A Pretty Little Poem

To be so economical with so few words demands more discipline and care than the mass assembling of prose in which I usually cloak my written shortcomings. It’s easy to create a colloidal suspension of description to mask the absence of any real substance, swirling unnecessary adjectives and adverbs around like so many emulsifiers in this mess of similes and metaphors and incorrect scientific terms in some cacophonous run-on sentence. I work wonders with such distractions, but at what cost? No matter how glitzy the show, a vacuous core will always be forgettable.

It’s far more impressive to keep things concise and clear with a few well-chosen words. The spare and sparse beauty of a poem is something to which I aspire, but rarely achieve. One word is a razor, one is the heart, and what comes between is either protection or destruction. That’s too dangerous for me. I’d rather leave it to the experts. Like Mary Oliver in her poem – ‘A Pretty Song’ – that follows:


From the complications of loving you,

I think there is no end or return.

No answer, no coming out of it.


Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?

This isn’t a playground, this is

earth, our heaven, for a while.


Therefore I have given precedence

to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods

that hold you in the center of my world.


And I say to my body: grow thinner still.

And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song.

And I say to my heart: rave on.



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