I don’t have an easy time writing poems that rhyme. Intimidated by Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl, Shakespeare, clever rhymey people everywhere, I find, for the most part, that my rhyming patterns tend to feel a little trite in comparison. But every so often…
Earlier this afternoon, the wind blew me down the hill to my favourite spot on a neighbouring lake. There are 9 tree stumps, sticking up out of the lake in various places near the shore. Each one has a different kind of growth coming from it. Some small trees, some spindly bushes, some just moss and flowers, all very individual. I call them the muses, for good reasons beyond there being nine of them. Actually, it doesn’t go much beyond that. There’s nine of them, everytime I sit near them, the ink flows faster than I can keep up with and I almost always like what comes out.
The poem that appears here is not exactly the one I wrote down earlier this afternoon. Which is a new and glorious feeling for me. The ability to have a moderately critical eye, not to the extent that I criticize and let go of, but understand it’s good, but could be better. If I don’t think it’s great, I’ll delete it, or rip out the page or cross it out, without any regard for the process of getting better. It has to start at better, or best! for me to think it’s worth anything. It’s so damn limiting to have that attitude. I wrote a poem and then I started to edit it and just when I was planning to be distracted by the internet, the wind kicked up a fury and I lost the signal for about 3 hours. Just long enough to finish it. As soon as I was done, the internet started working again. Hmm.
I’ve spent a good portion of my life reading, no devouring books by writers I admire, such as Mr Neil Gaiman, Mr Roald Dahl, Mr Dr Seus, Mr Will Shakspeare, et al. And often I’m left with the feeling that it’s soooo good, I’ll never write that well and so I should just stop. Writing. I know how crazy it sounds, imagine how heart wrenching it feels! Actually don’t, it feels not awesome.
And I know that Neil Gaiman would probably be distressed to know that he might ever make someone feel like that and it started to make me angry that I would allow my insecurities that I can’t write as good as him stand in the way of working out how my voice sounds when I speak.
My voice probably won’t sound anything like his, he’s a very tall english man with dark hair. I am a moderately short canadian girl with (soon to be again) red hair. Why do I get so hung up on comparing myself to people who are nothing like me? I’m sure we have plenty in common (I love his wife too, perhaps not biblically, but very much nonetheless) and could easily have a delightful conversation over tea and gluten free almond tarts, unless he’s allergic to almonds. Then it would be a very short conversation.
“Hello Neil Gaiman, my name is Trish. Would you like a tart? I made them, they’re gluten free.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Trish. I would love a tart. Have you met my wife Amanda? She also plays the ukulele. I only mention it because i see that you have one.”
“I do and in fact, both of you signed it before but I wiped off your autographs with my boobs while playing because I never covered it with tape. Maybe you could sign it ag-Are you alright? You don’t look very good.”
“Are there almonds in here?”
“Why yes..oh no! You’re not allergic are you?” Cellphones dial 9-1-1, as epi pens are fumbled with and jabbed into various body parts.
Trish prays the earth will open up and swallow her.
I don’t think he is allergic to almonds. Some days I think I might have a sensitivity, but that could also be attributed to how unsettled I am by surrealism. Because surrealists love almonds, of course.
But I had a moment the other day, while walking in the forest and thinking about how much I love that Neil Gaiman writes, how much I appreciate his voice, his imagination, his gift, how lucky the world is to have people like him living and creating.
I suddenly realized, there is every possibility I could do that for someone, if only I would get over these strange habits of personal comparison.
Also, how would he ever have a chance to reciprocate this appreciation, unless I write something? Now, I don’t need for that to happen. I’m not writing with the hope that one day he’ll read my thing, whatever it is and say, wow Trish, this is really good. Almost as good as these tarts you made…wait..is that an almond?
I called forth some strange rhyming schemes, some iambic pentameter, some muppets and even all seven of the endless. I tip my hat to you Mr Neil Gaiman and I appreciate the advice I found on your blog.
“Believe in yourself. Keep writing.”
So I wrote a thing.
Trying to stay enchanted by mystery
Faltering in the realm of get through the day
Inhibited, feeling trapped by my history
Adrift and alone with nothing to say.
I’ve lost sight of truths that might well be apparent
If not for the dischord of internal duality
Trading the beauty of stories inherent
For a has to be more than this mentality
Because this alone, what’s going on
seems like it could be more than enough
When I take the time to acknowledge what’s happening
Without so much focus on stuff.
Spinning in space, do I savour this place
Of synchronous and delightful abstraction?
NO! Instead I seek out, things that blind, cause self-doubt
And encourage narrow sighted distraction.
A bird call sounds, so clear behind me
I don’t fully grasp that it’s real
The life surrounds, I still don’t quite see
But I’m remembering how to feel.
When did I switch my perspective
To expectations broad and limiting
As though I am owed something amazing
Simply for existing?
I would argue all births justified
Since the odds are astronomical
I don’t think this could be denied
Though on paper, it just seems phenomenal.
But the life I live is earned
By every deed and habit
And my choices are unlimited,
I can hitchhike,
or Yellow Cab it.
And where I end up is my choice too
Wherever I am, whatever I do
Heart open to light, expressive and truthful
Or hide in plain sight, disengaged, even rueful,
That I didn’t soar whenever I could
Adapt and grow strong
like the trees in the wood
Like dandelions, learn to be free
They might seem to step back,
to reassess a blocked path
Then bloom from a crack
in a sidewalk so tiny
That nobody noticed it there
It didn’t need much, just enough space
For some rain and sunshine and air
We don’t really need
much more than we’ve got
Some warm hands to hold now and then
is a lot.
Or perhaps they’ll just wave
as we’re walking on by
The briefest connection
can help us to thrive
Just a smile and a nod from a soul,
A kindred existence
I can see in your eyes.
Not all moments are pleasant,
there’s no escaping despair
But we are resilient,
we find ways to repair
We dream, we delight,
we desire great things
We might believe in a destiny
As though someone else pulls the strings
Or prefer a destruction
of traditional past
Find new ways to ensure
Our legacies last
Or take joy in the chaos, the sense of delirium,
the moments we dance outside time.
The creative nonsensical, method of madness
The unreason at home in the rhyme.
And whether the steps that we dance past the evening
Are heavy or soft,
This tapestry that we’re weaving
Contains all the folly, contains all the friend
Contains death, contains life