Awaken your muse?
COVID-19 has provided more than ample time for reflection and writing; especially for seniors who live in residential communities and may have fewer opportunities to enjoy safe, socially distanced, outdoor activities. This past spring, before I was able to drive up north and spend the summer with my children and grandchildren, I found enjoyment in the challenge and satisfaction of trying my hand at writing poetry—a genre I was wary of in the past.
As the saying goes, you’re never too old to learn (or is it, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?!). Regardless, before COVID-19 struck, at Marquette, we were fortunate to have a poetry editor in residence, Margaret Simpson, who provided instruction and guidance—including teaching us how to write haiku.
As restrictions are lifted, we look forward to resuming our regular Poets’ Corner meetings—but in the meanwhile, I decided to return to a poem I had started six months ago. My notes included multiple revisions, none of which suited me; so, I went to work again. This self-editing reminded me that writing a poem can feel like a daunting task. It is more than simply putting words together—especially if you must follow a rhythm to suit a particular style of poetry. It takes a special touch but I find the challenge and mental stimulation fun. And writing poetry offers a new freedom for exposing one’s thoughts and feelings that are sometimes more difficult to share in prose.
Is there bad poetry? Probably. But I will let Margaret expand on that, if she wants. The best analogy I can think of is that writing poetry is like writing music. Any of us can sit at a piano and strike the keys, but it takes talent to compose a song. Some people have perfect pitch. How about a poet with “perfect pitch,” as revealed with Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabel Lee”?
To get this “conversation” started, below is the poem I started six months ago and saw fit to revise today. It deals with a subject familiar to all, dreams. Everyone has dreams, the kind you have when asleep, not the aspirations when awake. But dreams can be scary to explain or write about in the here and now and in the analytical way that prose unfolds. The mystery of dreams can be better shared in a poem, and that is what I will try.
I chose to write this poem in haiku style, which means it is three lines with syllables of five, seven, and five in the lines. The individual verses are not good haiku, I am simply borrowing the haiku rhythm to carry my words.
I hope that my sharing this will nudge your muse and get you to write a poem of your own. And then, please share it here.
Day meeting its knell
Greets fluffed pillow, shuttered eyes
Looking inward now.
Sleep arrives with stealth,
Unlocking dreams that cower
In the light of day.
Dreams take our conscious
Fearful scenes abound.
Dreams expose a hidden world
From we know not where.
Dreams recount misdeeds,
Committed and permitted.
Clouded guilt exposed.
Those to serve and things to do
Promised but not done.
Dreams have no limit.
When did I see or do this?
Whose life do I see?
Peaceful or tortured,
Hiding deeply when awake,
Uncaged when sleep comes.
Then morning’s soft glow
Steals dream’s commanding presence.
And a new day starts.
By Savvy Senior
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