It's funny, but I've considered my self a poet long before I considered myself a writer. I know it seems redundant, but in my brain, somehow it was (and still is) a separate thing. Like all poets are writers, but not all writers are poets. But that's not entirely what today's lunchtime bloggy blog is all about.
I posted a poem this morning. This poem:
Please don't ask me
to explain what it is I see
in you that inspires me.
I could no more explain
why seeing a sliver
of sunlight peek out
from the cloud of a stormy sky
makes me smile.
Much like your smile,
It is the warmth and
the radiance I see
that always fills me with
the hope of a brighter day.
And shortly after posting it, I got a text from a friend. She asked me if my poetry was about someone in particular, or nameless. It's not the first time I've been asked that question.
I answered her honestly. As I have when others have asked.
It's a little of both.
For the one this morning, it really was both. There was a particular person I thought of at first, but as I continued writing it, I thought of others that also inspired me. So the poem became something that encapsulated that feeling when the encouraging smile of a good friend can serve to lift my heart and spirits.
Many writers and poets (and creative types in general) talk about a muse. Is a muse a lover? A friend? Someone you see from across the room but will never know? Tough to say. In some cases, for me, it's all of that.
Allow me to describe my muse...
She smiles, and I know that all is right with the universe.
She greets the day with me, a warm embrace for a cold world.
At nights, lost in deserts of carnal delights, she takes me to the edge of oblivion
She is my best friend in a world where friendship is grossly undervalued
She is openly, brutally honest about my creativity, but never mean
She wants to help me grow, her passion the fuel when I am low on much needed steam
Her eyes are oceans that I would gladly drown a thousand deaths in for just one glance
Her soft, supple curves are unexplored terrain, would that I could be the cartographer
She provides me with enough space to help me believe that I don't need her
And hugs me close to remind me that I would sooner stop breathing as to let her go
In her arms I feel the depths of love that I have never felt before
And in her absence, I still feel anchored to the homeland that is her heart
In her presence I pray that if I am dreaming, that I die in my sleep only to be in her arms forever.
She is everything that I never knew I needed, nor thought that I could ever deserve
She is mine. And I am hers
Now you might be asking yourself, "just who is this mystery muse in your life, Todd?"
That's just it. I couldn't tell you. The image painted above is not about a single woman that I know or have known. It is the most amazing qualities from a few women who have anchored themselves in my heart. I can read the above poem and recall someone different whom I love or have loved with all of my heart. And the image shifts and changes.
I have found that when I think of a specific person as "my muse" then I tend to project the verse on to that person. Which...in most cases isn't the best approach. I have several muses, to be honest. There are many in my life who inspire me on a daily basis and without their love and support, I'm convinced that this blog would be the only outlet for my creativity that I would dare subject the rest of the world to. I cannot hope to thank them enough for the role they have played in releasing my creativity. All I can hope to do is to pay them homage and make them proud by what my creative efforts yield.
So, are my poems for/about a specific person or someone nameless? Both. They are the words for you, to read and to think about who in your life would elicit the same feelings and emotions. They are also the words that, when the stars align, I would write on my lover's back (in some kind of edible ink, perhaps cherry or bacon flavored).
I have found that the poems that have moved me the most as a reader are the ones where I can see myself in the situation. My all time favorite poem is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The that moves me the most about this poem is that for the narrator, the struggle is real. Which road? I could take one, vowing to come back and take the other one one day, but we all know that won't happen. So...which one? The one that not many people take.
As someone who views the world a little differently myself, the thought of taking the road less traveled and how much of a difference that can make is powerful. The words, so simple, are amazingly transformative.
I want people to feel that. When I'm writing a poem of love, I want you as the reader to feel that love. To transfer it. To adopt it. To attach it to something in your own life experience that makes you feel that way.
And the most precious gift you can give me, is to tell me that I put words to something you have only felt, but have yet to describe.
If it's a poem of longing, or loss, I want it to be a salve for your own longing and loss.
My love, longing, sadness, anger, joy...all here for you. Did I write the poem for you? Did I think of you as the words danced happily under my fingers, with gentle key-tappings bringing them to life in the pixelated universe of the ether?
That's the beauty of the verse. When it's infused with just the right amount of magic, it is always about the reader. Every poet knows that the ultimate gift is for the reader to get lost in the words.
I have been writing poems for over 30 years, but they have largely been for me. Thanks to some encouragement from some incredible people in my life (friends, family, and amazing authors), I have ventured forth to share them. My heart on my sleeve, or on the page, as it were.
To share these has definitely been to embark on a road less traveled for me.
And that has made all the difference.
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