in the keening wind, the palm tree blows,
but no one knows, for no one’s there —
with the coming chill of novembertime,
the truth is, i’m just half-aware
of the verse i lost, of the dream forgot,
of a vacant lot, and a vacant stare —
in the billowing wind, the palm stays tall,
but i don’t recall,
and i just
I’m forever losing poems. You might think this odd coming from someone who has posted just under 8,000 of them in the last four years, but it is nonetheless true. I have poems worked out in my mind, but by the time I get to a keyboard, they are gone. Vanished.
Like many writers, I have concluded (naturally) that those would have been the best things I ever wrote, changing my life and that of my family, if only… if only… but, alas.
I figure I’m not really a writer if I can’t make my own life more dramatic than it really is.
Owen fidgeted at the lonely desk, watching a fly buzzing around the one bare light bulb above his head. Eyes aching from the whisky, he nonetheless poured the last of it into a glass and downed it in one. “If only I could remember,” he thought…
If only indeed, Owen. Or, you could just write another one. Which I typically do.
I’ve written elsewhere about why I write poetry; one additional reason I do it is that, paragraphs like the one above, where I can’t seem to remember whether I’m writing 2nd or 1st person, aren’t really a problem with poetry. I also can ignore things like keeping my tense consistent. Having to keep tense consistent makes me consistently tense.
Another group of poems that never get published comes under the category of “Dumb Ideas I Keep Coming Back To”. And no, I’m not going to tell you what any of them are, because they are truly dumb. The ideas these poems contain start out as insightful generalizations I think I’ve discovered, only to realize, upon reflection, they are (a) not insightful; and (b) untrue. In short, these ideas are dumb.
But I keep coming back to them. Another type of forgetting, I guess.
I know from back in my single days that you have to have a type of amnesia to continue to ask women to dance. You have to forget the number of women who’ve rejected you.
Which was fourteen, by the way. I haven’t forgotten that. I can probably tell you all of their names. I would write a poem about it, but I would no doubt forget it by the time I got to typing.
I never took rejection well, which is odd, because I got a lot of practice. I can almost always tell people who don’t have a lot of practice in this area. Even though they have heartaches and tragedies, like the rest of us, whatever self-doubt they have doesn’t involve a fundamental questioning of their own value. Which likely means, in scenarios of rejection, they were far more often the rejector rather than the rejectee.
Speaking of types of amnesia, my experience of people who do a lot of rejecting in the dating world is that they don’t remember it. This is largely because they felt the people they rejected weren’t worth remembering.
Which the rejectees know.
Romantic heartbreak, though, is just another forgotten poem; that thing that could have made us great and happy and well-known, but is just a type of fiction. Because everything not-done has no real being, at least, not in history.
But it’s all fair game in writing.
7 thoughts on “a lost poem”
If you have 8k posted, I imagine the number you’ve forgotten must be even larger! Writers, poets, artists – they don’t remember because they can just make another one. 🙂 My husband told me this once.
You should get a notebook. It remembers when you forget.
Where the hell did I put my notebook?
In the fridge.
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I often save part poems in an appropriately named folder. Some comprise seven words only. Perhaps I should print them all out as one long masterpiece!