I Am Not a Poet

I am not a poet.

I read in choppy snippets when my circus lets me. I don’t do justice to heavy, important books when I can’t dive into them, so the drug-store romance novellas are my escape when I have time. It isn’t Dostoevsky, or Atwood, but it is words. On a page Kindle.

Lately, as “busy-and-tired” becomes my perpetual state, I’ve gravitated further towards what I can digest in micro-bites. Poetry fits into the nooks and crannies of time I have before demands of the rest of my life take over. I sit down in the chair the poem makes for me, and live in its world for a moment, relishing the swirls and patterns the words dig out of my imagination.

Heady, but brief.

Sometimes I’ll try my hand at writing a poem. A phrase or a word will come to me and I write it down hastily in my journal, often times so scribbled I need a personal Rosetta Stone to decipher it.

This is not helped by bumpy bus rides.

I call them “Navel Lint”. They sound like first world problems met a TV drama and moped about in the rain with cold tea and no jacket. My untrained mind just barfs up a bunch of ^%&* where most properly blooded writers would utter rude noises and promptly toss it on the pyre.

Poems are supposed to whack you over the head with significance in carefully crafted, sparse verses. My prolific word count makes them seem more like a barrage of superficial feelings and profound epiphanies mashed together and thrown at the wall to see if it sticks.

It doesn’t.

I first tried my hand at poetry when I was in primary school. I was challenged to write about something other than horses for a writing assignment. “You need to expand your world!” my teacher said. I was quite happy in my green-grass-and-tweed fenced paddock. I didn’t want to delve outside it. But when I was told that I would fail if I handed in one more story about a horse, I capitulated, the fear of a bad grade potent.

So I wrote poems about darkness, death, unhappiness, and the general horribleness of life as a tween. Navel Lint, but in a vengeful sense, as I wanted to write the most terrible poems ever. Maybe if they were horrible enough, I could go back to writing about horses. Clearly it was all I was good at, because who wants to read poems about death?

I received an A+, and a note home to my parents about therapy.

I’ve long since lost the poems I wrote those 30-some-odd years ago. They have faded from memory, the ideology of that young girl replaced by the real world. The act is remembered, but the words slip from me. I would love to remember them, if for nothing more than posterity.

To laugh at the stilted, spiky, aggressive verses needling shouts of protest at a teacher who – in her brilliance – pushed me out of my comfort zone. And I went, not looking back, the line in the sand erased by the tidal wave I rode when I realized I could write about anything, in any way I wanted.

So in that moment;

wearing red duck boots,
covered in horse smell,

my mind switching gears like a wobbly bicycle,
held upright by a tooth-marked pencil in grubby chore-stained hands;

I was a poet.

 

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