Susan’s Original Poems

How to Listen

 
 
A few months ago, Laura Salas and I read and worked our way through Sage Cohen’s book, Writing the Life Poetic with a little blog-to-blog book club we called, Write After Reading. The idea was that we read a lot of craft books but we don’t often to the exercises. This way we read together shared the exercises that we did.

One of the chapters had an exercise about using the another poem as the jumping off point for a poem of your own. The title I chose to write to was “How to Listen”.

Here’s my version.

How to Listen

Put down that stinky cigarette,
the one you promised to stop smoking.
Quit fiddling with the piano
and no, you don’t need another drink.
You never need another drink.

Pretend if you have to —
you’re at work,
inspection time,
uniform neatly pressed,
just like all those lies you told me.

Eyes straight ahead.
Must. Not. Move.

Look at me, no, really look at me
in the eyes, those windows to my soul
you tried to crush.
I know I’m angry.
I want you to know it too.
I want you to hear what I’m saying
with my entire body.

I may not get this brave again.

Don’t look down
or away with that
“you just kicked a puppy” expression on your face.
It doesn’t work any more.

Focus on me,
the way you used to focus on me,
before vodka became your lover.

That pause between words
isn’t an invitation for you to interrupt and tell me
how the world is against you.
I don’t care.
Not anymore.

You don’t have to listen long.
Just long enough
for me to say goodbye.

© 2011 Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.

Friday, July 22, 2011|Categories: Listen to Me Read, Poetry Friday, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , |4 Comments

Feed Me

For the past few months and I have been working our way through the wonderful  book, Writing the Life Life Poetic, by Sage Cohen. We alternate hosting the discussion on our blogs on Wednesdays.

Sage’s book has a lot of juicy bits of knowledge for us and many fun exercises. One of my favorites was an offshoot of Mad Libs. Another favorite was song lyrics as poems or where we used titles as jumping off points for a poem. Today I wanted to share an original poem I wrote by this week’s exercise using word list.

My words were: pilgrim, universe, kneel, fly

Once trapped
in a carbohydrate prison
I am now a pilgrim in a new world,
a universe of edible wonders.

Stomach growling anticipation
I fly to the farmer’s market
and kneel before the Produce King.
“Please sir, may I have some more?”

Susan Taylor Brown, all rights reserved


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Carol, at Carol’s Corner.

Friday, June 24, 2011|Categories: Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |8 Comments

Inside Great Families

Write After Reading: Writing the Life Poetic (Chapter 30 and 38)

Welcome to another installment of Write After Reading: Writing the Life Poetic, a weekly online book club with poetry participation. It alternates between my blog and Laura’s blog. Last week, over at Laura’s blog, we talked about song lyrics as poems.

This week I wanted to touch on two chapters.  Don’t sweat it too much. 🙂 They’re short. Chapter 30 really hit home with me as Sage discusses the idea of redefining “real work”. It took me back to March, when I took a month off to just play with no pressure to produce any writing at all. I did write, some, but it was writing for fun, for me and I enjoyed it a lot. I wrote snippets of poems that may grow longer or may linger in a journal. I wrote pages that don’t belong in any book I’m working on, at least not yet. But I admit that I still felt guilty for not working on a work-in-progress. I felt like I was cheating on myself.

In this chapter Sage says, “For the most part, the writing I do for love exists in the very small margin of the writing I do for money.”  This is the way it is for most of the writers I know, especially the poets, because there’s not a lot of money in writing poetry so you ought to be doing it for love too. Or as Sage puts it, “Because it is rare to be paid for poetry, especially early in one’s journey, you do not owe anything to anyone but yourself”

What this chapter helped me to remember is that I came to writing by way of poetry back in the 7th grade, with no idea that I would ever publish poetry. Sometimes I pull my verse novel (Hugging the Rock) off the shelf and still feel that surprise that it was published. Because when I was writing it, I wasn’t thinking about the publishing, I was working out my life the way I best knew how to do it, with words and poems. My real work was in the writing of the book, the answering of internal questions and the putting many things to rest. This is what poetry does for me, it helps me sort out who I am at a particular point in my life and how I feel about that moment in time. I think that’s my real work when it comes to poetry.

Okay, on to chapter 38 which brings me back to junior high in a different way, Mad Libs. Remember them? Those goofy fill-in-the-blank word games? Sage doesn’t talk a lot in this chapter, it’s all about the exercises. The idea is to take the structure of one poem, remove some of the words, and following that structure, fill in the holes like you would have with a Mad Lib. Having much of the poem in place already makes this a quick exercise yet one with a lot of impact, especially if you keep playing with it. Somehow the idea that you only have to come up with one word here or another word there gives you a bit more confidence to push yourself outside the comfort zone you might normally write in. She shared three poems turned into Mad Libs. I chose one to play with.

Here is the original poem.

From Inside Great Distances
By Walid Bitar

From inside great distances (don’t call them dreams)
midnight is smaller than usual,
as are the ponies. Inside great distances,
unlike airplanes, are not seats
and the people far away enough
to shout to (at least the talk isn’t small)
have no laps or throats when they sit beside
their donkeys and Don Quixotes, pretending
to be mirages in a cold climate. The scenery
sharpens like a pencil in my ear.
It sketches itself, and I hear of this
a bird you can color with the whites
and marbles of villas back home, bird otherwise
invisible as the price of land.
An hour, too, is invisible; why are
you feeding it at your breast, growing
it into days, months, years?
Leave it alone; visit me a little to
the North; people shave their heads
into mirrors here; I
remain (on the outside) myself.

 

*****

Here is the template for the revision. My poem is below. Give it a try. Don’t think too much.

From Inside Great _______________

From inside great ______________ (don’t call them _____________)
________________ is smaller than usual,
as are the ______________. Inside great ______________,
unlike ______________, are not ______________
and the people ______________enough
to ______________ to (at least the ______________ isn’t small)
have no ______________ or ______________ when they sit beside
their ______________ and don ______________, pretending
to be ______________ in a cold climate. The scenery
sharpens like a ______________ in my ear.
It ______________ itself, and I hear of this
a ______________you can color with the whites
and marbles of ______________ back home, ______________ otherwise
invisible as the price of ______________.
An ______________, too, is invisible; why are
you feeding it at your ______________, growing
it into ______________?
Leave it alone; ______________ me a little to
the ______________; people shave their heads
into ______________ here; I
remain (on the outside) ______________.

* * * * *

Okay, here’s my version:

From inside great families  (don’t call them ancestors)
the sun is smaller than usual,
as are the stars. Inside great families,
unlike friendships, are not individuals
and the people don’t care enough
to save you  (at least the memory isn’t small)
have no hope or dreams when they sit beside
their sons and daughters, pretending
to be happy in a cold climate. The scenery
sharpens like an icicle in my ear.
it melts, and I hear of this
a tragedy you can color with the whites
and marbles of grandmother’s parlor back home, tragedy otherwise
invisible as the price of love
a stray dog, too, is invisible; why are
you feeding it at your back door, growing
it into something you will love, something that will still die?
Leave it alone; remember me a little to
the future; people shave their heads
into crystal balls here; I
remain (on the outside) alone.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011|Categories: Poetry Prompts, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |19 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #30

And so at last, a month of poems comes to an end. New chapters of my life are waiting to be written. It’s all in the journey.

When I decided to take March as a month devoted to play I did it because I was afraid of something. I was afraid that after all I had gone through in my life, all I had endured and overcome, all I had challenged myself to learn, well I was afraid it still wasn’t enough. I was finally in a safe place where I had the freedom to write, to create, whatever I wanted or needed to create. I had all the love and support a creative person could want. I had a family I loved, a home I loved, work I loved to do and friends to share it all with.

And I looked around at my wonderful life and I thought, Sheesh, here I am, finally, and I don’t know how to be happy.

That’s sorta what I had hoped the month of play would help me learn how to do . . . how to be happy. But all that thinking while I was playing with paint and collage helped me learn something unexpected. Knowing how to be happy wasn’t the problem.

I have always written/created from a place of pain and used my writing to help me make sense out of my world.

Surprise. I’m not in pain anymore.

Now I’ll have to learn to create from this new place, a place of questioning….which is always a good basis for story-telling.

Poem a Day #30
It’s really so very simple,
this job of mine.

Journey forth on grand adventures,
record the moments,
then share my findings
with those who care to listen.

The best stories will be found in bits and pieces,
focused fragments,
of a life well lived.

Susan Taylor Brown
All rights reserved

Saturday, April 30, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |7 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #29

If I learned anything from last month’s month of play it was that I deserved to be happy and that I got that right just by being here, in this time and space I occupy right now. I don’t have to do anything special at all to earn that right. It’s time I claimed it.

Poem a Day #29

I have seven shelves of books
devoted to the art of helping me
become a better person.
This month I’ve reread one a night
and yes, I read that fast.

Some I’ve had for years,
pre-divorce
pre-move
post-depression.

Most of those I can let go of now.
I’m in a different place
than I was back then.

The last pile by my bed
is full of books on how to fix
something in me that’s broken.

For years I was attracted to the idea
that if I could just fix
all the broken pieces of myself I would, at last,
be whole
be healthy
be happy.

Then I read a book where the author
(the nerve of him)
said he didn’t think we were really broken,
he thought we were all in hiding
with layers and layers
of guilt, of anger, of pain
weighing us down
and he wondered if the secret
to finding our true path in life
wasn’t as simple (and as difficult)
as removing those layers and saying to the world
here I am, just as I am, take me or leave me.

Fifteen years ago I would have scoffed
at the idea of peeling back those layers
and showing my naked soul to the world,
(scoffed and cried most likely)
because I would have been sure
that the world would laugh at me,
begging me to put the layers back in place,
telling me the world didn’t need one more
overly emotional, touchy-feely, takes things too personally
kind of person.

Perhaps this is the gift of getting older
but I don’t feel that way anymore.
I understand my way of looking at the world
is uniquely mine and the world,
well it’s lucky to have me.

I haven’t quite managed
to leave all my emotional baggage alongside the road
but I’m packing lighter these days.

I am tired of not feeling like I am enough
and tired of not letting myself feel enough
I am tired
of not being me.

© 2011 Susan Taylor Brown.  All rights reserved.

Friday, April 29, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |7 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #28

I’ve been thinking a lot about something a friend said about how I tend to focus on all the things I haven’t learned how to do yet instead of recognizing all the things I already do well.

You
are
already
a star.

How brightly you shine
(or not)
depends on you
just showing up
and doing
what comes naturally.

Susan Taylor Brown
All rights reserved

Thursday, April 28, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |9 Comments

Dinner With Papa

 
It’s Thankful Thursday and I just want to give a shout-out to all of you have been reading along with my daily poems and who have left supportive comments for me. Also to everyone who read the poem I wrote for Jama’s Poetry Potluck over on her blog yesterday and responded there.

So often many of us (myself included) read a post and think we don’t need to comment, or someone else already said it, or we just don’t know what to say. And sometimes we just don’t have the time. I know. Been there, done that.

But for those of you have commented this month, thank you. What you have helped me remember is something reminded me of recently when she said that I was at my best when I was open, honest and vulnerable. The comments you’ve left me have helped me remember that truth.

Not everything I write is happy, pretty writing and my kind of writing isn’t everyone’s kind of writing and that’s okay. I write to make sense of my world.

Thank you for reading along.

I’ve decided to add the poem here in case Jama closes off her old blog.

 

DINNER WITH PAPA
by Susan Taylor Brown

I follow Papa everywhere,
copying his walking, stomping across the wooden porch,
sliding behind him into the space beneath the house,
pushing away cobwebs and nosy spiders to hand him a monkey wrench,
standing beside him at the kitchen sink while we wash
(up to our elbows) for dinner.

Papa eats what Papa wants.
Meat and potatoes (every meal)
with one slice of white bread, lathered thick with butter.
Vegetables (sometimes but not always)
and something sweet to finish every meal.

My mother (and Nana too)
eat like they are never hungry.
Grapefruit for breakfast, cottage cheese for lunch,
small helpings at dinner, and sometimes, no dessert at all.

Most of the time,
our meat comes from Mayfair Market down on Salvio Street.
Chicken. Pork Chops. A pot roast for Sundays.
But the best meat comes from Papa himself, after a day of fishing or hunting.
Catfish. Pheasant. Sometimes deer.
And my very favorite, duck, baked in the oven until the skin is cracker crisp.

My mother (and Nana too) peel off the skin, cut the duck into tiny pieces
then say they are full after just a few bites.
I mimic Papa and pick the duck up in my hands,
gnawing it like the wild thing he claims I am
until the juice from the greasy skin dribbles down my chin.
Papa says it’s good luck to get the piece with the BBs left inside the meat
but every time, luck favors my mother most of all.

After dinner, Nana and my mother pile dishes in the sink
then wash them all by hand, chattering like the best friends they are.
Papa grabs the evening paper and sets himself in the easy chair.
I listen to them but watch him,
waiting, waiting, waiting,
until he looks up and pats the space left on his lap,
the space that is just the right size,
for lucky me.

© 2011 Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

 

Thursday, April 28, 2011|Categories: Listen to Me Read, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , , |4 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #27

Poem a Day #27

It is good to sit
and contemplate
the things you do
that are good.

Susan Taylor Brown
All rights reserved

Wednesday, April 27, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |4 Comments

2011 – Poem a day #26

My month of play and this month of introspection has led to, well, a lot of introspection. I’ve also been working my way through my self-help and motivational books in the library. Rereading old favorites, culling books that no longer speak to me. I feel I’m in a better state of mind, happier in the here and now, than I have been in a long time, perhaps ever. But that doesn’t mean I don’t look back and wish I could undo some things, wish I could fix a lot of things I didn’t do or I did in a way I wish I hadn’t. One message comes through again and again, forgive yourself and move on.

But boy, that forgiving oneself is a hard one, harder for me than learning how to be here now.

Three haiku today.

drawing the hard line
between making my amends
and making things worse

no one can tell me
if my choice is right or wrong
silence shouts at me

easily said but
looking to forgive myself
hard habit to learn

Susan Taylor Brown
All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 26, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , |2 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #25

Poem a Day #25

I’m thinking about friendships lately
how some grow
and how others are outgrown
and I wonder
how do you outgrow
a friendship?

Does it just slowly unravel
when you pull on a loose thread?
Do buttons get pushed
until they pop off
at the most embarrassing times?
Does it begin to pinch
like an old pair of shoes
until you are rubbed raw
in tender places?

Or does it just fall apart
like a favorite shirt
washed one too many times?

Susan Taylor Brown
All rights reserved

Monday, April 25, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |12 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #24

I have never had this much silence between projects, between the compulsion that often fuels my writing, so now, as I put pen to paper again, it all feels so brand new. It’s as if I am watching a barren field suddenly sprout, then grow, then blossom.

Poem a Day #24

My writing brain
is waking up
like Rip Van Wrinkle after a too long slumber.

I am surrounded by everything
and nothing that I know
beginner’s mind
beginning again.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 24, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |4 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #23

I’m not sure what you do once you’ve become so far behind in some areas that it’s apparent that you will not catch up, you must start over. It’s one thing if it only affects you and your world but when it affects others, there’s a giant heap of guilt on top of everything else. Do I first do the things that need doing or do I forgive myself for not doing them in the first place?

Poem a Day #23

Being behind
has become the way I define myself
not that there’s too much to do
but that I’m not doing what I need to be doing.

I need a new dictionary

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 23, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |5 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #22

I’ve spent the last few days going through 15 years worth of Horn Book Magazine, ripping out articles, quotes and mostly, artwork for a special collage project. The process has tossed me backward, to my early writer years when I wanted to do it all, write it all. The energy level I had back then was different, fueled mostly by manic moments.

Poem a Day #22

I used to be haunted
by voices of characters
begging me to tell their stories
making me ignore a lot of things
that shouldn’t be ignored
in order to put words on the page.

Then it got silent
in my head.

In my heart
I worried
perhaps the lack of haunting
meant the characters had moved on to
someone else,
someone
who could give them the attention they deserved.

I hear differently now
not in such a rush
not in such a race
no need to trap the stories before they unravel.

I trust less and more
at the same time
I still listen to the voices
but I listen with my heart
instead of frantic fingertips
no longer worrying
about the silent spaces.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Friday, April 22, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |4 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #21

I can’t remember where I read this but I’ve come across versions of it a couple of times in recent reading….the idea that memories we access more often are more likely to be corrupted than memories that are more pristine. ( , was it you that posted something about it?) As I continue to mine my past for a couple of current WIPs I have begun to wonder how corrupted some of my own memories may have become.

Poem a Day #21

I’ve been so sure of my  memories
until now
now when yesterday’s hurt
runs into today’s doubt
I wade into a sea of what-ifs

what if it didn’t really happen
or not the way I’ve always told myself

what if the embroidered edges of my memories
make it the same
but different
worse than reality
less than ideal

what if I have to let go of my righteous anger
and let the past collapse into the dust that birthed it

what if who I thought I was
is someone different
from who I am trying
to become?

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 21, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |9 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #20

Looking for directions to get out of my own way.

Poem a Day #20

I think too much.

Instead of
letting words spill
across the page
letting words fall
out of order
letting words run
their own races
I think too much
and the ink
in my brain pen
dries up.

I want to channel my inner
Annie Lamott
and write those
crappy first drafts,
the kind where you can mix your tenses like a tossed salad
and place those damn modifiers anywhere you want
but I think too much
and my fingers freeze
like an old woman with arthritis
and the trapped words
grow like barnacles beneath my skin.

I wonder
if I am trying to protect myself
from the world
or maybe it is the world
that needs protecting
from all I might say
if only I wouldn’t think
so damn much.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |9 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #19

Sometimes it’s not a matter of learning what you need to know but understanding that you just need to be who you already are.

Poem a Day #19

There was a girl
who didn’t know a lot of things
but she knew how to feel
big feelings
and how to let the ink
spill across the page
showing the world how much
she didn’t know
and in the spilling
of ink her wisdom
grew.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |2 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #18

If you haven’t already seen Brené Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability, you need to go watch it now. Really. After watching it you might want to order one of her books. I highly recommend both of them but my favorite is The Gifts of Imperfection. So much of the creative world I live in is centered around feedback from others – is my work good enough to publish, to exhibit? Will I get reviewed and if so, will the review be any good? I admire those creatives who are able to say screw the rest of the world, I’m creating what I want to create. I can do it sometimes but not always.

But after reading Brené’s books I realize there are more ways to seek that approval than just with publishing. It’s all around me and I’ve become hyper-aware of it, maybe too aware of it, because I find myself hesitating to do things, to say things, because I don’t know if it will be perceived as trying to call attention to myself. As with everything else, I suppose it is a balancing act and I will have to go too far the other direction and then pull myself back to the center.

Chasing worthiness
want to quit that full-time job
my ego screams NO

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Monday, April 18, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , |3 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #17

Behind again. A haiku from yesterday.

monkey flower blooms
beside the unfurling fern
can you hear me laugh?

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 17, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , |5 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #16

Allergies slowed me down yesterday so I didn’t get this posted.

Poem a Day #16

I find it hard to take things
on faith alone.
I want proof that slowing down
being in the moment
is worth the investment of my time.

Today I follow the dog
down the garden path that ends
near the glider
where she sniffs the sage.

One ceanothus, still in bloom,
calls dozens and dozens of
bees to dance between
the blue blossoms.

Fat bumblebees
fuzzy carpenter bees
industrious honey bees
and bees that look like flies.

I stand still
let bees buzz all around me
and listen to the concert
I almost missed.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 16, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |6 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #15

I am horrible about falling into the “compare” trap when talking about progress on a project. If I’ve written 100 words, someone else has done 500. If I manage 1,000, someone else has done a chapter. It’s discouraging to me so I find that I have to pull away from reading a lot of what my friends are doing. This is even worse when I am working in verse because word counts and chapter counts, well, they don’t count up the same. So I am trying to celebrate a poem a day. More is good. More is great. But more doesn’t always happen and that’s okay.

Poem a Day #15

one well-written poem
(no chapters, word or page counts)
a productive day

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Friday, April 15, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , |10 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #14

In the weekly poetic reading/exercises that I am doing with Laura Salas I find that some weeks are easier than others. This week’s was one of the toughest for me and yet, once I made myself do it, I learned a lot. People say that if there is no joy in the writing you should just stop writing. Yesterday, today, there was much joy and I am grateful.

Poem a Day #14

Yesterday I challenged myself to call up
an old poem and listen carefully
to the sounds of the story
it spilled upon the page.

Unable to imagine success, I resisted,
like a child unwilling to take a nap.
The task was hard and made my brain hurt
in places that felt unused.

I forced myself
if only to keep from being embarrassed
when I had nothing to show
for the day.

Surprise tapped me on the shoulder
and I was face-to-face
with my old friend joy,
the one that comes with word play.

My pulse raced, just a little,
and though it was time to break for dinner
I found I couldn’t stop
I didn’t want to stop
I had to write just one more word.

I couldn’t hold the high for long,
just long enough
to create a crack, in the concrete,
of my storyteller’s soul.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 14, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |7 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #13

The concept of being here in the moment is easy to grasp. It’s the action that keeps tripping me up. But I keep trying because I think the trying is where a lot of the learning is going on.

Poem a Day #13

Be here now
seems like such a little thing to do,
and yet a thousand times a day
my mind falls backward, like a car on a hill
when you forget to set brake,
and worries from the past
charge up to meet me.

Other times that crazy mind of mine
races forward, like a runaway horse,
for uncharted but always scary territory.

I think I’m finally
(okay, just beginning)
to understand that
be here now
is not a destination like a finished painting
or the completion of a manuscript,
it’s a never-ending  journey
away from
back to
face-to-face with
not who I was
not who I am meant to be
but who I am
here
right now.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |10 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #12

Today I was remembering a rubber band experiment about resistance. The idea behind it was that if two people are both pulling on a rubber band and neither one gives in, the rubber band is going to break and someone is going to get hurt. But if you move toward the resistance, give into it, the resistance goes away.

A friend asked me if perhaps the reason I was fighting so much with myself was that I was due for a change….that perhaps my writing would take place alongside (instead?) of something else. I had no answer for her question but it did give me something juicy to think about. What if I gave in to my resistance? What would happen then?

Poem a Day #12

I can’t help but wonder
if maybe this path I’m on,
this path I’ve walked for so many years,
is not the path I’m meant to walk forever

It’s not like I know where to turn
or what else to do
or even if I want to but still
I can’t help but wonder

what would I become
and would I even recognize myself
walking toward me on another path?

© 2011 Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |2 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #11

I am learning to be comfortable in my silence which in turn, is helping me understand how much I have to say that is worth saying.

Poem a Day #11

Sometimes,
on those days when the voices in my head
are louder than the voices on the page,
silence scares me.

Sometimes,
when I listen not only to the space between the words
but to space that echoes from words left unspoken,
silence understands me.

Sometimes,
when I remember that saying nothing at all
can be as powerful as shouting at the top of your voice,
silence comforts me.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Monday, April 11, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |5 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #10

This poem is late to the table because there is some serious thinking going on in my brain. I’m looking for the off switch. Time to stop thinking quite so much.

Poem a Day #10

I’ve read just about every kind
of “how to do it” book you can read
when it comes to writing,
even if I can’t remember who said what.

I think I’ve absorbed a lot over the years.

How to write mostly boils down to
write what you know or write
what you want to know,
just pick one and get to work.

The how to write isn’t as hard as
the making yourself sit down and do it.
The world will keep on spinning
even if you never write another word.
Really.

You really just need one thing to write,
you need to want it bad.

It’s the wanting that makes it so.
It’s the wanting that makes it real.
It’s the wanting that fuels the doing.

What I forget is that wanting isn’t a thinking thing,
it’s a heart thing.
Wanting to write isn’t based on any logic,
it is born from the need to connect,
one writer, one story, one word
a bridge,
from heart to heart.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 10, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |2 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #9

I found that last year, writing the poems about the father I never knew took a tremendous amount of energy, creative and emotional, energy from me. It was draining. It was inspiring. And at the end, it was healing. I am a talker who never really gets to talk enough. So this pondering out loud is my way of talking and trying to use up all that energy until I don’t need it for this anymore and I can move on to something else.

Poem a Day #9

I read once that if you have a hole in your story
you should point to it, over and over again,
the idea being that if you pointed enough times,
it would disappear and cease to be a hole.

So when people ask me why it is I can’t seem
to quit talking about things or move on past things,
at the speed they think I should be moving on,
well, I just tell them I’m pointing to the hole,
hoping it will fill itself up by the time I’m done talking

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 9, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |4 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #8

Today has been more pondering about my struggle to write or struggling to not write or struggling to not care what other people think about what I want to write. Just some rough haiku as I try to move through the muddled part of my brain.

falling on deaf ears
my words, pulled from my soul, yes,
my heart breaks again

my heart breaks again
stories stagnate within me
this is what I fear

this is what I fear
doubt wins too many battles
words unwritten wait

words unwritten wait
happily ever after
more than just a dream

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Friday, April 8, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , |4 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #7

I know that no matter what I write there will always be people who like it and people who don’t, people who think I meant one thing when I meant another, and people who will be able to see straight through to the heart of me in my work.

One of the struggles I have had of late has concerned my love of writing free-verse and verse novels and my continual worries about what the rest of the world thinks of verse novels and whether my type of writing is actually poetry or prose with line breaks or something else. It has stopped me in my tracks and caused me to doubt myself before I even get the words on the page.

I don’t know how to conquer this fear, I really don’t. But I know I can’t let it win. I can’t let it stop me from writing what I love to write.

Is it a poem because it rhymes
(Seussian or otherwise)
or perhaps because the lines fall to expected feet,
scanned to please the ear?

Is it a poem because of the hours I spent to find just the right word
to craft just the right sentence
to show you how the green gold of the hummingbird’s chest
was the exact color of my great grandmother’s brooch?

Or is it a poem
just because
I say
it is a poem?

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 7, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |6 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #6

I know many people say, and they are right to do so, that the joy is in the process of writing, not in the sale. But truth be told, once you’ve made a sale or two or three, it’s hard to focus on process instead of product. At least for me.

Before I’d ever heard of query letters or a synopsis
or even dared imagine the possibility
of signing with a New York agent,
I used to sit on the stoop of cement in my garage
and write exactly the kind of stories
I liked to read.

I didn’t have a market guide
or a critique group
and SCBWI was just a bunch of
mixed up letters from the alphabet.

Before I ever sold a single book
I didn’t wonder how many copies it would sell
or when I would earn back my advance
or whether the reviewers would be kind
if they decided to review it at all.

The Internet was still a dream
to be unfurled
so there were no worries about
blogs or websites or social media status updates.

I wrote because it made me happy
to imagine the child I used to be
in the stories I told myself.
I wrote because figuring out what happened next
was more fun than a crossword puzzle
or learning how to knit.
and I wrote because when I didn’t write,
I was (according to my kids) grumpy
until I once again picked up a pad and pen.

I don’t want to go back in time
or undo what I’ve done over the years
but I want to find a way to remember what it felt like
to sit on that cement stoop scribbling on that green steno pad
plotting stories for no one but myself.

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , |12 Comments

2011 – Poem a Day #5

Painting kept me in the here and now. In ten and fifteen minute increments I could focus on colors and textures and forget about writing. Except I could never really forget. Not completely.

Two more haiku

untold stories wait
while silence overwhelms me.
at my desk, I weep

I am a writer
who does not write, undefined,
who am I now?

Susan Taylor Brown.
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011|Categories: National Poetry Month 2011, Susan's Original Poems|Tags: , , |6 Comments