Writing Poetic: Experimenting Isn’t Just a Science

This is the 4th and Final part to my Writing Poetic series in honor of National Poetry Month. If you’ve missed any of the other 3, here are the links to take you there:

Part 1 — Writing Poetic: What’s in a name?
Part 2 — Writing Poetic: Finding Resonance
Part 3 — Writing Poetic: Art

Experimenting isn’t just for science class, it’s how we learn what we do and do not like in life. One of the things I love most about poetry is how much I get to experiment with it. There are dozens of formal styles I can play with or I can try out my own styles. I get to experiment and learn how to say the same thought or phrase in 20 different ways until I find the most effective one. I get to experiment with content. The list goes on.

My final assignment to you this month is to experiment, especially if you’ve never written poetry in your life. You don’t have to publish your attempt anywhere. You don’t have to edit it. Just give it a try.

Poetry is an outlet for me that I use to express emotions, observations, and personal experiences that I could probably never write down otherwise. I love being able to write a poem, give it to a reader, and hear them respond with both the type of emotion I wanted to convey and the message I wanted to express… all the while knowing deep down that that single poem expresses a very definite moment in time for me and while the essence is pure and translatable, the deeply personal memory is still secret.

Now that isn’t to say every poem I write is autobiographical. It isn’t. I do write some fantasy poetry. I’m currently messing with a little dystopian poetry. And sometimes I just want to talk about something. But as the reader you may not always know what is real and what isn’t from my point of view. I like to keep that mystery. As long as I translate the essence, I’ve done what I’ve set out to do.

I don’t normally share my work on here because most of it is either on the writing contest circuit or being carefully contained for a larger project I hope to release in the future. Those things mean that I cannot post those works here. I can, however, post something I don’t plan on sending out and publishing.

This piece is written in the form of a sestina. (You can read about that here if you’d like to know more on sestinas and how they are written.) It was written 6 years ago and while my writing has evolved and improved since that time, I thought it would be fun to share something as we wrap up National Poetry Month. So please enjoy! And just remember… I was just starting to write poetry at this time, so be gentle!

“Angel of Death” by DA artist xartez

“Death Doth Follow Me”
by: Lissa Clouser

I arose that day and thought, “Death doth follow me.”
It was an inexplicable feeling that I did not question
And I felt it deep down in my heart.
The heat rose in my blood
And I remembered last night’s wine
And my lover, my sweetheart, dear Robin.

A knock rose at my door and then entered my Robin
Who spoke sweetly as he said unto me
That the kitchen was all out of wine
And the servants had many a question,
That they’d cleared the counter of blood
And thrown to the dogs the nobleman’s heart.

Then rising to a faster pace my heart
Took in the cool countenance of Robin
And racing like a torrent of rain, my blood
Echoed that, “Death doth follow me.”
Again all silenced were my questions
And my mind remained muddled in wine.

The counter had been half wine
And not all sustenance from his heart,
But that would hardly answer the questions
For well as I knew, and so did my Robin,
That the blame should all fall to me,
And my conscience wallow in blood.

But my hands held not just the lord’s blood
And they were not stained in wine,
Though I remembered that Death doth follow me
The fear turned blue in my heart
As I watched my beloved, my Robin,
Open his eyes wide in question.

In silent tongues he spoke his question
As the gleaming dagger soaked up his blood,
He crumpled upon the floor and Robin
Lay in his own red wine.
The ghostly murderer flew and my heart
Stood still, repeating, “Death doth follow me.”

No more have I the taste for blood-red wine,
It reminds me of Robin’s heart,
And though I should have, I never did question why Death doth followed me.

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