It’s funny what you find when you dig through old notebooks. Beneath a scrawled list of Netbank receipt numbers from 2010, I discovered a few shaky poems. At first I didn’t recognise them. It was definitely my handwriting, and they were in my notebook. The telltale sign was, sadly, their weakness. They had to be mine.
I dare not take myself seriously as a poet. I have too much respect for the art and enough poetic sensibility to know I don’t have whatever it is that poets possess. Still, when the conditions are right, the unction comes and I have no choice but to yield.
And being the generous blogger that I am, I plan to share my old poems with you. I’ll even place them right below the pretty Robert Frost poem that four-fifths of my year 9 English class memorised and recited.
Me? Jabberwocky. Naturally.
The Poetic Urge
A few years ago, I stuffed my Christmas stocking with a Magnetic Poetry Kit. It was one of those partly-for-me/partly-for-school gifts that anyone who works in education is familiar with. I enjoyed it over the holidays and was happy to leave it at work when the fun petered out. The limited selection of words quickly cramped my style.
Rereading the snippets of poetry now, I’m not sure if I created them with bits of magnets or with a pen and paper. As scrappy as they were, they did manage to revive in my mind the sultry summer days.
Then I remembered: It was a time in my life that demanded poetry.
It was right after Christmas, which in Australia means two things: sticky and stormy. My family and I were lucky enough to be at the beach where the afternoon coastal showers brought relief. This particular beach holiday came in the aftermath of a season of storms in my life.
I’d arrived at a forked road, Frost’s famed yellow wood.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
Choosing My Path
I chose to lay down one passion of mine, something I had poured my heart and soul into for a decade. Those close to me insisted it was “my calling,” but I was never sure, and the doubt gnawed a hollow spot inside of me. I made a decision, chose my path, and have had a fulfilling journey for the past four years, focusing on my writing and my school counselling.
Sometimes though, like Frost, I sigh.
My Holiday Poems
In that bewildering, stormy season, writing (or attempting to write) poetry was as refreshing as the afternoon showers. “Few words artfully arranged” is the perfect remedy for confusion, the elixir of clarity.
Summer storm heaves
its rain-smeared mist;
dream of moonlight.
Delirious summer days
Hot beneath bare feet
A lazy lie in bed
Milk & honey time
I think this last poem must be a Magnetic Poetry Kit creation, because it’s the only one that doesn’t evoke a memory of a place. I like it anyway.
Fuzzy, Was He?
His peach smooth head
He recalled luscious hair
Over to You
Have you ever found something in an old notebook you don’t remember writing? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Creative Commons Photo Credits
My Grandfather’s Notebook by Riccardo Meneghini CC
Lightning Hit by MJI Photos (Mary J.I.) CC
Sunrise Surf by Curt Fleenor CC
Washington DC – Federal Triangle: National Archives Building – The Past by Wally Gobetz CC
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