Creativity is a Terrible Thing

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Creativity is a terrible thing,

He says,

When it gets you in its clutches.

It won’t let you sleep, rest.

It jerks you awake,

Kicks you out of bed,

And before you know it

You’re at the keyboard

At 3 a.m.

Belting out a poem

Belting through the bleariness

To get it down

Then head back to bed

Where it starts again

The brain twitch, the jerk,

The plummet into wakefulness.

You don’t even make a living out of it

But it’s the way you’re living

The gift, equal curse

But when that sweet chariot swoops you up,

Oh the rush, the voltage,

That gift

You’d trade your grandmother for it

Were she still around.

Cauldron of Creation

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I don’t know whether you noticed but when I write a poem I slam it down on the page still white –hot from the cauldron of creation. Only when it cools do I see its cracks and imperfections. This may take minutes, more often hours, sometimes days. One poem took me nine years to write. There’s still a few I’m working on from twenty years back.

Those of you who see the still molten post will be surprised when you see the reworked version solidifying into its present state. Yes, you should edit. The trick is not to edit out the primal energy which birthed the poem.

The Parable of the Pearl Oyster

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I envy the patience of pearl oysters

Which can labour up to twenty years

To produce a pearl of great price.

 

The freshwater ones lacking the deep

Patience of their seawater cousins

Produce a pearl in a mere six.

 

But I have the shallow patience

of a gnat: a poem in a few minutes

else I lose interest.

 

No wonder I produce little of lasting

Value.

You Shouldn’t have Written That

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You shouldn’t have written that poem, he said.

What poem?

That short one about brain tumors.

But I wrote it before her daughter …. I protested.

Doesn’t matter. She needn’t be reminded of it.

I can’t take it back. It’s out there now.

You didn’t have to give her the book the poem was in. Each time she reads it she’ll be reminded.

But …

You could have pulled it, he said. It didn’t have to be there.

He was right. It didn’t. But it was a good poem.  My editor said it had to go in. Anyway it wasn’t about Jess. It was written about a tumor I had seen in Scientific American, how beautiful it was, how like the wings of a butterfly unfurling into the hemispheres of the brain.

 

Are there subjects we should not write about?

 

Collateral Damage from Reading

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You tell yrself

You’ve got to stop reading when you’re feeding yr face

That coffee, wine and honey leave stains

On the crisp, pristine pages but then you think, nah !

They’re the stains of life like grease marks

From yr fingers,

The collateral damage from reading;

Rain spots too when magazine’s are left outside,

Creases from the wind speed reading again

As though the story you found a bore was a real page turner;

Sometimes too blood stains from a nose bleed;

Marks like footprints in the sand saying

That someone’s been there

And, yes, had a good time.