Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Be a Poet

To be a poet,
You need the nerve to call yourself a poet.
Don’t listen to those voices from without
(Find a friendly reader)
Or within
(Be kind, but firmly dismiss that inner critic, bye-bye)

Get a pencil without an eraser
(Don’t erase –cross out if you must- your “mistakes” and trials might just go somewhere, someday)
Visit them often, and while you are there, read them aloud, let them roll off your tongue
And play on the wind)
And a pad of paper, or a notebook, better yet. That fits in your pocket.
You never know when the muse will strike, like at the grocery store
While your selecting canned beans
And likely you will
Want to write,
Then and there.
(It’s OK to practice your quick draw, like the word-slinger you are,
Right in front of the hall mirror)

Listen to the narrator, the one doing the play-by-play
Silently in your head
Listen to the color commentator too.
Jot down some of these thoughts.
Dig it, and dig through this,
It’s the mother lode.
Check ‘em out. Write down others you think might give them company.

Play; by all means play with these words.
Sculpt them into a phrase
Listen to the sounds and rhythms of the words
Do the bounce and dance?
Do they take a chance?

Rhyme is fun, but it seems to only work
On even days of the week
And/or months with the letter “r”
(Check your calendar)

Prose is user friendly and you can
Break the
Lines wherever you
Want.

Don’t get married to what you write or how.
A steamy affair might just serve you better.
And know this.
Sometimes all of this just doesn’t work.
So have a sense of humor
And be patient.
Even the great Mickey Mantle (his parents were poets in his naming!)
Only got a hit 3 out of 10 times.
(You are likely to do better, with your pencil and paper)

Read some poetry
Find an author you like,
Don’t worry about what it “means”
If it is good poetry, for you,
You’ll know.

Try a metaphor, look it up if you’re not sure
They’ll help to convey ideas when
Words alone fail
That’s what they are
For,
Symbolically speaking,
And similes will make you smile
Like a Cheshire cat.
So find a quiet place,
Oh did I mention that?

And call yourself a poet
By all means.
Your first year’s dues are paid in full
(You can thank me later.)
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