Friday, January 23, 2015

Poetry Friday: How We Think About the Muse

Thursday's post put me in mind of poems that I've written that address this subject of prodigals returning to practice.  Here's one of my favorite first lines of all the poems I've ever written:  "The muscles remember what the mind forgets."  It's from one of the few successful villanelles I've ever written, and you can read it here

That link will also take you to a poem that imagines the muse as Penelope, waiting faithfully for her artist who goes wandering off.  I've posted that poem several times already, so I won't post it again here.

I was thumbing through my old poems, thinking about how I think about the muse.  I don't really believe in writer's block, in the muse abandoning me.  No, it's me who doesn't make time for lunch with my muse.

In my old files, I found this poem which was never published.  I still like the images in it.  It intrigues me, this mix of fairy tales and modern science:  germ warfare and ancient archetypes!  I think I wrote it during the time when anthrax was being mailed to various people.  Still, I think it works.

The Call of the Crows

My muse leaves me a trail
of breadcrumbs. Just to be safe,
she mixes in all my favorite
kinds: the sourdough of experience, the sweet
cinnamon bread of memory, the rye
of humor, the hearty grained passions.

Alas, poor muse! She doesn’t know
of these crows that guard
me always, the caws of callous
criticism always in my ear.
They see what my muse plots
and they pluck away the crumbs
as quickly as she can scatter them.

But my muse is a crafty girl, well-schooled
in mazes and cunning escapes. She selects
cords in many colors, velvet ribbons
and festive silks to help me find my way.
The crows use these to line their nests.

Luckily, my muse is not so easily deterred.
She forgoes the subtle approach, the seductive
ways of getting my attention. She plants
landmines in my gardens of guilt,
mails bombs cleverly disguised
as friendly letters, which scatter infectious
agents of creativity throughout my day.
She infuses me with bacteria that will infect
each cell, viruses that will root in my very soul,
recombining my DNA, transforming me in fevered
fires into a woman who no longer comprehends
the call of the crows.

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