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…..at poetry class

I’m taking a poetry class. It scares the snot out of me.  I had almost expected to start crying when my poem got feedback last week. But I didn’t.

I haven’t taken a class like this since college and what I remember of it was one poem I wrote and the attention lavished on one of the students by the instructor (student = female, etc.)  I’m sure what really went on was far from my truth.  These are the things I remember and this is a kind of truth.

We’ve met twice now, and it seems like most of my classmates have take at least one class here before. I feel a bit odd woman out and I think John, our teacher, may have a bit of wonder what I’m doing here since the topic is about “practice.”  It is true I want to improve my practice, harness the inspiration in a more discerning way. But I also approach my writing organically and it seems like my best poem come from inspiration rather than perspiration.

In our first session together, we had a lengthy discussion about when a poem is “done”. I should say they did as I didn’t really participate, not quite willing to own up to feeling many of my poems are “done” when I’m done writing them.  There was a quote in a reading we had for next week about poems being not so much done as abandoned. Perhaps that’s really what I’m doing.  In any case, these heady thoughts about examining doneness intimidated me.  Do good poets, good writers spend as much time in self-examination as they do in writing?  And if so, how do I fit into that if I feel a bit rebellious at the thought.

Nonetheless, I signed up for the class. No one made me do it.  I’m the one making the commitment to learn something new and practice discipline.  Discipline has been growing, it’s taken me a very long time to see the benefit in it, as well as fit it into my day.

This is a poem I’m working on that may or may not be the poem I present to class.  I welcome feedback.


My desk

My desk is cluttered.
It’s not even a desk, it’s a table
shared with my husband
full of the day’s rubble.

I sit at it, to practice
taking prompts, detritus
picking up stale incidents
picking them all apart, digging with my stylus

Easily diverted by the nearby clutter
by the phone, by every passing insect
that beats against the window
The concrete presses against the abstract.

I am here for habit’s sake
to make a ritual, to routinize
inspirations novel jape
contain it to be my acolyte

not merely my stimulation.

My desk is disorderly
If neatness counts, my muse
will visit me reluctantly
too  much around impedes her view.

Meanwhile revelations come to me
not at my desk but other times
throughout the day while traveling
riding my bike, driving

I have to pull over, stop, dig out
my writing tools, make way
for what I can’t ignore
for what must be conveyed.

My desk, meanwhile, waits.