Writing prompt: What is your favorite poem (And if you don’t have one, why?)
I have a funny relationship with poetry. I like it alright. And back in my overwrought teens, I even enjoyed engaging in bad verse from time to time. However, until very recently, poetry and I really weren’t on speaking terms. The art of poetry just seemed too precious, too refined. And I guess in some way I kind of resented people who considered themselves poets. I mean, seriously, what kind of responsible adult sits around and writes poems, for fucks sake?
I wasn’t always this cynical about poetry. I remember this old paperback of poetry that I believe may have belonged to my mother. The pages were brown and brittle, and the cover was long gone. As a youth, and into my teen years, I loved that book of poetry – maybe not all of it, but there was a poem I went back to again and again. Yet now, I have no idea what that poem was, or who it was by, or what it was like. I just remember the aged pages and how taking that book out now and again gave me comfort.
In college I took a poetry class with a poet who wasn’t famous herself, but who brought along her famous poet friends for Show and Tell. That was the semester I was taking a light class load because I was so depressed, and I figured I would try my hand at being Sylvia Plath (writing poetry, that is – not sticking head in oven). Thinking back, I’m not even sure I completed the class, though I do recall I was praised for a self-conscious poem I wrote while on cocaine about being on cocaine.
For the next 30 years poetry simply was not a part of my life. But, it appears to making to creeping back in. Both of my writing teachers at the The Writing Salon wrote poetry – one of them even wrote poetry I liked. And she suggested that we all read more poetry to understand the importance of word choice. So, now, instead of skipping over the poems in The Sun, I read them, and even more surprisingly, enjoy them!
A couple of months back, after reading an online discussion forum dissecting the meaning of the lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece, “Hallelujah”, I decided to go out and get a book of his poems called “Book of Longing”. And while I wouldn’t say this was my favorite poem, I found it worth sharing with my friends, so I’ll share it with you too.
Report to R.S.B
by Leonard Cohen
Peace did not come into my life
My life escaped
and peace was there.
Often I bump into my life,
trying to catch its breath,
pay a bill,
or tolerate the news,
tripping as usual
over the cables
of someone’s beauty —
My little life;
so devoted to its obscure purposes —
And, I hasten to report,
doing fine without me.