All You Want for Christmas…

snow-barn

Some Reasons Why I Became a Poet

Because I wanted to undo each stitch
in time, unravel the nine seams
that inhibit remembering; because I wanted
to roll a stone with such tenderness
that moss would grow & hold light
on all sides at once; because I wanted to teach
every old dog I saw a new set of tricks;
because I wanted to lead a blind horse
to water & make her believe her thirst
mattered; because I wanted to count
the chickens of grief & gain before they hatched;
because I never wanted to let sleeping cats lie
in wait beneath the birdbath; because
I wanted to close the barn door after the last
horse went grazing & know that something
important was left stalled inside; because
I wanted to welcome all Greeks & the desperate
bearing of their gifts; & because I couldn’t stop
keeping my poor mouth open in a sort
of continual awe, trusting that flies, like
words, would come & go in their own time.

-Samuel Green, from THE GRACE OF NECESSITY

What I love about this poem by former Washington poet laureate Sam Green is the playfulness. More specifically, I love the repetition, which makes it satisfying to read aloud, and his use and transformation of cliche. I love the details, the “thinginess” of this list (despite the cliches). I love that it is the sort of poem that makes me want to write a poem. caffe ladro

If this were an assignment, then it would begin with a list. It could work for a poem, or for
a character study. List everything you want. Make it a long list that you can maybe whittle down. (If you find yourself listing vague or abstract desires — time, a room of your own, a clean house, world peace — how can you transform those into particulars?) Use repetition of an opening word or phrase (called anaphora) to elevate your list into a poem.

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