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tighten constraints, free creativity?

tighten constraints, free creativity?

A mentor once told me that the  poet living inside us enjoys the challenge of creating within  structural constraints (i.e., haiku, sonnets, etc.).  So one day, from 101 Famous Poems, an anthology of older poems compiled by Roy J. Cook, I randomly selected  In Flanders Field  by Lt. Col. John McCrae. I'd use its rhyming sequence (A, A, B, B, A). On a whim, I would write about the sea. Within those meager restrictions, I set out.  Wow! Hungrily, my right brain pounced onto the "rules of the game" and finished off eight stanzas.  Primal Yearning is a bit heavy on rhyme, but it lays bare much of my feeling for the sea.

Primal Yearning

My hunger for the fragrance of the sea,

this longing to behold its fluid vibrancy,

rhythmically up wells                                                

                                          and imploringly compels,

till I return again where shore and briny be.


My thoughts ride soaring gulls atop the gusty breeze

as capped azure swellings crash ashore with ease.

Tingling, I recall the strand                                               

                                     (its dunes, the crabs, and shells at hand)

where frothy saline tongues do lick the sand, in tease.


Oh why do I suffer irrepressible yearning?

This compulsive pull to the sea  has me turning,

like a calling from home,

                                                      after years at roam.

Is this some atavistic nostalgia burning?


Evolution's cradle lay deep in this abyss,

wherein eons watched procreation run amiss.

Genetic chains grew mistaken, 

                                          phenotypes formed misshapen,

causing life's dynamic force to diverge.


Tis true, biochemical bequeathing availed

each successive generation and mutation it trailed,

with structural and behavioral complexity,         

                                            cognition with recall capacity,

but what ancient bits of memory in passage prevailed?


These plenipotentiary twists of nucleic thread

build us, drive us. What ethereal needs be fed?

We mature to love, we beget to rear         

                                    with subliminal cadences in our ears

--reminiscences, too, of pelagic beauty and  dread?


Through my veins, the salinity of the sea now flows.

Still more, it bathed my fetal metamorphic repose.

Genetic debris evolved to me      

                                  through countless creatures of the sea.

Be it my want--for in it, of it, through it I arose!


Yes, my haunting hunger for the sea,

this longing to behold its fluid vibrancy,

conjures up whisperings, tis true,         

                                        a homeward beckoning--deja  vu,

"Return, return again where shore and briny be."

                                                         Dennis Shay