Monday, April 18, 2016

Poetry Week by Week: Free Verse Poetry

Week three of Poetry Week by Week is here! This week we are celebrating free verse poetry.

Free verse is unlike other forms of poetry in that it is free of restrictions. The dictionary on my computer defines free verse as "poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter." Those who aren't as familiar with poetry may mistake free verse for prose with line breaks. They see that it does not rhyme, that it does not have any form or structure, and they scoff. But that is a mistake!

I think of free verse poetry as ultra concentrated. Every word is intentional. Every line break is there for a purpose. Every use (or omission) of punctuation is by design. In free verse poetry, how the poem is written is as important as the words.

Free verse poetry has a purpose beyond telling a story or sharing an experience. It is meant to pack a punch, to hit you in the gut, tug at your heart, or water your eyes. It is meant to move you. The best of free verse poems reel you in and make you feel like you're right there in the words.

A skilled author can do this with prose, but it takes a special type of gift to accomplish this with a poem. This is why I hesitated to share one of my own free verse poems with you today. I wondered if I had any that are good enough. And then I thought of a poem I wrote at a difficult time in my life--a poem that, at the time I wrote it, I thought I would never share with anyone. word for 2016 is open, and though that doesn't mean I have to share everything, it does mean that I shouldn't be afraid to show a little brokenness now and then. After all, to me, poetry is a gift from God that has always helped me get through hard times. It's one of the tools he uses to piece me back together again. And doesn't that make it worth sharing?

So, here you go.


I feel like I could drown any moment

like that solid life-line that I hold in my grip could
become jelly
and squish through my fingers

and my arms
so used to clinging to that rope
won't know what to do

and I'll flail
and gasp
and choke
and slip beneath the surface of the deep

and when that happens,
then what?

will I become calm
like Sam Gamgee in the movie
and let myself sink
deeper and deeper
wondering if a hand will reach down
to rescue me?

will I suddenly remember
my instruction
and use my arms and legs
to pull
and kick my way
to the air?

will I breathe

or will I drown?

© Rebecca J. Gomez

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how poetry has helped or influenced you in some way. Do you write or read free verse poetry? Do you have any favorite free verse poems or poets?

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