Mary Poppins and writing poetry

Standing at the elevators with my daughter, my heavy purse slung over my shoulder, I started to think about Mary Poppins. Remember the scene when she first arrives, and she’s pulling things out of her carpetbag? Astonishing things–like a lamp!

That’s what I remember. I saw the movie in the theatre when I was really young, and the image has stayed with me, which might be why I lug so much stuff around in my big, black purse: phone, wallet, thumb drive, two copies of Into the Rumored Spring, poetry books I’m reading, the novel I’m reading, pens, a little notepad, bus card, sunglasses, lip balm, tissues, a container of Aleve, fingernail clippers, dental floss, a tooth brush, old grocery shopping lists and many old receipts from the grocery store (time to clean those out), a few business cards (mine and others’), saints cards my sister gave me. No lamp, though.

I thought about writing–what’s in that carpetbag? What do I keep near me in case I’ll need it? And what am I missing?

First out of the bag would be my eyes and especially my ears–to hear images in sounds and to hear how a line moves. Next, I keep the poems of Linda Hull close by. Now that I have a writing studio, I keep all my books close by–important, because reading is probably my most important tool.

I carry around a basic knowledge of some basic forms.

I also have within arm’s reach big, hardbound copies of Webster’s and Roget’s (the books are large, but the print’s small, so I need to keep reading glasses on hand, too).

That leads to language, my toolbox of words. Recently at LiTFUSE, I was astonished at how often I could not find the word I wanted. I knew there must be a word that would fit both the diction and the rhythm I wanted, but it wasn’t coming to me. I need to work on filling up my carpetbag with more words.

Sometimes, my carpetbag might include the not-so-good stuff: professional jealousy, disappointment, fear–baggage. Always good to clean that stuff out–who needs that extra weight?

What do you keep in your carpetbag? What supercalifragilistic magical tricks do you carry with you?