On the rock

Often I begin a poem that doesn’t get further than free writing, initial thoughts, or a few lines. Even so, the expressions and ideas are still worth sharing. The text below is from a poem that felt too skeletal and wasn’t working, so I removed the line breaks, edited a little, and made it into this short flowing thought.

You find yourself upon a rock, your sea legs countering waves which are not there. You are shaken, on unshakable ground. The sea rocks you, for the rock will not move; it is steadfast, unyielding. Your legs anticipate lurches which do not come. Though the waves knock on, they meet an Absolute, upon which you stand not drifting tumbling relative. What definite stance, desperate hands, slick feet held fast. Comfort, home, unexpected, sickening, Dizzy you cling. Waves would drag you, calling “Come back”. But the waves are no longer inside you.

swans

one swan swam on a mere.
we saw one more.

This is perhaps my favourite product from a recent experiment. The challenge involved writing only with letters which had no “heads” or “tails” – i.e. I didn’t use any letters which extend above or below the line. It turns out that this is fully half of the alphabet, and a good deal of punctuation on the side. The constraints of working only with the letters w, e, r, u, o, a, s, z, x, c, v, n and m are quite frustrating, but yield interesting results! The result is “flat poetry”, poetry with both hands tied behind its back, where each line is unerringly neat as a ruler.

If you give it a go, please comment below!

I also wrote a few longer-form story poems in this format, which I’ve shared in three separate posts on my Patreon page. If you’re interested, you can start reading here.

UPDATE: this type of writing is called a lipogram, specifically the omission of a letter or letters from the writer’s bag of tools. I don’t know if anyone has done flat poems before. Other lipograms may, for example, avoid using all vowels except the letter “a”.