Anatomy of a Poem

Kenneth C. Hoffman
 


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Inspiration comes in many forms. An exchange of words on the street, a chiding, but loving mother in a department store, or a friendly stranger in a little town provide the necessary mental fodder for the poetry mill. I write down the crux of the observation on a piece of paper because I know how fleeting the germ of an idea can be. When I have a moment alone, I pull the meaningful words together, most times what will be the last two lines of the poem and work backwards from there. I feel that the benefit of rhyming words far outweigh the difficulty of finding the perfect word. At no time to I allow the meaning to be submerged by a second choice word. As an example, I have chosen a poem I wrote called ‘Same Old You’. The first line sets up the premise:

YOU'VE NEVER CHANGED, YOU'RE STILL THE SAME. This declaration leaves the reader up in the air, not knowing whether the writer is happy or unhappy with his partner. The second line:

WHAT YOU USED TO DO, YOU'RE DOING AGAIN. sounds like the writer is a bit annoyed, but brave enough to tell his partner what he thinks. Next comes:

THOSE HABITS OF YOURS THAT YOU HAD BEFORE

NUMBER THE SAME, NOT LESS, NOT MORE. This statement sounds quite chiding, but the reader can't be sure that these ‘habits’ are the good or the bad kind. Now to soften the mood and to change direction I wrote:

YOU'RE IN A RUT, THERE'S NOT MUCH HOPE,

NOBODY'S PERFECT, NOT EVEN THE POPE. This is plainly teasing, playing on the partner's innate sense of guilt, by implying that they think themselves a perfect person. Now we're getting mad, even sounding accusing:

YOU CONTINUE TO DO THE THINGS YOU DID,

I EVEN DISCOVERED THE ONE THAT YOU HID. Quickly a reiteration of the first line and a comparison:

BUT YOU'VE NEVER CHANGED, YOU'RE LIKE A STAR, resolves the issue in your mind and changes the meaning of all that preceded ending with the statement:

AND I LOVE YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

All my poems are tone poems, I. E. : to be enjoyed out loud, and I try to keep the accents on the beat of the meter. With my poems I try to explore the common place emotions of ordinary people, with varying degrees of success. Of course, if a poem is good, it needs no explanation, just being there should be enough. Happy writing.

I have written over 300 poems.

(450)

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