The End

When the end came it was a surprise to everyone. The sky looked the same as it did the day before. The birds sang and the flowers bloomed. Clouds drifted lazily through a deep blue sky. Children played blissfully unaware of the precious hours they had left. Had there been a way to prevent it, they would surely have tried. The government would have made decrees, issued laws, setup shelters. They knew nothing though. Life, for a time, simply carried on. The people lived in what peace they were accustomed to. Businesses opened on time. Commuters complained about their ride to work. Babies cried. Lovers made love.

Those who had looked to the skies for their destruction for a thousand years would have been disappointed. It didn’t come from the sky. It didn’t come from the land. It simply…came. There was no buildup. No flash. No great explosion. They were there one moment, and not the next. In the wink of an eye an entire species ceased to exist. The remnants of a once great civilization were left behind. Monuments erected to powerful leaders still stood, overlooking empty cities. Artwork hung in halls no one would ever visit. Books on every subject imaginable began to immediately collect dust. Inventions that took lifetimes to perfect stopped working. It was as if, somewhere on a great computer that tracks the universe, someone simply highlighted the entry entitled “Man” and hit delete.

Pompous and arrogant as they were, they would have been shocked to learn that the other species that had shared the land with them gave no notice of the change. Birds sang. Flowers bloomed. Clouds drifted lazily through a deep blue sky.

 

This is a silly little story that I wrote almost entirely on my Kindle Fire. I got the idea after having to delete some characters I was making for one of my animation projects. Just got to thinking how easy it might be for God to just hit that key and start over.

Some Days I Wake Up,

Some Days I Wake Up,

and feel the World is mine.
It belongs only
to me,
and I may do with it
as I please.
I may keep it,
or throw it away.
I may bite into it
and savor the juices
as they stream down my arms,
sticky and sweet.
The World is mine,
and mine alone.

The World
is a friend.
We laugh and dance,
and play together,
children of the same
fertile Mother.
We use the Moon as a ball
and run like Wind,
toward the promise of
Everything.

Some days I wake up
and feel the World is mine.

Does Your Poem Mean What You Think it Does?

In his book Passing Through-The Later Poems New and Selected by Stanley Kunitz says “Poetry, I have insisted, is ultimately mythology, the telling of the stories of the soul.” I have often said of my poems, that I write stories in the form of poems. I think that it is much the same for every poet. Personally, when I write a poem I do not necessarily have a message that the reader is supposed to “learn” from the reading. I am simply telling a story, with a purpose. The purpose is, more times than not, to get what I am feeling out and onto the paper. Poetry is a much more personal endeavor than writing a short story, or even a novel. The poet must allow the reader into the hidden depths that one would normally keep private and shut away. I have admitted to things in a poem that I would never admit to in conversation. Still, I find at times that the story behind the poem is often missed. While this does not offend me, it does sometimes disappoint. If you have read any of my work, it would not take you long to put together a picture of me. I am a lonely guy who is not sure of his place in this world, nor my value to it. I write poems in an attempt to connect with others in some way. A good example of this would be a recent poem I wrote called Why I Write Poems.

Now that I have a little of the introduction out of the way let us get to the point of this article. The meaning of poems. A few weeks ago I showed a poem of mine to a coworker/friend and asked her to tell me what she thought of it. The poem is I Dreamt of Roses. I ask you to do an exercise and go and read the poem before you continue with this article, to get an idea of what you think it is supposed to mean.

*pausing for you to read the poem*

I am not sure where I heard, or who said this, but I remember hearing/reading this somewhere a long time ago…A person comes into a poem with all of their baggage, experience and memories. They look at a poem through their eyes and not the poets. Whatever meaning a person gets from a particular poem is their meaning. It is no less correct than the meaning any other reader might get. A poem is not a static thing, but lives and breathes and changes depending upon the readers experiences in their own life. Once I learned this I actually started to enjoy writing poems a bit more. I didn’t need to have the reader “get” what I wanted out of the poem. It took some pressure off in a way.

Still… there are times when I wish what I meant to say did get through. In the example of I Dreamt of Roses, I had something that I wanted to get across. The poem was based upon an actual dream I had. The dream, as mine sometimes do, lingered with me for a few days. When I read the poem I can still feel the pain of the dream. The friend I showed the poem to said it was “Cute” (you know, because it has a cat in it).

So, do your poems mean what you think they do? The answer is, of course they do, but they also mean whatever it is they mean to the reader, even if your heart if breaking and they think it is cute.

Leave a comment and talk about some of your experiences. I would love to hear from you.

 

How do you write your poems

I hate to admit that I am old enough to have written stuff on a manual typewriter. You know… the ones that if you typed to fast, or just mashed the keys, because it was fun, all the keys would get stuck together. I used to spend a good deal of time trying to get all of the keys to stick at once. There was always one or two that just wouldn’t fit. Now I have two laptops, a work desktop, smart phone and a Kindle Fire, all capable of doing what the old typewriter only dreamed of. Over the years I have used all of these to write one story or another, create project proposals, and essays for school. They are great tools without a doubt. However, for me they don’t work for poetry.

I have to write my poems with pencil and paper. It really needs to be pencil. A pen will work if there isn’t a pencil handy (I keep two or three pencils around at all times), but I just don’t get the same feel from a pen that I do from a pencil. The type of paper makes no difference. I have written on standard paper, sticky notes, note pads, bar napkins, and even the back of “This is your final notice” envelopes. There is a different feeling I get when I write a poem with pencil and paper. I feel more connected to the words, more in tune with the emotion.

Perhaps it is because poems are more visual that this works for me. Poems are living, breathing things. They evolve more quickly than a story does. For me it is much easier to lay out the poem, move things around, rewrite and adjust them as I want on paper, than it is in a word processing program. This might seem counter intuitive since it is actually much easier to edit on a computer than on paper. I don’t actually move anything on paper. I draw lines through words I want to remove, only one line in case I change my mind. I use arrows to indicate this stanza should now go bellow this one. What is that little thing that means “insert here” a carat? I forget, but I use that a lot as well. Before I bring a poem into a MS Word they can look like a bad diagram of some obscure government regulation.

Original draft of 700 Light-Years from Home

Original draft of 700 Light-Years from Home

I set out once to write a poem totally in a digital environment. I failed miserably. I just couldn’t get any feeling or connection with what I was writing. So now I work exclusively with pen (or other writing tool if I must, yes I have used crayon) and paper.

How do you write your poems? Do you have some special thing you have to do first, some special place you have to go? I would be very interested in hearing from fellow poets on how they write down their poems. Please enter a comment and let me know your method.