When the Muse Calls

Poems for the Creative Life

Edited by Kathryn Ridall

From the first months of my opening to poetry, I began to collect poems about the creative process. My favorite moments as a psychotherapist occur when enough psychic pain is cleared that people can attune more closely to the passionate desires of their soul. I have watched the muse appear in many different forms and have seen lives transformed by her presence. I also have witnessed the inevitable ups and downs as people settle in with the fiery, unpredictable muse. In my own life, I have lived with muses of romance, spirituality, psychology, and most recently poetry. The poems in WHEN THE MUSE CALLS were collected with an eye to my experiences as both a poet and a psychotherapist.



I decide: no more poetry.
Rejection slips have queued
like boxcars
on an abandoned train.

Reading Neruda reminds
how small the thimble
I dip in the great well.

I think I’m done,
goodbye to her,
but the Muse has her own
inscrutable ways—

every night in dreams
she hands me my refused
pen. All night I scratch
the words she whispers
in my ear.

I think I might go mad
but secretly smile
at myself in mirrors,
maybe I have a destiny
with this after all.

For a long while—
uninterrupted duets.

Then one day
without warning
she flings a glance
over a shoulder
cast of moonlight,

disappears to a remote
island inhabited
by wandering muses.

She’s gone for weeks.
Coaxing, pleading,
poured libations
have no effect at all.

I do what lovers
have always done—
scribble lines about
devastating distances
that break the heart.

© 2007 by Kathryn Ridall