The Poem and I Have a Little Conversation

This is a little conversation that attempts to reveal what happens most of the time when I try to write a poem. I start off, usually with some notion or twitch of an idea. That then becomes a title out from which I start writing. In this case the notion was the need to do some repairs on our house and the negative consequences of not attending to these needed reparations. I wrote a draft. It dealt with how not fixing the house could hurt a marriage. The following “conversation” came about as I listened to the poem trying to tell me what I hadn’t realized. The poem, any poem I try to compose, is invariably smarter than I am. But I’m stubborn; every time, I want to have my way. Then finally I start to listen.
Here’s the kind of thing I usually hear.
Jack: Ok. Done. Got down exactly what would happen if I don’t make those needed repairs to the place.
Poem: It’s all negative. The consequences are all negative.
Jack: Of course they are.
Poem: Of course they are?
Jack: Yes, of course they are.
Poem: You’re sure?
(The poem is often like some Zen master all but whacking me behind the head.)
Jack: So what are you saying? You’re telling me there are positives to not repairing the house?
Poem: Yes.
Jack: And I assume that you’re implying that there are also negative consequences if I DO repair the place.
Poem: I don’t know about negatives, but there are certainly valuable things that won’t happen if you make these repairs.
Jack: Help me out.
Poem: Oh come on. Well, how about this: Can you two live without making those changes?
Jack: I guess we could.
Poem: No, I don’t mean put up with not making them. I mean live.
Jack: Oh.
Poem: Look at me! What if the cracks are gone? What if you can no longer hear the creaks in the floor? What if you don’t fix that one window; what will you notice? What if you don’t fix the wall where the ivy is growing?
Jack: The place will go to hell!
Poem: Put me away. Go for a walk with the dog, or rake some leaves or take a nap or read some poems or—just put me away.
Poem: You’re back.
Jack: I am, and . . . (Jack starts writing again.)
Poem: See?
Jack: Shut up.
Poem: Yes! That’s it: don’t fix the draft under the door. Yes, put on socks, those socks she made for you. Yes, see? She’s putting on socks, too. Look at me! Sit on the sofa, together. That’s a good sound by the way, “sofa.” I like what that sound feels like.
Jack: I like ending with those socks and sitting together on the sofa.
Poem: Well . . . I uh . . .
Jack: You think it’s cheesy.
Poem: Well . . .
Jack: What do you want?
Poem: C’mon, can’t you feel it? Comfort. I want to feel that.
Jack: And that’s not cheesy?
Poem: That’s not what I meant. Read me.
Jack: You want it more comforting. Ok, how about some pillows?
Poem: Well, sure, pillows are comforting but it’s still
Jack: Cheesy.
Poem: No, you got rid of that, but it’s resolved.
Jack: So?
Poem: You know better.
Jack: Pillows give way. If they give way then . . .
Poem: You got it. Now, finished?
Jack: A poem’s never finished; it’s
Poem: Abandoned. Ready to abandon me?
Jack: Yep.
Poem: What did I end up being about?
Jack: A poem’s always about a lot of things.
Poem: I say that it’s about the socks.
Jack: The poem is about the socks?
Poem: Well, yes. And socks come in what?
Jack: All sizes.
Poem: No! These socks. These socks come in pairs.
Jack: So?
Poem: The socks.
Jack: The socks.
Poem: C’mon. You can’t be this blind. What do you call two socks?
Jack: A pair.
Poem: Duh. And what does that have to do with me?
Jack: Oh my god! A pair of socks. Two pairs of socks. The couple is each wearing a pair of socks. The couple is on the sofa. Not fixing the house is to
Poem: You got it!
Jack: To fix the couple. To re-couple!
Poem: You’re kidding me? To re-couple??
Jack: Yeah.
Poem: To re-couple? What have you been talking about doing?
Jack: Repairing the house.
Poem: Uh huh. Repairing. Repair. To re-
Jack: Pair! They are re-paired!
Poem: Genius. Now, what’s wrong with the structure?
Jack: Nothing.
Poem: Well, ok. In one sense nothing. It’s in one solid block.
Jack: Right. They are together, solid.
Poem: Think about “couple.”
Jack: Couple.
Poem: Couple.
Jack: Two.
Poem: Yes. Two. A pair is two, a couple is two, is a
Jack: Couple, couples, oh my god, couplet! It can be in couplets.
Poem: Genius.

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.