Sunday, April 3, 2016

let me tell you about poetry

so i’m that guy. the one sitting in the pub reading poetry. perhaps you think i’m hoping to be noticed. which i am. not. perhaps. i’m just waiting.

perhaps i’m hoping someone will ask me what i’m reading. or writing. no one ever does. or hasn’t lately. and what if they did?

thirty-five years ago i would have said i hope to be a poet one day. i would tell you about e. e. cummings and spring (like a perhaps hand).

i would have brought out my notebook filled with impassioned pleas to be loved. perhaps that hasn’t changed. please love me.

thirty years ago i might have told you that poems should inspire. that they should speak to the soul all that it means to be human.

i would have told you i could write a poem for you that you could give to the girl you wanted to impress, and that she would smile.

i had not yet read cyrano. i had not yet read leonard cohen. i hadn’t read the psalms. but i knew there needed to be music.

twenty-five years ago i would have tried to convince you of the prophetic power of poetry. because poetry “knows you better than you know yourself”.

i would have told you how the structure of a poem shapes its meaning. how meaning is a slippery thing, and inspiration a fickle mistress.

i would have offered up poetry as a way to open up poetry. let me be part of the conversation. let me join the chorus.

i would have blanketed you in language. crafted blessings and invocations and entreaties and interrogations.

twenty years ago i would have used words to seduce you. would have tried to imbed myself in your skin like a new idea.

I would have sown words like seeds. and watered those seeds with more words. until we both drowned (and awoke).

twenty years ago i would have used these truths and dressed them up as lies that tell the truth in order to lie with you.

twenty years ago. twenty years ago is a long time ago. all my lovers are now ghosts. all my wounds have become trophies.

i wonder now if there’s any real reason to convince you of poetry. you would not believe me anyway.

perhaps you will ask if i am a real poet. whether i have been published. i might tell you i have chosen a useless profession.

i might tell you that writing poetry is embarrassing. that i find myself shamefully honest. that i am always afraid of revealing too much, or too little.

i might apologize for the fact that you will one day appear in a poem. i may not portray you flatteringly. but no less than myself.

so let me say that i am not a poet. that is too weighty a thing. let me just say that i love words.

let me just say that I have tried to be careful with them, placed all the words just so.

let me just say that these are meagre offerings. i have no illusions. do with them as you wish.