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  • Jessica McQuistin

A Smattering of Small Poems



Should works of poetry stand alone? Does additional information (say, an introductory blurb) enrich or spoil the reader's experience? Undeniably, part of poetry's appeal is its ambiguity, which gives the reader room to create his or her own meaning, regardless of the writer's intent or inspiration. I'm going to do my best (and definitely fail) to say as little as possible about a few poems that I'd like to share. Just in case you don't want my words to interfere with your own interpretations, I will post my notes after the poems, for you to peruse (or not!) at your own discretion.


Anxiety


Camouflage chameleon

Shady shapeshifter

Crawling through my veins

Like a sugar rush, only bitter

You conjure dark mirages

Constricting as you slither

Around my core and up my neck

My voice less than a whisper


Though I can't speak your name

I know you just the same

My lifelong frenemy:

Anxiety


Moment of Ripeness


is that not why a flower

as long as it's green

makes an imprint?

or a peach

growing upon your heart

is so beautiful?


teetering on the edge

of what's truly yours

the fine balance point

never lost nor taken


sunlight at the peak of the ferris wheel

everything you need

though it is fleeting


as soon as you're ripe

don't blink

drink it in

from this moment

you start to rot


Flying


I'm pouring from Aquarius's overflowing jug

My inner artist is in the driver's seat

And she's got both hands on the wheel

(But just barely)


She glides

She soars

Effortlessly

The way is hers and hers alone


She knows both effort and ease

And finds divinity in the breeze

 

Notes on "Anxiety":

First of all, please don't worry about me! It can be disconcerting to hear people speak about their experience of anxiety but for me, it feels cathartic and helpful to "put a finger" on my feelings through words. I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't experience some form of anxiety or worry (usually at a manageable level) and I expect that it will always be part of my life, though how it affects me and how I interact with it will likely continue to evolve.


Notes on "Moment of Ripeness":

I can't fully take credit for this poem, as it was created using the Scramble Poem method in Pat Schneider's book, "Writing Alone and With Others". (Sidenote: Thank you to The Branches Yoga for having an awesome little library, where I came across this gem!)


A Scramble Poem is assembled by taking previously written prose, chopping it up and reassembling it in a different order, following a prescribed pattern. The result is a somewhat nonsensical "poem" in which your theme is still present but the ideas and images have been broken apart and reconnected to each other in different (often amusing) ways. At this stage, you can make slight adjustments that honour the new piece you've created and help it to make (some) sense. For this exercise, I used an old journal entry of mine that also inspired a previous blog post: Another Piece of My Story: A Moment of Ripeness. (If you read that post, you may have recognized fragments of it in this poem.)



Notes on "Flying":

Here, I tried to capture a fleeting moment of ease and flow, forces that I'm trying to cultivate in my life. The final two lines of this poem were inspired by the lyrics "The Lord was found in the breeze" from the hymn "Stand Before the Lord" (written by Dan Smith, based on 1 Kings 19:9). I don't usually make biblical references, nor do I consider myself religious, however these words have always resonated with me so I've hung onto them.

 

Do you dabble in poetry or other forms of writing for the sake of writing? Do you like to write from a familiar cozy spot or from different places? These poems were written from a cafe, from an Adirondack chair at a cottage, and from my car, using an app on my phone. If you've come across any favourite writing prompts or exercises, feel free to share them in the comments or on social media!

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