Two Cigarettes later

I was so excited reading January and February’s edition of Poets and Writers and saw Craig Morgan Teicher’s article about Writing Badly. He discussed his approach to creativity. One of the authors he mentioned was Norman MacCaig, and he featured one of my favorites Impasse. I included it below along with one of my other fav’s Sounds of the Day. Great minds think alike!  I decided to share him with you too!

Two Cigarettes! That’s what Norman MacCaig once told an interviewer about how long it takes to write a poem. By the time he died in 1996, he had written 3,897 poems.  I hope I can accomplish as many in my lifetime. MacCaig wrote poetry, mostly lyric and often short but very profound.  I loved his lack of self-censorship. He wrote good honest poems about life’s conflicts that still apply today. I love his use of clunky words, it reminds me imagery is possible by improvising with language. Poetry to me is best when it’s inhibited. I find Maccaig inspiring when I need to be reminded to trust my mind… the words will come. I recommend you spend some time reading his collection, you won’t be disappointed.

Impasse by MacCaig

Everything’s different now from


everything was. Good.

But I like it too when I look 

at a thing I’ve known for years,

like a landscape, and you, think

they ‘re just the same,

they haven’t changed a bit.

I know that’s nonsense.

Do you hear my voice faltering?

Do you see the moistness in my


Time loves one child-difference,

and kills another-sameness,

and torments us all

who love both.

Sounds of the Day
When a clatter came,
it was horses crossing the ford.
When the air creaked, it was
a lapwing seeing us off the premises
of its private marsh. A snuffling puff
ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking and
unblocking a hole in a rock.
When the black drums rolled, it was water
falling sixty feet into itself.

When the door
scraped shut, it was the end
of all the sounds there are.

You left me
beside the quietest fire in the world.

I thought I was hurt in my pride only,
forgetting that,
when you plunge your hand in freezing water,
you feel
a bangle of ice round your wrist
before the whole hand goes numb.
Poets & Writers--Inspiration January-February 2017

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