Saturday, February 13, 2010

How very bad poems can heal the spirit

I've been writing, lately, what my critical judging mind calls (very) bad prose poems. These are free verse, plain, and just for me.  They've been helping me with my journal practice.  I write in a journal every day in the morning as a way to ease into the day, get the writing muscle moving, write down my dreams, and get unstuck creatively.  Only sometimes I feel stuck even in my journal writing.

The poems help me out of journal ruts-- when all I seem to write are lists of things I want/need/ can't seem to do, and lots of blah blah about my feelings.  They help me to articulate large experiences in few words when writing in prose seems daunting.

Because I'm letting them be bad, and just for me, they aren't stuck, and don't take long.  Usually they illuminate ideas or feelings.  There is always more of a quality of witness about them.  When I write prose, I'm in it-- mired inside the feelings, actions, ideas.  With poetry, I feel freer.  I feel more spacious.  I don't feel compelled to explain or understand every thought, emotion, or turn of event.  I simply write impressions.

I thought I'd share one of them, written soon after a Dancemeditation workshop at Kripalu with my teacher Dunya.  We had been listening deeply to our bodies.  Some of them are more story-like than this one.  I'm sharing it even though I don't think its a 'good' poem-- (it isn't one that I label very bad, though.  I'm not yet brave enough to share one of those) because it helped me, even though it is a 'list poem', which my poet friends mostly sneer at as a form.  Hoping it will inspire someone else to write their own medicine.

Witnessing the Self

Grinding doubts inside my jaw,
heavy sacks of rain soaked sand.

Inflamed fear inside my face,
swollen passages
with doors on fire.

fingers and toes,
dried leaves possessed
in a windstorm.

Grief-- my heart, no more words for it.

Strong limbs,
ancient oaks unfurling green.

faith-- my breath,
open windows with white curtains
blowing into mystery.

My upper back,
wide oval lilies floating
on a glassy lake the hue of sky.

Passion-- my heart,
blood roses blooming
out of wet earth,

even with the grinding doubts inside my jaw,
heavy sacks of rain soaked sand.


Anonymous said...

I think I might have written this post in another lifetime. :) Love it. Thank you for sharing.

Kate T.W. said...

your welcome :) Just checked out your blog. Can't wait to read more. On your 'about' page you talk about your old journals from your 20's and what to do with them... I think about that, too. I think I might cannibalize mine eventually-- cut and paste bits out of them, turn them into other art for the fun of it.