Looking for a poem

I needed a poem. Badly. So I went to the bookcases to get as many of the books of poems as I could, by poets old and new from around the world, pulled them down from the shelves — no mean feat when I can’t step on a ladder on account of my broken ankle. Bucket brigade on crutches. Moving words. From the bookcases to the ironing board, from the ironing board to my other desk where the computer is not.

Taking the books and opening them I read at random, read out loud to hear the words and cadence of sentences, to feel the edges of the lines that touches the space between the word.

It was not quenching the need, this reading of poems. It was instead inciting a deeper need, desire to discover a gathering of words that would serve as a balm for goodness knows what that was stirring inside me.

With all due respect to my previous English teachers, to define poetry, or describe it utterly defies language. That’s not to say that people don’t try, but art (as opposed to art criticism) bypasses intellect and goes for the guts. And poetry is an art.

Art touches, moves, and affects. It can knock you on your ass, or sneak up on you after a while. A work of art, including a poem, has a power that captures and hold.

I wanted a poem to reach into me, to grab me by all my interior senses, leave me gasping, dripping and changed. And it needn’t be a poem of aching hearts or death marches or love or childhood.

As I read, snippets of poems that caught my attention. “Creatures of the gone world walk…”   We have many gone worlds. Many creatures once walked.

Bits of poems asked questions:

excerpted from since feeling is first, by e.e. cummings:

“since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things…”


excerpted from: How Does Love Speak? by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“How does Love speak?

By the uneven heart-throbs, and the freak

Of bounding pulses that stand still and ache

While new emotions, like strange barges, make

Along vein-channels their disturbing course,

Still as the dawn, and with the dawn’s swift force:

Thus doth Love speak.

How does Love speak?

In the avoidance of that which we seek

The sudden silence and reserve when near;

The eye that glistens with an unshed tear;

The joy that seems the counterpart of fear,

As the alarmed heart leads in the breast…..”

I couldn’t find it. The one poem. So I headed online  and read some bad and occasionally clever poems by other, many unknown poets.

Reading, consuming words and all that they conjured, I remained unsatisfied, unfreed, chained to the earth still.

It wasn’t the poems I was reading. It was me. Something in me looking for, I don’t know, proof of the power of words to slip past conscious mind, to move heart and soul?

Do other people do this? Look for poems? Read poetry? Out loud? Marvel in the words and the images and colours and senses and feelings they evoke?

In my mind’s eye I had images of vessels, of crucibles, of containers, and wanted a poem that would pour out and fill them all. Fill me.

It was clear then that it wasn’t a poem I was looking for at all: it was an experience of poetry.  And then I was sated.


About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween.
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13 Responses to Looking for a poem

  1. letempspasse says:

    Well then, let us hope that we are privy (is that how it is spelled?) to the results of your next hunting expedition… 😉

  2. letempspasse says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever gone on the hunt for a poem.
    Usually, Poetry finds me. When it does, it is sometimes in the form of what most people (I suppose) would call prose. When I’m least expecting it, I read a sentence, a paragraph or a whole page and I find my self transported and reveling the music of the words, entranced by the feelings bubbling up.
    Sometimes Poetry finds me in a image, a photograph or sings to me in a musical interlude.
    And other times, we find each other in a moment of complicity.
    But then, I’ve always said I was a hopeless romantic.

    PS: your prose is often more poetic than many poems I’ve read…

    • FS says:

      Someone once suggested that perhaps the phrase could be ‘hopeful romantic‘, which is kind of a nice way to conceive of it all. Poetry is something, isn’t it? I sometimes wonder if it isn’t synonymous with creative impulse, or expressive impulse…this bursting into poetry. It is true that poetry is everywhere, but sometimes, there is something that makes me go poem hunting….. and it is quite an adventure.

      PS: thank you.

  3. Terrisita says:

    That all being said, perhaps that poem is within you. It hasn’t been written, read or revelled in. No ear has heard it, no tongue rejoiced in its telling. I think you have some writing to do.

    • me says:

      T, good point. But answer me this, my most wonderful friend. Exactly how do you know the right things to say and exactly how do I get a huge hug to you when you live so far away?

      • terrisitagg says:

        Syncronicity, happenstance, serendipity, and a fairly good vocabulary. (oh, and knowing you for most of my life helps)
        As for the hug, cosmic forces, and back at you!.

      • me says:

        a good vocabulary with an accent: Canadian with a southern twist, ya’ll. You’d best start writing yourself, methinks.

      • terrisitagg says:

        I do, but if you can believe it, I’m shy. I don’t know if anything I have to say would have any interest or value to anyone else….(just read My Words and left a note!)

      • me says:

        T; The finding of your voice as a writer is always an interesting process. But….a process. Start 🙂

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