Writer’s Note: I don’t know if the following is a rant or a poem or something in between but I wrote it in New York City while ingesting the malodorous, beautiful smell of smog and gazing up at the colossal concrete redwoods as they competed for a glimpse of God. So whatever this writing is, I was inspired to abandon constraint and explore a lack of boundaries for my words while soaking in the city. The Big Apple is an imposingly magical place to be an artist creating art. To quote John Lennon, “Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself.” Game on.
The difference between writing poetry
and writing song lyrics
is that with poetry,
the rhyming is optional.
One might think that the inherent freedom
would make poetry easier
but in my experience,
an open canvas is harder.
Your soul is more exposed.
There are only
so many ways
to express yourself
through the limitations
Don’t get me wrong,
I love the challenge.
I crave the adrenaline rush
of being backed into a rhyming dead-end
and punching my way out of it.
Case in point,
I’m currently sitting with a pen and pad
on the 31st floor of my hotel in hip hop’s birthplace
drawing inspiration from the beats of the city
to get my rhymes perfect
on some bars that had been giving me trouble.
There’s something almost spiritual
about being present
in this space
that has cultivated
an incomparable community
and finding a way
to tap into
their inimitable artistic energy
in order to conquer my verse.
But having this ability
to benefit from collective creativity
to solve my rhyming challenges
that the open canvas
there is no community to rely on
because the page
is a mirror.
There are also
no structural excuses
for hiding in
the safety of form.
When I press pause on the city’s instrumental
and retreat to the deafening silence
of staring down the barrel of a blank page
that’s been designated for writing poetry,
I know I’ll be alone with the taste
of my solitary experience
in this city
of nine million people
Written December 2017 in New York, New York