By the year 2010 I had written a total nineteen poems—ever—and wanted to know if I should write more. I thought my work was pretty good, but wanted to know how others saw it. The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, to which I belong, was holding its annual Literary Contest, and for an entry fee of $35.00 one would receive two critiques from publishing professionals. I submitted the required three poems and, to my surprise, in June I was advised I was a finalist. I learned that the competition had received submissions by more than 1,200 contestants from around the world, so you can imagine my utter shock when, at the Summer Conference’s awards dinner, I was told I had been awarded third place in the poetry category! The piece that follows is one of my winning entries.
For me, poetry is a way to quickly arrive at a truth that might require pages if I chose to approach it through prose. Unlike prose that appeals to the left, logical, linear brain, poetry appeals to the intuition and the emotions. It uses imagery to make its point and can jump from A to M to Z without plodding through the entire alphabet to get there. Unfortunately, many readers don’t readily adapt to the super-logical leaps of the right brain, and the farther from the linear the poet strays, the more unlike prose the writing, the smaller his/her audience becomes. To avoid this pitfall, I employ a conversational style in an attempt to attach a familiar feeling to my verse.
I wrote Lost before I met my wife, when I said good-bye to a woman who was still clinging to a former lover. He had abandoned her when he descended into clinical depression.
How do you perceive the wound
That originates your intentions
And tinges your desires?
Do you see how it constricts your laughter
And frames your words?
I ask because you nurture it so,
Almost naming it,
Constantly probing its edges
To keep alive
The delicious agony of your rejection.
Does the ghost whose name intrudes
Upon every turning of our conversation,
Precluding any intimacy,
Still inhabit your reveries?
He’s gone, you know.
Like virga, his memories
Will not slake your desires.
I can only speculate to what extent
The pall of his desertion
Is cast across your parched heartscape.
Drawn to my fullest
I could never equal that span.
So what of today?
I have brought you laughter and patience:
A map by which to find yourself.
It lies unexamined, not even puzzled over.
I thought at least it would provoke a smile,
Yet you have not even recognized
The simple treasure it contains.
Then how shall we proceed?
Perhaps when you tire of
This sad preoccupation
And understand the loss was never him,
You’ll dare once more to hazard life.