When Inspiration Comes…


In case you didn’t know, I’m a struggling writer, struggling artist, well, heck, I’m a struggling everything at this point!  This post started as a midnight post on Facebook and has been expanded here in a more craft-related manner.  

I begin each day (or try to at least) by reading  The Writer’s Almanac and ringing my little bell—an attempt to connect on some sort of spiritual level with the powers that be.  Deep connections with the muse or any other being aren’t  that easy as many of you know.    It’s comforting to get the day started with a little bit of zen as the challenges at 60 are not always fun-filled.  (OK, I’m lying about my age, but that’s the one I’ve chosen for the duration as I just can’t handle any number higher than that right now.)   

In any event, the poem chosen by Garrison or his staff  for the eighth of September was “Small Talk” by Eleanor Lerman.  

Since  “Small Talk” was still open as I was getting ready to shut down my computer the other night, I reread it.  What a moving image Lerman captures.  I’m unfamiliar with her work and will make a point to buy and read her book The Sensual World Re-emerges by Sarabande Books.  As I looked out my window, the street light in back of my studio, usually totally obscured by the curly willow, was visible as shimmery dots of light due to the rather strong gale that we were having at the moment.  The following thoughts came out whole, which I chose to share.  Maybe this fragment will be worked into something or maybe not.  At that moment, though, I was grateful to have looked up when I did and to now hold a memory of hearing my Mom hum and sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” so long ago when my “mother was wearing sandals and a skirt.”   

through the small rectangle of windowpane,
the street lamp flickers in fireworks display
as wind blows the canopy of the lanky curly-willow tree
for some reason the effect is mirrored on the windowpane
the resulting display of miniature fireworks
deludes me for a moment
thinking perhaps it is the fourth of July
perhaps fireflies, flitting about in mating season–aflutter
twinkling, twinkling, twinkling
upon which I wish tonight
as there are no stars, no moon
only a twinkle of pretend
through a window that looks out on the now darkened world. 

Lerman created several lines that I enjoyed.  I especially liked the question and her answer that she posed—”What am I describing?/I am describing a dream/in which nobody has died.” 

She addresses the reader directly in the poem after that and in so doing one cannot help but think of their mother, pregnant, the expectation minimized by the passing of ordinary days.  Thoughts rush back – the picture of your expectant mother and what sort of mom she was and because of the twinkling (albeit sort of distracting) flickering light, I immediately remembered being lulled to sleep to the strains of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”    The darkened space we all emerge from and the passage of so many ordinary days, Lerman captures delightfully.   Pre-birth and after-life maybe share the same wind, the same darkness.   Who knows, but Lerman’s poetry – all poetry for that matter – helps us know what it is to be human, and I thank her— and all those who dare to write.  

 I re-drafted my original piece (even though I really don’t have any time to be working on poetry right now – that NY Times bestseller is just too pressing!).  I’m a beginning poet so I never seem to find a metaphor to carry through and all those words and all those meanings — so little time!  I rarely punctuate first-draft attempts.  There seems to be a little potential here but doubtful if I’ll stay interested in finishing this particular piece.   But I thought it might be OK to share this snippet to show one more step that I’m taking toward becoming a better writer.   And maybe, just maybe, someone will be inspired to finish or begin – and isn’t that what life is about anyway? 

Everyone who creates – regardless of the chosen field – finds inspiration from almost everything.  When inspiration comes…what truly makes the artist…is delving in..picking up a pen or brush..taking what is already there to the next level, birthing the next new thing, “such is the small talk before life begins.”     

 Draft 2 Reality  

 through the small rectangle of windowpane,
the street lamp flickers in fireworks display
as wind rustles the canopy
of the lanky curly-willow tree.
the effect created is twofold
mirrored on the windowpane
that selfsame display–
that miniature fireworks
cajoles me for a moment
into thinking perhaps it is July’s starburst
not this late summer’s eve
perhaps fireflies, flitting about in mating season
aflutter in the threatening gale
twinkling, twinkling, twinkling
upon whose light I wish tonight
as there are no stars, no moon
only a twinkle of this false light
through a window that looks out now
on the again newly darkened world 

 Cheers,    Taylor Collins


Quotes are from “Small Talk”


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