Salt

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grains of salt

touch the lightest laugh

darkness stirs

where sparks once flew

broken pieces glint

in a tired sun

lost moments

beg to breathe again

where a subtle glow

looks to start again

fighting the shadows

longing to feel

the way it did before

time has played

an unpredictable game

there is no going back

just forward

past the grains of salt

where tired light

gleams so bright

 

 

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Words: free verse, c.b.w. 2017

(Timed writing: 10 minutes, no edits)

 

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Poetic Strategy

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Last night, my husband asked me out of the blue, “How do you write your poetry?” Well, that’s a loaded question! It largely depends on what kind of poetry I’m writing.

My chosen forms of poetry are haiku, black out, and free verse. It’s no accident that each of the forms has a certain amount of freedom and spontaneity involved. I like the concept of having no idea what a poem is going to be until it is finished. Perhaps it’s my trust in my muse or maybe I just like to be surprised!

Haiku is the most structured form I write, but I ignore the 17-syllable rule completely. Instead, I favor the modern english language haiku where the focus is less on syllable count and more on capturing a moment (as per the Japanese tradition). I prefer to keep my haiku under 13 syllables, but it’s not a steadfast rule.

The appealing element of haiku for me is the focus on a singular moment. All I have to do is look up or conjure a memory of somewhere I’ve been and the words just come. Rarely, do I need more than a few minutes to compose a haiku and it’s always amazing to me that they come so fast.

Overthinking haiku almost diminishes the purpose of a form that is so rooted in Zen. It’s about being one with nature, a moment, or a feeling. If you think too hard, you miss the point.

Black out poetry is very similar. While Zen isn’t the central influence, the idea of singling a few words out of a page of text requires a little selective observation. They key is choosing just a few words that string together. Too many muddles the poem into a long piece of verse that doesn’t make sense. Or worse, the “poem” becomes an overwritten mess!  I liken it to a student highlighting an entire page of text instead of just the important sections!

You have to let go of the instinct to circle every single interesting word. In many ways, it’s a lesson in letting things go and making decisions without fear. Overthinking it makes it impossible to single out the words that work the best together.

For years, free verse was my chosen (non)form. The lack of rules made poetry seem far less daunting. To a certain extent, I still enjoy writing free verse. However, it does take me longer to compose than haiku or black out. The lack of rules is very liberating, but it also widens the field of inspiration and possibilities which can be overwhelming.

No matter what kind of poem I’m writing, I employ one simple strategy: trust my muse. I don’t try to force anything or rack my brain trying to write the perfect poem. The words always come if I just breathe and trust myself to find them.

– – –

c.b.w. 2016

Friend

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It’s been more than a year

since I’ve seen your face,

heard your voice

Rarely a day goes by

where something

doesn’t remind me

that I knew you

and you were special

The books you read

the things you loved

are all still here

Sometimes I smile,

sometimes I cry

Either way the hole

you once filled

remains empty

Despite the distance

of time passing

I still think of you

grateful for the chance

to call you a friend

 

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Words: free-verse, c.b.w. 2015