“Poetry is indispensable — if I only knew what for.” – Jean Cocteau
Poetry intimidates me. I simply don’t get it. This makes me feel stupid. I don’t need poetry to make me feel stupid. I can do that on my own.
Maybe I’m jealous of poets for being able to pack a wallop in twenty-five words or less. I try to write blogs like that—lean and strong. Novelist Nicholson Baker said he “learned to write prose by reading poetry.” I can learn from that.
I’ll start by writing a haiku. Even a third-grader can write a haiku, so I’m in good company:
Snowy Egret, roseate spoonbill
This is fun. Here’s another one about birds and being blind:
Which is which?
On to something more complex in poetic form—the limerick. After 37 drafts, I finally wrote one without using Nantucket as the rhyming word:
There once was a model from Boulder
Whose eyes failed as she grew older.
She used a color ID
To tell blue skirts from green.
“You look swell,” is what everyone told her.
I think I’m hitting my poetry writing target—somewhere between seventeen syllables and John Milton.
Perhaps you find my poetry concrete and shallow. I know I do. But Ezra Pound wrote that poetry is first of all obliged to make sense—because if it doesn’t, no one will read it. And, if no one reads it, it might as well not be written. So there.
Still, I want to decorate my poems with images and metaphors and simultaneous resonance and dissonance. Haiku and limerick mastered, I turn to melding Zen Kōan with Shakespeare sonnets:
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways
On the fingers of
One hand clapping.