Years ago, when I was still writing in a journal, I tried writing poems on those journal pages—not instead of the entries that detailed heartbreaks and breakups, not instead of my stock of exclamation points and my running count of regrets—but in addition to the ups and downs of my daily life. I decided those poems didn’t have to be good at all. I could write whatever I wanted because no one was ever going to see them. They were only meant for me.
They not only didn’t have to be good, but they didn’t have to be anything because I was not going to judge them based on their merit as poems. They were feelings and that’s all, scribbles of emotions. In other words, they were free.
I wrote more poems after that than I ever had before. They were easier to write on those journal pages, without my critical eye and my whip of expectation, and so I kept on writing poems—verses of my angst in life and love—right up until the year I stopped journaling, not because I’d run out of angst, but just because.
On April 1 of this year, I decided to write a poem a day for National Poetry Month and to go back to that lowered bar of expectations. When I told one of my friends I was on week 2 of the experiment, she responded, “I think it must take enormous discipline.”
No, it really doesn’t.
I write down whatever comes into my head. I don’t judge it. I let it look back and laugh at me as it falls onto the page. Sometimes it’s about my angst; sometimes it’s about someone’s else’s. Sometimes it's about everything, or nothing, or it surprises me or tricks me or slaps me or makes me feel like I'm watching other people dance across my page. But it’s easy because I accept whatever it is.
After I wrote then reread my poem from this morning, I realized it was, in a way, about what I’ve been trying for all this time. Which is the beauty of living without censoring: you let the world inside.
April 16, 2015
"After the rains"
After two days of rain, the sun blew
yellow onto the lawn and into my
Yesterday, every call I made ended in defeat.
I reached gate keepers and naysayers
and if I wanted something, all I got was no.
Even when I demanded it, as if that was just for show.
I’m thinking maybe all this light is some
sign that today those storms have shifted east,
that luck struck out from far off west
and finally arrived and I might get
some of it if I only ask—if, today, I try.
Or maybe all that matters is the rest: the acceptance
of what was, what is, and what might not ever be. The sun
dangles through the trees, descends without worry,