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short poems and stafford {poetry thursday}

liz lamoreux

Another Thursday filled with poetry!

We are having a snow day here out in the Tacoma area. Those of you in snowier parts of the world might think that means we have a foot or more of snow. Nope. Not here. It just takes a few inches to close down schools. It is nice having my husband home though as I work.

Speaking of work, I am finding clichés everywhere as I edit this week! My cliché radar is in full force after this week’s (completely and totally optional) idea. It looks like people have had fun with this odd prompt. I can’t wait to spend some time clicking around to Poetry Thursday participants’ sites later today.

I have been working on several poems lately, but I find myself getting stuck. I was on the phone with Dana last evening and was telling her how I think I need to write short poems for a while. I explained how I keep getting stuck in the wordiness and my own amateurishness (which, I guess, is a word).

I thought about this conversation today and decided to just write a few short poems. Here is one of them:

Where you live

Though you sit on a mantle
in the house you lived in
for almost 40 years,
all that you were is folded
into this windbreaker
resting upon my lap.

This is where you live.

This feels like the beginning of a poem, but maybe it is just a thought I have been having wrapped up in the form of a poem.

I have started reading The Answers are Inside the Mountains: Meditations on the Writing Life by William Stafford (edited by Paul Merchant and Vincent Wixon). It is a collection of his essays, interviews, writings, and so on. As I struggle with my writing, he finds a way, as he always does, to remind me to keep going. In an interview, when asked if he has an audience in mind when he writes, he said:

No, it’s just for myself. I’m very indulgent at the time of writing. I’ll accept anything, any old trash; it can never be low enough to keep me from writing it. You know, the process of writing is kind of a trusting to the nowness, to the immediacy of the experience. And if you enter into the artistic endeavor with standards, already arrived-at ideas of what you want to do, you’re not entering creatively into the immediacy of encountering the materials.

It’s almost as if an artist who enters into the process with this determination to meet standards, achieve quality, is not trusting the self that’s doing the writing. That’s what led me to say once, writers ought to let themselves write bad poems. Not bad from their point of view, but unacceptable from another’s.

I read Stafford’s words.
I read my own.

I keep writing.
I keep writing.
I keep writing.