Downsized Writing

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been digging poetry.

It’s not because April is National Poetry Month. I didn’t even know it was until I saw it mentioned on one of the blogs I visit. No, I’ve been reading the 16th Annual Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Anthology (which I will do a book review on in the next couple of days–I promise). In it were some really good poems–Hansel, A retrospective, or the Danger of Childhood Obesity by Tom Disch; Seven Pairs of Iron Shoes by Tracina Jackson-Adams; Reading Myth to Kindergartners by Jackie Bartley; and After the Chuck Jones Tribute on Teletoon by Sharon McCartney (an ode to Wile E. Coyote and my favorite one). After reading those and other in the anthology, I started doodling around on my own. I haven’t been writing one per day–more like when the mood hits me–but so far I’ve written 5 poems in two weeks. Not bad.

It’s not like I haven’t written poetry before. When I got back into writing, I jumpstarted it using poetry. But once I started working on Willow and short stories, poetry somewhat took a back seat; it was something nice to dabble in, but I didn’t want to spend all my energy on it. That’s a shame, because I believe that my writing is heavily influenced by poetry. It’s using the same concept of finding the right words to convey the right image, and doing so in an almost lyrical manner.

It seems that my current fascination with poetry reflects the downsizing in my life. We’re in the process of moving from a 3-bedroom house to a 3-bedroom apartment in Madison, which means putting a bunch of stuff on Craigslist, giving other things away. It’s a little unsettling seeing empty space where our couch used to be–and I know I’ll be unhappy when the dresser I had since the beginning of college gets carted away. The upshot of this is that we’ll be getting new dressers once we get to Madison. It’s just a little sad knowing that we’re moving to a condensed lifestyle, even if it’s only going to be for a few months.

And yet, it’s also thrilling. The day we signed the lease, I was awake for most of the night planning out where to put furniture in our new apartment. Considering that I tend to snub HGTV, I’ve been bugging my hubby with: “If we get rid of the entertainment center and store the TV, we can use a smaller cart to put a computer screen on so it will fit on this wall. Then we can put the futon over here so it won’t get in the way. And then we can get a shelved headboard for our bed–that will eliminate our need for bookshelves, so we’d have more space to put a desk…”

Great. I’m turning into my mother AND my mother-in-law.

But I can’t help it. The challenge of decorating such a small space is one I’m taking up with great relish. And it’s the same excitement I’ve been finding in writing poetry lately. It’s short enough so that it doesn’t take too much time, which I’m scarce on nowadays. And yes, it doesn’t pay well, but it’s a form of writing that is very respected, if it’s done well.

I’ll end with something I churned out the other day. A Writer’s Digest blog, Poetry Asides, has been doing a Poem-A-Day challenge for the month of April. One of the writing prompts was “snooping on another conversation”. So here’s my tiny little contribution. Enjoy!

$20 bucks an hour

“They had us in rooms,
Couldn’t do nothing
We’d watch TV, read books
and they always took blood…”

she stretched out her arm
to show the track marks
tiny bruises speckled
like moldy grapes

“We couldn’t do anything
they wanted to track
how the medicine went through
our bodies
constantly taking samples
our arms, legs…”

She let her sleeve fall.

“Was it worth it?” someone asked
She tilted her head.

“Well, I got a hundred fifty bucks.”

She rose from the table,
swayed slightly
catching herself with a
pinpricked hand.
“I’d probably do it again,”
she told us,
tugging down the hem
of her floral dress.