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Completed Project for Erin M. Kelly - Introduction to Making Poems I

How I selected my theme/threads

I think poetry is important to my life for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I have a disability (cerebral palsy) that has left me in a wheelchair since birth. It’s a disability that has varying degrees of severity, depending on each individual who’s diagnosed with it. My diagnosis effects nearly every aspect of my daily existence, so I think about that whenever I’m ready to write a poem.
I try to weave external elements of my disability—the emotions that come with not being able to move freely and how those emotions always seem to stay with me. A lot of my internal struggle and frustration is caused by external forces, such as the jiggling of car keys, the slamming of a door, or even the rhythm of footsteps coming down a flight of stairs. These are just a few very simple things that I don’t get to experience firsthand—and anyone who knows me is already well aware I get frustrated by them—so rather than “beat a dead horse”, I bring them into my poems. It doesn’t necessarily give me closure, but it calms me down and makes my life more livable.
I never want my poetry to be sentimental to the point where readers feel sorry for me. There’s a fine line there, and it’s taken me quite a while to learn how to “walk” that line, but it has helped me become a better poet because I don’t have to look too far for my theme and threads. They’re always right there, whether I want them to be or not.
By being constantly aware of my cerebral palsy, it has allowed me to explore why I feel the way I do—giving a platform to delve deeper into my poems. It’s one thing to say, “I feel sad.” or “I feel angry.” Anyone can say those things and people will automatically know what you mean, but to actually convey that on a piece of paper is the ultimate form of freedom—for anybody who has the skills to write.
As this relates to the world of disabilities, it’s even more important for me because I’m giving a voice to a demographic that has long been voiceless—or at least contributing my own voice to make the collective one louder.

Small Noticings

My list of small noticings (before and during) my writing process include:

- Sounds and/or noises I’ve heard a million times, but somehow manage to evoke new, different emotions in me.
- My current or daily state of mind.
- Tinges of pain (physical or emotional) caused by my circumstances.
- The ability of these sounds and circumstances to re-open wounds that I can never quite close or ignore.
- Song lyrics that have little or nothing to do with my situation, yet still resonate with me.
- The moment I can relate to a character and/or their struggles in a movie.
- The happiness I feel the moment I can recite or write down the entire dialogue in a movie just from memory.
- My strange notion that finding/having work as a writer and poet can be paralleled to that of an actor.
- The sense of accomplishment, whether it’s big or small.
- The idea that my work is impacting those who are near and far, and that they’re recognizing me for my ability rather than my disability.
- Waiting for things other people typically don’t have to wait for.
The joy of waking up every morning and knowing I can hold down a job.
- The determination I feel when I’m trying to get somewhere, whether it’s in my career or in life.
- Pure happiness.

I believe a writer is only as good as the words they learn to write—and that doesn’t happen overnight. I think writers and poets have to be like a sponge in order to absorb things in a way that’s useful to their purpose. You can never learn too much.
With that being said, I plan on taking Introduction to Making Poems II.


Literary Devices

In writing the following poems, I used:
- Imagery
- Alliteration
- Rhyme

How to Wait

“Patience and fortitude conquer all things.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Watch the illuminated stripes
on your wall
brighten and fade through
thin rows of window blinds.

They’ll crawl to the floor soon,
like dancers with ladybugs
in their pants.

Listen for the door of your entrance and exit
to leave a trail of windburn.

In a minute,
tempered voices will
slam it shut again.

Sometimes you wish
you could inject
a dose of velvety chocolate
into their throats.

Feel the hand of aid
from your junior high past
sweep the bed sheets
off your warm body.

She’s waiting to smother you with lotion…

…to lift and touch you
like a burning spirit.

When you’re up,
go to your computer
and read messages
you never want to erase.

Pray and thank your god
for everything
you’ve still got.

It’s only 9:30 a.m.

Parade

Diseases in suits walk the streets,
where I write for
the company of empty minds.

I watch blimps float passed
fields of comprehension.

I look down.

Children try to laugh while
building sandcastles on concrete.

They throw down their tools
when they see a waste of age
behind a clown’s face paint…

…but wait, here come pretty little lies
dressed in a woman’s lipstick.

I heard she always uses
the glow from a cigarette to
find her way home.

I look up.

Blackened hands chisel bricks
off of weathered buildings, but can’t
lift the haze off my front lawn.

Criminals congregate on the fence,
hung over a drunken moon.

Has everyone kissed the enemy?

No, I guess it’s just me now.


Turning Point

I see lives move so fast,
they’ve got time
wrapped around their finger.

Hands are the ultimate
manipulators, pulling you
underneath the wheel.

Now you’re breathless
because you forgot to
leave a light on.

I’m different.

I take my time when
I’ve got a thousand beats
in my system.

They dance slowly like
a pancake breakfast should
on a Sunday morning.

My hands follow along,
words flowing from the
fingertips the way time trickles
out of a calendar day.

If I could set the pace of the world,
you would never
come and go again.


Autograph

For Erin Murphy

I was a sophomore when
I bought her first book.

Its title reminded me of the
many times I tried to
pull science out of the stars.

A stream of fresh ink
ran through her name.

It was my name too,
only with four more letters
before the Y.

Some may mistake it for a
slip of the hand or
a rush of blood to the head…

…but it’s just a treasure from a conscious world.

I Can’t Win or Lose

I’m spinning in circles,
clutching the control
of my life.

All names can see my story, but not
all lips ask my name.

All bodies look like mine when
they sit in a chair…

…except when lives walk away from
pieces of existence
spilt on poker tables.

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