Friday, September 23, 2011

Poetic License... to Kill

The author, left, pondering existence on his friend's knees.

by Brendan Cavanagh

As a budding English / Education major, I am required to take a creative writing class focused on either prose fiction or poetry. My good friend, already a practicing amateur poetry and song writer, opted for the latter, hoping the class could hone our skills for future self-indulgence and potential school-wide publication. Instead of eating dinner at five o'clock like I do every day, I vindictively throw off my mutinous stomach and metabolism on Monday afternoons and instead attend the only poetry class of the week, from 3:50 to 6:30.

So far, the class has been amazingly fruitful, instilling in me the intestinal fortitude to write poems casually throughout the day into a pocket-sized spiral notebook- when I'm not already memorizing alluring alliterations I can tell flow together well or texting myself concepts for future poems. And what I love about writing poems- what the pious love about prayer- is that I can do it at any time of the day, in any location, in any fashion I choose. And I could potentially do this for the rest of my life and never tire of it. There is an endless array of words and sounds and ideas to play around with- unlike your favorite James Bond game on Playstation 2 that's a little too easy to beat, or that novel you love that seems to end all too soon. Unless, like me, you sit down to write something unique and inventive and find that the only words you can cull are obscure lyrics from your favorite songs. But that'll pass if I am feeling particularly inspired.

For instance, there was a period of about a week and a half earlier this semester where I'd ride my bike to the Butler Prairie on the far end of the campus across the canal and hike through spiderweb-ridden forest trails to a secluded spot on the bank beside the hidden White River. There I'd sit on the massive, mangled roots of an ancient tree and read under the shade, and hopefully incite the burning poet inside me to break free ablazin'.
But I digress. The point is, having an inspiring location is just one of the many ways in which to relax and write freely, from the soul, without over-thinking.
After much deliberation, I've decided to just go ahead and post a poem I wrote to be workshopped in class last Monday. It loosely evokes what I saw and felt on a solo walk around the campus' neighboring neighborhoods. I unfortunately haven't sat down to revise or alter it since it was openly critiqued in front of me in class (I wasn't allowed to speak until afterward) by my cliche, free-minded, aging hippie teacher, the reserved, ambiguously-aged teaching assistant and hodge podge assortment of classmates. It was tough to watch people pick out little things in my poem that they didn't made sense or sounded good, lines or images that I thought were subtly nuanced. But it was a healthy critique- I'm glad to have gotten much written and oral feedback on my work so that I can improve upon it more adequately in the future. Anyway, I haven't changed anything  except I broke up the lines into smaller, more readable lines (at the unanimous behest of my class) for your benefit. Here it is, without a title and in an inexplicably different typeface, so interpret at your own leisure:

The setting sun beams on rusted reams

of rising dust emanating from pickup truck pipe dreams,

and I

(along the narrow path I tread,

peering silently at the serene sight taking place

before me)

adrift in the palpably hovering mist,

like a motionless spider

resting among the clouds on a lofted window.

Beneath a withering willow tree I see

each of the ninety billion particles of

light peeping through the tinted horizon.

A lone

sparrow calls from atop a tall brick wall,

falls to the freshly trimmed lawn and calls again.


the time for sunglasses has passed,

Though, boldly advertising

name-brand plastic black frames,

I shamelessly remain walking

upright through the silent, stiff chill of twilight.

Shivering in misery

below the moon's stellar gloom,

I shuffle home alone as

night begins to settle in.

.                            .                             .

Don't ever tell yourself you can't write poetry! Anyone can write poetry. Even the 6'5" athletic, senior frat guy in my class. Nice guy with- unbeknownst to him- a surprisingly melodic ear for sound which gradually emerges from within after rigorous practice. So if you have only ever written bland, automated haikus about Autumn Leaves for mandatory junior high assignments, or you want to write poetry but doubt yourself, or your favorite poem can be found on the funny pages of Hustler, take some time out every now and then to see what you can create. You'd be surprised what you can produce with a little motivation and imagination

1 comment:

  1. This is unquestionably the coolest title and opening picture in Classic Brian history.

    Also, you're better with repetition of sounds than I am.