Often I don't know what I want to write until I start writing, and occasionally I'm surprised by what I discover. Here's a writing exercise in stages that might take you to a place, or encourage you to make connections, you hadn't though of.
Write a list of constants in the world that are general, universal: e.g. the sun rises, tides ebb and flow, politicians keep on lying... be specific and aim for about 10 to 12.
Write another list of constants in your own life: trivial and profound, silly and serious. Again be specific, e.g. I cry at sad films, I wash clothes that get dirty and I have to wash them again, I visit my parents.
3a. Choose one of these personal constants, one that involves some kind of activity/process and explore and expand on it, fill in the concrete details of what happens, what you have to do, what it feels like physically, etc. Start with the line: Perhaps this is how everything will always be…
3b. When you come to the end of this activity/process, look beyond yourself, physically and/or imaginatively and write down what you find, what is there, what you can see, what you feel.
4. Read back over your writing and identify the dominant emotional tone. Does the form (the shape of the poem on the page) support that? Do your line breaks add tension, or comfort? Think about what effect you want the shape of your poem to have on your reader.
Here’s a rough draft of a poem I wrote while creating this exercise. It’s very unfinished but I feel it has the core of something I want to say... though the theme isn’t quite clear enough yet, I don’t think. I’ll have to work on it some more.
Looking forward to reading your poems.
Perhaps this is how everything will always be
I leave my mother’s house
turn left along the sweep of Silver Avenue
and cross the road towards the sea,
over the crazed tarmac on the prom
where the sweetshops used to be
and down the concrete steps
where the tide is in, or out.
And if it’s in I sit and listen
to the waves breaking,
and if it’s out I walk
the flat plain of damp sand
to reach the shore,
my face sticky with salt.
And beyond the horizon someone else
leaves their mother’s house
walks towards another sea
wanting to believe this
is how everything will always be.