Finding Everyday Inspiration: I write because . . .

great books of the western world, great ideas today

Why do I write? At its most basic, I write to find out what I think, or, what I am thinking about. I write prose to discover, to remember, and to understand. I write poetry/prose poetry to discover how I feel about what I think.

I have journaled since my high-school years. Previous to that, I took in information whole. I don’t recall making any value judgments. Nor do I remember thinking about the emotions I experienced when I was a child. They were exterior to me. Which isn’t to say that I did not experience emotions. They simply did not transfer or communicate the experience to my thinking self.

Secondly, I write because I am not in dialogue with anyone, anymore, except with my husband. Having a joint life, we communicate freely about common and individual interests, thoughts, and feelings. He is so much a part of me/the world in which I daily live, that there seems to be no I/Thou, but instead, us. Dialogue with—dare I say “outsiders”?—serves the same purpose of discovery. I discover thoughts, lines of thought, and deep truths within myself. That I then write, to clarify for myself my thoughts, reactions, feelings, and related values.

Related to writing, I recall Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages”, which I do not write in the proper manner, because I get allergic reactions to my hand’s rubbing against paper, and in more recent decades, cramping in my fingers that cuts short the physical experience of writing.* The discomforts derail my trains of thought. Second, I don’t seem to have “unloading” to do. Burdens carried that must be spewed forth onto the page in order to be dealt with and forgotten.

I loved to write letters, but ran out of people to send them to. People who might read them and respond. I suspect that my thoughts are majorly boring, aside from my short poetry. I sometimes wrote letters with no intention of mailing them. It’s almost like corresponding with someone else, because I went back over the letters and reread them. Like favorite books written by favorite authors.

I have discovered—we have, we siblings—that our parents maintained correspondence throughout the war, no matter where they each were stationed, and again when our father was called up during the Korean Conflict.  That encourages me, finding out that writing volumes (and also, taking photographs, which we have in plenty from before our parents met and throughout their lives), that my sense of self-awareness and the need to take notice/note of my surroundings and interior life is a family trait. As has been voluminous reading. Reading through letters written between them, I realize how much, how deeply they were involved in each other, through good times and bad, until the very end. And now beyond.

Writing. It’s like talking to myself out loud while taking a long walk through the pastures and thickets and along the river. Everything seems more clearly defined. Manageable, or not, but more real.

* * *

*Our mother, who used to do typing exhibitions at her state fair when she was in school, raised a brood of touch typists, I suspect. She considered typing (keyboarding) to be a survival skill, and her skills transferred over to her computer keyboard.

Copyright © by E. W. Bennefeld. All rights reserved.

 

July 26: A pair of poems

the squirrels in the back yard at winter

At Home

“i did not want to trouble her”

i would not trouble her
with present reality
the look behind her eyes, knowing
that she did not know,
worrying what she’d once again forgotten
that should always have been remembered

i’d said good-bye a month ago,
then left her undisturbed–
living cherished, not alone
in the simple “now”

i could not trouble her,
insert myself…

let her long-feared flaws and failures
drift by unnoticed
to the end of the beginning
of eternal life
together once again with her mother
and her beloved father
those she never, through it all, forgot

Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

 

if I do not remember

if I cannot remember you…
my love, let me go

let me not remember either
all the rest
or, fearful, fret
at what i’ve lost
that leaves me with such
emptiness

losing you
losing the clear, sweet memories of you
i’ve lost everything

let go the empty shell

“if I do not remember”. Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

These poems, although I posted the second one today on my poetry blog, belong together. Remembering is a way, I think, to let go of grief by understanding the loss. In this case, the loss of my parents, this last winter.

To Turn Back the Tide

edge of town, looking south

The Edge of Memory

“To Turn Back the Tide”

…and when the tide had turned,
when waking from long sleep, I found
that all was swept away
or reconfigured
beyond memories

Who am I in this new world?
If there are paths
I cannot see them … yet

If I should go to sleep, again–
if I would sleep–
until the tide rolls in, once more,
would the safe, familiar world
that I once thought I knew–
believed I lived within–
be here before my eyes,
my heart,
to welcome me?

And if not? Then…?

“To Turn Back the Tide”. Copyright © 2017-06-28, by Lizl Bennefeld.

 

Transition points feel foggy … nebulous … like standing on a piece of ground that cannot be seen or felt. Like wading at the edge of an unknown body of water, depths and currents still to be discovered, with morning mist cloaking the past and future in white and shadows. Memories, the only solid ground.

Inspired by The Daily Post’s photo prompt for this week: Delta.

Fading Rainbow

half-arc of a rainbow at mid-afternoon in the eastern sky

Rainbow, Disappearing

‘fading rainbow’

rainbows fade too soon
turning to vapor as night
falls upon the sky

mist rises at the new moon
the night sky falls toward the Earth

 

Copyright © 2017-06-18, by Lizl Bennefeld.
All rights reserved.

As the last traces of the afternoon’s rainbow faded away, I found myself regretting that it would not…that they never remain long enough to satisfy that in me which longs for a rainbow at the end of the storm. One must pay attention to the rainbow when it appears, remember it, and bring the memory out again as the need arises. Much more need for a rainbow, much more often than they find themselves in the sky. They’re not to be ignored or discounted. One puts aside trivial chores to count the colors and mark their disappearance as they fade again.

 

Getting It Right

blue wild flax flowers, shadows and light

“Getting it Right”

I write the story of my life
one day at a time, taking care
to leaf through previous pages,
editing events, adjusting
back stories, tidying errors
and casual mistakes
that I would not have made,
had I known then what I think
I know today…subject
to further alterations
as seem prudent at the time.

There is time. There is always
time to get it right. There is
an eternity to get it all right.
Written out finally with no mistakes.

Copyright © 2017-06-10, by E.W. Bennefeld.

I had at one time, encouraged by others, considered writing an autobiography. As I go through the process of adjusting to my parents’ deaths, I realize that that would be the wrong avenue for me to take in grieving. Better, bits and bites in poetry and limited explorations in prose.

I have other things to do with my time, and I most probably will not have time to get it right. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

NaPoWriMo, Day 30 – “Tulips at Springtime”, “The Future”

Prompt: Something that happens again and again.

“Tulips at Springtime”

One year soon after I was married,
my mother ordered tulip bulbs
to be planted in the fall,
sent all the way from Holland,
from the farm on which they grow.

She planted bulbs and gave us some.
We placed ours near to those
my husband’s mother planted
many years ago to complement
the lily tulips favored
by the folks who’d come before.

My mother’s gone, his mother, too,
but still the tulips grow.
I wonder if the children of
the folks who lived here
half a century ago remember,
too, the blooms that grew,
planted by their mom and dad
and maybe them.

first flowers
the last memories
tears…always

“Tulips at Springtime”. Copyright © 2017-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Prompt: The (blank), replace “blank” to make the poem’s title.

“The Future”

My father’s final worry,
which he took to his grave,
was his children’s children
and their children living
in a world in which
there would no longer be
clean air or water,
healthy food or crops–
a world in which the haves
would eat the have-nots
when the time had come
that nothing else was left.

“The Future”. Copyright © 2017-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Note: This poem is loosely based on a description of one of the last conversations he had with his oldest son, before our father died in February. My father had strong convictions about the expanding effects of climate change and what it would mean for the next generations. At age 100+, with no health problems to speak of, Father decided, one evening, to take a nap, and didn’t wake up, again.

 

NaPoWriMo17, Day 26 – Regret

Robert Lee Brewer, Writer’s Digest:
For today’s prompt, write a regret poem. Most people regret some action they’ve taken over the years, whether it’s saying the wrong thing, making the wrong choice, or putting off something for a tomorrow that never comes. Write about your own regrets, or the regrets of others (this is a great opportunity to write a persona poem).

“Her Death”

Angry, still, she would have said,
Just keep away from me!
You ruin everything you touch,
speaking out…butting in.

Let, at least, my dying be
about me, with my friends.
I only care about my own.
My death belongs to me!

Copyright © 2017-04-26, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

 

NaPoWriMo17, Day 25 – Survival

I love enumeratio poetry! I decided just to have fun with this, and made a numbered list in response to the prompt. As an aside, here: I have been writing (and referring to) survival lists/guides ever since I started journaling sometime in the sixties, while I still was in high school. As I finished each journal, I would copy my list into the new one, go through the old one to pull out the “creative writing” pages, and then shred or burn the old journal. I quit doing paper journals around beginning of the century.

 

Write yourself a survival guide as a list poem: What are the things you need to know to survive? What should you have known? What do you need to remember? What do you know that only you can tell yourself? What items do you need? What actions do you need to take? [Sarah Tatro, Poetry Super Highway]

Survival Guide:
Things I decided, at one time or another, that I knew and needed to remember
(most recent edition)

1. Nobody knows the answers. Everyone is making it up as they go along.

2. It’s better to screw up making your own mistakes than making someone else’s.

3. Make a list of what you know and, if possible, why you think you know it. Then make decisions on the basis of that list, not on what you want to be real when you’re going crazy.

4. God understands your messes, and they don’t bother Him. He doesn’t confuse them with what or who you are, and neither should you.

5. Gain or loss, pleasure or pain, discovery or routine, sickness or health, friends or isolation, life or death. There are no guarantees or promises concerning these, life’s incidentals. And, they don’t count.

6. You are not alone. You are always loved. You are loved and valued neither more nor less than any and every other living being in creation. You are cared for. Always. No matter what.

7. Act justly, observe appropriate opportunities to perform acts of loving kindness, walk discretely with God and everyone else. As one among all the others.

8. We are all equally responsible. God is the One who’s capable.

9. You will never come to the end of things you do not know, or, knowing, things you do not understand. Not in your job description. You are responsible to give and receive love.

10. You have a profound purpose in life. You achieved it sometime before you turned twenty (or ten … or thirty), and you’ll never know what it was. Everything since then has been gravy.

Copyright © 2017-04-25, by Lizl Bennefeld.

 

NaPoWriMo – update

I’ve gotten a bit behind in putting my daily poems onto the net. As I may have mentioned, (maybe not here; maybe just elsewhere), my husband is building a workshop in the back yard (18’x24′ — lifelong ambition), and I have, of course, been helping out a bit. (Heavy lifting and such. Yes! Really!) I have yesterday’s poem ready to add, and I’m going to do that before I dig around and find the others. I do not know what happened to a couple of them, and so must do some searching.

In the meanwhile…snow!

NaPoWriMo17, Day 23 – Horizon

I chose the “horizon” prompt from nahaiwrimo and wrote this poem in consideration of the weekend’s wet and windy weather.

a day of rest

on the horizon
the sun peers through heavy clouds
forecast, partly wet

frogs take heart in the damp dawn
I stoke the fire, heat the tea

“a day of rest”. Copyright © 24 April 2017, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.