Learning to love, write, and read poetry has touched my soul and permanently changed my writing for the better. I don't think poetry will have the same impact on every writer, but I think any writer who doesn't give it a chance is losing something valuable.
On Thursday I will be doing a post more in-depth about how poetry has changed my writing. For now I will leave you with a poem of mine published in the New Mexico journal, Scribendi. I'm sharing this particular poem because it is a good example of mixing prose with poetry, and shows how poetry does not have to rhyme nor contain a predictable rhythm, nor follow a specific pre-determined pattern.
The Sky Was Bluer Then, and Smoke More White
When my grandfather burned the leaves each late October, he made it a ritual, standing near the pyramid of brittle reds and browns, pitchfork in one hand, cold air in another, wool sweater bunched in creases around arms and waist like the wrinkles on his forehead, like smoke folding to sky. He didn’t like to stand alone.
Wear these gloves when you
go help your grandfather
I used to help him when I was your age.
Standing near his giant frame,
myself only four feet tall—
tall as the burning pyramid,
except it is shrinking.
Grandpa’s hand on my back,
no longer filled with cold,
but my hair as he smooths
it around my shoulders, his voice
deep and warm, his words
constant like fire making smoke.
My grandfather drank coffee in the mornings and sang me songs afterward, his breath rich with hazelnut and cream. When he burned the leaves, he told me stories of shirtless Indians, red under their globe of sun, dancing around their own fires in prayer. The sky was bluer then, and smoke more white. When it rose to the sky in spiraling columns, it carried words of prayers on wings so small they only looked like smoke. If the leaves or wood or corn stalks were ripe, their white wings would lift to gods in praise.
Watching smoke lift
to gods, like steam rising
to Grandpa’s face when he drinks coffee,
surrounded by prayers
and praise, his forehead
a cloud, his eyes stars.
Listening to flames lick
red, devouring the paper
of trees, holding this
image of burning season
with images of Grandpa
commanding fire with a pitchfork.
Come in, get warm
I used to stand out there in the snow,
those leaves burning charcoal-hot and hissing.
When the apples grew ripe on the tree near my bedroom window, my grandfather hoisted me onto his shoulders so I could reach the highest ones. If some were rotten, we threw them in the pyramid of leaves for burning. They were bright points of green in the fire, and their waxy skin spit madly when it grew hot with flame. My grandfather laughed at the spitting and told me it was their song; if they could, they would dance.
Thank you for reading! I'd like to know from all of you, if you have a few moments, if you (a) like poetry or dislike it like I used to, (b) if you currently write poetry/have any published and where, and (c) if you're interested in learning more about poetry and how it can possibly help your writing