0

Politicole: Poetry Is A Tool, Not Merely A Pastime

By NICOLE BURROWS

There was a time when everything I wrote came out as a poem. The words didn’t always rhyme. Everyone wasn’t meant to understand them – just the few who needed or wanted to identify.

I am/was an only child and although I had many cousins my age who were – and to this day still are – more like siblings to me, I spent much of my childhood alone.

My mum worked a lot as a single mother and she worked very odd hours. So, while in my grandmother’s care, I would be wide awake at hours of the night anyone might consider strange for a child. But I filled that time with writing and reading.

There wasn’t a shortage of things for me to write about, as a child with a vivid imagination. And with no one or nothing to interrupt my creativity, imagining was easy to do. My aloneness, though sometimes boring as an only child, was never lonely.

Being alone is for me a sanctuary. I suppose it always has been. In silence, I can hear myself think. I can escape the noisiness of “reality”. In the quietness, I can regroup and strengthen my mind, my resolve. I find confidence and consciousness in serenity.

People who are used to, or need to have, a crowd and noise around them don’t understand the utility of quietness. And, at the risk of sounding snobbish, I feel sorry for them. It’s hard to live fully with constant noise; it’s a sensory overload. There is no downtime, no room to recharge.

Once noise is your norm, where do you find a necessary, stabilising peace? That peace is important, because I honestly don’t think there is anything greater or more useful in life than spending time with yourself, understanding and appreciating yourself.

From that opportunity for self-awareness comes a great deal of self-love and self-respect; you don’t grow into someone who requires validation from another person when you are fully aware of yourself.

Everyone, not just poets or writers, should learn to spend time in solitude, because when the world doesn’t function as you think it should, or fails to give the answers you need, you have a person you can always depend on for them – you.

From my observation, people who write poetry tend to be the type of people who flourish in peacefulness. They appear to be isolated, but they’re really quite surrounded, content with themselves. The presence of tranquility is what surrounds them. It takes up the same “space” as thousands of people could, but it’s much more comforting.

Poets are usually very feeling people who are balanced by the ability to express those feelings with clarity as well as accuracy. In fact, the feeling is useless without the expressing … that just equates to undue pressure.

People who express easily are often also dynamic; they involve themselves in many things frequently at the same time, because everything they’re involved in is an opportunity to express themselves.

A poet, as abused a word as it is, and as inapplicable as it often is to some, is the great manipulator amongst the creatives, because not only do poets feel, they combine feeling with thinking. In this way, they take charge of the emotions coursing through them. They also take charge of a reader’s thoughts. They can harness otherwise destabilising passion with words, and, in so doing, target specifically who their audience will be. It’s a quiet manipulation.

Readers are engaged in a story they can’t easily evacuate. The intellectual and emotional are intertwined. Before long, readers are compelled to know more about this secret world they’ve stepped into. With the obvious exception of some mentally challenged persons who, physiologically, cannot have self-awareness, the average human being can hardly escape feelings.

And that’s why poetry is a powerful vehicle of dialogue. It’s an unintended, sometimes surreptitious communication. And, when poetry is good, the impact of it is immediate. It’s like watching a movie without seeing or hearing and in a fraction of the time. It’s the perfect union of experience and expression.

Agreed - some poets can bore you to pieces. I’ve fallen asleep on many books filled with writing that touches nothing inside of me … not my emotions, not my intellect. Sadly, these are the “poets” who give poetry a bad name, but, when a poet is worth her/his salt, readers are elevated. The writing awakens your curiosity and it challenges you to think, imagine, and, above all, feel. For a moment, you become someone else, and you feel that person’s life for yourself.

Poetry can teach you, inspire you, or comfort you. And, like any other art form, poetry offers something for everyone.

• Send comments via Tribune242.com or to nicole@politiCole.com.

FIVE POEMS BY NICOLE BURROWS

UNPHASED

Often times I wonder

How my life would be

If I would ask the questions

That others ask of me

If I had the nosiness

So many of them do

The need to be in others’ lives

To take the voyeur’s view

To have to know what someone else

Is doing in their time

Scrutinising all their moves

Disregarding all of mine

To have to be the one to hear

To say, to see, to know

To have to be the first in line

To talk about them so

To elevate another’s being

Higher than my own

Making them the focal point

So I am not alone

To always have something to say

About what others do

To take the subject from the “me”

And place it on the “you”

To keep up not just with the Joneses

But with the Joneses’ friends

Entangling myself in things

I’ve no business in the end

The stretch that is required

Only to make believe

Is something unimaginable

I barely can conceive

Of caring all that much to start

And adding to my list

To dos that have no relevance

To the reasons I exist

If buried in my own domain

Each and every day

I’d hardly ever have the need

To look the other way

It wouldn’t matter what they did

And never what they said

Because in my world I live my life

And not their lives instead

ETERNALME

She wasn’t warm but she was loving

Not friendly, but not unkind

The apex of the trinity

Of women brought to mind

Tough and rugged as she was

Still generous to a fault

She’d give away her last today

For someone else without

Few were the tender moments

We shared inside our love

Firm, but not demonstrative

No words or semblance of

On one hand I can count the times

I broke the outer shell

With pointed question aimed at her

She missed me, she would tell

Protective far beyond the need

She was so anyway

She loved and hurt and loved some more

But never would she say

Around the home she loved the most

Clean house, good food, she gave

But the secrets of her loving soul

She took them to her grave

Sometimes I see that I am her

And dread grips me from inside

To be her, though, to live as she

Is how she will survive

A FAITHFUL EXPIRATION

Her saviour didn’t save her

She couldn’t understand

Why the praying and the fasting

And the lifting holy hands

Made no difference in the judgment

What would be would be

The decades of her tithing

Could never guarantee

The end would be avoided

When for each it was the same

All the Sundays and the fancy hats

Calling out the Saviour’s name

For when the time had come

And her number had been called

The preacher, priest, nor pastor

Could bargain with the Lord

She lived as a believer

She died in doubt of faith

And whether seen or unseen

It was one belief too late

SELF-IMPOSED

Lover

He steals the darkness

Shields the night

Bars the vision of the watchers

Drops anchor at the gate

He knows

He’s close

In silence he walks

And waits

Tense and firm

His fear is energy

He tries to converse

With words he’s rehearsed

But with every minute

It’s worse

And worse

Fuelled by fright

Years of good

Straight-laced and snow-white behaviour

A new dream to fulfil

A real test of self-will

Though timid, he takes it

He makes it

Known

He’s grown

Back then, yes

And

Right now

How

He is wanting

And it is daunting

In his eyes

You see

He tries

But panic, in the light

Of the half-moon tonight

Heart racing with fear

Blood pounding his ears

He pulls anchor, sets course

To the night, he is off

AREN’T-I-AGING

My skin

Thin

Now in places

My face is

Young, but not as youthful as before

It takes more

To see

To any degree

From any distance

I missed once

My step

On a stair

The blind edge of it between here and there

And my hair

Like my skin

Now thin

And grey

One day

Not so far gone, it seems

Was thick and long

Just so far beyond

What I ever dreamt

That aging meant

Back when

Both my ears

Could hear clearly

Now rarely

A full measure

To my displeasure

The left works harder

Like the midpoint

It does

Try more

With less

The middle

Spreads

Like the sea floor

And no more

Does it slow to grow

If I indulge

The bulge

It goes nowhere

Has no fear

Of time

And on the time goes

And off it shows

It will win this race

With the skin on my face

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment