Here Be Dragons.
Supposedly, on ancient maps, cartographers labeled sections that were unexplored with these three words. It represents the bogeyman, the deepest darkest corner of the closet, the literary equivalent of Do Not Enter. So I take these mythical words, stretch the meaning a bit, and apply them to today’s post.
I recently came into possession of a magnetic poetry kit. The kind that has a ton of words jumbled up with a magnetic backing so you can write poetry on your refrigerator door. I’ve always had fun with this stuff. At parties, we used to start the night with a single word, and every person who went to the fridge was required to add on. It would start off entirely logical, poetic, meaningful, and by the end of the night, would be nonsensical, string after string on words that were utterly discordant.
At the time, under the influence of mankind’s finest inexpensive beverages, it was a riot. In the light of day, not so funny. There was always the one person who had stayed up later than everyone else, who nursed along a broken heart, or a broken soul, who left the saddest imaginable notes hidden in the jumble.
We’re all poets at heart, aren’t we? I know I am. I’m a terrible, horrible poet. Should burn all but one or two of the idiotic crapola I wrote in college. Yet every once in a while, the spirit moves me, and I try my hand. It’s god awful stuff that I end up deleting.
So I thought it would be fun to have my own little game of poetry on the refrigerator. No pressure, nothing of importance. Just another way to play with words, which is my dearest passion. I break out the kit, tear things apart, careful to keep the three letter words separate from the fours and fives, separate the multiple I’s from the Am’s and Me’s, etc.
My first foray into this new game pleases me.
Life is a languid symphony of never and always.
Sigh. How pretty. I leave this on the refrigerator and go to bed, a love note of sorts for my husband.
The following morning, I come downstairs, knowing that hubby be playing the game, will have left me a note. Something to compliment my beautiful phraseology perhaps, or an entirely new sentence will have emerged. Maybe it will be romantic, maybe it will be wistful. Maybe it will give me an idea that causes an eruption of like-minded words and similes that will keep me happy for the rest of the day.
I knew he’d leave me a note. And he did. It read, and I quote:
Smell my finger.
Have I ever mentioned hubby was an economics major?
Once I picked myself up off the kitchen floor, wiped the tears from my eyes, called him to compliment his sarcasm and admit he tickled my funny bone, a thought occurred to me.
It’s fitting, really. We can write the purple, flowery prose with a capital P all day long. We can pour our hearts out onto the page, examine and impress ourselves with our imagery, our command of the language. But it’s the short, sweet stuff that makes the most sense, cuts through the bullshit and makes our writing tight and spare.
I’d like to think that I have a literary style to my writing. But I also try to keep the sentences short, punchy, to the point. It is possible to have both. I think. Which is what I mean about here be dragons. As a writer, I feel like I need to get better, to take chances, to work myself to death finding the most sophisticated yet approachable terms and descriptions. I think we all move off into uncharted territory daily, coming up with new, better phrases, finding different ways to relate our thoughts to the reader.
What about you? Are you a slave to metaphor, or do you prefer the slam, bam, thank you ma’am approach? And who does either style the best?
Wine of the Week:
2005 Renato Ratti Torriglione Barbera d’Alba