Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Once upon a time, I was kinda clever.

I was refreshing my memory on the goals I had written in my Thirty before 30 list, and seeing #26 ("Write a poem.") got me curious about when the last time was that I wrote a poem. I used to post a lot of poetry back when I used LiveJournal, and after a bit of digging I discovered it's been close to ten years since I was last struck with this particular sort of creativity.

So, while I still haven't felt the inspiration to compose anything new quite yet, I thought I would take a little time-travel excursion into the poetic archives of 18/19-year-old Tabitha. Here are a few of the old poems I've unearthed, with some present-day commentary. (Be warned: it's pretty emo.)

This photo has nothing to do with the post. But doesn't it look yummy?

Silence - January 25, 2004

Sitting in dead
silence, she concentrates, listening
for a sound she knows she will
never hear again.
But maybe, she thinks,
maybe if she
waits long enough, focuses
hard enough, believes
strongly enough...
she'll hear it.
It's the last hope she has
of making it over the mountain of grief,
of feeling the weight lift
from her heart.

And when she still hasn't heard his voice,
she resigns, now wanting
only to cry, so that
her whimpers will veil the tormenting

But even tears seem to be
hiding away from her,
mockingly resting
just behind her eyes.
She feels the pressure and
welcomes them to pour down her face;
she begs them to fall free.

But silence is all that she has now.

I wrote this a week after my friend Kyle was killed in a motorcycle accident. I was pretty devastated, and I think I wrote this entire poem in just a few minutes.

Commentary: I think about 80% of my poetry has always followed some rhyme scheme or at least some sort of constraint (iambic pentameter, etc.), so whenever I come across the rare poem that doesn't rhyme, I find it a little bit more special. I think maybe the non-rhyming stuff tended to capture my true heart because I didn't spend extra time fabricating the words just so...if that makes sense.


Inconclusive Certainty - March 20, 2004

Am I wasting another precious day
trying to find out where I fit?
How much more of this pretending
to know I’m going the right way
before I give up and admit
that my plans for the future are pending?
Am I convincing if I continually say,
“My life is right where I want it,”—
can you read the real message I’m sending?
I don’t know whether to leave or stay;
I’m still waiting for a flame to be lit
to tell me how much time I should be spending
on discovering my purpose and what part to play.
I need to take a moment just to sit
and wait on a word of God’s lending.
But I fear the things he will want me to obey,
and I’m always so hesitant to submit;
the fact is, I’ve been so used to depending
on my own instincts, but they lead me astray.
So I lift up my worries, trust God, and commit
to seeking his will in the time I am spending
awaiting his signal to make clear what’s gray.
In this temporary life, I need to omit
the excuses for my actions; I’m always defending
my humanness, and it’s caused such disarray.
I want my will and God’s to be knit
so that His story and mine have the same ending.

I was in my second semester of freshman year, seriously questioning everything about my life. My major, my friendships, my passions...kind of a common theme throughout my college experience. Suffice it to say I dug up several other poems with a similar theme; this one is my favorite, though.

Commentary: I remember I wrote this in such a way that if you removed the line breaks, it would read as a single paragraph with less emphasis on the rhymes. That was kinda cool.


anti-acrostic - June 21, 2004 
Don't you see how long it's been
Since you last made anything worth saving?
Fighting discouragement is quickly
Becoming too draining a task for you.
Underline a few words for emphasis, but it
Just doesn't do the trick.
Was there ever a trick?
Jokingly, or at least for pretend, you say, "I
Underestimated how good I am at being awful."
Zap back into reality, and you're empty.

Context: Was home for summer after completing freshman year at APU. I'm not really sure what else was going on in my life at that time other than working at a preschool and hanging out with church friends.

Commentary: This is, as far as I can deduce, the last poem I wrote (aside from my yearly Christmas couplets). You can probably sense that I was pretty much out of steam in the inspiration department. Side note: can you figure out the constraint I followed in this poem? (The title should help a little.) It actually took me a minute to figure it out upon re-reading it today. Even though I know I wrote this one with exasperation and then basically gave up on poetry for the next decade, I like it because I can still see that I cared about writing and I cared that I was struggling so much with it.  


It's been almost ten years, so I know I'll be a little rusty when I finally sit down to try to do this again. Feel free to weigh in with your critique/praise on my teenaged poetic skills, or holler any tips, ideas or suggestions for ways I can become re-inspired!


  1. I love your writing, and I think your yearly Christmas couplets should count as writing poetry. I bet if you just sat down with the intention of writing something you'd put down something wonderful.

    Was the constraint in the anti-acrostic just to make sure the first letters didn't spell something? If not, I'm curious what it was.

    1. Thanks Mom! Nope, the anti-acrostic does have a specific structure (and it is still *sort of* an acrostic)... I'll tell you via email if you give up! :)

    2. I hate to give up already, but I'm not seeing anything. Can you give a hint?

    3. Hmm...not sure if I can give a hint that doesn't just give it away.

      How about this: to figure out the acrostic, the first letter in each line has to be modified in a certain way. (Same modification for each line.) That may or may not help? :-)

  2. Yep. That helped...Got it on my second try. You're amazing!


Thanks for your comment! I try to reply to all comments within the post itself so we can keep the conversation going.