I’ve been writing a daily poem for more than seven years. Many mornings, I find myself writing poems about my difficulty with writing poems and saying something new, one of my many obsessions. My poems are often an intersection of my history and today’s events. I hope to arrive at an unexpected insight.
How to be a Writer
Start with a phrase, unless you prefer
an image such as an open red umbrella
drying in the center of a living room
between brown leather couches. Or choose
a word that operates as several parts
of speech— point, sack, wind. Write whatever
next comes to mind: a personal list of obscure
connections, memories, sensations. Hike
down the path of associations that point
to anecdotes and family lore, fallen
branches and the women who hung on
despite the weight of labor they carried
in brown paper sacks, mesh totes, white buckets.
See muscles and tendons strain as one lifts
these to the Formica counter where
two black poodles, noses pointing, sit
and wait at her feet. Inventory the sounds
and scents these bags trail, the encyclopedia
of travel on the woman’s shoes. Write longhand
on blank white pages of handmade paper
in the ink of your favorite color. Keep
writing until the bell rings. Did you forget
to set a timer? Do it over. And over. Catalog
the secrets you won’t unwind for anyone,
what you’re sure you can never write about.
Here are the subjects others will most want
to read. Settle into your life’s work. Make your
point at the risk of being sacked. Focus.
© 2019 Joan Mazza
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