Poetic Incubation

When I was a teenager, I wrote a lot of poetry. It was an emotional activity more than an intellectual one. I cared about imagery, metaphor, and other poetic devices, but I cared more about getting the feeling out. As I read more poetry in college, I experimented with different styles and techniques, trying a little more for artistry than raw emotion. It was always important that I stay true to the idea or emotion that inspired the poem. Even though I took more time to think about craft, there was still an immediacy. The time between thinking of the poem and getting it to paper was minimal.

Since my early twenties, I haven’t written very much poetry. There have been a few pieces here and there, but nothing compared to how prolific I used to be. I’ve also noticed that there’s less urgency when I do get an idea. One brewed for months before I got it down. The result is a poem I’m very proud of, though I don’t know if I’ve ever shared it with anyone. Last year, I took about two weeks to get down seven or eight lines that were an unconscious and unintentional homage to Yeats. Today, I worked with an idea I wrote down months ago but only now finalized in a way that I’m happy with.

The time it takes to nurture a poem is so much longer now. I have to let them sit, brew, stew, marinate, simmer… I’m not sure what word is best to describe it. Of course, there’s also the fact that I write them so infrequently that when I do, I feel an internal pressure to make them good – not for anyone else, for myself. And I’m my harshest critic.

“Myers Briggs”
July 30, 2017

Bound by the binary,
There are only two ways:
My needle floats,
Never drawn too far toward
Always hovering perfectly between;
A level placed on a picture
The bubble centered in the sights.
Seesaw on a fulcrum,
I can move to either side,
But balanced on my scale is always a counterweight
To find the middle.
A stasis that allows me to
See the kaleidoscope of possibilities
But paralyzes me
Because there is no third dimension.
I do both equally,
Somehow managing to do
          Nothing completely.
It’s one axis of the matrix,
But it reveals
My strongest weakness,
My weakest strength.


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