Quite some time ago now I sent one of my best friends a poem, the same friend I send most of my writing to, and he asked me ‘where do you get it from?‘ And to me, the answer seemed really simple. That, actually, I don’t look too far for them because I always feel like they find me. And if they don’t, then I certainly don’t look very far for them. Ideas are everywhere. Literally. I’ve had ideas come to me from the way a crack formed in a pavement, from an old lady dropping something in the street, from memories that have been with me for years. I actually answered him with a poem, it seemed apt at the time, now it seems quite cheesy. I haven’t posted said poem onto this blog but I might do that sometime soon. It was basically me just telling him that poems are anywhere and everywhere. Sea, sky, bluebells, eyes, lungs. Always inside yourself. But lately, I’ve been thinking about his question more, and I’ve been thinking about it because I’ve had a prolonged period of what can only be described as writer’s block. Only this phrase is complicated because I don’t see myself as a writer, I’m just someone who writes. There’s a difference in my opinion. So I started thinking about how I turn memories into poems, and how I even go about finding a memory to write about. Then I thought I would just write my response, and when I improvise like that they never rhyme. So, to answer my friend’s question in a different way, this is how I get it and this is where I get it from:
How do you find the words?
You ask me. “Let me tell you,” I say.
“You dig and you scrape and you crawl,
Through layers of skin, through organs.
Through the memories, through the lost.
You dig it back up until it hurts you all over again,
Til the vowels in the sweet songs scrape the
Back of your throat like the razors left lying on the
Soap-sodded sink. You peel back your flesh until
You can remove every trace that was ever left
Inside you. And then you place the flap of skin back,
So that only you are left. Jagged scarring, but not
As heavy as before. By removing part of yourself
You are actually filling the gap. The hollow echoes that
Have pulsed through you for far too long escape like a sigh.
You dig until you find the pain, and then you write it,
And change it, and cry over it. Then you may laugh at it
And delete it. Add to it or take parts away that don’t leave the
Desired effect, not wanting to tarnish the paper like you
Yourself have been tarnished.
You dig until you are buried deep in bruises and
Love letters, old text messages and photographs.
You dig until you are back into the debt and are kicking
Your way through the tears, maybe yours but maybe his.
You dig until you are feeling your way through bed sheets
And darkness. Your fingernails disappear, and your hands are chest
Deep, pulling out the emotions you locked away.
You dig until you find what hurts.
The words have always been there, waiting to be found.
It’s never been a question of having to find the words. They cling
To you like dew clings to cobwebs. They lay under
Your pillow and collect in the corner of your mirror.
They are written on your body, in the ink only
Your eyes can see. They’ve grown too comfortable
In the back of your throat. The words have always been
There. Waiting to harm you, free you, rescue, end you.”
“What you need to ask,”
“is how do you find yourself?
Let me tell you,
You dig until you find what hurts.
You scrape it into paper, make letters dance
With each other until the sentences are true enough.
You end it once and for all with a full stop. Period.
Never a colon that can be added to.
And once you’ve matched the hurt to the waiting words,
You dig yourself right back out,
Towards the sunlight, that you notice for
What feels like the very the first time.”