4.21.2009

Day 3 -- Open-ended

The last time you...


I can't remember the last time I wrote poetry. It's something I used to do in my angst-filled, melodramatic, hormonal teenaged years. I actually had a poem published in a quite insignificant teen-writer anthology in the late '80s, about my high school crush on a drummer named Paul who used to carry his sticks in his back pocket and smelled of leather and cigarettes and Polo cologne (and probably hair product, too, although I didn't note it at the time because dippity-do gel didn't set the right mood). But somewhere along the way, I got lazy. If I needed just the right mix of sentiment and meter, I'd read someone else's poems. Or copy down the lyrics to a Nirvana song and embed myself in the mind of Kurt Cobain.

Funny thing about writing poetry. I can't seem to do it at the extremes. When I'm in my deepest despair, it's simply too much effort to pick up a pen or sit at my computer and slash open my festering wounds. And when I'm at my most joyful, who the hell has time to write about it -- I want to LIVE it.

Poetry flows from my head when I have just the perfect and equal amounts sorrow and sap. Whoever can figure out how to master that delicate balance...lemme know. I'll pay you a finders' fee.

I love the rhythm of poetry, the way the words feel slipping from my insides, peppering the air, seasoning the page, stroking my psyche. The lines mesh together and wrap around me like the arms of an old friend. They hold me close and whisper in my ear stories of love and loss, longing and light.

I should write more poetry. There are boatloads of shoulds in my life. I should write a book. I should clean my closet. I should not lose my patience with my kid. I should take my library book back. I should lose 20 pounds. I should get my ever-expanding ass to the gym. I should finish knitting that second sock in the pair.

My therapists call them "should statements" -- one of several "unhelpful thought patterns" that conspire to slap me down on a daily basis. Should statements, the experts say, produce a conflict between what you think you ought to do and what you really want to do. Byebye motivation, hello guilt, frustration, and depression.

So, based on my new, post-bipolar-diagnosis way of living, I think maybe I will say, "Screw the poetry." Or, maybe more adaptive and helpful, I could say, "I'll write some poetry...someday."

Whenever the feeling hits.

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