One of the local high schools hosts a second-hand book fair every year. It's a pretty big deal, and runs from Saturday to Saturday. Monday afternoon after work I went down and picked up some things, including a book of poems, Loosestrife, by Stephen Dunn, whose understated, good-humored, philosophically grounded poems have always given me pleasure. Here's one poem that addresses - and embodies - the creative process in a way that intuitively feels right to me:
It makes no difference where one starts,
doesn't every beginning subvert
the tyrannies of time and place?
New Jersey or Vermont, it's the gray zone
where I mostly find myself
with little purpose or design.
An apple orchard, an old hotel—
when I introduce them
I feel I've been taken somewhere
I've been before; such comfort,
like the sound of consecutive iambs
to the nostalgic ear.
Yet it helps as well
here in the middle, somewhat amused,
to have a fast red car
and a winding, country road.
To forget oneself can be an art.
"Frost was wrong about free verse,"
she said to me. "Tear the net down,
turn the court into a dance floor."
She happened to be good looking, too,
which seemed to further enliven her remark.
It always makes a difference
how one ends, aren't endings where you
shut but don't lock the door?
Strange music beginning,
the dance floor getting crowded now.