Begin. To begin. Where to begin? Begin with one word. First word, begin. Strange word, begin. As though there was nothing before. As though begin is the beginning of existence. The Alpha. The alphabet. Letters words lines sentences paragraphs pages books shelves floors buildings streets. Streets of language. Of poetry. One street connects another. Not directly. Off-ramps on-ramps. No signs. No sign.
Begin. To begin. Why to begin? Begin only to end. Last word, end. Strange word, end. As though there will be nothing after. As though the end will be the end of existence. The Omega. Cul-de-sac. Dead end. No outlet. Turn around? No U-turn. Continue? No pavement. Pave. Outside the box. Outside the lines. Outside the bun. Teacher laughs, crazy girl.
Not directly, he said. Not with precise style, he said. Thoughts. Fluency of thoughts. Speak write move sing play what you think feel discover. Not directly, fluently. With fluency comes clearness comes opaqueness come directness. But not directly. Create. Go directly to creation. Not triviality or pettiness. Create, he said.
Create. Speak write move sing play. What you know. Write what you know, they said. I know me. Who truly knows me? I. Theoretical, of course. Who truly knows I? Your I, not mine. But mine, too. Not I.
Write what you know, they said. I write what I know. I know not: poetry. Write it. Write about it. What about it? What about I? Include I. Poetry and I, transcendent and new. He said. Poetry and I now transcendent and new with a word count and due date. Dead line. Outside the lines. Outside the box. Write what you know, think outside the box. Not directly. Fluently. Create.
What I know, what I am. What am I? Girl. Woman. On the verge. Poet.
Future. Think of the future, they said. Consequences. Think before you speak. Don’t think before you speak, just speak. Write. Not thinking, writing. Fluently creating. Consciously streaming stream of conscience. To create poetry. Poetry about poetry. Poetry with poetry. Learning by creating and creating by learning. Through learning. What is poetry?
This. This is poetry. Not only this. That those these. All poetry. Poetic and poetics. Structured. No, not structured. Yet always structured. Poetry rejects structure, now. And yet structure remains. Poetry is always already structured. Letters words lines. To talk. To talk about poetry. Cannot talk without structure. Without sounds words utterances.
Trying. I am trying. Yesterday I thought, I know what to write. Today it escapes me. Talk about poetry. Structured. Try again.
Try everything. Everything. Everything. Poetry is everything. Poets touch everything. Universality. It touches the universe universally.
Now I remember.
Five years old. Little. Pretty little. Pretty little girl. Brown hair. Like Mom’s. Mom’s brown hair.
Mom brushes her pretty little girl’s brown hair. Smart little girl under that pretty little girl’s brown hair. Smart for five year old girl. Smart.
Mom brushes pretty brown hair. How do you remember, she asks.
Girl answers. Pencil. Pencil in my head. With a notebook. A little notebook. Like detectives. Pencil in my head writes on detective notebook in my head. And I remember.
Now I remember.
Twenty-one years old. Little. Always little. Pretty little. Pretty little girl. Woman. On the verge. Brown hair. Like Mom’s. Pencil in my head and little notebook. Not to remember, to forget. Once it is written, it is forgotten. Close the book. Open it, and remember.
It writes. Always writing. Always already written. In little girl’s head. It writes. Not directly. Fluently creating. Poetry and not. Everything is poetry. This. This is poetry. This is what is being written.
Entering the world. Thoughts in little girls head, now entering the world. Not smoothly. Not fluently. Not yet. First try. First putting forth. First push. Breathe.
Word count. Count the words. Every word counts. Deadline, we know. Deadline. Write about poetry. Open that notebook, remember. What did it write? What did it want to remember? What did I want to remember? Forget and remember. Open it. Write now.
Writing. Words. Words floating . Words floating around in my head like stars in the dark night sky. Pick one out, pin it down. A shooting star. Shooting onto the page. Feeling the words flow from my head to my fingers like electricity through a closed circuit. How to know which word to pick? There are so many. They’re all in my head, in your head. His head her head their heads. Pick one out, pin it down. Pin it to the paper. It will stick.
My pencil pins them. Why can’t I? Every word counts but I have no words I want to pin. There are so many, I can’t choose. There aren’t enough still. Too many words and still not enough.
That is what poetry is. Finding the word. Finding the right word. Is there ever a wrong word? Who decides?
Too many words and not enough words. Not enough to be fluent. Not for me.
Write a poem. A poem about poetry. Mom asks, how do you remember? The pencil. Let the pencil pin the words. Are they even in English?
Words are only symbols. A chair is not really a chair, a c-h-a-i-r. And who decides what is or isn’t a c-h-a-i-r. Or a d-e-s-k. Who decides?
Mom asks, a poem about poetry? Like a coffee table book about coffee tables. Teacher laughs, crazy girl.
Does this even make sense? Does it even have to? Do these thoughts connect… to each other, to others, to the world? To me? Who decides?
Take the bus then walk, she says. What? Bus then walk. I will take you somewhere, then walk with me. Stop with me, he said. You can’t know how big something is by going right into it. So tell me show me teach me. Stop and look with me. I’ll meet you there. Take a bus then walk. Teach me.
Make it strange. Strange weird complicated profound. Not true. Strange is strange but complicated is not profound. Many things are complicated but not profound. Calculus is complicated, but not profound. Calculus is complicated, useful, has it’s worth. But what does it teach me about the world? About life?
What about math is poetry. Poetry is everything, so how is poetry math? Math is symbols, words in their own right. Characters with a combined meaning. “At” isn’t “Ate” and 28 isn’t 286. And solving. Needing to be solved. Break down, decode, familiarize. Solve. Solving equations and solving poetry. But the difference? No formulas. But not all math has formulas. Still theories, formulas to be had. Still questions. Still unsolved puzzles.
Poetry can be solved, but no right answer. That’s the difference. Maybe poetry is math, but poetry is no right answers. More than one answer. No answer at all. Everyone is right because there is no answer.
The pencil is writing now. It is creating, not directly. Fluently. Word count, counting words, counted words, words yet to be counted but still count all the same.
A poem about poetry, like a coffee table book about coffee tables.
Begin. To begin. To begin, again. This seems a beginning. As though nothing existed before it. But a good beginning? Who decides? If I don’t know, the pencil doesn’t know, do you know? What do you know? Write what you know, they say. What do you know? I know not: poetry. Write about it anyway, ars poetica -- the beginning.