Survival Guide for Poets

I feel an amorphous weight inside. I think it is because of the new series of poems I am writing. Or attempting to write. Honesty does not come easy. Words that should want to break free of restraint and guilt, sit and stare at you with soft, reproachful eyes. I have backspaced more than I have written. I have written more than I thought I could. There is still a mountain to climb. One step up, two steps down. One poem in. Two poems out. The mornings are weary of my wounds. The night refuses to listen.

I read instead of writing. Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’. I read a little. I backspace some more. I meet friends, people who may be friends. I talk a little. I backspace even more.

Austen’s Anne says in the book, “that she thought it was the misfortune of poetry, to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely; and that the strong feelings which alone could estimate it truly, were the very feelings which ought to taste it but sparingly.”

I wonder if poetry should be enjoyed safely. I wonder if it should sear and chill and raise and drown. Both poet and reader. Austen in her dulcet voice sounds a note of caution. For both poet and reader. So, I ask myself as Rilke commands. Must I write?

As if questions matter anymore. Or caution. Or feelings.

I read Darwish. Because that is the horizon. Because he can find paths through trees that don’t know they are forests.

The horse fell bloodied
with my poem
and I fell bloodied
with the horse’s blood …

( The Horse Fell Off the Poem – Mahmoud Darwish)

I read it again. And again. I backspace until all there is, is a universe, a horse, a weight, a blinking cursor.

6 thoughts on “Survival Guide for Poets

  1. This in itself is wonderful writing!

    Oh, I know so well: ‘Honesty does not come easy. Words that should want to break free of restraint and guilt, sit and stare at you with soft, reproachful eyes. I have backspaced more than I have written. I have written more than I thought I could. There is still a mountain to climb.’ You’ve said it perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

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