Poetry comes from anywhere and everywhere. Not very helpful sounding is it? Let’s say you are eating cereal one morning at the breakfast table and you hear a clink in the kitchen of glasses. The sound triggers a memory, you are drawn back into childhood. A feeling comes over you of the spoon growing larger as you shrink back into childhood and become seven years old again.
Cold milk with floating Os
Clinking glasses in the sink
Shrinking tiny fingers
Pulling mind back to think
Oh those yesteryears
So simple way back when
They bring a smile to my face
Every now and then
Admittedly that’s not my best work, but as quickly as I am writing this piece today I am creating it without stopping and just letting the thoughts flow. I did not have an idea for the cereal or anything when I started typing this article. I might would go back and tweak this a bit to be better but for now I wanted you to see what can inspire a poem. And words don’t have to be beautiful stand alone words, or rhyme. By that I mean these poetically sounding words. They can just be ordinary words, which are what most of my work is.
Ordinary words touch everyone. You can understand one of my pieces instantly. That’s not to say mine are better than another persons, I just want you to know that just because you don’t think with those words doesn’t mean you cannot write poetry. You can write a poem in everyday words, and then look up synonyms and have fun with it.
Now I want to go into a recent poem I wrote and how it came about to show you the process. I dislike calling it a process because I really don’t have one. I think instead I will call it the creation of the poem. Even in my writing of this article I just let the words flow and go with it. Instead of correcting the use of ‘process’ I explained it and then created a new way of expressing my work. This is how poetry works as well.
The poem is Truth in a Picture. I needed a pick me up piece to do. I wanted to write something happy and full of life. For this I usually go to photos, sometimes of friends online but sometimes just wandering about the web. I wandered. I looked up some art paintings and happy did not happy.
This painting did.
The colors caught my eye, then sadness. There’s no doubt the woman is beautiful, but then you see more.
After the glimpse of color I saw the eyes and how they looked vacant and broken. It reminded me of pictures I have seen of female friends where the smile doesn’t reach the eyes.
That’s when the poem began, or perhaps it began as soon as I saw the eyes.
Thoughts came to me of what if I were the woman and knew what a man was thinking as he saw me looking beautiful but inside I didn’t even care because I knew the truth.
What if I knew why I looked the way I did? What if I knew this was my mask, my disguise?
Happy didn’t happen.
I’m not a long form poem writer very often, not that this is a long poem at all. I usually get my thoughts out as efficiently as they come to me. I looked at the painting and then closed my eyes and typed. I remembered the eyes, the nose and the lips. I thought of how makeup and lipstick are paints of disguise. I thought of how the paint attracts attention to disguise the harm caused by attention. I imagined her thoughts at each of his thoughts.
I then thought of the flip side of that and what the woman was underneath the pain and what the paint covered up. I altered the picture to show what was underneath.
Sleep circles and bruises. The colorlessness a woman feels . . . the lifelessness. I took each of the previous thoughts and made them the truth from her side.
The reaction to the poem has been encouraging in the honesty of it. I was asked how do I know what women think. My replies never really captured my thoughts. I don’t know that I do know what women think, I just know how I feel about something and then I put it into words. Somehow in this piece I contained an anger until after I was finished. The anger would have turned it into a much different piece. I’m not sure I could have written that piece.
I tend to tell a story in my poems, be it my autobiography or some societal thing that plagues my mind. I do try to have fun with it at times, but that is rare. Write what comes out of your fingertips. Let your mind take over, let your heart set the tempo, and get out of the way.
“I don’t get it, Jonesy.” I kept my eyes on the people across the street. “Why would Old Chubs kick Mrs. P out? She’s lived here longer than anyone else.”
“Your dad said her sons won’t help her pay the rent since Mr. P died.”
“Ugh! Boys are so stupid and mean!”
“Really?” Jonesy asked.
I glared at him. “You don’t count. You know what I mean.”
Brown eyes stared at me.
“Besides, who is going to make us lemon squares now? Mom can’t make them. She pretty much sucks at those.” I thought for a moment. I thought so hard my brain hurt. “Wait! Maybe she could sell lemon squares and make money for rent.” I jumped up.
“Sit down, Becky,” Jonesy said. “It’s too late. They’re bringing her out now.”
I watched a policeman help Mrs. P down the steps. Chubs stood on the sidewalk, and looked up at the window of the apartment. The flowerbox was full and overflowing with purple and yellow somethings.
“I hate him,” I said.
“Hate’s one of the biggest little words there is.”
“Hush up, Jonesy.” I wasn’t in the mood to hear what was right and wrong. I knew people had to pay bills and stuff, I just hated that her sons were so stupid. Six sons and they couldn’t put in a little each to help her with bills? “She did all the nasty stuff for them when they were babies. They should do something.”
The door opened behind us. “Becky, it’s time for lunch.” I looked up at Mom. She glanced at Chubs and frowned. “Make sure to clean Jonesy’s feet off before he comes in and hang his leash up. You keep throwing it on the floor. He’s yours remember, so you have to do things right.” Mom closed the door.
I looked down and scratched Jonesy’s golden head. “You better take care of me when I get older, Jonesy or no more hotdogs for snacks when Mom isn’t looking.”
Jonesy licked my face. “Eww … Jonesy, I know where that tongues been!”