a cluster of dark leaves and white berries
floats like a host of tiny angels in my open doorway,
suspended above a face i've memorized,
presenting chilly lips now revitalized
by the hope of a rendezvous with my own.
heart to heart we embrace and tug, grasp, pull--
stretching myself up onto tip-toes--
with a flirtatious brush of my Eskimo nose
on his mountain man cheek...
feeling a rise of heat in response to my welcome.
tucked beneath a mink soft lock of dark hair
is the warm furrow of my collarbone,
one of the places he plants fervent kisses,
there and at the start of my lips...
...and just beyond.
shadows cast by the firelight are crimson,
white wrists and ruddy cheeks glow,
pressing together in a lovedance of souls,
of fingers and forearms.
our low laughter is like bells on a hillside.
i wrap my arms around him, snug and secure,
looped and moving, overlapping his back.
sharp shoulder blade under soft sweater...
face to face in the firelight,
we say, 'Merry Christmas.'
Over the years, I've been asked many times about my process as a poet. Where does this stuff come from?
Do the words rise from the dark earth like flowers, sprouting and entwining until I pick them at my leisure?
Or is it a trek through a jungle, machete first, naivete in tow, with the poem to display as proof of survival in the end?
Or is it calculated, premeditated, just type set end to end until it's time to slather the thing with ink and press it to the unemotional page?
I'd say All Of The Above.
For example, last Christmas I had a feverish moment of inspiration. It caused me to type up a few words and save them. Those words meant nothing when left alone, but it captured the essence of my mindset at the time, all plump and happy with holiday cheer. Then, this year, when I went traipsing back through my drafts, I discovered those words... still smelling faintly of stale gingerbread.
I took a pen to them. Crossing out the lame and the cliche, adding here and there, propping up the walls and prepping for the installation of the roof. That was October.
Yesterday, I pulled out that working draft and another pen and went to work. I find that I can only do a tiny bit of calculating before my sincerity quotient dips and I have to pull out the paddles to shock the thing back to life. Yes, I allow myself a gimmick or two, a pun here or there. Nothing may be forced upon the wobbly little structure though... it must be as organic as possible.
Occasionally I happen upon a rhyme or a scintillating visual absolutely by accident. Those are the best times.
In the end, I have a poem. And it's never actually finished. On a whim I may tweak a parting line or repair a slanted rhyme (like that one). If I read over an old poem and find myself shamed by the elementary sound of it, if I can see the feeble scratchings of my juvenile tools, I'll shut it away somewhere and pretend it doesn't exist... that nothing less than lovely has ever been born of my brain and my pen.
So, you can see that my "process" is sporadic at best, but I do usually have a couple of drafts on each final poem. And for fun, I thought I'd post one here.
Now, I wouldn't say that the poem is particularly ground breaking (or even very good), but it will work as well as any to show where my mind traveled as I amassed the words and sounds and images for the final piece.
Folks, poetry is fun. I'd urge everyone to give it a shot. It's not easy, of course, but then... nothing worthwhile is ever easy.