Sunday, April 18, 2010

To Wish Is Its Own Reward

April 18: “For today's prompt, take the phrase "To (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Some examples: "To the left, to the left," "To write or not to write," "To Kill a Hummingbird," "To the Doghouse," etc. There are so many possibilities.”

Indeed, there are possibilities galore for this prompt—just choosing a title that is either a noun or a verb, an object or an action, leaves you with seemingly endless options. And there’s the serious or the silly, the reflective or the quirky.

A single letter can totally change the essence of a title or its poem. Consider the difference between “To Arms” (a call to immediate action) and “To Arm” (a potential question for reflective discourse). No doubt Robert Lee Brewer must toss and turn in his sleep to come up with daily prompts to challenge even the titling of a poem, much less the writing of it.

To Wish
Bill Kirk

To wish,
Whether quietly or aloud,
Is to hope, to desire, to anticipate.

As infinitives go, “to wish” is rare.
It holds a singular optimism that
Who we are,
What we are doing and
Where we are going
Will be as good as, or even far better than,
Our immediate here and now.

And to actually take the step
Of making a wish is a
Self declaration of our belief
In boundless possibilities,
Defined and confined
Only by the wisher.

Indeed, the very existence of
“To wish” in our language
Allows us to think in terms as large
As our imaginations are capable.
And then, we can wish even larger still
For something—anything—that is beyond
Everything which doesn’t yet exist.

Simple wishes are sometimes the best.
A child might wish for a silver dollar
In exchange for a first-pulled tooth.
Or a violinist for the purest of notes
To be called forth as bow meets string.
And is it too grand for a writer to wish
For sufficient inspiration to coax
Just the right words onto the page?

To be sure, certain wishes
Might not be in our own best interest
Or that of others.
Wishing a flat tire for the driver
Who just cut you off
Might slather momentary satisfaction
On a bruised psyche.
But what if your instantaneous mental snapshot
Of such an obvious transgression
Fails to take into account
The sick child in the back seat
En route the emergency room?

Even in the naming of our enemies,
Whether briefly or long term,
Do we not wish calamity for them—
And, in contrast, the better for us?
Yet in so doing, are we not the lesser for it?

Instead, aren’t the best wishes unselfish,
Like a prayerful request to improve our lot
But not at the expense of others?

And in our wishing, is it not best to wish boldly—
To let our imaginings run free?
Or do we fail to wish simply for fear of failure?

Wishing is at the heart of living and
Our capacity to wish is its own reward.
Everything else is gravy.

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