potential, or a lack thereof

The trouble with poetry, as Billy Collins says, is that it encourages more poetry. “Like baby rabbits,” it propagates itself by instilling the desire of the reader to write his own poetry. On a recent trip into the desert with some teachers of writing and science, I experienced exactly this. But on return and upon looking at my own writing, I realized the other trouble with poetry: It reveals my own work for the pedantic blather that it is. Collins himself is but one example of this. I further made the mistake of reading Robert Frost, who not only paints a picture, sets a mood, parables a lesson, but does it all with elegant meter. Nothing Gold Can Stay is brilliant not only because it retains meaning through generations (I continue to associate it with The Outsiders), but because it is so lyrical. As I was working on my own piece, an assignment from our class trip, it became increasingly clear that it was not to be The Great Poem I dream about, the one I thought it was when the first seeds of it were planted in my head. The beauty of so much already written, so much to read, set amongst so much yet to be written, so many empty pages, became the final theme of the verse. A great poem? No. I’ll admit that the writing is just as inspiring (or less so) as the moral of the poem itself. And maybe that’s where the potential lies, and the other trouble with poetry: so much room for improvement.

Potential

the chime of brass
opens the door
and I plod into the bookstore
on 78 N. Main,
a floorboard creaking,
welcoming my presence.

where

the potential of print within
all the darkness between
the closed covers of
books written,
neatly organized,
calls to me.

while

the potential of space within
the leather covers around
the stark blankness of  
unfilled pages,
acid free,
begs for fulfillment.

so

after some thought
and furrowing of brow
and pacing of feet
I decide,
and order a
cappuccino  
to go.

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