What I'm realizing about the NaPoWriMo daily poem exercise is that, as William Stafford said, you have to write the bad poems to get to the good poems. Of course, you don't have to show anyone the bad poems, but it's still disheartening some mornings to begin what you know in your bones will be a truly mediocre, necessary piece of writing. A piece of writing that defies form, vaguely or precisely reaches for the unreachable, reveals your lack of vocabulary and taste, and trivializes the vital, or even worse, tries to vitalize the trivial.
I am beset by dilemmas I could blame every April: the need to finish a play, do my taxes, compose graduation poems for my favorite school (a chore that comes every April, yet doesn't yield poems I can really count for NaPo, thus doubling my poetic duties). But really I can blame nothing but my as-yet undeveloped instrument for failing to channel the inspiration, whatever small muse might be whispering to me, excellently.
For my shortcomings, I read great poets. Making my way through the complete Dickinson and Donne at the moment. To die happy would be to write lines like:
"Hope" is the thing with feathers --
That perches in the soul --
And sings the tune without the words --
And never stops -- at all --
Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,' and bend
Your force to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.