Grabbing Inspiration from the Everyday

Writing poems in idle time

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Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

I have a great temporary gig in which I monitor students as they take online tests. I selfishly have been able to mine this time for my own purposes. Being confined to this time and this place has been like a nest in which ideas come to roost, and I birth them into poems.

It feels like raised consciousness. It feels like I am living a poetic life, seeing layers of meaning in the everyday. It has to do with being forced into this empty space — needing to keep my attention on the students, but also needing to be stimulated. Some of the time, I am waiting for the next group of students. I keep a little sketchbook with me, and lately, I’ve been grabbing, jotting down, and capturing, these little poems, mostly haiku, to sort out the random thoughts that come to tease my attention. I took the bait, and wrote these poems — written in the first two hours of my workday.

Poem 1 — It started with the drive to work in the morning:

Stuck in traffic

I notice

The palm trees shivering in the breeze

The clouds, pastel-tinged, hovering

Over the ocean

Dripping its soft shade

Onto the wet, gently-rippling surface.

On the side of the highway

Because I’m crawling by,

I see that my dentist has moved to a new location.

It’s not my choice

That I’m stuck in traffic

But it is my choice

To notice.

Poem 2 — As I’m walking across the school’s well-kept campus, I “commune” with a certain tree which always makes me happy at this time of year.

Rubbish tree Photo by author

And there’s God

In that flowering tree

With purplish-pink pastel blossoms

Like tissue paper

The tree called rubbish tree

By the custodians

God is there

And there’s God

In the flower falling

Floating gently to the ground

To join the other rubbish flowers

On the well-kept lawn

God is there

And there’s God

In the custodians raking

Complaining about the rubbish

God is there

And there’s God

In the bird flying

Above the rubbish tree …..

Poem 3 - As I’m sitting in the quiet of the room, I thought about how my elderly mother is so impatient, so instead of leaving that thought in my gut, I wrote:

As you age

Are you more impatient

Because you know

You have less time in your lifespan

And you hate wasting it

On slow food service

Or sitting in traffic

Or in the doctor’s office?

I hope not

I hope when I get there

When I do feel impatience

I will recognize it as a sign

To savor the waiting

And fill it with presence

And gratitude

Poem 4 — And then, when I took a drink from my flask, into which I squeeze lemon every morning:

Drinking water

From my stainless steel

insulated flask

I recognize the lemon juice

That I squeezed this morning

Picked from our tree

In the front yard

Planted by my mother

Over thirty years ago

Now overflowing

With huge, juicy

Puckery lemons

Poem 5 (set of 6 haiku) — I was disturbed by something I had heard on the radio in the morning, on NPR, about an interview with a psychologist who worked with the CIA to torture prisoners being held at Guantanamo. He claimed it was his moral duty to protect Americans and he feels no guilt about the work he did. But thinking about this, feeling outrage over it, inspired me. This is a major issue for a pacifist like me — to communicate the need to not dehumanize those you deem “dangerous.” And then to think about — what can I do about what I see as evil and unjust? The last two haiku speak to that attempt to DO something. So here’s some political haiku:

Dehumanizing

Permits war, torture, murder

No one deserves this

I start to wonder

Does God approve of torture

Does that bother you?

America first

That’s no justification

To be inhumane

What can I tell you

To make your heart open to

People not like you

I try to see the

Ugly in me to transform

The ugly in you

I will speak with love

With clarity, for justice

When faced with darkness

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Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

I wish I could say this is normal for me. But it is not. I aspire to be this inspired, this free, this in tune with the muse. More and more.

Playwright, essayist, teacher, artist, songwriter, poet. Creativity Activist. Learn more: https://www.dianeaoki.com

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