A Stab at Poetry

Cover of "Writing down the Bones"

Writing Down the Bones

Fiction has always been my forte. I usually stick to what I know. But recently I have gotten into the practice of doing free writes in a journal. This was a suggestion I picked up from the great book, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

The act of putting pen to paper is so different than writing on a computer. I found it refreshing, tapping into a different part of my creative brain. I would like to share a free write that I did on the bus home from New York City last weekend. I decided to type it up in the form of a poem.

This is something vastly different from the work I usually do and I am looking forward to any comments or suggestions that my fellow bloggers would like to share. As always, and in any capacity, Happy Writing.


I dreamt of the terrifying fear of jumping off the high dive.

I swore I was in love.

I was so happy

And woke up feeling so sad.

I am powerless in your presence.

I feel pain and hurt and I haven’t seen you for years.

Does this make me weak or does this make me a butterfly?

Am I transforming?

I no longer know if I have wings or if I have toes.

I apologize for my inadequacies.

I apologize for my restless, ruthless emotions.

Why should I shun my failures?

Why shouldn’t I sit on a park bench with nothing but an empty coffee cup?

I like to feel the subway rattling below me.

Last night in bed I felt it again, but further removed

No physical shaking, just a soft noise

Like a moan or a creak of the bed.

Was that it?

Is that all he has for you?

Maybe there is more, but I won’t stay around long enough to find out.

I want to feel the bones under my skin.

How does the sun look in your eyes when you wake?

Will I ever get the chance to know that beautiful secret?

There are so many cars.

But are there as many cars as gravestones?

I would count but I don’t have the time.

My time is more important than money.

I want to lick a penny.

I want to write until the bones in my hand turn to jelly.

New York is there-

On the other side of that hill.

The wind blows all the reeds in the same direction

Except one.

A Canadian Goose stands alone by the side of the highway.

The Turkey Vulture makes fun of its long neck.

I love your long neck.

I want to bite till I draw blood.

I want you to remember me forever.

Why are people biking?

Why is everyone exercising and smoking cigarettes?

I see your face everywhere I look

But it’s only a memory and you are a stranger.

Billboards ask me questions that make me self-conscious.

I always make the wrong decisions.

Where am I going now?

Best not to ask.

It’s strange to see green again, like I don’t believe in Spring.

Soccer fields show their wear with bare patches of dirt.

How does mine show?

I am transparent.

I am a dandelion in a hurricane:

Blown Away.

I am a circle and you are a square.

I hate your corners.

I want to smooth down your edges so we can finally fit together.

I slept until Hartford where I got off to buy a coffee,

To scold my insides back to life.

Remember me: Life?

No, give me more death.

Please, I’m not ready for this shit.

I’m not ready to be surrounded by passengers asking me the same question fifty different ways.

I’m not ready to go back into the woods with two people in love

And a bunch of animals who won’t show themselves. 

5 thoughts on “A Stab at Poetry

  1. So I got carried away with myself & wrote a lengthy reply to this— considering that this is truly a piece of art I wanted you permission before posting my comments on it on my blog since it really needs a whole post; I got a bit in-depth. Thanks for posting, I enjoyed reading.

      • First off- awesome. You are a poet. Whether you write fiction or poetry or music, you are a poetic writer.

        So I got really into reading this- & since you asked- I’m going to throw some quick commentary at you.

        So first off I saw these line breaks as identifying different poems because they stand strongly alone.

        What an awesome opening! “I dreamt of the terrifying fear” Instead of saying, ‘I dreamt of jumping off the high give’ or ‘I was afraid in my dream..’ No, you dreamt ‘OF’ fear; that’s nice, as if you can just dream an emotion (because you can when you feel it). And that’s what I love about poetry. It brings the tiny things like the difference in this first line into the forefront & sometimes a great line like this may be lost in a novel (depending on the placement though, there’s always tricks in writing & editing to showcase to readers these tiny perfections of description).

        Lines 2-6 are what I think of as ‘line starters’ or ‘placeholders’ they are simple lines that tend to take away from a strong poem. Whereas one simple line can be an anchor, so many, so close together & so early on can sink it in a different way. So I consider them for me like I said more as a placeholder. It keeps the marker of the emotion or connects the story line/point I want to convey at this point in the poem/story. But then I take it out, see if the poem still retains it, and if not I write something stronger there that does.

        ‘Am I transforming?/ I no longer know if I have wings or if I have toes’ Love this line! Especially the placement of the surreal before the real.

        ‘Why shouldn’t I sit on a park bench holding an empty coffee cup.’ –brilliant. Strange. Enticing. Keeps me as a reader in it.

        ‘will I ever get the chance to know that beautiful secret’ this to me seems unnecessary, because once you said, ‘how does the sun look in your eyes when you wake’ I knew that you yearned to see it, that you never have, & I assumed why. Less is more here. & The first line is so well done it should stand alone. This is an example of first draft overwriting that can be worked out in the nest draft (should you hope to write one, and I hope you do, it’s a great read.)

        This 2nd short poem is wonderful. So sarcastic and loveable at the same time. Like a poem you’d re-read & write out just to memorize to brighten your day.

        This 3rd poem is very strong, but a little too run-out. I think perhaps 1 & 3 belong together. Love how the birds interact here & it reminds you of him.

        The 4th poem seems kind of like word-filler until you hit the money maker of all the lines above: “billboards ask me questions that make me self conscious” & the three lines which follow. This is beautiful, perhaps my favorite thus far.
        5th poem brilliant; my only suggestion is to avoid words like ‘finally,’ in my opinion of less is more- it is stronger without that word and overarching words like it.
        The 6th poem seems unfinished. Unfinished ONLY because you’re playing with a really intense and engaging idea here about talking to life & death within life- showing they both have a presence in this one. It’s a very interesting idea I’d like to read more of.

        (I told you… it was long) Thanks for posting, keep in touch!

        All the best,

  2. Pingback: Editing Poetry at “Back to Basics” Blog | writer's first publishing

  3. I have gotten some wonderful feedback from Ms. Jessica Black at Writer’s First Publishing. So grateful for this.

    As I have mentioned, poetry is something new and different and which I don’t know much about. But lately I have been feeling very intrigued. This critique was so beneficial and furthers my point about writers needing to be connected!

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