Creativity is a terrible thing,
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,
You’d trade your grandmother for it
Were she still around.
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
You shouldn’t have written that poem, he said.
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.
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?