About ten years ago (maybe more, though realizing it's been that long gives me a bit of a fright) I thought in poems. Really. A stanza of a poem would appear in my head entirely of its own bidding and it would follow me around until I wrote it down-- finished it out-- and tidied it up. Sometimes I'd also see/hear pieces from other poets, maybe because my school system emphasized the memorization of literature, but most of the time I just thought of original poems without having to do any real work. A walloping disclaimer here: they were not good poems. They're what you would expect from an angsty teenager who proudly listed Bach and Beethoven under her musical tastes on MySpace. And still-- and still-- when I go back and read them, I see an earnest heart underneath the stilted vocabulary. Maybe I did write bad poems, but they came from an organic process and helped me develop a love for language.
That ability to "see" a poem doesn't exist for me anymore, not properly. Every now and then I'll feel a line or phrase that needs to be turned into something, and then when I sit down to write (sometimes on the catwalk at the theatre...by the ambient light of a follow spot...when I have a break from cues) the effortless part just dissolves into labored thinking. It's as though the more I know about what good art is out there (and there is so much I have yet to learn!) the more hesitant I am about putting my own meager efforts into the pile. And maybe I'm just busier with real-life things, such as car maintenance and laundry, so that I don't have the time to daydream like when I was younger. Inspiration is a funny thing. You want to use it as an impetus for creation, not an impediment.
Oy. I'll stop being long-winded and post a rhyming poem here.
Henceforth it shall be winter
and this is the last spring;
(the flowers will die, the grass will sigh
and birds will cease to sing).
The ground will be frozen thick
enough to break each limb
that tries to sow (and trees won’t grow
for the sky is getting sick).
Say a farewell to the sun
as it rotates off to dusk
leaving the blooms in shells or their tombs
amidst the wet leaves’ musk.
This is the last spring,
and summer brings us nearer curled
(then comes the fall and fear of it all
as winter becomes the world).