I Stopped Writing Poetry

11/2010

I stopped writing poetry
because I had a day job and night job
and both left little time for socializing,
so I sacrificed poetry in order to
go to late night movies, to travel,
veg out in front of a TV because
I didn’t want to feel – I was over it –
and poetry made me feel.

I stopped writing poetry because I fell in love
And everything I wrote was clichéd, Hallmark
Versions of serious poetry, and
If I couldn’t write serious poetry, then
why write poetry at all?

I stopped writing poetry when the
Scribbled verses I clutched in my lined paper
Were savagely stricken with black ink
By a “real” poet who told me I was no poet;
He circled only two words in those four verses
And said, “Here, you may have a poem.”

I stopped writing poetry when
Every poem I wrote fell into a
Been-there, done-that
Category. No originality,
The “real” poet told me. You’re
Too late. Find something new.
Writing about a Latino identity is so
Nineteen-eighties. Perhaps if I’d been
In my twenties, or thirties then, and
Not still in elementary school,
Well, maybe then I would’ve kept writing poetry.

I stopped writing poetry when I started
Writing prose, because I was a good writer,
but a bad poet. I had stories to tell and
Those took more white space than a poem did,
though I never really stopped writing poems.
Nestled in my prose, were poems,
But not poems of a “real” poet, so I stopped writing
Deliberate poems

Except when I hurt
Or when the hurdle of emotions become
Too much to write in prose.
When I have to seek the better evil of
Writing or paying someone for my sanity.
Then I write poems.

Broken

Broken

The aluminum shingles of the trailer
are bent, uneven, black; mildew
is now part of the structure,
the aged door on rusty hinges lies
silent, and shards of broken glass
silhouette the window:
mine
home,
sanctuary.
A quarter smile on her ebony face,
on her wrinkled lips, parched,
a single message clutched
against the jacket and
mismatched shirt and pants
that protect her body from the cold.
Her sneakers are torn and untied;
she has forgotten
fashion, colors, comfort,
bubble baths before bed,
pot roast for dinner,
champagne for a toast; she’s
weary
sluggish
disheveled.
She knows it’s coming, but she’s not
afraid. She fears him more, he who had
gone, discarded her. She lowers herself
on the worn-out rocking chair
and closes her eyes,
broken.

A Poem: God, why hast thou forsaken us?

*Note: this is still a work in progress; this is a second draft.

She is silent, a small and still frame by the river’s edge.
She is half-submerged in the obscure waters,
surrounded by desolation, anguish, destruction.
God, why hast thou forsaken us?

She hears whimpers and screams on the water’s surface.
Muddied souls, near death, surround her;
She is their pain; she is their suffering.
God, why hast thou forsaken us?

She sees hooded figures, shadows of dark robes,
wrinkled by the day’s calling. They reach for her
and for those around her.
God, why hast thou forsaken us?

She looks at them, knowing them,
half frightened, part curious,
but she is still, waiting.
God, why hast thou forsaken us?

She tries to fall on her knees,
to cry out towards the heavens
in indignation, anger, and fear.
God, why hast thou forsaken us?

She tries to speak the words she’s
desperate to say: God, why?
but the question evaporates
before it has time to condense into sound.
She pleads, her eyes fixed
on the clouds above her,
sparse cotton painting the azure sky.
She receives silence from above,
but below her, the ground rumbles,
trembles fiercely; the earth moves,
cracks, crumbles, collapses.
The river rises.
Mama, she whispers. Papa.
But the first waters had taken them home.
She’s going to join them soon.
God, why hast thou forsaken me?

She is silent now, her eyes resting.
The wind cools her but she’s not afraid.
She sees Mama and Papa coming for her;
they are smiling.
God, you have not forsaken me.