poetry schmoetry

It seems that no one reads poetry much anymore. Poetry books don’t sell well, most contemporary poems seem trite or obtuse. But I often feel an overwhelming urge to write poems anyways–images just tumbling out of me and onto the page. I am rarely satisfied with my efforts, as these poems rarely say what I intend them to say. But I am determined to persist with poetry despite my challenges with it. So today I am posting a recent poem in celebration of Muriel Rukeyser’s birthday (ok, it was actually on Friday, but I think it still counts). As Muriel wrote in her book The Life of Poetry, “I wish to say that we will not be saved by poetry. But poetry is the type of the creation in which we may live and which will save us,” or to borrow an aphorism from Oprah, one thing I know for sure: poetry matters.

So below is a poem that I recently wrote for my monthly reading/writing group. It’s not necessarily profound, but I enjoyed writing it and I would like to share it with you. I would most like to know what your favorite lines/images/stanzas are. Thanks. 🙂

For two of me

I gave her my cold shoulder
which she took in her teeth
biting here and there, around the
tiny stitches of scar

we were on a knee
in adoration of a
rough patch, the burn
that never washed away

then the rounded weal,
with furrowed marks
of fruitful years
and a worthy song

a thin star there on
her bone-still spine,
lying down to sleep,
holy oil still damp there
deep in my hair

and her stepping strongly
along my way,
with mercy because
she will dream now.
~December 2006

7 thoughts on “poetry schmoetry

  1. Holly

    I like the first stanza best.

    And a FEW people read poetry–I know because I know one of them, even if I’m not always one of them myself. One of my friends just gave me May Oliver’s new book, Thirst,, which had barely come out, as a birthday gift. I cracked it and read a few poems, but he told me that he’d bought a copy for himself and intended to read it before the weekend was over.

  2. John

    I like the fourth stanza, because the imagery is difficult to reconcile.

    Personally, I feel that poetry is meant to be performed. I love reading poetry but it never quite compares to hearing the words rolls off of the tongues of the authors and letting them wash over me.

    I should’ve had you read this poem to me, instead of letting you just hand it to me…

  3. Anonymous

    I like peotry.
    I like the third stanza best. Especially b/c you used ‘weal’

    Who ever said poetry has to be profound? It’s whatever you want it to be, so keep writing it.

  4. Bored in Vernal

    holy oil still damp there
    deep in my hair

    That’s the part that touched me…I did washings & anointings this week and when I read this, I could feel “holy oil still damp there, deep.

    Is this about you and your daughter?

  5. jana

    The poem is really about me–about my divided self: the part of me that is physical and the part of me that is my soul. I feel a lot of tension between these two selves and it seemed an interesting exercise to write a poem about that tension. In some ways, too, I intended the poem to have layers of tension between me and God, or the ‘divine’ self within me. I think it lost a lot of that as I revised, but it was there in the first drafts.

    I’m glad to hear that you did W&As this week. I often did those when I was temple-attending. I loved being in a circle of women and having my body blessed. For me, it was always a treat to have my prosthetic leg blessed along with the rest of my body. It validated it as an important part of ME. And I still love the smell of olive oil–a remnant of the W&A. I currently use an olive oil based shampoo (from The Body Shop) that reminds me of the temple every time I use it. It’s a lovely feeling. 🙂

  6. Gray

    No one reads poetry? It’s not not popular the way it was before radio and television, but there is a lot of it around these days. I am sure that there is much more poetry in my community now than when I was a kid.
    The local tea shop had poetry readings every week, and there is an active poetry community that radiates out from a cherished local high school teacher. Our theater sponsors four open poetry nights a year. I see a lot of it in my world.

    A number of my friends and/or their children belong to poetrysoup.com.

    Thanks for the poem.


  7. Bored in Vernal

    Your divided self! That makes it even more interesting. Now I like this part:

    we were on a knee
    in adoration of a
    rough patch…

    That’s because I hope one day I will be able to be thankful for the rough patch I am going through right now. Maybe that’s not how you meant it, but the reader gets to take it however s/he wants!

Comments are closed.