How to Find the Muse

Welcome to April!  It’s National Poetry Month!

I started writing poetry nearly fifty years ago, when I was in college.  I started getting published when I was in my 20s, learning to make my way in the world outside my parents’ house.  My poetry and I were young together.

Poetry for me was short, intense and immediate, like youth.  As I became more settled in life so my poetry did too:  it became longer, rounder, fuller, heavier, more filled with story, until it couldn’t be contained anymore.  Finally it stretched itself out and became a novel.  That’s what I’m focusing on now—writing novels.  But I want forever to be a poet who writes novels.  I want poetry to claim me.  I want poetry to find me worthy.

When I first started writing poetry I wrote without form.  I wrote what came out of my hand, without concern for rhyme or meter.  People often told me that my poetry painted beautiful pictures but the truth is I’m not much good at visualization.  I often find the visual too stimulating, too overwhelming.  I’ve always been an auditory learner.  When I’m writing I choose words because I like the way they sound, I like their rhythm.  Even in free verse, it’s about the sound to me.  It’s about the music.

So let’s post poems this month!  Please share your poems with me.

Here’s a poem I wrote many years ago.  It was published in the anthology, Unlacing:  Ten Irish American Women Poets, edited by Patricia Monaghan (Fireweed Press, 1987).

How to Find the Muse

Think about the sky.
It’s a new blue tablecloth
and a big hipped woman
has carelessly dribbled
gobs of whipped cream
all over it.

There she has set down
an orange bowl.

Smell cinnamon and coriander
as you scoop
spicy carrots
and squash from the bowl
to your mouth.
Bite into a raw cucumber
to cool the fiery curry
on your tongue.

Now drum your fingertips
on the table.
Listen to a jazz quartet.
Tap your feet
on a black and white
tiled floor.

When she starts to sing
those torchy blues
press your lips together
and hum

until you taste sweetened cream
spilling from the sky.

Click on the comments space and share a poem, either one of your own, or one you love!

Photo by Alessandro Cavestro

2 thoughts on “How to Find the Muse

  1. This is such an engaging piece. The details make the table cloth appear right before your eyes!

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