Saturday, November 12, 2011

Charles Ghigna: Spying on the Muse

The question still catches me off guard: Where do you get the ideas for your poems? I decided to do something about it. I decided to spy on myself for a day, writing down the thoughts and activities that came my way, hoping to find the answer.

When my son was born, my wife and I purchased a wonderful contraption that allows parents to listen in on their sleeping babies. The day I chose to spy on myself began when I woke in the middle of the night to my son's babbling coming in over that nursery monitor. I listened for a while, then drifted back to sleep.

In the morning over coffee, I remembered that midnight serenade and how it sounded as though my son was speaking in two different voices, like characters in a dream play. The possibility of his having already discovered the joy of storytelling occurred to me. At what age does imagination begin? Are we ever able to fully comprehend our own inherent powers of creation? My son's babbles sparked those questions - and this poem:

For My Son Who Talks In His Sleep

The babble of babies
rises again
in your room
and I wonder
what new friends
you're making tonight.

Not yet two,
you've learned
the joy of dreaming,
the endless gift,
my son, of making
the make-believe
come true.
Before you were born
a fortune-teller
told your mother
we would have
an author
for a son.

And I want
you to know
how much I love
hearing this story
you're telling tonight.

Exquisite lamb,
you lie awake
in dreams
conversing with
the other angels.

Your waking world
will never count you in
as just another sheep.

Creation is yours
for the making.

When I finished playing with that poem, I took another sip of coffee and began flipping through the morning paper. A startling photograph of two male deer stared back at me. Their antlers were locked in a struggle that brought them to their death.

Beneath the photograph was an article about the two young hunters who had stumbled onto the scene. The stark photograph along with the brief facts of the story triggered an emotional response in me. I tried to imagine the profound impact that scene must have had on its young viewers as they came face to face with one of Mother Nature's everlasting lessons.

Buck Dancing

Two eight-point buck
lay beside the frozen lake,
their antlers locked
in a last dance.
It was their rite
to fight for dominance
in this, their final
rutting season,
to die for the doe
they will never know.
This is the hunting season
when boys search
through the cold
for the buck that will
make them a man.
This is the season
they will find by the lake
their future frozen
for a moment
in the snow.

I looked up and saw my wife staring at me across the kitchen. I told her how happy I was the day we were married. Still am. My words sounded empty and flat. She lifted our son, smiled again, and carried him down the hall to his room for a nap.

I watched her walk away and quickly jotted down what I had tried and failed to say.

The Order of Words

It is only the order of words
that I have to tell you
how much you mean to me,
just some simple choices
from all I've ever known.
"Put them down, put them down
and give them to her here,"
my head and heart echo each other,
an order I gladly accept.
But were I to write
of our love every day,
were we to live to be two-hundred,
I still would not know what to say,
I still would not know when to quit.

Where do poems come from? They come from anywhere and everywhere. Mostly from the stuff of our lives. As poets, we seize that stuff - the stuff that moves us most - and we try to discover what it all means by putting it down on paper or on the computer screen. Sometimes we surprise ourselves and find a poem in its place.

These are my big black notebooks that contain hard copies of all my 5,000+ poems.

Notebooks and Desk

Charles Ghigna (Father Goose) is an award-winning poet, children's author, speaker, and nationally syndicated feature writer who helps promote the love of poetry and children's literature throughout the world. He is the author of more than 5,000 poems and 50 books from Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and other publishers.

Charles is inspired by little things, quiet moments. He listens and observes. He celebrates life. He practices gratitude. He takes long walks. Charles is inspired by Nature, children, pets, animals, family, friends, and from the real and imagined visions he sees along his walks.

To learn more about Charles, visit his website or the Father Goose Blog. You can also read the Charles Ghigna Papers at the University of Southern Mississippi de Grummond Children's Literature Collection or in the digital collections at the University of Mississippi site.


  1. Wow! I can only imagine all the eloquence in those notebooks!

  2. Thank you, Joyce, for your gracious comment.

  3. This is such a fabulous glimpse of your heartfelt words, Charles..oh, it seems to flow so effortlessly from you. Thank you for sharing! And thank you Amy for this great blog!

  4. Thanks, Shirley. I appreciate your comments here. I enjoyed working with you on THE MAGIC BEHIND THE SCREEN and am already looking forward to our next project!


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