I approach poetry as a teenager approaching the first date,
as a 12th grader approaching the SATs,
as a spelling bee-er approaching a word she's never known
despite the prompter's HELPFUL supply of its origin, context, and definition
--I am terrified.
But in hypothetical situations A, B, and C
(all of which I've lived through;
the word was "camphor")
the only choice besides running
with a battle cry of, "Screw it!"
Failure, that haunting possibility,
stalks my every move,
even my attempts at putting poetry to paper.
It breathes words of fear
and of self-loathing
and of weakness
into my mind and especially my muscles,
willing me to put that pen down.
But Poetry, that inexplicable spirit, lifts my own.
She has been my companion for years now,
and she will not leave without a fistfight or two.
Our relationship's outlived some of my dearest friendships.
And when Failure--or one of its cousins--visits
there is always a poem
to be read or to be written
for comfort or for catharsis.
I learned long ago:
to write is to look failure in the face
and go to battle,
knowing that no defeat is inevitable.