Friday, March 26, 2010

Poems within Poems

by Annie Wyndham

My hidden
thoughts and unsaid words
collect and build in
pools of angst, like tortured poems
that try to say that things are not okay
These never-finished poems-to-be,
are struggling to escape their tomb.
             They search for meaning to emerge 
which they can not discern. 
It's not a game (though sometimes so) to make as poems
the words that flow like rays of light on window pane
into a mind asleep,  but all 
 too often what you get  is simply soup (and lacking worth).
Down deep inside you know it's doomed, and that it will just fail. 
And yet, one grows, in leaps and turns:  Like
  learning from the masters that this
effort is of value, yet, to writers--one by one.


Introducing the Players:

The first eight bolded words of this poem arrived in my head this morning, verbatim, as I was waking up, barging into my consciousness, demanding to be let out--as a poem--but insisting that it be gradual, and somewhat camouflaged, due to extreme shyness.  So I had to find a way to embed them in another poem, and lest they go completely unnoticed,  I gave them their own boldy black badge of color (they fought me on this), as their blue word-cousins attempt to explain the situation.  Together, they constitute an example of what happens when words start taking over, moving in when you least expect (or even want) them to, taking up residence in the subconscious, forcing you to listen.

The blue words then, of course, started complaining that the black words get more recognition here. And  the black words, despite eventuallly becoming accustomed to sharing the stage with the blue words, resented my assessment that they haven't yet quite mastered the art of poem-making--that they only achieved poetic merit here in collaboration with the blue words, who will probably hog all the credit.  The black words initially considered striking ("Without us black boldy words, you blue words, standing alone, are simply unintelligible!"). Sigh.  And as if that's not bad enough, both blue and black words wanted me to "make it sing".

This is what happens when words start taking over your writing life. In the end, however, reason prevailed  After all, I am the one with the pen.  I decide who goes where and what costume they'll wear or not wear.  Apprentice or not, I call the shots here, guys.  (They've all suddenly gone silent.  Good.  Now I can get some work done.)

*Engineering Note: The challenge was to write a poem within a poem.  Had I not bolded those pesky bold words that tumbled out of my head this morning, no one would have ever noticed.  After writing the poem, however, on reading it aloud, I began to be aware of an almost-cadence, as if there were an invisible metronome in the background, ticking away.  I decided to tweak it a little bit, because some of the words now seemed out of step with that invisible metronome.

Haiku usually has 3 lines totalling 17 syllables, distributed in a 5-7-5 pattern.  My poem seemed to be marching to an 8-8-8-6 rhythm for some reason.  (This is a case of the poem telling the poet that it has a different rhythm in mind.  Everyone knows that a poet's forcing words to march to a tune they aren't comfortable with will result in a crappy poem.)  So I broke it into five groups of 4 lines each, the first 3 lines each having a total of 8 syllables, and the last line, only 6. But separating the groups and chopping it up graphically gave it a bizarre appearance and the words insisted I return it to its original format.  So readers will just have to intuit where each group begins and ends.  (I'll give you a hint:  The first word in each group is:  (1) "My", (2) "These", (3) "It's", (4) "but", (5) "And".  (This may be of interest only to fellow word-game players and poem-picker-aparters.  I only include it as an afterthought.)

P.S.  Would you believe, now they're fighting over the darn title!!  The blues are accusing the Bold and the Brazen, as they've dubbed them, of usurping the podium!!

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