To be a Poet Laureate

My poetry always ends up sounding like something out of a yet to be discovered Shell Silverstein book. I read Where the Sidewalk Ends, when I was little, not Robert Frost, and my young mind appears to have soaked up every bit and stored it away. I feel like I have some sort of bizarre, latent gift that surfaces every once in a while, briefly, and then leaves. Or rather the desire departs from me.

Words are so difficult to arrange. My favorite book is The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia Mckillip. It’s on of her earlier works, and it also garnered her a World Fantasy Award. When I had discovered it for the first time, I had been attracted to the woman on the cover with dark eyes and white hair, standing serenely beside a lion. It smelt musty, like an old dust jacket, but inside there had slept a different world that came to life wherever my eyes touched. She wrote, I discovered, as if she had been handed a specific number of words, and she had rearranged them into what they had always intended themselves to be. I didn’t know it at the time, but something caught in me when I read that book. That fantasy novel was not like the ones that lined the shelves at my local thrift store, with gaudy, glossy covers of women in tight leather, riding dragons, red and purple and black splashed heedlessly through the illustration. I wasn’t listening to a middle aged woman venting her vivid, fantastical dreams. It was carefully sculpted and lyrical. It was warm, yet precisely refined, like a diamond. I then and there if I could write like that, then that would be enough. To paint with my words without seeming melodramatic, and to relate my dreams without growing lost in the sea of voices.

To write not one word more, or less, than is needed. That is my struggle.

Now, my poetry. The very idea seems ludicrous. Me? My poetry? It always leans either to the whimsical or the deep, heavy stuff the heart is made of, and is rarely, if it ever was, good at all. Yet none the less, there are those moments where I pick up a pen, and I begin to write. Words start filling the page and all I can do when it’s over is stare at them and wonder where they came from. All my other writing is vastly different. Like right now, for example. My regular compositions often reflect what I happen to be reading at the moment (for the curious: Laurie R. King’s God of the Hive). That truth has often put me in odd bearings depending on the quality of my sources. I’ve noticed that if I don’t read at all, my writing suffers, and if I read books that are beyond my comprehension, my brain absorbs, quite hungrily, I must say, and adapts in ways I am only aware of when I write. And my writing also is effected by sheer hours I put in writing. I picked up a pencil when I was fourteen, wrote every day, and two years later my writing was often confused for an adult’s. But my poetry.

Ah, there you have it. My poetry is always what it is; in my poetry, behind the rhymes, is the face of my childhood and my grown-up heart, woven inextricably together.



One day under a sky so clear

And a sea so calm

Stood fear

In robes made of the darkest stuff

Whose irises reflected night

And whose breath reached out to spread decay

Whose voice was gravel

low and rough

Would never cease all time to convey

The desperate desire to both run

And stay

Until the heart gave out

And the bravest hand gave way


He simpered in the open ears

Of rulers warming ornate chairs

While men marched quiet to their death

And the children softly wept

Because the quiet in the dark

Consumed the noise of life and took

The hope the heart, it’s treasure, stores


But an army rose to speak

Truth with banners bright

Against the bleak

With light ablaze behind their eyes

And a blade of truth to try

They shook the earth with steps unchanging

Never wavering

And never blinking


He hears a rumble distant, faint

And turns his face to feel the warmth

Of a burning inside the soul

Of worthless men

Of pluck that’s quaint


But distantly

Still yet he hears

Them coming nearer

Across the years

Until at last upon his face

Something far different from a sneer

Overtakes his features, slack

And a foot once planted firm

As if made of stone

Steps back.

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