I write a poem a (week)day with a partner; the intention is not to critique but to quietly read, compliment, encourage. It's a ritualistic pleasure for me: every third hour, during my prep hour, I do the following: I take yesterday's empty can, go down to the cafeteria and recycle it and buy a new Diet Coke, return to my classroom, with my damp soda and the screen surrounded by post-its of my favorite words, and I write. I try to write at other times and while it happens occasionally, it is easiest for me during this small space of time, with these particular tools. I haven't always liked what I've written, but it has come out without resistence.
And, lacking topics, I immediately went to the newspapers, a wealth of narrative and storytelling. I selected this story. And I wrote this morning poem, this first draft:
The gold wrapped around your finger means:
money, marriage, a commitment to the flux
of paper on your desk. It does not tell you
that two thousand would emerge from the dark
of a mine in Carleton, South Africa. You cannot
imagine what it might be for your face to turn
soot-gray, the way your life might play a merry-
go-round on the backs of closed eyelids.
What would you remember, then? Would you think
of your honeymoon in Mexico, the way you sipped
drinks the color of parrots, and fought each night
before making love? Would you remember the day
you gave birth, baby slippery like boiled noodles,
grunting from your womb? Would you consider
the shape of space, the way your home has transformed
into a place of strangers?
You cannot imagine what it would be to remain behind,
the hundreds more still waiting, beneath the rubble,
the ululations at the surface cause rock and gold
to slide on the contours of your body: your face, your breath,
your fingers. What gold would stay,
wrapped around these that remain, the mosaic of memory
splayed for all the world to see?
So now it is your turn. Find your favorite newspaper, select a story at random, let it inspire you. The best stories for me: ones with photographs, ones from across the globe, ones that are rich in action and dramatics, ones that stirs the human to cry out, to gasp, to be moved.