The first time I read poetry
I thought, wow, this is strict
like a stole only worn in ritual
or like a ruler-up-the-back-kinda torture
where every syllable must be set in stone
and the lines have to connect perfectly like
cursive writing requiring endless erasures
before it has any value.
Then I read poetry that was history,
verse told in ancient times,
maybe without the rhymes
but with the weight of centuries
lying across its chest.
Laid in a textbook to eternal rest,
written originally on papyrus
supposed to spark our pride
needs a side-by-side
to be remembered.
When I dared peek at poetry again
it was poised over my head
and I was told to balance it and be more beautiful.
Imagery needing an interpreter,
and I was stumped and slumped
wondering if poetry was one of those wooden puzzles
that look simple,
but take you hours
and then you throw it in the
drawer by the couch
after it both frustrates and embarrasses you.
Then, a friend said read this poem,
and I thought oh no, you can’t catch me
I’m the ginger-haired girl,
but I looked on her page
and saw lines that swayed,
words that held their breath
like a soft romance,
a pitter-pattering of rain, and
I wanted to run out into that verse
and catch pneumonia.
I was so giddy with excitement
soaked by drippy lines.
Later, I picked up a thin book of poems
with a dandelion on the cover
and it said, The Forgiveness Parade,
and I read it cupping my hand to my mouth
because no one had ever showed me poetry like that,
naughty like something you’d read on a bathroom stall
and then add your own line at the bottom,
which is exactly what I’m doing now in effigy
for being set free and realizing the flexibility
and flushability of what is really poetry.
This poem is prepared for d’Verse’s Poetics Night hosted by Laura, her topic being Poems to a Poet. I chose to write mine about Jeffrey McDaniel. A poet who turned me back on to verse when I discovered him in high school. I have shared his poetry many times since then, and this video below is one of his poems told with imagery. I hope you will find my poem in his style and honoring his work. Join us.
Artwork: “Peephole” Luis Ramos