Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What I learned from the Smoking Poet

It's Tuesday. And that's really close to Monday, right?

The reason I ask is that L.L. Barkat invites us to write on, in and around Mondays.

And I am practicing something a poet told me.

I sat in a crowded, smoke filled restaurant one New Year's Morning and found myself sitting at the bar between a musician and a poet. (There were no tables left and if I wanted food, I had to sit at the bar in the smoking section to get breakfast.) I love this town. It is full of artists. What are the odds of going out for a simple breakfast and finding myself sitting with a poet on one side of me and a musician on the other?

I talked briefly with the poet, and he told me that he writes a poem a day. Every day. As he talked, he smoked. The whole place was full of stinky, gray smoke. Every other restaurant must have been closed for the holiday, because it was crazy, buzzing busy there that morning. And smelly, and full of smoke. The cooks in back were overwhelmed and moving as fast as they could to keep up. Pans and plates clanged and clashed. Voices shouted. I watched. And the poet wrote. And he smoked. He didn't talk much; we just had that short conversation. And I was amazed. How could he write in such a noisy, stinky, head-buzzing environment?

He told me that he writes a poem every day. As a personal discipline. He doesn't wait for inspiration, or for a mood to move him. He just decides to write and he does. He told me that he liked the energy in that place. I didn't. It helped him write. It took away my appetite!

But I got the idea that if I want to write - poems or anything else - then I have to just do it. It is easiest for me to write when something is going on, when something inspires my creativity, or when I need to work through something. But sometimes I should just write because I decided to. It would be good discipline for me.

So, thanks to the smoking poet in the smelly restaurant, who taught me something, I am writing today. Even though I don't feel like I have something important to say. Still it is Monday...ish. Well, it is "around Monday", and that is as good a reason to write as any.

And, thanks, L.L., for the invitation.

ps- You know what? That day, I ended up taking my food out of that place and eating it where I had quiet. And in my quiet, I wrote a poem. Maybe I'll post it sometime.


  1. I would love to see the poem!

    This was a delightful offering. And any day is perfectly acceptable.

    Really, I should take up the poem-a-day challenge too... :)

  2. Ooooh, I am squirming at this end. You are speaking the voice of God to me, telling me to stop delaying starting a project I've been dreading...well, dreading the starting, anyway.

  3. L.L. - thank you for your kind words. I will look for that poem. It's on another computer here. I know there's a way to share documents, but I have to figure that out. I can't find the secret passageway between machines tonight.

    Kathleen - Really!? I hope once you start, you enjoy whatever it is. If it is God's idea, it has to be a good one, doesn't it? I hope you can have fun with it. Or if not, that you enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you are accomplishing something important. Please let me know how it turns out. I will celebrate your accomplishment with you, whatever good thing it is.


Thanks,I love your comments!