Ars Poetica

Isn’t that just like poetry to have a phrase for exactly what I was talking about yesterday? Ars Poetica is a term meaning “the art of poetry” or “on the nature of poetry.” (thanks Wikipedia!) The listing goes on to say:
“The definition of “ars poetica” in the past decade extends to defining techniques of rhetoric, including but not limited to: writing about writing, singing about singing, thinking about thinking, etc. Stemming first from poetry on poetry, “ars poetica” is now widely used as a literary device to enhance imagery, understanding, or profundity.

Moreover, the technique of “ars poetica” was previously an attempt to capture the essence of poetry through poetry; the poet would write his poem, then step back, and his poem would become a way of knowing, of seeing, albeit through the senses, the emotions, and the imagination. In the modern century, a passage of writing or composition employing an “ars poetica” style is one that tries to capture the essence, the intrinsic value, of what it is expressing through.”

Exactly. So on to poem #2 in the Ars Poetica theme. This one comes from the poet Maya Stein, who I discovered because of her blog. Her work is immediate and visceral. I love her use of common items and settings to evoke the greater emotions we all experience. It’s a long one, but man, it’s a good one.

don’t forget to write
by maya stein

while you are piecing together the map of your life,
stepping as nimbly as you can out of the mulch
of your thoughts, the busy traffic of your heart,
while you attempt grace and magic and the blessing of
your soft, surrendered kiss, while you are fathoming the stretch
you will need for the wide and rocky jungle of your own happiness,
while you are hunkering down to a piece of dark bread
and the odd, welcome relief of hunger,
don’t forget to write.

write this day, its too-early morning and the birdsong
you cursed into your pillow. write the way the dog
looked at you as forlornly as your own shadow.
write this blanket, this cup of coffee, the irreverent
clatter of the neighbor’s lawnmower. write the bees
that bend forever to their task. write the July heat
and the laps in the town pool that cleave you from
this earth, the over-solid grip you have on everything.
write this hour, tired and awake all at once, the distractions
you can make of breakfast or a calculator or the remote control
lying flaccid on the living room couch.

write the dead mosquito on the bathroom floor, the small
clot of blood on your forearm. write the careful arrangement
of the bed linens, the yellow of the walls, the way the
garden hose snakes around the back porch where old boxes
are bending under their own weight and where spiders
have begun to take control of the tomato plants.

write your white legs and your short pants and
the constellations imprinted on your skin. write
the dusty sex toys in the bedside bureau, the silvery
condom packages nearing their expiration dates.
write the wet sound of love in the middle of the night.

write the blackberry bush and its sour fruit,
the mailman in his cheerful hat,
the neighbor who confuses you with someone else,
calls you a name that’s not yours, write the feeling
of lost identity and disappointment and some letter
you’re perennially hoping for.

write the words for failure. write the words for hope.
write the tightrope dangling above the canyon,
and down below, the electric water furious and free.

write green. write violet. write blazing orange.
write the smell of grapefruit skin, the eyelash
on a cheekbone, the hand you hold in the dark.
write the first, honest paragraphs of sunrise.
write everything, or nothing, but don’t forget to write.

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