Poetry Pokes At the Mind

Written for:  Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads – Weekend Mini-Challenge,
“Resistance” – (posted by Brendon)

Mailer once said you should never fall in love with your own writing, because when that happens it means you’re writing crap. But how are we to resist the very lamp leading us through the labyrinth? That’s quite a rub. In his poem “Man Carrying Thing,” Wallace Stevens tells us that the poem must resist the intelligence / almost successfully.” That “almost” is the qualifier: we are writing, right? We are chained to medium and imuse. Resist too much and you’re blocked, silent, dead, turning to the TV or the daily Sudoku. And however much you try, resist, revise, remake, remodel, you never know if your work is any good. Ever.

Resistance is a way of not going too easily or heedlessly into one’s Voice. There’s a sequence: first the apple of temptation with its immediate satisfying result, and then there’s the greater thing which comes of refusal, patience, waiting, and cultivation. Then finding what’s behind the found and the known. The secret country, the hidden paradise we can’t see, can’t sing, because our next sentences are too chained to their first.

For this challenge, write about resistance. Resist the theme, struggle with it, go down with it, come back with what saves you. Resist your poetic, your politics, your body’s politic in love, your failure and death. What temps you to say nothing, or worse, too little? Conversely, why does poetry matter? What can it alone say to the world?

Wallowing in defeatism
defeats without lifting
a foot or finger. Linger
there with truths buried
in a trough. If you eventually
have had enough, rinse your
eyes, get rid of lies, wash
the mud from your useless
hands. If your voice be mute,
and shuffling shoes
do not move, grab a piece
of paper, pad, or napkin.
Take a crayon, pencil
or pen. Then, simply write.
If not tight, disciplined
stanzas, then rant, rave, be
-have with your words
as if they were spoken.
Couched in meanings said
with red or blue, send
them to others; thoughts
take root.


About purplepeninportland

I am a freelance poet, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my husband, John, and two charming rescue dogs–Marion Miller and Murphy. We spent eight lovely years in Portland, OR, but are now back in New York. My goal is to create and share poetry with others who write, or simply enjoy reading poetry. I hope to touch a nerve in you, and feel your sparks as well.
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14 Responses to Poetry Pokes At the Mind

  1. Sherry says:

    I love this, especially “thoughts take root”. We need lots of thoughts and roots right now.


  2. This is impressively written! Great word choice!


  3. Brendan says:

    A bracing wake up call out of cynicism and defeat to let it out, let it flow. Go go go!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. annell4 says:

    Yes, they do. What a wonderful little poem!!


  5. Jim says:

    Wonderful, Sarah. That’s what I do sometimes, write a seemingly senseless piece, putting my non structured thoughts in as they come. If not then I’m tempted to do it. Resist, resist. I like your inside rhyme, a little subtle at times but it’s there. Reading aloud is a helper. Next time perhaps I’ll stick in rhyme. When I do that it generally goes unnoticed.


  6. Pat: willow88switches says:

    this has a wonderful twist to it ~ a great way to have written on, thought on and pushed through the prompt! and what makes this even more palatable, is that so much of what you’ve penned applies equally well to all other types of means of resistance! taking that defeatist attitude and rocking it into something new. that’s the ticket!

    cool poem – I really like the fresh appeal to this, the cadence, the internal rhymes and the pace of it Sara. great job with a tough prompt!


  7. priscillaking says:

    I had skipped this prompt, then thought I might try to think of something on this theme over the weekend. “Rinse your eyes, get rid of lies”…and stay purple! Yes!


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