Getting It

Lately I’ve come to realize that poems don’t have to be about relationships or troubled childhoods or the beauty of nature. Shocking, right?

When I first started writing poetry seriously, I tried very hard to make my poems sound like those of poets I admired – like Marie Howe and Sharon Olds and Anne Michaels and Dorianne Laux – which meant writing about the same subjects they wrote about, which meant writing about a suburban childhood less interesting than theirs’, and a very short period of adult relationships. I’ve written some good poems about these things. I’ve found surprising and poignant memories in them. But what I’m trying to say is, that by focusing on what I thought poetry was supposed to be, I’ve been stifling myself. My poems have not been as good as Marie Howe’s or Sharon Olds’, but I am not, after all, Marie Howe or Sharon Olds. And by opening myself up to new subjects and ideas, I’ve been producing the poems that only I could produce, and having a lot more fun doing it! This week I wrote a poem about something I previously could never have imagined as a subject for poetry – video games.

 

The Uncanny Valley

Have you noticed the depth
of background noise in a video game?
How close it comes

to real life?
Engines churn
as the cars pass back and forth.
Somewhere a dog barks. The bell
chimes on a shop door
across the street. Footsteps
tap the concrete; the pedestrians
talk of small things. Far away,

the blue Amtrak hoots once,
twice, as your avatar’s flat
eyes blink, her weightless head
wobbles from side to side.

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