“Couplet: two lines of poetry that form a unit.” I found myself writing random couplets as they pushed themselves upon my yielding mind. I share them with you here. Each couplet only nicks the surface of a universal story. Explore deeper to find that every image is a symbol of human depths we can only stare into blackly. Examine the people, places, images, and ideas around you to see what poetic couplets come to you. Look at your lover, your dog, the hornets nest in the crook of your gable, your birdhouse. Only the poem can fathom.
Rise unresisting to the slight swelling between
parallel bleached and knotted planks.
Strain at the runes stamped into your skull:
the Rosetta stone is smashed.
Hobble my feet at the desk;
hide my brain in the left-hand drawer.
The message is mute under my tongue;
black balloons founder on the floor.
Extinguished are the lights in the hotel hall;
strange sounds seep under bolted doors.
The coffee is free,
though cold (sorry).
What do I say? Give me a beer
so I can heave until I’m empty, then heave.
Peak through the keyhole, expectantly:
to see: worlds never to be known.
Bless all the dear children in Africa’s care, in Asia’s and America’s care,
the walkers, the limpers, the rollers and bed-layers: runners all.
Put your tooth under the pillow, your stocking on the hearth,
your clogs on the sill—your knees to the floor.
You should check that dry red spot on your back:
you lifeguarded as a girl, you know, several summers.
Put your arms around that boy, clap him twice:
Proud of you, son.
I would reach out, to touch:
empty space; paw at it, paw.
You look lovely,
Very nice, Dad! Your couplets remind me of something Lance Larson, who was the poet laureate for Utah, said about his writing process. One line of distinct poetry comes to him, and he writes it down. It happens again and again, and he continues collecting these single lines until he has enough to compile them into a poem. Somehow, they all end up working together.
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That’s very interesting. The inspiration and creation processes are as unique as every inspired human creator. Sometimes I see or hear something poignant, and the first words of poetic description begin to form. As I write them down, new words join and press themselves upon me. I wrote at the beginning of one of my memoir chapters, “never betray the inspiration.” Inspiration betrayed or denied vanishes.
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