Thursday, October 8, 2009

National Poetry Day//Remembering a Muse

After reading today was National Poetry Day, I started thinking about how a lot of poetry annoys me. I mean, what else are you supposed to think on such a day?


Anyway, there are a few poems that I love. One is 'Laugh Literary' a poem by Charles Bukowski that just rips apart a rejection letter he received.

Bukowski was a huge misogynist, so you have to pick and choose. But sometimes, he just hits on something so raw and true that it makes (me, at least) you want to create something just as great.

For instance:

i will remember the kisses
our lips raw with love
and how you gave me
everything you had
and how I
offered you what was left of

It's just amazing stuff. So, check out some Bukowski today....if you're unafraid of being totally offended, that is. Beneath the grime, though, you will find some really amazing poems.

The real reason I'm posting this, however, has nothing to do with Bukowski (although sometimes I wish I wouldn't feel so confined by an innate reverence - unlike Mr. B here.) I don't know how or when I discovered Gary Snyder and - honestly - I don't like many of his poems. However, his 'Poems for Robin' are a must read.

Comprehend this, suckas:

You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
"Again someday, maybe ten years."

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange.
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
where you were –
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for
We left it behind at nineteen

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.

And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
karma demands.

Holy Crap, right? The first time I read these poems (there are 5), it hit me in the gut. Because they're just so...True, maybe? So Real. I read them and I feel the devastation. I feel the loss.

I also think, "Holy Hell...I've totally ripped off one of the great American poets..."

Because these poems? Totally like my book. I could send these out as a query and people would know what to expect. (I'd have to add something about ninjas and Hulk Hogan, but I feel like it wouldn't be that hard....)

If you've read my ms, you can find traces of this in Head's character. He's a dude who desperately wants to re-wind the right what he perceives to be wrongs. All that stuff. And this morning, as I read through the poems again (and feeling that same powerful surge of emotions that came the first time I read these...) I thought: I'm going to jail.

No, not really.

I thought: I want to write something that makes people feel this same way.

And that might just be mawkish writer-ly anxiety as I wait for agents to get back to me. Or it might not. I don't know. What I do know is this: what makes writing great for me is the ability to connect with other people. To put down in words something that is universal; I want people to think, He wrote this about ME. To write something that lasts.

Enjoy National Poetry Day....

I slept under   rhododendron
All night blossoms fell
Shivering on a sheet of cardboard
Feet stuck in my pack
Hands deep in my pockets
Barely able to sleep.
I remembered when we were in school
Sleeping together in a big warm bed
We were the youngest lovers
When we broke up we were still nineteen.
Now our friends are married
You teach school back east
I dont mind living this way
Green hills the long blue beach
But sometimes sleeping in the open
I think back when I had you.
(Gary Snyder)


  1. I love free-verse poetry. Thanks for sharing three powerful poems.

    Just to show you how much I love free-verse poetry...I'll write one now...

    By: K. M. Walton

    Have you ever had a
    that wouldn’t leave?

    I have

    It tortured me
    knocking on my skull
    from the

    Taking its little claws
    scratching its way

    Onto the screen
    clicking its way through
    the keys
    Each letter a bit of
    a bit of


  2. When my kids were little I read and wrote a lot of poetry. It forced me to be a disciplined writer, reducing what I wanted to say to images--concrete nouns, active verbs, minimal adjectives, no passive language. These days, I don't write it as often but I do still read it regularly. If you like beat poets, you might check out William Everson (aka Brother Antoninus). Also Gregory Corso, best known for his poem "Marriage".