I've been thinking this morning (while pulling a mountain of ILL books from the stacks, so all I CAN do is think) about poetry and intention. Often, if I have a definite idea of something I want to write a poem about, I have the hardest time with it. Alot of these poems never see the daylight. I get frustrated and I toss them in the trash. There was a piece I killed last night called "defining" by throwing out the last drafts. I'd written it in February of 04 and it was all about the Virgin Mary and this weird ice formation that had actually appeared on my window ledge from the melting snow above. At first it looked rather phallic, but then, as it started to melt, took on the contours of a robed figure somewhat, about 8 inches high. Not being Catholic, or particularly religious at all, I mostly found this funny, though somewhat fearful someone in the neighboring buildings would see it and I'd come home to find weird vigil below. We made jokes about the ice virgin for weeks. She finally made it into a poem awhile after she'd already melted. I believe I even took it into workshop. I just could never make the piece work. I had a couple different versions of it over the last year and a half or so. I often run into a similar problem whenever I attempt to write a poem particularly about something, or a poem where I know exactly where I want to go with it. It never becomes what it's supposed to be.
Of course, alot of the time, I find myself starting with maybe a vague idea, maybe an image, a word, or a line, and then I just mess around with it. Move words around on the paper, see what I get. Somehow, without all the expectations, I can just relax and let the poem breathe. I find these turn out to be much better poems than the others which plod along, burdened by their failed potential.