Poems that Are Ghosts

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I’ve heard various people talk about the way a poem, story, song, piece of artistic expression comes to them. There are individuals that create in a very processed way. They sit down and they just work until eventually something of value comes. There are people who say I could never work that way; their process involves waiting for the piece to come to them. Throughout history, we’ve all heard stories of great pieces of art that were dreamed in a dream. We’ve heard stories of artists awakened in the middle of the night and in one shot creating a masterpiece. To some degree, most artists agree that there is ‘something,’ that comes over them, takes hold, and directs the ‘energy,’ into a piece of art. There are artists that feel like their creations are their own entities in themselves because they come from this energetic place of nothingness into a life of their own, much like we do. I can say I am somewhere in the middle. I write every day and so much of it is just total crap. I do keep everything because among the crap, I’ve found one word or line that sometimes years later seems to just ignite and comes into it’s own. There’s a lot of things that never do. At my most emotional, I probably produce some of the worst stuff. It’s truly a tempernment that gives me my best work. If I’m too emotional, it’s just going to be a big bloody mess of tears on the page. If I’m too logic based, it will produce something very informed, which often feels distant. Realistically, it’s when my mood is sort of neutral that I am at my best, which makes sense because at our most ‘neutral,’ the pressure is not there to capture a specific heartache or joy. It accepts what comes. It’s negotiable. I do believe there are exceptions. There are times when a poem just wants to come. During these times, I know if I don’t pull over the car and write it on napkin or wherever, it will be lost to me. Sorry for the bad analogy, but it’s like throwing up and it’s got to come out. Typically, when that happens the whole poem comes instantly and there are very little changes made when I go back to edit the piece. Then there’s the other kind of poem that is like a ghost. It haunts me. It hangs around for days. It often eludes me. In many instances, it will give me a key line, object, or image. It’s murky often, yet it’s persistent. I will write the line, image, object down and feel ok for a bit. Then I will be driving or doing something twenty minutes later and it’s back, tapping on my shoulder, reminding me it’s not leaving, and I have to finish the piece. Sometimes it will let me finish the piece and sometimes it just gives me another piece of the piece, vanishes, and returns again. There are poems that go on for months like this. There are also similar poems where I am somewhere and the same type of energy let’s me know a poem or piece of writing needs to be created about something in that moment. Most of the time, it’s a feeling and I’m left to figure out what is wanted. It’s usually a landscape and there’s some feeling I have to set in the landscape. If I don’t, I will continue to see the landscape over and over and feel the feeling, with an intense pressure to begin writing. Often, I do not know where the piece is going. I just know this presence/this urgency to write about this place. The strange thing with these poems is, after the poem is written, I’m still often haunted or visited by that same feeling. It’s almost as if the ‘energy,’ needs to remind me that this poem exists. I have no idea why that is. I write a lot and there are tons of pieces of writing, so I can write something and forget I wrote it in a second. There are very few of them, but they never let me forget they exist. When I started this blog and it was an opportunity to put poems out there, these are the poems that persistently present themselves. I shelf them, and I can be anywhere, and they still continue to almost ‘hound me,’ to remember they exist. The poem I’m sharing today is probably one of the most persistant pieces I’ve ever known. I’ve shelved it a million times. It came to me on a rainy beach. I lived with that feeling I got on that beach for years. I still am visited by the feeling I got on that beach. Of all the poems I’ve written over the years, it has the strongest presence. I don’t mean it’s the best, and I’ve never felt like it was. It almost doesn’t seem to care. I mean, it feels like some sort of life form to me because it’s around me so often. I have ideas of why this is and what it means and those are too personal to get into, but I decided today to allow it to be known. It’s just such a strange poem. I typically write poems in groups and then I have a break from writing and start another ‘set.’ This poem is one of few that does not belong to a ‘set.’ It came on it’s own and has never felt right being among other poems, so I leave it that way. It’s sort of my ghost poem. Perhaps, it’s bothering me because there’s someone out there that will read it and relate to it. I never guess the purpose of why a poem comes. Even as I type this, it’s almost like I can feel it being like ‘just shutup and post me,’ so that’s what I’m going to do.

Tommy

Feeling the wind come across the empty field.
I could echoes of what I wanted, expected.
In the relationship of Echo and Narcissus,
You realize, in the role of Echo, nothing of you is heard.
It was only a couple weeks since I lost you.
There, by the water, sitting on the rocks
Placed there to protect people and things
From floodwaters and great disasters,
I could only hear rubbish moving, the plasticity
Of the branches, a broken down orange fence
Where someone had dared trespassed.

A part of me was trespassing, a part of me longing to trespass.
I had moved into a space that was not mine.
When we lose something we love, we are
Not afraid of breaking fences or dimensions.
The simple riotous act of hearing a voice
Can lead us to acts of pure tyranny.

In loss, you always find this space
Where everything you lost since childhood has washed up.
You are on this beach, beach-combing through your own shit.
Some of it now gleams with beauty, you pick it up,
Wonder how you ever could have seen it so differently?
Other items, feel grangey and unwanted.
There are the Velveteen Rabbits, the loves
You outgrew. Their decomposed states is evidence
Of how thoroughly you loved them. Right now,

Their furless skin rubs well against your fury.
The ultimate reality is objects never loss us,
Which is something that cannot be said of humans.
You can hold that rabbit forever,
And its fur might get mangy, get pieces of your life stuck to it,
But it will hold you back until you let go of it.

Confronted with all this stuff from the past, I guess,
I hoped you’d show up. You are now part of my past.
Your space in time, among these things. I didn’t want much.
A wave from down the beach, a call of my name in the sharp wind,
To know you recognize me, were there. The wind continued to blow
Across the empty beach. My eyes stung with tears.
Eventually, I was sobbing, and knew I had to turn back and return to the car.
Crying on the steering wheel, I put the key in the ignition
Trying desperately not to look back,
Trying so hard to focus on driving toward
Wherever it was I was supposed to be.

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