Don’t bother deciphering the title of a poem. The best poems are inspired by the concrete, by the tangible, by the touchable.
Good titles to good poems arise from feelings and moods. Ask a poet about the poems they keep hidden in their desk drawers, those that they judge unworthy of the reader’s eye. Those are the poems that tell the best stories.
They are locked inside dusty drawers so they don’t bother with form. They don’t struggle with abstract ideas. They only state what they see. And alas! how we’ll be astounded to have descriptions of things right in front of our eyes. These poems, they describe and look for the exit. They don’t force their ideas on you. They leave the pulpit for the preachers.
A good poem, like a good storyteller, teases you before dishing out the details. A good poem, like a good amant, touches you where it feels best.
Imagine a young poet, one who has devoured Rilke’s letters, walking towards the rush of a Monday morning. He stands at the side of the road, brushing shoulders with other passengers equally running late to their places of destination. The faux cold that the morning carries has some people toting thin excuses for sweaters. The little students depending on the pity of conductors for a free ride to school wear their woolen sweaters defiantly. They depend on these sweaters to get to school. In that confusion, in the eyes that peer into the distance willing an empty matatu to materialize from the horizon, in that disarray; therein lays your poem. The first, second, third stanzas trip on each other in your head. But your English classes and Neruda’s fabulosity remind you of the need for a title.
You look around.
What did you have for breakfast?
What’s your predominant feeling? Gratitude. You’re grateful that the place you’re getting late to is a mere internship. You don’t depend on it to earn a living. Also, you compose art (for what else is poetry) out of everyday’s chaos.
“Green sweaters peer into the horizon.”
A poem is born.