1 May 2008

I Give You My Word

- about capturing the perfect line

Written late April 2008 - (111 lines)


Good! Another perfect line bites the dust!
Reluctant is not the word - I said it must
Emerge to see the clear light of this day
I tried to encourage it, for it was on its way
For a long time but all it did was decline
But now it is here, I call it toeing the line
And it finally arrived just before time to close
For in this little
Wordsmithy what I say goes

Now literally speaking, and you can take me at my word
A decent line should be both seen and heard
So must pass many tests before it is approved
Maybe a word has to be changed or just moved
To improve the meaning or the rhythm of the text
Frequently the line just written invites the next
Like a chain reaction which works out fine
At other times the chain breaks somewhere along the line

Sometimes they come easily, sometimes they stall
There are times when lines will not come out at all
And that must be accepted as they cannot be forced
Creativity of any kind cannot be divorced
From the inner reality where it is born -
Ignore that and your efforts will surely be forlorn

More than once I met a line so obstinate
That it simply would not co-operate
Maybe I tried to say what words cannot define
In some way or other, it had clearly crossed the line

Like a cross-word puzzle that just will not resolve
Trying this way and the other as the thoughts revolve
Sometimes I cannot believe how long it took
So each line will be counted and brought to book

Lucky times, when firing on all twelve cylinders
Lines come out of nowhere and to the Wordsmith it appears
They drop out of the sky fully formed without thought
Suspended there temptingly, just waiting to be caught
By the fingertips in midair before they change their mind
And dissolve, who knows, it might be difficult to find
Such a brilliant and beautiful line again
So grab it now - got you! - you did not come in vain!

And later when I read those perfect lines I ask
In amazement that I really am up to the task:
"Are you quite sure those lines were written by yourself?"
Oh for permanent access to that magic top shelf...
I want to write, yes, but that does not guarantee
That it will be easy or even possible for me
The creative process has not yet been understood
So let me just express my profound gratitude!

A trick I sometimes use is how an innocent pun
Can be deadly serious, so is not used just for fun
Read every line of mine to see how it is done
And tell me in an email how your search has gone

It is difficult to state how long a line should be
But no longer than absolutely necessary
There are short lines and long lines, most are in between
Some of mine are among the shortest ever seen
There are lines which simply could go on and on
But in the real world somewhere the line has to be drawn

And choose your language carefully, do not try to be clever
Using outlandish words which nobody has ever
Heard of so must look up, with the lexicon
Somehow precariously balanced in one
Hand, a dictionary in the other -
Faced with that kind of writing I just would not bother!

Complication for its own sake is a waste of time
As void of reason as it is of rhyme
Of little use to man and none at all to beast
Simplicity and clarity surely is the least
You can do to meet your readers halfway
To encourage them to eagerly return another day

When the quality controller has been appeased
Then and only then is that line released
To be used anywhere it can be eased
Into position so the Wordsmith looks pleased

So assuming that you actually have something to say
Do what you can so that your readers will not stray
Put your very best thoughts as concisely as you can
To connect with the spirit of your fellow man
And woman of course, all are welcome here
To explore, then express and share the sheer
Joy and comfort that we are not alone
In holding views that so many disown!


The distinction between verse-making and poetry
Is usually clear enough for everyone to see
Some do find it hard to classify some of mine
If you ask my opinion, it is a very fine line

Writing in freestyle is the modern way
But I do not care what the others say
I hardly consider it as poetry at all
For me that judgement is an easy call:
Condensed and clever maybe poetic prose
But poetry? Sorry - I am not one of those


This Wordsmith does not write for masters and fools
And as you can see there are no hard and fast rules
But there is little time and still a lot to do
So believe it or not - I chose to write for YOU!

Not writing for myself, this is not an ego-trip
Far easier not to do it, simply skip
The whole thing, play truant, obscond, walk away
But it seems that I do not really have any say
In that matter anymore, it is too late to split
Something switched off the option to quit...
I do not know what but I do know when -
Early two thousand and five, and since then
Writing has, perhaps paradoxically
Become both more obsessive and more natural for me


It is getting late again but before I go to bed
I shall write one line more, you can take that as read
For in one short sentence, and I say this with a smirk
A few more lines completed is a good day's work
I can see the end of this one now and though I had preferred
It completed already, I will pursue it undeterred
And when finished it will be published - I GIVE YOU MY WORD!


Copyright © 2008 - IBRAHEEM (O.E.H.Johansen) - All Rights Reserved

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