Monday, August 13, 2012

The Naked Snapshot


I started writing
these love poems
in 1978.

They were designed
to capture someone’s attention
through novelty,

and they sometimes
did that

but more often
they were failures.

I wanted them
to do the courting
the wooing
and perhaps in the back
of my mind

maybe they were supposed
to have the relationship
for me since
I was too scared
and inexperienced.

I liked the challenge
of trying to coax
a new way of saying
it
free from my stale language.

Something resembling
love would always appear
and then disappear
again and again

but then, I stopped

as I realized the fear:

too much of my writing
and my unformed heart
had been let loose
on a unsuspecting and
undeserving world.

I thought of all
my long hours of
counting syllables and
stretching metaphor being
unceremoniously
crumpled and dropped
in a waste basket
with the junk mail and
other unsolicited advertisements,

or worse, still,
I pictured a catty circle
of women – late night
half-drunk, reading
my swollen purple
vulnerable verse
and having a good mean chuckle
at my expense.

Hell,
I can't blame them.

Those poems were uniformly
self-conscious
and painfully amateurish,

but my most profound
fear is that a few of these girls
might have saved these
premature ejaculations
which were only dedicated to
getting past hello.

I picture a wall map
of California
with cities up and down
the state
lighting up
where I imagine
my stray thoughts
and eternal promises
have blown.

My prayer:

may these poems never
see the light of day,

may the world never know
the fat oily teenager
with bad hair
who poured out
his heart
as best as he was able,

may these poems be
our little secrets

each one
a private snapshot
of me –naked,

save for
a naïve and trusting heart
worn on the outside.

[Posted for #OpenLinkMonday imaginary garden with real toads challenge.]

36 comments:

  1. Ahhh....the trusting heart........ ;)

    Lovely!

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  2. Fantastic.
    Especially love this:
    "and perhaps in the back
    of my mind

    maybe they were supposed
    to have the relationship
    for me"

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    Replies
    1. Because I was so shy. Thanks.

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  3. Something resembling
    love would always appear
    and then disappear
    again and again...

    How true is this of the whole fraught intensity of those early days, when everyone is practicing at love.

    No love poem, no matter how purple, should even be taken lightly, since it carries the good intentions of the writer.

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    1. Thanks Kerry - kind of you to say, but I wrote some real dreck.

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  4. I love this, and so relate to the teenager whose heart was worn on the outside. Oh, the vulnerability, the hopes, the dreams. Save those poems, my friend. They are good for remembering when you grow old.

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    1. Yes, but kept writing these poems into my 30s! Thanks.

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  5. it was a tough time, those teenage years, when expression did not come easy and, yes, the poems should be hidden, at least until completely rewritten

    Mark

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  6. I have notebooks and notebooks and notebooks full of poems I wrote between the ages of 18 and 26. I even got a number of them published. BUT, for every decent one, there are at least ten real stinkers. I don't know why I keep them anymore, but I do. A very few of them are there at Word Garden, under the tag "early poems." There aren't even a dozen of them that made the cut, I don't think.

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    Replies
    1. Between 18 and 26 I wanted to be a playwright, a comic and a songwriter, so I've plays, jokes, and songs, but precious few poems. And precious is the word! Oy! 10 to 1 is a good ratio of hits - mine were like 100 to 1!

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  7. I kept hoping you would quote one until "My prayer"!
    I know the feeling:
    "too much of my writing
    and my unformed heart
    had been let loose
    on a unsuspecting and
    undeserving world."
    Especially written down--before computers--in your own handwriting!
    And naked save one external heart.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, now I find it hard to write longhand! Thanks.

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  8. hah, i really love this. i'd like to think i'd NEVER cackle but ah, i guess i would. and for sure there is some cackling happening somewhere at my heart's expense as well. excellent storytelling, love it.

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    Replies
    1. You'd cackle - and now I'd take that as a compliment. I wrote poems to girls who I can't even remember now! How can that be?

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  9. I suppose you could roll your eyes and say "Jesus H., this is a long goddamn thing", but it doesn't wander off course or go on unexplicable and irritating tangents--the narrative stays on course, and it's fine narrative poetry even if it doesn't look like Browning or Masters.

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    1. Thanks - not wandering off course is one of my main goals as a writer. Thanks, it's not Browning or Masters (unless you mean Tod Browning and Masters & Johnson), it's Moskowitz!

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  10. i LOVE the ending of this! so hard to show one's heart to another, especially when a teenager.

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    1. Thanks! I love that it ended too!

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  11. The hindsight of adulthood is maybe a touch cruel to the flowering of youthful yearning. Innocence and sophistication each have their place in the canon of your work!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, but I'm sure some of my earliest writing should have been fired out of said canon.

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  12. This is beautiful and moving, Mosk.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, MZ, that means a lot.

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  13. unceremoniously
    crumpled and dropped

    and "my stray thoughts
    and eternal promises"

    surely not! And if so, shame on them. But then again, we are talking teenagers. I'm sure, all these years later, things would be different. My oldest son has written a number of love poems, too, to girls he has liked. :)

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    1. Shame on them indeed! Tell your son to keep at it - one of these days one of those poems is going to get him laid! It only took me 21 years of writing! Teaches perseverance and builds character.

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  14. Wow! Emotional and heart-wrenching piece! This is how it begins though, does it not? Pouring our hearts onto the blank page, growing, developing, until we are mature.

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    1. Thanks, and my poems actually started off as scripts I'd rehearse in case I was ever alone with one of these girls.

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  15. Definitely something I can relate to, some of the stuff I wrote as a teenager makes me cringe today! Great images in this, really enjoyed this.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. Don't be hard on yourself, we are our own worst critics, you know.

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  16. I loved this poem and the compassion the poet has for his younger self. The map image gave me a chuckle too!

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  17. Oh, I love the last two lines. I was pouring out love poems at that age, too, a scared, skinny teenager.
    K

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    1. Thanks - yes, we romantics tend to start early, before cynicism has time to grow roots.

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  18. Oy, Bruddah, the spiral notebooks filled with romantic longings (all prose in those days) and written in flouncy language with lots of unneeded semicolons... the romance of it all. Then real life CRASH but at least I had Gershwins to fill in the cracks and spackel over the bloomin' acne. This one got to me. You are so hard on your younger self, hell, even your NOW self. I think you are beautiful. So there. Love from your sistah, Ameleh
    http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/08/15/blissful-balm-imaginary-garden-with-real-toads/

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  19. I love these lines...


    "I picture a wall map
    of California
    with cities up and down
    the state
    lighting up
    where I imagine
    my stray thoughts
    and eternal promises
    have blown"

    And now who knows, how far our thoughts travel~
    I enjoyed your poem...
    It was sweet and sad remembering those unsure step stone days of youth!

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