[Poem a Day] “An Old Anchor”

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I used to do a lot of photography.

I’d go out of my way to find cool places to visit so that I could come away with amazing shots to edit and share. It was comforting to look back on them – something to cement my presence there at that particular time, that specific moment. A piece of time that was wholly and entirely me.

Time tends to dull that warmth as the gap widens between that one and this one, but still – we pull these pages up, we prop open those old scrapbooks, we look at those old faces and feel, at least in some small measure, a small pounding echo of that moment in the pit of our stomachs.

Pulling at our seams. Tugging at the edges.

[Poem a Day] “An Old Anchor”

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I used to be a big city kind of guy. Something about the allure of concrete high rises – all that sleek grit and noise – seemed inherently romantic. Especially for someone who spends most of his time writing out of his quiet little suburban stretch – not much out here save for strip malls and condensed housing. But the more I went, the more I found myself feeling swallowed up – enveloped by something much bigger than me the moment I’d step out from Penn Station. There’s this feeling – something that’s counteracted at least a little bit by my love for downtown gastropubs and quiet Japanese bars with ice cold mugs of Sapporo, but there nonetheless – of just…drowning.

Some people feed off that mass of collected energy buzzing around one giant space, but for some reason it just makes me feel a bit far off. I’m not quite sure why.

 

 

Bonus points for those of you who caught the little T.S. Eliot nod in there. You get extra credit.

[Poem a Day] “The First Half Drags Out”

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Apologizing ahead of time for some typos and brevity today. Blogging from the back seat of a car and playing the denial game with some creeping motion sickness.

Most of us have thrown our demons on the page. I think they’re easier to manage and express when we force them through a pen tip – a keystroke – and people listen because of how universal the experience of pain is.

Pain is simple, though. Anyone can claim to have felt it, but the degrees get smudged when you paint it with a bit of creativity. People will connect with the work because we’ve all suffered – but the writing itself has a shelf life. You can’t write your demons forever, not without rephrasing a few poems.

[Poem a Day] “Home Stretch”


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Writing poetry often involves the act of condensing moments into visible form on the page – taking the physical and emotional weight of an event, a thought, and occurrence, and transferring it to a visible form there on the page. The act, I think, is always different levels of reductive, but that’s always been the nature of art that stands as a reflection of something else. That being said, it’s easier to reduce and press something bigger – loud moments, concepts, emotions all press in loud ways onto the page – the leap to turn these things into words isn’t such a large one.

Quiet emotion is a different thing entirely. The difficulty is that you run the risk of loading the visual with too many words, too much weight – the instant stretches on, and on, and what was this ephemeral thing, rendered beautiful in how finite it is, has been stretched into a form that doesn’t really resemble itself anymore.

[Poem a Day] “The Hopeful”


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If bonfires seem to be a recurring theme in my writing, you’re not wrong. It’s mostly because most of my best memories from a certain point in my life smell like charred wood. We’d spend nights at any time of the year propped up around someone’s beaten up fire pit, watching the embers float off into the air, letting our clothes drink in that deep earthen smoke. When we ran out of wood, we’d steal logs from some unsuspecting neighbor’s surplus. When it rained, we’d prop a canopy over the fire so we wouldn’t have to go inside.

[Poem a Day] “Night’s Been Younger”


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My second favorite thing to do at a bar is pull myself out of my own conversation for a minute and let my eyes and ears sort of wander over the night’s crowd. Not necessarily eavesdrop – that’d require a whole lot more effort than I’d be willing to give on a mellow night out with some friends, but just drift. Passively absorb little snippets of scenes going on around me – passages of books that aren’t mine; that aren’t even remotely on the same shelf. More often than not it all just blurs a little into that all too familiar buzz – that low drone that settles into the back of your head, leaving you subtly irked that the bar isn’t a bit quieter for the night. But sometimes you accidentally drift past something important – these little bursts of sudden significance that wouldn’t seem out of place letterboxed in between black bars on a screen.

And if you remember that moment the night after, maybe it becomes poetry.

[Poem a Day] “Bukowski-esque”

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I tried to evoke a lot of old man Chinaski in a lot of my earlier work. Can you blame me? Widely renowned at least nowadays as one of the greatest “punk-poets” of his time, there’s something oddly hypnotic about the way that his words ring out on the page – some of his lines ruthlessly spat and glaring in all their rawness. The combination of his kind of narrative voice and the domain of “dirty realism” strike such a distinct figure against the attention to form and structure and floating imagery that I was sort of pre-conditioned to assume back in my university days.

So as someone who loved poetry, and wanted to write more and more, I latched onto his voice. Fastened it like a backpack over my own words, so it could carry my images in its shell.

But the thing about poetry is that it’s such an intensely individual medium – you can adopt a style, use the same diction, assign places on the page much in the same manner as any other acclaimed poet, but you don’t have the same soul as they do. Your story, your baseline, isn’t their baseline. And while mechanically you might evoke the same effect by adopting a similar voice, your poetry is always your own. Not Bukowski’s. Not Byron’s. Not that four word poet with an ocean of followers on Insta. You’re in this constant state of observing other styles next to your own and seeing how they interact – whether you create an echo, or whether you veer off in another direction completely. It’s a process of constant evolution, and every time I sit down in front of my laptop to write, I want my style to be in a slightly different place than it was last week. A few days ago. The night before.

Not a different voice. Just maybe more defined.