Writing as everyday spiritual practice was the topic of one of my recent blog posts, but writing mindfully and staying in the present moment is a lot more difficult than it might seem. Since I’ve been feeling creatively blocked lately, I decided to follow my own advice, switch genres and write a poem about my current state of mind.
Simple enough, right? Hardly. My inner critic kicked in big-time. I found myself playing with rhyme and rhythm as a rapper might, but my “umpire” kept telling me I was making a mess of things. No sooner had I come up with the first few lines than I began wondering if the poem would be appropriate for posting on my blog. I could envision myself reading it at the next open mic at the Social Justice Center in Albany, but how would it come across online? Would the constipation imagery turn people off?
Is the word “turd” too vulgar for my readers?
I decided I could care less. I’ll let you be the judge, and I’ll try not to worry what you think (although as always, I welcome your comments). I recommend the following exercise: write a poem, and make it as crass, corny and vulgar as you can. Have fun, and don’t worry about quality. Who knows what makes for good poetry anyway?
So is this poem an example of everyday spiritual practice? Writing it, I found myself immersed in the moment, and I feel more centered and energized now than before I began, so I believe it qualifies.
Humpty-dump-dump, I’m sure in a slump.
Got that internal ump telling me I’m no damn good,
saying to give writing up – hell, well, maybe I should,
but that leaves a huge hole where there used to be soul.
Hey, I sound like a rapper, with my heart in the crapper,
chasing rhythms and rhymes, trying to get through this time
of gloom and despair – came on me from nowhere,
snaking up through thin air, twining me in its grasp,
this rhetorical asp has its coils round my throat.
Now my umpire gloats as I strangle on words
hard and dry as old turds that refuse to come out.
The frustration’s so painful, I choke back a shout.
I blogged about writing as spiritual practice –
sure, that’s what my act is, but the matter of fact is
I feel like a fake, and that critic keeps raking me
over the coals, telling me I’m too old
to go on any longer. Sure, if I were lots younger,
I might join the dance, have a chance to advance
in this crazy charade of a writing career,
refuse to accept that the end’s far too near –
no, that just isn’t so – I’ve got decades to go.
(Yeah, right, if I’m lucky, and relentlessly plucky.)
So I sit on my rump in this bitch of a slump,
fingers clawed over keys, hoping for a fresh breeze
blown my way by some muse who might choose
to fill up my sails, lift me out of these doldrums,
stop me going insane from this sludge in my brain.
Maybe writing this doggerel will lift all the fog, or I’ll
stay in this slough of despond – but no, I don’t want
to give in to being mopey and dopey. Nope,
I must persevere. Tell that muse, “Hey, I’m here!”
Tell the ump she’s a chump, and soar out of this slump.