April’s first fifteen days may represent other priorities for you, but this is National Poetry Month. The Academy of American Poets website offers a multitude of ways to celebrate, including Poem in Your Pocket Day (4/24).
For an enjoyable and non-intimidating local occasion, consider the poetry reading at Round Rock Public Library. Co-sponsored by the Baca Center’s Great Books Discussion Group and the library, this event features readings by poets and those who appreciate them. Each participant is invited to bring his/her own work or a favorite authored by someone else, well-known or otherwise (limit five minutes per speaker).
Having attended in previous years, I long ago put this on my calendar. And I am already scouting for my contribution (which probably should not be another Billy Collins selection, just to prove my awareness of other voices). As for the other option — presenting an original work — I annually consider and reject it for the benefit of all. This untitled composition explains why:
A poet lives inside each of us
some say; research has not proven otherwise.
But this line of inquiry bodes ill for me.
Confronted with the question by data-gathering types sporting lab coats and clipboards
I could only reply
(1) Evidently not, in my case
(2) Unless maybe one does–
unrecognizable as such
due to lack of talent
and a wretched sense of timing.
How else to explain the amalgam of
a mythic trickster
and a night-laboring elf
who ventures out of elected obscurity to engineer bizarre scenarios?
If I’m provisioned with a sparkling, quiescent page and comfortable chair
a setting meant to lure my thoughts into memorable self-revelation
this perverse force beams a defiant stare.
Elegantly miming a zipper sealing his lips, he retreats
perhaps pausing to brush the air with his clearly NOT ink-stained fingers, signaling later!
Or he may not. Regardless, he is gone. vanished. useless.
rested from non-exertion
he effects guest appearances on occasions
which I probably need not explain
require no creative expression and may only uncomfortably accommodate it.
He gleefully piles on evocative
in the conversational space allocated for one workmanlike noun:
shadows on neighbors’ roofs
newly installed gardening mulch
comparative hues of paper being considered for promotional brochures.
In tribute to such commonplace views
something compels me to to spontaneously apply metaphors where labels should adhere
thus manufacturing poetry’s unpopular distant cousin: TMI.
What if I never again bothered to bestow
a serene space
for my inner poet?
Fingertips on dust-furred tabletops
tapered twigs and an expanse of sand
a sad golf pencil and the back view of a grocery list:
only such grudging supplies
offered during hurried and inconvenient moments
would abet literary output.
Which would improve first–