to tell you a story,
but, nowadays, the stories
just won’t come.
I’ve tried all the old instigators,
but none of those break the spell
rendering me dumb.

So let’s try making something happen
as I’ve had to for so many,
many weeks.
A poem punctuated with rhyming words
at least rolls the ball downhill,
though not up any peaks.

There’s this guy I know, perhaps so do you,
whose life feels empty when he can’t
tell a story.
He’s told all kinds, from weepy to creepy
even gory, though none yet
a “Finding Dory.”

He thought a muse could bring him
the old inspiration, grist for
his creative mill.
But, of course, she was an illusion,
even to herself, now a wraith
of substance nil.

And so one day he reaches into that ether,
grasping at straws
not really there.
For five hundred more words,
or even for two, so long as they’re
not more hot air.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said to
the ghost of she who felt she was
his Keats’s Fanny Brawne.
“Just say a phrase, and in misery
I’ll phrase, a story sad as
Yeats’s with Made Gonne.”

So now he’s off to string thoughts
of some kind, in a story,
kind of together.
Of course this story’s about me,
now feeling free, loosing my prosaic wolf
from its tether.

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Spray It

This sheet of white requires
some serious spitting.
A mouth full of dark words
with which I can sully,
besmirch or otherwise defile
this expanse of pure virgin
nothing.

They don’t have to be dirty words,
though I’ve spit my share before.
They can start out muddy, though, I guess.
My desperation requires
such desecration. So I’m marshaling
as much poetic or fictive invective
as this arid mouth can hold.

I can feel it drip down the back
of my creatively parched throat.
And what spittle I’ve coughed up
is this hairball croak you’ve
just read.

Thank God for that.

A tribute to the writers who have experienced the paralysis by analysis of the blank page and even blanker mind. Sometimes you just have to open your creative mouth and let it rip. Just start writing…anything. And so I did.

Another Unscarred Stone in a Field of Shadows

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I don’t miss you, muse, even though
I know you never really existed
in the first place. I choose not
to believe you were a someone
or something a guy like me writes at,
a silhouette to make round and warm,
or even a target to write poetry upon,
like an old-time stonecutter would
carve on a gravestone. You know,
something permanent in a place
that by its existence represents
our itinerant status in this world.
No, I don’t miss the thought of
ethereal you peering over my
literal shoulder, hmmphing a humph,
tsking a tsk, or sighing an all-out sigh
upon the words I wrote. I’ve forgotten
so many of those words, but never
your approach to reproach. So
it’s a good thing I never believed
in you, otherwise I’d miss your warm
respiration bringing sharp inspiration
and life where before was only
another unscarred stone in a field
of shadows.

Catching up on my poem-a-day quest during National Poetry Month.  Here’s my stab at Number 3.

The End of the Affair

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My partner and I called it
a year and a half ago.
It was time. Something
she’d never understand.
We’d been going up and down
the same road for years and
it had become nothing but
out and back with no exit
other than here and there.
And so this silence of a life,
this loss of the waves
of tremors I’d feel when
we’d take off together,
the vibrations of ear
and heart that would spark
these visions I’d share
with the few who might care
to see, to hear, to feel
what I did.

She’s waiting for me now,
for me to sit with her and
warm one another on
this cold January day,
to set our course wherever
I want now, instead of
our old north and south.
I miss our alone time,
there in the crowds
of steel and flashing red,
when a song, a memory,
an image other than
dashes of white on black
drawn on a windshield
chalkboard, would become
flesh as soon as she
let go of my hand, and I
grabbed that of my
other secret partner, my #2
of yellow. And so now,
The rest is silence.

This and the previous poem are so reminiscent of the blast of writing I’d do after my commute each morning from Clifton Park to Albany. Both accomplished in less than an hour. I’m sure they show it, but that’s how I work…or don’t.

Raptors

imagePhoto by Joseph Hesch

Hawk dropped by for breakfast this morning.
I had my Saturday pancakes. He had chipmunk.
I finished mine before he took off with his.
A to-go order of striped rodent, sticky too,
but not with syrup. Why does he looked so angry?
He can sit there at rest like some boulevardier
watching the groundlings circle his table.
No critter, including this one, would dare interrupt
his wriggling repast, lest we become a second course.
I don’t soar much anymore, the limited spring
of human flight now just memory, fallen away
like the grey hairs I find on my pillow each morning.
I can only spread my wings when I sit here,
as I drop with talons sharp on memory, on fantasy,
on fuzzy imagination, and carry them to my nest
to try feeding ever-unseen, hopefully open mouths.

Desperate Measures

Ever wonder how the once-prolific though often actually dispassionate poet guy comes up with the hundreds of bits of story and verse he’s posted on this small wall? Lately, so have I.

Sometimes, when my shallow puddle of passion leaves me (like during the past month or more) and nothing in life wants its story written that day, I free write a list of ten words, sentences or impressions based upon a word I pull randomly from whatever book is near my hand.

Some of the inhabitants of these lists, once I gaze at them for a spell, form connections with one another, like moderately successful blind dates. (Hopefully, more like a weekend at a swingers’ club.) And sometimes these connections become ideas for poems and stories you’ve read and maybe even liked.

It’s a desperate ploy by a desperate man, but damn if it hasn’t worked more times than not.

I’m beyond desperate these days. I am bereft of emotion and insight. That’s why I reached over to the bookcase, opened up the first book I touched (a crossword puzzle dictionary, if you must know) and dropped it upon its spine, poking my finger between the pages and using the word upon which it came to rest.

Today’s word, at this point pretty damn useless for this fairly blind imagination, is GREEN.

Here’s what happened after that:

1. Green, nothing but green, surrounded me, lying there on the 30-yard line, once the white, red and black cleared from my head.
2. Green tomatoes, breaded and fried, sounded like a decent side dish, but the blonde who walked in while I ordered would have been an epic one.
3. Green fluid seeped from beneath car and puddled on the roadway.
4. Green buckskin uniforms lay scattered above the village, waiting for the signal to attack.
5. “Green grass, will return someday, my son, when Manitou is once again pleased with his fallen people,” the old sachem told his grandson. But each of them knew otherwise.
6. Green-clad cheerleaders pranced and kicked along the sidelines, while the backup wide receiver stretched his hamstring and strained his eyes for a look at one blonde’s personal 50-yard line. (A sad, but true memory from the concussed dude from up there in Number 1.)
7. Green like no green I’d ever seen greeted me when I emerged from the shadows beneath the mezzanine and saw the diamond-cut emerald set in the red velvet infield dirt of Fenway park.
8. “Green antifreeze, I told you to get the GREEN antifreeze,” Dad said, tossing his cigarette away in disgust.
9. “Green beer for you on this fine day, darlin’?”, the barmaid asked. (Wonder what would have happened if I asked for orange?)
10. “Green pants and a green clip-on tie bearing the SPI monogram of St. Patrick’s Institute, were my uniform for nine years, after which I vowed never to wear any combination of blue mixed with yellow again, Sergeant,” I told the Army corpsman at my Draft physical. (Another truth, long-forgotten.)

I hope one of these images springs forth a little literary life soon. Otherwise, I’m going to have to put away my pencil for a spell. And I’m forgetting where I put a lot of things lately.

Twenty-three Ohms

I plug in, putting pen to pad,
feeling the tooth of the paper
drag against the ballpoint’s
hopeful inspiration. This time
we went rogue, a freedom write,
turning the lines sideways
and scribbling perpendicular
to the rest of the world.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll call myself
a real artist and go all diagonal.
I have an hour of creative freedom
away from the drudgery
of the day-to-day.
You might say I am
a 23-ohm writer because
I have 23 hours I must
spark through life’s resistance
to get where I can
flick the switch
and see this light.

Official Day 1 poem for NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) during which I will attempt to write a poem a day throughout April. Already posted one to the Writers Digest PAD Challenge based on the prompt word Resistance. Here’s another.