On the Beam

At times when my roiled brain becomes serene,
I may achieve a state of clarity
In which intuitive insight grows keen,
As if it were a beacon beckoning me,

And then I sense the guidance of that beam
Aiming to lead my wayward footsteps home
While causing my dull intellect to gleam,
And in this state sometimes arrives a poem.

But now I sense more benefit awaits
Than merely turning verses in the night:
That staying on this vital beam creates
A life replete with wisdom and delight.

To skeptic souls such visions merely seem,
Unable as they are to live a dream.



Most mornings, something nudges me from bed
An hour or two before the light of dawn,
And then, as if by some allurement drawn,
Down to my writing chair I’m gently led.

As if from some subconscious source I’m fed
A pregnant word or phrase that serves to spawn
A couplet or a stanza—then it’s gone,
And what came easily ‘s now work instead.

But once momentum builds, I’m on my way
And, like a kid first learning how to bike,
I grow more confident as I proceed
Keeping my balance, trying not to stray—

At last, I’m sure the proper word will strike,
And what was fancy will turn fact indeed.


Imagination and Reason

It takes a word, a phrase, to light the fuse
That starts a verse and summons up the Muse,
And then the form keeps offering new cues,
Presenting fresh material to choose;

But still it is the intellect that glues
The pieces random inspiration strews,
For while Imagination may enthuse,
It’s Reason that true poets finally use.


Don’t Go There!

Well versed about the art of sonnetry,
He set about to write another one,
Not one about romantic fantasy,
Since that old topic has been overdone,

But, for a change, a song that sings of hate
Or disillusionment or something that
Reveals the cruel vicissitudes of fate,
Something unusual, not trite or pat.

Instead, he found himself in an old groove—
Writing a poem about the process of
Writing a poem, but not the sort to move
An auditor to like, much less to love.

Too introspective and too self-obsessed,
Such verses leave their audience distressed.



Imagination!  What a power we own
To bring to mind a picture of some thing
Our eyes can’t see, a private twilight zone
Of fantasy where sometimes angels sing
And sometimes devils lurk or monsters prowl
But also new ideas formulate:
Just when you’re ready to throw in the towel,
A fresh invention comes in view that’s great.
Do other creatures have such visionary
Capacity as we?  Can they foresee,
Devise, invent or in their minds’ eye carry
The picture of a thing that’s yet to be?
Imagination is a human trait
That makes us both so monstrous and so great.


Alan Nordstrom is a Professor of English at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. He is the Society’s 2012 Poetry Competition.

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