Well. April is a great month. So much spring time, so much vibrant life radiating off of the streets. It simply seems that I cannot enjoy it, due to the Ides, or the papers, of April. I lament the fact that I have to stay inside some days and decline trips to frisbee golf, to cookouts, to bars, to the typical fanfare of “I am graduating from college and these are our last three weeks in the same place.” Work must be turned in – my graduation depends on it. But then again: friends! My life depends on them. And now, Uh oh.. I think the sober reality just landed on me. Two more weeks and I will never be a student again.
Snapping out of it, my last couple weeks have been weird. Some inexplicable anxiety. But some good news at the same time: I am going to England next year, teaching in the southern countryside (www.bryanston.co.uk). I still can’t believe that is happening. I was sick for a weekend, with some sort of Scarlet Fever like symptoms. Went on a hike with some of my best friends – Old Rag at 8 in the morning. If anyone needs to do anything in the Shenadoah national park over the next year, let me know. I had to buy a one-year park pass, just so we could go on a five hour hike. Also, I participated in Christ Episcopal’s makers series tonight (put on by the elegant Kate Daughdrill), and read three poems. Poetry readings are funny things, because most of the time when you’re in the audience, if you’re an honest audience, you can’t make too much sense out of it and only clap because you think you should. Hearing the poems might be more like sifting through a sandbox than hearing a narrative – you mess around in the audible language floating in the air until you find something in the sand and take it out to look at, connect with. And typically, the poet’s job has historically been to rise above the common language as much as possible, to make the reader work – if the reader doesn’t have to work for the meaning, be it the poet’s or their own, then it is not a great poem. I disagree with all of this. So when I read, I will give the audience just enough to wet their brains for a connection, just enough so they are not sitting there hearing fragments blast out of a microphone and only catching one or two. I don’t want to insult them either – I understand their intelligence. But the true art is not in the words on the page. It is between the poets and the listener, it hangs there in an intersection between language and souls. Without the community aspect, without an audience to receive and respond, you might as well be cussing in the woods with no one around to hear you.
So here is a new one that I read tonight. I will only say – feel free to interpret and speak with this poem however you like, but I will tell you that it was the poem that saved my ego from writing the wrong sort of poetry.
“This One I Keep To Myself”
I thought I felt a poem coming soon
and calling up to me in a windowless room
a bowl of roses swept across and strewn
before the windowless frames, the wind, and the moon
And I’ve heard its prelude when I walk along the beach
with yellow brass from seaweed; mermaids, incantation from each
Yellow clouds surrounded when this whisper spoke:
was this the man who the legends broke?
Mortal flesh infused with lamplight and a mist
Shall I call it the dew wrung from life by heaven’s twist?
Shall I say, I have walked through streets undressed
seen skeleton lovers and skin digressed?
Seen molecules bend from pink to green?
The greenest leaf from a tree unseen?
And fire from a mountain turn me away?
Shall I say this, or keep it shored in my bay?
And then it stalled, and then it stalled
by sweat and brow, now the curtains called
Nothing in the afternoon confessed
and so it stopped, the audience appalled
Resolved to say it not, it could never be
not I, nor him, as the legends see
He surrendered long ago and burned it all
fled from the beach, the roses, the lamps in fall
I am not he, no prophet, no not at all
Listen and I will tell you all
My giant’s flame flickered high that fall
rose to the sky, yellow clouds spun tall
Until I stood and felt the universe’s wall
the end of life, the dripping call
I would have rolled the universe inside a ball
with answers, oh answers, for us all
But then I saw the eternal Scribe take a sip and grin
He was holding my mind in the quill of his pen
and pressing his fingers to the crook in his chin
wrote – no more, no more, let a new song begin
Let a new song begin, let a new song ring out
no more going at dusk through woods without
These poems, these lines, who are they for
For you or for me, while they dance on the floor –
A poet, a master of the world unseen
Let go of the rope, let go of the dream
I should have been a fisherman; the trout jump and teem
What’s worth more than fish, to the master up stream?
The poems still creep in that windowless room
and play tricks on the floor in the light of the moon
If I must, then I trust I should answer the call
Yet no script by me, no not me, at all