Although there is hope for a comeback, it seems poetry in written form is all but an extinct art these days. If not for social media and writers like Morgan Harper Nichols and the alias Atticus, there’s a good chance our generation would carry no concern for the continuation of modern poetry.
While words and language have always come easy for me, I think I was seven years old when I first fell in love with poetry, after winning a ribbon (2nd, I think) for memorizing and reciting a poem. Not long after that, I started composing my own, writing down whatever inspired me from time to time.
My most productive poetry writing days were definitely in high school, however, when I eagerly took a creative writing class that challenged me to find inspiration instead of waiting for it to come to me. I also had an encouraging teacher who persuaded me to submit work into two young adult poetry contests, resulting in publication of both submissions and being one of ten winners (out of probably a few hundred or so) for one.
I look back now and realize it was a small feat, but at the time it only fueled my passion for writing that much more.
I think what I love most about it is that as much as people have tried to apply rules to it over the years, groaning at rhymes and wagging fingers at abundant punctuation or lower case personal pronouns, writers like e.e. cummings roll their eyes and call it bologna–you can’t argue with style.
Unfortunately, I don’t write poetry as much nowadays, but not for lack of desire. I guess I now know what people mean about losing steam on your dreams once adulthood waves hello.
I feel silly even saying I’m a writer sometimes, due to my lack of consistency, skill, and the fact that it just sounds so hipster and dramatic. Nevertheless, I can’t get away from it. I may go a while without writing but somehow, eventually, I find myself back behind a pen and a notebook again.
Anyway, I thought since April is National Poetry Month, the best way to celebrate and get the word out (literally, aha) would be to post some poems I’ve written within the past decade, or more.
I have to admit this is kind of hard for me–for some reason poetry is personal even if the subject or material has absolutely no relation to my own experiences.
Feel free to critique and comment away, though.
So without further ado…
This is my escape:
Inside pages of the alphabet
Where whispers cry out
But there’s no sound.
This is my hiding place:
this is my creation;
the ending demolition
of a language twisted
Antagonistic of limp-wristed
This is my design.
Let’s go FLY over the [world]
A love I cannot comprehend;
A grace that took my heart to mend;
Blood-stained and battered—
Like a valiant soldier—
Love conquered my enemies;
Love slew death.
I stopped the world for you to breathe.
I halted the earthquake;
I blew away the wind.
I stepped into that line of fire;
I took the bullet just for you.
Signing off my fate on the dotted line,
I gave you every bit of my strength.
In the shadows I defended you;
I held the candle in the dark.
When the enemy surrounded you
I rushed to make your rescue.
I have loved love you unconditionally.
But you still won’t let me in.
Maybe you think you’ve too far to go,
that you won’t make it in time.
The way you take feels like deja vu
because you’re on your second climb.
You’ve been on the mountain top before,
but the strength in your body won’t get you there now;
this round will take grit from your soul
and a faith that will not bow.
Maybe you’ve swam across rivers
where bridges have been burned;
maybe you’ve stumbled down hazardous paths,
but the important part is you’ve learned.
The terrain isn’t in your favor–
you’ve struggled through every inch.
You’re wiser now and stronger too
but your past still makes you flinch.
Maybe you think no one believes you’ll make it,
like you’re trudging uphill alone.
Maybe you’re still itching at the scars and scabs
where the sticks and stones were thrown.
‘Cause the hands that once placed you on the pedestal
were the same that knocked you down;
those you once called friends before
were quick to steal your crown.
But in the midst of all the pointed fingers,
listen for the clapping behind.
If it’s too dark for you to see,
hold out your hand and you’ll find mine.
Maybe you shouldn’t look up at the peak,
but take each step the light shows.
Lean on me, it’s okay to be weak–
that’s how character grows.
The journey and the view will be worth it;
either way, you win.
Soon enough you’ll look back and see
how far you’ve come from where you’ve been.
You attempted to paint over all your scars
in false belief that they would heal–
that you would forget.
Now, all the layers are suffocating,
and your heart wants free
of all the lies you bound it with.
Don’t you remember?
Blood still drips
from slabs of rugged wood,
all because of passionate, desperate,
that wrenched a perfect heart one day.
Your face was at
the forefront of His mind–
and it’s there, at His feet,
where you need to leave
these burdens behind.
there goes my inspiration
there goes my hero
my heart chokes on the words which
weigh down the corners of my lips;
the broken record spins in my head,
I can’t stop it any more than I
can stop you
there goes my breath
there goes my sanity
the only one that I understood—
the only one with the capability
of hurting me
there goes my battle
there goes my tantamount
never thought I’d meet my match—
you were always worth the fight;
we each tore down the other’s walls
and repaired the broken blocks
there goes my escape
there goes my adventure
say good-bye to the illusion
welcome the daylight—
time is back to reign again—
but, oh, you were a lovely season.
Call to Action
Let all the poets and playwrights unite,
aiming their words like weapons at
the terrors in plain sight;
seeking a mutual muse among the mess–
sending a signal for those
drowning in darkness.
May they dip their pens into the depths
like an arm outstretched to rescue those
who sink deep with each step;
singing a soulful, silent song,
to empower the weak and
redeem the wronged.
May they write out both the wisdom and woes;
telling truths from the tips of their tongues
to a world composed of foes;
exposing the evils that hide behind masks–
pouring out the poison that’s been
filled into our flasks.
Let all the artists and all who dream
meet together on common ground
to remind mankind of the unseen;
letting the language of love leak out–
acting out faith and handing out hope,
because we shouldn’t have to shout.
Don’t be too quick
to place a period
where a comma could be best;
your pages are still being written–
by an Author who knows no rest.
Your story is unfinished business,
a timeless tale of twists
don’t say too soon
that your character is complete–
growth only occurs
when one learns.
Don’t limit yourself;
don’t shut out the Muse.
There’s great potential to
but to achieve it
you must choose
to scratch out all cliches
and loosen your grip on the pen.
Remember, a climax is built
and some of the best chapters
are towards the end.
She smiled at the horizon like it was an old, familiar friend,
reading, understanding, the fading shades
of tangerine and pink lemonades;
on the wind she heard the silent promises
that she knew were always kept.
“You really are something, You know?”
Because of course He did–
but she knew He loved to hear it from her lips.
even though you were far away.
until we rest,
Tomorrow I’ll show her, her words didn’t faze me,
I offered to stand by you,
to fight all your demons head-on
My hand was open–arm reaching
like a sturdy limb stretched to
a gaping window
in a house
engulfed in flames.
But I learned I can’t be
I’ve played a doormat well–
so well I’ve gone unnoticed.
I’ve called and I’ve listened.
I’ve invited and I’ve written.
And I’ve waited.
these ten phalanges.
These tough, young, stubby, boyish fingers
that don’t match my girlish figure.
They stay cut and calloused.
Ocean water veins protrude in bubbly,
working the catwalk runway of my arm
back and forth
from the blood-beating organ within me.
Wide, scarred knuckles
deny the right of passage for
for these hands are much too
preoccupied to handle trinkets.
Tinged pink, cool, but sweaty,
these extremities live to work–
invigorated by accomplishing
their daily missions.
Overlooked and underpaid,
but they keep working,
They write, they hold, they pet.
These hands surf the wind
outside car windows.
These hands wipe at tears–
my own, and others.
These hands animate:
covering the mouth when it gasps,
shielding the eyes from
and exploding like rockets to the sky
when the heart boisterously
cheers from inside.
These hands can cause harm,
with a stinging slap
or rock solid, round right.
These hands can make mischief:
tickling siblings and sneaking cookies.
They guide blown kisses;
they wave goodbye
when words are too shy.
These hands worship and
they fold to pray
to the Being who created them
with such tender imagination.
He knows every scar on these hands,
and every story behind it.
He knows the curves, the rivets,
the lines like valleys,
for He skillfully sketched
These hands leave traces
with every touch.
Some days it’s all I can do to dam up the tear gates;
some nights, sleep is sweet until
I awake to face the nightmares.
I’m fighting evils in the back alleys
of broad daylight
where no one can see.
Most days I suspect
that the resistance is only me.
It’s hard to stay soft in a world like ours;
it’ll cost a heavy price to preserve a tender heart;
you’ll be tempted to hide your love behind bars of flesh and rib
from a world so undeserving, but I urge you to let it live.
It’s a battle to stay warm toward a world so cold
it threatens to freeze the kindness on your lips
but I think it’s worth the risk;
but I still continue to care, I confess.
It’ll hurt your heart to wear it inside out, but I tell you it’s worth it,
without a doubt.
It’ll leave you with bruises and scrapes,
shoving your way against the grain,
but I promise the outcome is worth the pain.
It’s a rare thing to weep for a world that laughs in your face,
but tears, like raindrops, always find their place.
Don’t be fearful of feelings and how deep they run;
they’ll be worth all the heartache when all is said and done.
Yes, the world will minimize and criticize you, too;
it’ll say the only way to survive is be true to only you.
It’ll beat you like leather and try to turn you into rock;
but do the opposite and it’ll be worth it:
even though it’s so hard, stay soft.