Once, after I read my poetry out loud
A friend congratulated me
Said the cadence of my murmurs
Was meant for spoken-word
I wanted to say back,
“Maybe, but I don’t have
Every time I sit down and
Press my fingers into the grooves of the keyboard
I feel like I’m writing my first poem
And that I’m actually writing an essay
With misplaced line breaks
Or that I’m stringing together pretentious metaphors
That don’t really have any meaning
And then, because I’m an English student
I try to reverse analyze
And there’s writing
And wondering how other people do it
“How am I ever going to finish this?”
My longest poem took me three months to finish
And was essentially the Bat Mitzvah of my poetry writing.
To this day, I don’t know if I’ll ever create anything
That will amount to the way I felt
When I read it for the first time.
Is it all downhill from here?
I could just be trying to sound intelligent
By using language that doesn’t quite add up—
Math was never my strong suit.
I was hoping words could be.
Some poetry sings you to sleep
And some prepares you for war
And I want to write both.
But I’m still just figuring out
How to convey whirlwind thoughts,
Tornado ideas and tempestuous designs
So that they do not appear like the limp air
You feel on dreary Tuesday afternoons
When you’re trying to find your car
In a supermarket parking lot.
Maybe it’s good I have a car alarm heart.
Another friend tells me
“Words can be written by anyone,
“But voices cannot be replicated.”
My teacher notes on my corrected essay
“You write well,
“You just need to meet your deadlines.”
I say to myself
“You were never very good at endings.”
As long as there are puzzle pieces and fault lines and cobblestone alleys
And dancing galaxies and soft hands and ferns that tickled your younger days
And teenager-y emotions and whispers and sunlight
And collaborative blogs made by writerly friends,
There will be words.
Maybe not The Words,
But that’s okay.
They’re our Words.