Prepare for hot day
find slade, move slow, drink water
mostly, think cool thoughts

Daily Haiku, July 29, 2016

variation 1:

Prepare for hot day
slow down every single move
mostly, think cool thoughts

variation 2:

Prepare for hot date
slow down every single move
mostly, think cool thoughts

A Poem Before You Write

Dashing off a poem as a writing exercise as a means to not only get some words down on paper, but to provide a sense of order and meaning to the words you write down.

I always struggle to stick with my writing plan. I know — just shut up and write. If it was only that easy. The truth is, I don’t mind playing around with different tips and tricks, because I need them. Things that work don’t keep on working. Mixing it up with new ideas helps me find the flow.

Lately, it’s been poetry that has been helping me. Not reading it. Writing it.

I’ve been dashing off poems as soon as I sit down to write. This helps get the writing going, from thought in my head to the tapping of keys on the laptop. But it does more than this — it helps me set a tone, as well as establish an order of things. Each line in the poem is like the building block of a chapter, or an element to a short story. A natural arc begins to show itself.

Here’s the poem I wrote to help me get started with this short essay:

There you are again
blank screen
staring back at me
as if I am nothing

It feels right, your assessment.
I should just walk over to the fridge
crack open a beer
and watch another episode of whatever the fuck is on

Instead, I recall a line from my favorite show
that’ll be the day
at least on this day
there I am again
staring back at the screen
as if it’s nothing.

I don’t pretend to be a good poet. Perhaps it’s better to say that I wish I was good at poetry. Can I also admit that sometimes I write a poem and I think to myself: Man, that is really good.

Don’t worry. I am not fooling myself.

Regardless of whether the poetry is any good or not, I can say definitively that it is helping me get some words down in a way that moves my stories along in, at the very least, some semblance of a decent direction. That is a good thing.

I’ve used the poetry writing exercise not just to get started, but to help me get unstuck when I’ve got myself stuck somewhere in the morass of what might or might not be the middle, and I’ve used poetry to help me find a way to finish up a piece of writing.

With regard to the actual poems: I certainly don’t think anyone would get what I am trying to convey in the poem, or perhaps it’s the other way around — that it’s all too surface and easy to decipher. Perhaps “decipher” is too heavy a word. Maybe it just reads like one big cliche. And yet, I understand the poem. It’s helping me to better understand how to get my point across with the words I am putting to “paper.”

The gut check here is that I’m a sucker for poetry, especially all the poems that most people are suckers for. A Pablo Neruda poem can stir it all up each and every time. And how wonderful it is to not get a poem. I’ll keep trying to figure it out, whether I want to or not. The meaningfulness of not comprehending, but continuing to search for meaning, in the waking hour, but also, in dreams, is what makes poetry so wondrous and beautiful.

Perhaps what I love most about poetry is how easy it seems — like it’s right there, for the taking. And yet, deep down, you know it’s not easy at all, to even get close to adequate. It’s fun to make a run at it. Finding that it helps my writing efforts across the board has been an added bonus to the joy I’ve always felt about poetry.

I Like the Way We All Have a Favorite Poem

That the first words we wrote down back when we were still learning how to spell and form letters into words into sentences were poems. That the songs that mean the most to us are essentially poems set to music. That the first thing we wanted to give our first crushes was a poem. That at some point, later on in life, our love/other will say, in one of those ridiculous but actually kind of serious arguments: you never write me poems anymore. That that novel we wrote, or the one we intended to write but have yet to finish, and maybe will never finish, kicked off with a few lines from a poem. That when we’re writing in our journals in the late hour or at the top of a mountain, we feel compelled to write a poem.

Is it any good?

Yes, and no. Maybe, probably not. And of course!

Did it feel good to write it?

Absolutely, yes.

What does it mean?

This now, something else later, and whatever came to your mind, in this particular moment. You’ll likely forget, but if you do remember, the meaning will have changed. Hopefully. If not, that’s wonderful as well.

Happy National Poetry Month!