Let’s hear it for fucking off

Guess who chose wasting the day over errands?

Sorry there’s nothing to see here today. I got scribbling a little bit tonight, and I’m choosing that over the blog entry. It’s not real writing – at least, not like I used to do. But it’s adding words to the page that weren’t there before… and that’s something I haven’t done in a really, really long time.

I’ve had three ideas for poems lately which, given the past few years, is really saying something. Back when I was in school, I’d get ideas all the time. It seemed like I couldn’t walk down the street without getting inspired by some random thing that caught my eye. Anymore, those moments are few and far between.

A big part of it has to do, I think, with reading poetry. It’s stumbling across a phrase, or a word, and then suddenly letting the book drop down and following the tangents that pop up in your head.

Back when I was in school, I swear I looked at the world in a completely different way. Every where I turned, there was a story hiding inside the objects and people I encountered, some meaning tucked within the ordinary just waiting to be described and shared. I’m certain a big part of that had to do with me being around a ton of other writers, other poets. But as I’m learning, that also had to do with reading a lot of poetry all the time, too.

Read enough poems, and you’ll eventually see a poem everywhere you look. I’d like to think this is true. Because if it is, that means I can get my brain back to where it used to be, some five years ago – finding the profound buried underneath the everyday.

In The Poetry Home Repair Manual, by Ted Kooser, there was some lines I came across this morning that really stuck with me. He writes:

I make a practice of reading some poetry before I sit down to write. It helps me to get my mind tilted in the right direction.

They key word for me here is tilted. This is spot-on, and I’m immediately reminded of Emily Dickinson’s line: “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” Both Kooser and Dickinson are describing a particular way of looking at the world – and it’s something I desperately want to recapture.

You can learn a great deal about someone looking at a yearbook photo or a prison mug shot. But my favorite photographs, the ones that reveal the most to me, are the ones that are not portraits. They’re the ones where the subject is almost caught unawares, not looking directly at the camera lens but off into the distance, or off to one side… their heads tilted ever so slightly.

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