The Why Of It

Why do any of us write poetry?

Specifically, why do I write poetry?

I use to be really sure about my poetry goals when I first started. I was going to go to grad school, maybe publish some books, possibly teach and do some globetrotting along the way. But like any wannabe poet who reads actual poets who have their shyt together, I spent more time questioning my abilities than using them.

Well written, well edited poetry can either inspire you or have you wondering why you wanted to be a poet in the first place. I rationalized my doubting by saying to myself even those who've been published had to start from somewhere; no one comes out of the womb with Strunk & White in hand. What I did most though was remind myself modern day bards move from poetry varsity to the pros by...wait for it ---> ACTUALLY WRITING POETRY.

Not sitting in front of a laptop waiting for words to swan dive off of eyelids onto a screen; or use journal pages for grocery list instead of the pulse of living. Yes, just like a job, writing poetry takes work.

Malcolm Gladwell studied the lives of extremely successful people to find out how they achieved success and came to the conclusion that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field.

I’m a few thousand hours short on practice, but I've definitely got em’ all beat when it comes to thinking about writing poetry, easily.

Aye, there’s the rub.

Nothing comes to sleepers but dreams.

A lot of us poetry folk are dreamers at heart; some better at dreaming than writing. We want to pimp slap oppression with stanzas, terza rima injustice and racism into oblivion; generally make the world a better place one metaphor at a time. I know I would spend so much time dreaming about words and what they could do, I occasionally forgot that writing them down was a big part of the process.

In my social networking life, I’ve seen what can be accomplished with the marriage of effort to practice. I have quite a few friends who’ve moved their writing dreams into the realm of reality with hard work and determination, which makes me hopeful about my future. Even though I may be a master at procrastination, I've never forgotten why I chose to write poetry; to connect myself to a world I always felt disconnected from, to make prayers visible and give voice to my imagination.

Even in times of doubt, when the question of why arises, I’m still enough of a poet to answer it with a resounding why not?


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It Creeps In...

I'm sad. 

There I wrote it. 

I'm not looking for pity or coddling in writing this statement. It's more for my own edifice; a deliberate declaration of defiance against lying to myself. The holidays it seems are a catalyst for sadness to creep up on me out of nowhere. I've been good at hiding it over the years but now it's drowning me like a flood and somehow that's okay. 

My father died 33 years ago today and I can still feel the vibrations of hearing my mother telling me he was never coming home again...ever. It's like an echo becoming louder when the New Year approaches; today it reverberates deep into my bones. 

I think I've held on to so much of this sadness because I've never grieved properly after his sudden death or the sudden deaths, murders and passings of family and friends; I often wonder if there is ever any proper way to deal with it? 

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross provides a template to follow but in reality there is no magic bullet for alleviating it. As a boy I was always taught that men don't cry and you have to be strong for the others around you. I would see examples of my father and uncles seemingly unaffected by tragedies and deaths and wondered how could they not want to cry or be sad? I was, but I emulated their cues and learned how to hold it in. 

Even when I've been fortunate enough to be able to share it with someone, I felt like I was burdening them. Even now while composing these words it almost feels wrong but I receive strength in knowing that in the human experience none of us are immune to it; it's how we handle it that makes all the difference.

I know I can't keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. So in writing this post I make an acknowledgment to embrace my sadness for there is indeed a quiet serenity in letting it pass through me.


Days after my father died,
I watched my mom sink
into an armchair as if
it was an embrace from him.

She sat listless;
her face made up with
fatigue, sorrow and the
hint of a smile.

Her eyes, which were
once bright and vibrant,
held a dim and distant shine. 

When she finally got
up to go rest in the bed,
I sat in that chair and
felt a surge of memories
engulf me.

Hugs, kisses, jokes,
arguments, discipline
and family functions
came rushing in like
a December wind;

whenever I saw her sit
in that chair from that
day forward, I would go
get her slippers and ask
if she needed a blanket. 

© 2015 abruvanamedsly



Another young man got shot in broad daylight.

Another young man got shot in broad daylight;
empathy for his death was narrow.

The marrow in human bones
is becoming colder than frozen stones;
feels like the earth has forgotten how to pray.

Tears turn to concrete;
a mother’s heart strings pop.

Another young man got shot in broad daylight,
not many onlookers seem to be shocked.

© 2015 abruvanamedsly



Growth hurts.

It pushes its way
up through fields
of comfort and
conformity laying
down roots of
uncertainty and fear.

It rearranges the soil
so much so that one
can’t get a proper
footing anymore;

each step wavering
between miss and wonder.

I survey those who
have grown around me
and either marvel in
their beauty or cringe
at their ugliness;

some say it was good that I was a late bloomer.

© 2015 abruvanamedsly


Nina Knew

After viewing the documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? a couple of weeks ago, I was inspired to put some words to what I felt when the film was done; this is what I came up with...

Nina knew
everyone will love you
but no one will know
how to love you.

That artistry would
be savior, salvation
and sin, especially
when folks detest
the skin it resides in.

That the second you
become more revolutionary
than resigned, it will be the
life and death of your
career each and every time.

That you’ll continually exist
between courage and the
urge to cower to fear;
wanting to be seen, but often
times wishing to disappear.

That folks will constantly
desire to covet your flesh,
but deliberately miss
touching the inside
of your chest.

That some of the
best moments in life
may happen when
you’re all alone;
existing so much
inside your head,
it will truly become
your only home.

That you’ll smile
at the world while
swallowing your pain;
your soul sunshine,
consistently hidden
by gray clouds and rain.

That the stage will be both
freedom and an invisible
cage; thousands of eyes
held captive by the
brilliance of a
creative sage

whose genius still causes hearts to sigh;

seems like the most
tragically gifted amongst us
aren’t genuinely appreciated
until after they die.

© 2015 abruvanamedsly

Nina Simone

Ode To Sleeping

Today I attended the Free Writers on The Green Line workshop facilitated by poet extraordinaire Naomi Ayala. It was informative, enlightening, and fun; this is one of the pieces that came out of today's session...

You are a welcomed

companion on life’s journey;

if an ambulance was love,

you would be the gurney.

We meet at night,

we meet in the day;

we sometimes meet

after lunch when my

boss goes away.

We meet in bed,

we meet on the couch,

we meet on the train,

I miss my stop because of you,

but I don’t complain.

I miss phone calls

when we’re alone,

I took a plane trip to Cali,

we met over two different

two zones.

I think you’re awesome,

I can’t resist your charm;

I think we should get together

and murder the clock alarm. 

© 2015 abruvanamedsly

Flying Bed

Intent (30/30)

The final prompt for day thirty over at NaPoWriMo was to take a previously written poem and write it backwards, flipping the order of the lines from the last to the first. I’m using a poem I wrote back in January of 2014 entitled Meant To to accomplish this challenge...

I really meant to love her more,

but in reality,
I am genuinely sorry
for capturing our moments

Her smile,
her aroma,
her flesh,

while obsessing
over written memories.

Beneath her breast,
a thumping quasar
the universe 

in her eyes
ink strokes
attempted to mirror.

Our dreams,
our uncertainties,
our happiness,
all immortalized effigies
lingering like
a sunset with no horizon;

every letter
a tragic beauty
delicately embraced.

She inspired me to write,
but more than her,
I foolishly loved words.

© 2015 abruvanamedsly