I've tried to read classic poetry, romantic poetry, new age poetry, avant garde poetry, beat poetry and epic poetry. Doesn't matter! I can feel my eyes begin to glaze over after about the third line. I can't get through anything....not Longfellow, Whitman, Browning, Plath, Kerouak....nope, nada, nothing, zip! Maybe its because I have the attention span of a gnat. Maybe its because there is too much allegory, or symbolism, or something, but I nearly always lose interest way before the end.
Perhaps the reason has something to do with the fact that I had to memorize a poem for a class in high school. I don't know whatever possessed me to do so, but I chose a little ditty entitled, "Thanatopsis", by William Cullen Bryant. I did it too, memorized the whole darn thing, recited it aloud in class, all 84 lines of it! In one looong verse! No stanzas to break it up at all, just on and on and on, seemingly unending! Couldn't remember a word of it a week later. I think it was about death, but even now I'm not sure. So what did I learn from this? Nothing much, only that I didn't get poetry back then either.
Now when poetry is slipped into a novel (tricky, tricky!!), I recognize it right away and my eyes automatically scan down till they hit regular paragraphs again. So far, skipping the poems doesn't seem to diminished my understanding of any of the books at all, which leads me to ask "Why bother?"
Having said all that, what really surprises me is that (and this will really SHOCK you) upon occasion I like to write poetry!! Go figure!
It makes no sense to me either! When I get that urge, it is usually related to a specific event or occasion. Back in school I wrote poetry whenever I had a broken heart. That's not unusual I guess, teenagers have a lot of broken hearts.
Of course, there were assignments to write a poem in various classes over the years. But I was never excited about it! In my senior English Lit class we had such an assignment. With a huge reluctance, I sat down and scribbled off something in about 15 minutes. I don't remember it or even what it was about. Now here is the part that's funny. A magazine was published with the top poems selected from 4 or 5 High Schools' senior level Lit classes. Guess whose poem got published in that magazine?? Isn't that a hoot?
Over the years, I wrote poems when I was angry with the Big Guy, and poems to mark special occasion (anniversaries, Christmas, etc.). One year when I was in "Oklahoma", the cast exchanged secret Buddy Gifts (something cheap given before each night's performance. Sort of a good luck thing.) My Secret Buddy was the guy playing "Jud". So each performance night I wrote a limerick about Jud. They became a hit, nobody knew who wrote them until the last performance, but Jud read them aloud each evening. That was pretty cool.
I have realized that most (not all) of my poems are comedic rather than serious. These poems are not great literature or ever destined to be publish anywhere. I don't write them to bare my soul, or explore my inner muse, or to rid myself of demons (in a real or figurative sense). Maybe I write them as a way of trying to understand poetry, or maybe I write them because the only poet I ever really liked was the great comedic poet, Ogden Nash. No, the reason I write them is because they seem to fit the occasion. There are some times when a poem is the only thing that will do.
Unfortunately, you're going to have to take my word for all of this. I don't keep my poems, so I have none to share. Not even the Jud limericks! Don't ask my why; I don't get that either!
UPDATE: I found one lurking on my computer! So you don't have to take my word for it, I can now prove it:
A BIRTHDAY LAMENT….
I can’t believe its been a whole year,
Nevertheless, your birthday’s now here
Bringing me again to that place that I fear…
What can I give my Mikey dear?
I’m fresh out of new thoughts,
(What you've wanted, you’ve bought!)
In a dilemma I’m once again caught,
And all my pondering has come to naught!
“Give the man cash” was my mind’s retort,
“And he’ll choose a gift of his own sort!”
So to this drastic measure I must resort,
Hoping it does not offend you, old Sport.
Your heart’s desire, or some such thing,
A “toy” that will give you much pleasuring,
Or something lofty to make your soul sing,
A choice of your own is my poor offering.
Though not one idea did my little mind spike,
At least you can pick out something you like!
Be it gadget or watch or tool-thing or bike,
Its my way to say, Happy Birthday to Mike!