There are so many poems now, Marcus, blooming everywhere, like wildflowers on the spring slopes, everyone is writing. There is the exquisite and the banal, the big ones creating revolutions, the little ones coaxing resolutions, the euphoric ones, the ones declaring clichéd love over and over again but mostly the soft ones coloured in the deep yellow of unknowable angst.
A most delectable sight, I’m sure. Anguish translates well, even into unseemly words.
I feel like I’m riding uphill on a little bicycle, unable to stop, unable to read, definitely unable to write or rhyme one more wildflower out of its weeping misery. I must throw my notebook away so I can ride like so many, just letting the undulating scent and colour pervade my senses. Feeling the hills, kissing the wind, ignoring poetry.
Will there still be flowers?
ask the cuckoo
if she has learnt to build a nest
there she is in the plum tree watching the badgers
It’s what we do, Marcus. Read a poem and presume to know everything about the poet. A few drops of blood in the sink and suddenly every reader is Sherlock Holmes, pipe, hat and all.
Isn’t that the poet’s calling, to let his soul bleed on paper.
A poem is a dragonfly, you see it flash by, a blur of colour and hum and impending rain. There’s a story in it, a grimace, a sigh, a mirror. But it is not garden or the sky and surely not the poet.
That’s what the reader sees, not the ink stained hand that held out the mirror that captured the dragonfly that dropped out of the sky but the other hand shielding the mirror from the first raindrop.
Elementary, I suppose?
leaf by leaf
autumn paints the scene
bare branch and frozen water
In a digital world ruled by algorithms that feed us the news we want to read, or they think we ought to read, our view of the world ends up so skewed, Marcus, I think mine is just resting on its side.
Those are the synthetic absolutes we respond to in so many different ways, the reality we wear, our straight horizon, our green sky, our renunciation of discernment.
Think of poems them, so slanted, their words are sliding out as they are written. We need upright poetry, Marcus, that creates harsh angles between stubborn voices and pre-conceived truths.
Try writing from oblique spaces, in blunt diagonals, lines that find their own direction, that cross out others. Try lying on your side.
you take off from the sigh of the mountain
those clouds never see you coming
Maybe we are all just marionettes, Marcus, nodding wide-eyed at the end of a glowing digital string. The things we considered certainties now blow around like plastic clouds on a windless day.
Even a blatant falsehood is only as effective as the ignorance or apathy of the listener, isn’t it?
That creates a circle of masked puppets and blindfolded audience who don’t even realise they are in a show together, don’t even know if they are performing or viewing it. Or if there is a show. Or if they should care.
That could be the truth. If you want it to be.
what time is it, I asked the stormy sky
who knows, he said,
tomorrow I swallowed the sun
So, Marcus, does the poet have to be really intelligent, able to comprehend and interpret the world he lives in, clever enough to simplify the complex nuances of the zeitgeist, wise enough to read the tired tea leaves at the bottom of his cup?
Or live on a tangent, dredging his own yearnings, a child of nature disconnected from the random pettiness of the now, laying just his solitary heart out in row after row of blood soaked words?
It is the subtlety of the verse, the interlocked, often hidden messages, the finesse of craft, the unasked questions, the unanswered inquiries that elevate a poem. How can distancing himself from political and social reality, how can the absence of shrewd analysis, the inability to write between lines, to pause long enough to let the reader unearth layer after layer of pure joy… how can the ingenuous, the artless, the rudderless poem make its way to a reader?
Who is the reader?
I know the night has more stories to tell
but the rain keeps falling
but the rain keeps falling
There is no Cinderella poem, Marcus. A perfect amalgam of word and emotion and courage and truth that will be rescued by an erudite prince from the undiscovered dark, transported in a pumpkin carriage from obscurity to enduring fame in an instant. The unread poem just dies, returning to the emptiness one disconsolate word at a time.
Probably depends less on poet or prince and more on a fickle glass slipper.
Magic, Marcus, magic! Even the best of poems needs that bit of sparkling fairy dust, a conspiracy of stars and moon to shine, that cloak of invisibility so it can slip into hearts and minds and be declaimed by birds and flowers in unimagined spaces. A poet has to be part cloud, part rabbit and part magician.
And what happens when the clock strikes twelve?
my secrets have secrets
my dreams have dreams
I know, my poems write poems for them
I see a bookstore, a library and I know there is a book, several, that I will never read. So many things, Marcus, which I will never know. See a map of the world and I know there are innumerable journeys I will never take. And yet that one book or one journey could have meant something, changed my life if I had picked it…or if it had picked me. Life is a random line of stepping stones and we just hop from one to the next, fingers crossed behind our backs, hoping there is an actual destination. Or if this is the real path to it.
Maybe you already finished that one book or took that one trip. Saw the one sunrise that gathered the light of all the worlds into a point in your heart. Read aloud the one poem that drained the seven oceans into that single sound at the tip of your tongue.
I would know if I had. If it had? Wouldn’t I? No?
That’s where the stones take you. Back to that random point. Where you will know. Where it will make a difference.
between one wave
and the next- a shore, a sea,
an interminable wait