Sometimes, When We Pick Our Poems Up

By the time I’d get my poems back…I could see them in a new way, maybe like children getting off the bus from their first day of school.   – Kay Ryan

           

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, they come sprinting into our arms and we can’t tell if they are overjoyed to see us or if we are rescuing them from the cruelties of the playground.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, we don’t let them know that we are there and we watch them through the window with workshop silence.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, they’re in a different font and we barely recognize them.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, we find ourselves comparing them to all the other poems – wondering why our poems can’t do backbends, noticing how none of the other poems have stains all over their shirts.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, they smell like the perfume of other women.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, we see other writers who look like they’re working on new poems – but we have learned to never-ever-never say anything until we actually see those new poems on paper.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, they suddenly look all grown up and we can’t believe that just a few weeks ago they were some tiny scraps of language scribbled on the back of a receipt.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, they have a meltdown right in middle of the hallway and we wish they were a final draft already and not a work-in-progress.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, we see them lined up against the wall and we worry that we have tamed all that beautiful wildness right out of them.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, we feel so grateful that others have taken the time to understand them, to care for them despite their flaws.

 

 

Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, they ignore us and just keep playing with their friends beneath the slide – they’ve been fending for themselves all day long and have learned that the poem must travel to the mountaintop alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Ben Berman’s first book, Strange Borderlands, won the 2014 Peace Corps Award for Best Book of Poetry and was a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Awards. His second collection, Figuring in the Figure, is just out from Able Muse Press.  He has received awards from the New England Poetry Club and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Somerville Arts Council. He teaches at Brookline High School and is the Poetry Editor at Solstice Literary Magazine. www.ben-berman.com

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Categories:

The Workshop The Writing Life

Topics:

Poetry

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