trading poetry

What if someone asks you to write a poem in exchange of a book from this publishing company, will you say yes? You can have one of their books for free PLUS a chance to be published on their next poetry anthology. Easy enough decision, right? Except of course, I forgot one little thing. I have this terrible stage fright and that includes writing on-the-spot poetry.

This happened at the Lit Crawl last night, a 3-hour literary crawl along the Mission District as a culminating event of San Francisco's annual literary festival called Litquake. Just like last year, I felt like a kid in a candy store, too excited to even think straight. Let alone write a poem.

But I did try and came up with 2 short stanzas that refused to go anywhere. It was frustrating but at the same time there was nothing I could do about it. The lady at the poetry trading post was so nice, she let me pick a book even though I had turned in an unfinished poem. This in turn made me feel guilty afterwards and I promised myself that I should write a poem and post it in my blog. So here it is.

* * *

At the Poetry Reading

A crowded room. Someone is reading
but I could not understand a word
that he said, even the accompanying
fiddle spoke in a very foreign tongue.
Though I nodded just like everyone else
went through the motions of one who knew
exactly what she's doing, turning pages
of the program I picked up at the door
closed my eyes, pretended I saw the gritty
subway he painted, hear in his howling words
a familiar story of human pain, touch an inch
of broken skin, anything, anything - nothing.

Later they gave me a pad of yellow paper
and pen. I watched in fascination as page
after page, everything I have ever written -
from those first big letters of the alphabet
to those flowing river-lines of cursive,
the stories I pounded away on computer keys
in the middle of the night - all of them
scattered before me, a confetti of words
and syllables skimming air, so close
I thought I heard them call my name
but their voices were gone long before
I could catch them with the pen.

* * *
I know I had just said on my previous entry that I wanted to take a blogging hiatus. But a girl can always change her mind, right? Especially if its about something exciting like
this new poetry site. And special thanks to Clare for sending me over to this blog. Now I can look forward to my Thursdays again!


  1. This has a wonderful dreamlike quality, and lots of good phrases, especially 'the fiddle spoke in a very foreign tongue'.

  2. Litcrawl - oh, how I would have loved to be there! The poem is great and as CGP said, has a dreamlike feel to it. Thanks for the link to Totally Optional Prompt, I had not yet heard of it & am thrilled that there is a follow-up to Poetry Thursday! Peace, JP

  3. What I wouldn't do to receive a book. Writing poetry for that would be pleasure.

    Loved your very vivid poem.

  4. At the thought of such a trade, who would be able to smoothly, easily contain his/her excitement? *grin*

    Enjoyed the poem, especially the second stanza -- I'd imagine the setting to be someplace akin to the dream-scenes in the fantasy film Mirrormask (story/screenplay by Neil Gaiman).

    I'm delighted to have come across your site; been reading past posts, enjoyed the short poems.

    Sa muling pagbisita. ^_^ Cheers.

  5. hi juliet - thanks! so glad you came to visit :)

    hi jane poe - thanks for dropping by. litcrawl was indeed an amazing experience. hope to see you at TOP this thursday! :)

    hi gautami - thanks!

  6. hello soulless,
    salamat! im really glad to see you here. haven't seen mirrormask but i'm familiar with neil gaiman. the reading was indeed surreal, at least for a newbie like me. ;)