Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Advice to a Young Poet

My Advice to a Young Poet
after reading “Ashes, Ashes We All Fall Down” by my niece, Catherine

The difficulty, Cat, is that
your passion is as large as the ocean
and poetry demands a jar.
Pottery, not poetry—
the potter’s wheel,
the kiln of craft—
these you need.

Write sonnets to the moon,
odes to moustaches,
villanelles about ants
beneath horses’s hooves.
Go to the zoo and look
at a single animal
but look at it long,
all day today and then tomorrow
and the next.
You may learn its name in German.

Bore yourself to anger
with spelling and grammar,
rapping your knuckles
like a schoolish marm
until truth bleeds from your pen
as it does now from your heart.
And read & read & read until
you don’t sleep enough,
are too tired to defend yourself
from yourself.

Then, helpless with the beggar’s jar
in your shaking hand,
pour portions of your heart
slowly, carefully down
until you see only

the chair your mother sat in
and can tell us

it is empty.

Copyright March, 2003

No comments:

Post a Comment