Metapoetics

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The Sense of It

Poetry looks like
blinking fairy lights,
technicolour fireflies,
folded and torn wallpaper,
dust-coated cardboard boxes
piled in the basement.

Poetry smells like
overripe fruit,
gasoline fumes
the air just before
the summer’s biggest
thunderstorm.

Poetry sounds like
the scrape of old bones
like a butter knife on burnt toast,
Velcro running shoes
striking pavement,
the surrounding hum
of cicadas.

Poetry tastes like
the blood of a hundred
bitten tongues,
the peanut butter
stuck to the roof of your mouth,
a new piece of chewing gum.

Poetry feels like
wet matted fur
and sandpaper
pressed between
warm covers,
curled up
beside the fireplace,
waiting for you to return.

***

Writer’s Block

Some days the words decide not to come quietly.
My fingertips itch and quiver over the blank spaces
but they can’t seem to grip the pen quite right
or the dust in the cracks of my keyboard
impedes even the humblest forays beyond the home row.

It scares me to feel that resistance,
to feel the reticent letters hesitate
at the sight of a snow-white page,
pull back from my extremities as if afraid
of the cold that awaits them.

Good writers are said to have a command over language,
but my authority is not absolute.
My façade of power is cracked and faltering.
Sometimes my language stages a revolution,
overthrows me, seizes the means of artistic production.

I can’t fight back.
I can’t attack pre-emptively.
I know of no Machiavellian leadership tactic
that will keep my letters in line.

I can only wait for their display
of uncivil disobedience to come to an end,
at which point they will hopefully
shuffle into order on the page,
piece together a poem,
a broken apology,
and I will respond with a hollow commitment
that neither party will let it happen again.

***

The above are two poems primarily about poetry — “metapoems,” as it were.

The first piece is decidedly more recent; I’ve been trying to push myself to use more evocative imagery across all the senses while simultaneously being more brief, and this was the result.

The second piece is older and has more of a spoken-word-esque feel to it. A lot of my older stuff leans this way, and I occasionally worry that it’s less suited to be read on paper (or a website) than to be heard.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed both pieces.

Author: Mitchell

I'm 22 and currently pursuing my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.

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