Poem Number One

February 9, 2020



I thought I’d throw my hat into the poetry ring
because why not, why not me?
I like to write, I’m obsessed with the details of modern life, 
and I love the challenge of playing my observations back through my own words.
I write, so why not poetry? 

I fancy the idea of massaging my observations into poetic form.
Jim asks, “what poetic form is that?”
I laugh, having no idea.
I’m just excited that I don’t have to write in complete.
Or even complete.

I hope poetry requires authenticity,
not overwrought emotion
nor overworked cleverness.
(See above stanza. That was painful.)
(Stanza is a term I learned in 4th grade.)
I hope a poet needn’t be on all the time.
I dislike being around people who are on all the time,
I surely don’t want to write like one.

It’s okay for others, though, to be in love with their words,
or to contrive offbeat sentence structures or startling line breaks.
But I am not sophisticated enough to be that poet.
I am in a direct and straight forward state of mind, anyway,
so very tired of overzealousness and noise everywhere I go.
Best to let things flow naturally. 


We were surrounded by colorful, oil-filled canvasses in the Natsoulas gallery,
seated on folding chairs in rows,
a setting that seemed both intimate and cavernous,
and we listened to Gary Snyder.

Yep, that Gary Snyder.

And while I observed the great poet with awe,
because he was a staple of the counterculture,
not to mention his Pulitzer Prize,
I struggled to grasp the meaning of his poems.
I understood the words, yet their meaning did not find me,
did not enter me,
did not help me understand his world. 
I was lost, and I felt self-critical about this.
Still, my mind was light and it floated in and out of the imagery,
I sat mesmerized while listening to him read his own words.
I loved his anecdotes that made him seem like a comrade in the resistance.
I loved his wisdom and lack of self-importance.

I was, quite genuinely, sparked.

And when I got home I ordered five books of poetry.. three Gary Snyders,
and one each, Mary Oliver, Maya Angelou and Rumi.
That ought to do it!
And when my new books arrived,
I was pleased because this was the beginning of my own adventures in poetry.
I opened each book and read in random fashion.
This may not be as simple as I had imagined, I thought.
I wasn’t sure where
or how
to begin.

The books gathered dust on the new poetry shelf in the living room.

Three months later, chagrined, but not defeated, I went to another poetry reading,
in the same intimate but cavernous setting,
same folding chairs arranged in rows. 
This time, two women my age read their poems.

They spoke of love, loss, death, and masturbation.
I understood the words, and their meaning found me,
entered me,
and I understood.
I thought: I would like to try that!

I have added poetry books by Julia Levine and Susan Browne
to my new poetry shelf in the living room.

Do you know that I am sitting by the fire, in a leather reclining chair,
writing the poem you are reading?
It begs the question, though: Is this even a poem?
It’s a start.
(In any case, it’s a nice way to spend an afternoon.)
My title, optimistic, suggests there will be
a poem number two.