{pf: the poetry peeps love a letter}

Welcome to another Poetry Friday Poetry Peeps Adventure!

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge for the month of March! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing animal pantoums. This delightful Malaysian poetic form will pair perfectly with beasts of all kinds – wild or domesticated. Are you game? Good! Whatever way of seeing that you choose, you have a month to craft your creation and share it on March 29 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

From Process…

I love letters, and I don’t think it’s unfair to say that I could write a pretty good love letter if I put my mind to it… but somehow writing a poetic epistolary felt beyond me this month. Mainly because I am… burnt out to ashes. There’s been a lot of drama going on (2024 CONTINUES to be that special snowflake) PLUS I have a bunch of editorial notes and a big fat revision going on – which is honestly great news, my editor is brilliant, but… I’m just pooped. My body tends to respond to stress by… stressing out further. There’s some switch in my brain that trips that keeps me up, unable to quiet my mind, because SOMETHING IS WRONG AND I MIGHT BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING TO FIX EVERYTHING IF I JUST STAY UP AND OBSESS.

Yeah, it hasn’t worked so far, but my brain remains determined.

This month is supposed to be about writing love letters, but I have no love for insomnia, and that’s all I could fixate on. Kelly helpfully suggested that I might flip that script, and write about insomnia’s love …for me.

…To Poem

Honestly? I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about anything but how grinding this was. Insomnia is like your worst night, on repeat. I knew I wanted a repeating form to work with, but I couldn’t think beyond that. The minute Kelly gave me her suggestion, I was able to shift my viewpoint, and found an entry point to writing not one, but two epistolary poems, in conversation with each other. After all, doesn’t every love story have two sides?

There’s the unhinged pursuit…

A fascinating flame as bright
As lightning streaks the thoughts fly through
A moth to flame, I crave the light
Of neuron’s fire. Of minds. Of you.

As lightning streaks, your thoughts fly through
From deepest darkness, just the sight
Of neuron’s fire. Of minds. And you –
Forgive me! – whet my appetite.

From deepest darkness, oh the sight
Of signals sparking, rendezvous
Forgive me for my appetite –
I know you’ve things to attend to…

Those signals sparking, rendezvous –
The surge and twist of thoughts delight
I know you’ve things to attend to,
I pause your sleep, but not from spite —

They surge and twist, your thoughts. Delight!
A fascinating flame so bright…
I pause your sleep, but not from spite –
A moth to flame, I crave your light.

And then, there’s the pointed refusal…

She Resists
Insomnia, your sobriquet
Sounds sweet, though lately, in the night
As sleepers sway at sleep’s threshold,
You feast with gluttonous appetite.

Your ‘som’ shapes softly somnolence
I sink in with a grateful sigh…
And wake – abruptly – all pretense
Of resting peacefully passed by.

Why me, Insomnia? Reply!
Explain your wearying campaign!
Your ardent interest I defy
Desist! You’ll not leave me insane.

Oh, well. Better luck next time… I guess. Insomnia will, doubtless, keep trying…

I spent a lot of time giggling writing this, so thank you, sweet Kelly, who is always a positive energy in the universe, for making me laugh, and reminding me that there’s ALWAYS another way of seeing things.

There’s more love stories, or anti-love stories waiting, thanks to our Poetry Friday host Tabatha, at The Opposite of Indifference. Want to see what everyone else came up with for love poems? Sara’s epistle to February is here. Mary Lee’s love letter is here. Laura’s affectionate missive is here, and Tricia’s loveliness is here. Michelle’s epistle to a sparrow is here, Linda B’s first heartbreak poem (it counts, Linda) . Carol V’s poem is here, and Linda M’s poem is here. More Poetry Peeps will be penning tender phrases to all manner of animal, vegetable, and minerals this weekend, so stay tuned and I’ll post more links as I find them.

Until then, dear ones – keep your pillows soft and your screens off. This too shall pass.

19 Replies to “{pf: the poetry peeps love a letter}”

  1. Oh, Tanita, been there, done that, but have never conceived a poem in the throes of the insomnia! 🙂 I’m glad you could use that rotten sleep thief as inspiration for these two fabulous poems. “Pursuit” reads like Insomnia is a vampire (which it is, of course, sucking the life out of us when we don’t get the rest we need), and I love the cease-and-desist tone of “She Resists”!

    1. @Karen Edmisten: I was ENTIRELY imagining insomnia as a vampire – that’s where the giggles mostly came from. All this time the Twilight crew thought Edward was looming over Bella out of ardent affection… but was it really ever about her blood? Methinks no…

  2. As always, your language and rhymes take my breath away. Also, the flip and humor — this is the full-meal deal. I think, after writing these, you deserve … a REST!!

  3. What marvelous poems your insomnia has offered you…The pantoum sure fits “Pursuit” seamlessly, what a nag pursuit is though… And, “A moth to flame, I crave your light.” what a perfect visual–so persistent is the moth as the horrid insomnia, and the rhythm in “Pursuit” is marvelous! Here’s to some good shut-eye not to far off on the horizon, thanks Tanita!

    1. @Michelle K: What made me chuckle, too, was the idea that “a moth to a flame” is a sort of romanticized imagery, but it’s actually kind of a pain to get a moth to change its interest to something – anything – else when it gets a certain form of light into its sights. It’s a nag that keeps circling persistently, just like insomnia.

  4. If only there were some kind of armor we could offer to gird your resistance to this sneaky, slimy monster!

    Great advice on Kelly’s part. Next time I get stuck, I’ll try a flip. I was definitely with you on not feeling it for the writing of a poetic love letter this month. You brought your A game with humor and word choice (sobriquet, for instance!) and not one, but TWO poems, while I cheaped out with a haiku.

  5. Well, I giggled a bit as I read ‘Insomnia’ as well. She’s a relentless foe. Isn’t she? Great commands given by the poet to desist, reply, defy! Wishing you a good night sleep soon!

  6. Oh my, Tanita, I’m sorry for the insomnia, but it gave us these poems, worthy of a few nights? I read a book a while ago that told of people centuries ago who slept in different parts of the day and night. They would sleep, then rise and work, then sleep again, and so on. They posited it was healthier! But, I love the positive part, “I pause your sleep, but not from spite —” an intriguing opinion. Wishing you a nice weekend and better nights!

    1. @Linda B: I try to think of it that way – at least there’s poetry even if there’s not sleep. And I love the idea of having ‘seasons’ of night – sleeping early and waking and sleeping again. I honestly feel like having insomnia takes me so far out of step with other minds that it seems like a workable plan to get to bed at twilight and sleep when I can!

  7. How creepy and wonderful that first poem is—like an anti-lullaby. I love the flip of the script, and I hope it helps you feel like it isn’t you, but outside you that is stealing your sleep (otherwise, i feel like insomnia turns into self-blaming and even LESS sleep.)

  8. I’m so sorry you are struggling with insomnia. I love that these poems are in conversation. That pantoum (you have a head start on March!) is glorious. Your poem of resistance is such a strong character and the last line is brilliance.

    1. Tanita, I’ve been there where you are. Pursuit is a marvelous poem that triggers a second look. Amazing repeated line: “They surge and twist, your thoughts. Delight!” She Resists has so many interesting lines, starting with “You feast with gluttonous appetite.” This leads to the last stanza where you share your rage leading to these pointed., snarling thoughts attacking insomnia: “Your ardent interest I defy/Desist! You’ll not leave me insane.” This makes me think of a Vincent Price scene in one of his horror movies. Maybe your sleep pattern could me a madcap revenge movie. Well done, Tanita!

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