Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Exploring the Options

LORETTA HASKELL (Word Count: 1362)

Poetry. What is poetry?

Such a vast question. The question is really, where do we begin?

In poems, I see the emotion

That sits behind a person’s eyes, hiding from most of the world.

In poems, I see a peace, or maybe a piece of what we want most.

There’s pain and suffering, happiness and streaming tears. But I can’t ever seem to find a moment of solitude in poetry.

It may feel like solitude, it may feel quiet, but really

Take a closer look. You’re in my mind and I’m in yours. Maybe this is the essence of poetry.

Malediction and Benediction. The sacredness of speech.

I can’t seem to find the floor beneath my feet, as the words envelope my every sense.

Shklovsky found in poetry, the special kind of language that makes my world spin a little too fast. There’s too much color in a quilted poem. The cento is not for me.

Perhaps a romp with hymnity, with Dickinson and church song.

But God has always been too strict and the buildings all too stuffy.

Then there’s Edson with fibulae, writing from a line that needs interpretation, then running through the watery depths of mystery to find it.

Niedecker is unpredictable and the less ornate, the more the words will flow.

But what is poetry to me?

Mystery, color, feeling, and emotion. It’s action in the form of little lined letters.
The dainty mystery that surrounds a crumbling forest. The decay of cities that flowed past time. The rise of evil or the fall of grace. I find myself forever searching, tearing, and ripping down the walls to see what you want me to see. I won’t follow your advice, but I’ll find my place surrounding yours.

Whitman asks about time. I don’t understand time, a human concept that falls around us to stem the chaos that our human brains cannot master. We find ourselves in the position of superiority over nature (or so we think) and today I think we’re ridiculous.

Whitman believes in contradiction. In the beauty and embracing of contradiction. So do I. It’s too boring to always be the same. What grace is there in being stagnant, stationary, or dead to living breath. I find no happiness in schedule, in routine, in the harping of cell phone alarm clocks. Give me adventure in the daily life, so simple a thing with a dash of random flavor.

I’ll dance on the table tops and tip over chairs. I’ll trip up the stairs and paint the walls red, then blue, then throw in the rainbow to paint it black. Give me life and death in the same cup of joe and find me nothing in the bottom of an endless pit.

I wonder why we don’t find ourselves a little more compelled. Poetry is meant to inspire and free the mind and yet we stylize it to death and murder it, then bury the pieces. We wonder why it dies out, why no one cares to read it. But no one wants to play with a corpse. It’s all about change and rhythm and making it my own. I’ll do what I will with what you give me. But I’ll do it my way, always.

Give me vernacular over flowers. Give me blood and guts over dainty tea cups. Find me a crushing wave over a mystic river. Find me fairy circles and energy, give me too much water mixed with fire. Platonic thought serves me no use here, I’m all about the body and the mind, the soul, mixed into one. We’re all good, in the core, I’m sure though I have no proof. Atman, the spark of the divine, living in me and you and the dog and plant. Keep your hell and fire and give me truth. Give me reincarnation and unity of mind and soul. My body is beautiful, and so is yours. If we are in God’s image, why is the body seen as something so evil.

My words give me wings. And poetry is words twisted and architecturized into something unique. It’s more than simple expression, it’s a way of being, it is the core of humanity and the soul of the writer. Try to define a writer, and you can’t, though Whitman tried. His contradictions riddle the pages, but still we see him, a man of different views and living life. I’d have it no other way. But who are we to judge, the sun may fall around the earth, we are not the sun.

I embrace amor fati. Poetry is an embodiment of accepted chance. Why fear what we cannot control? Why not accept the life we have to live? Some say we have but one chance to enjoy and move on. Others believe we get to try again and again. Either way, what matters is happening right now. It’s time to embrace it, we only get this minute, this time. You can’t change the past, you can’t riddle it with your happy wishes, you can’t influence the future or stem the tide of sandy comings. It will be what it is. Nothing is beautiful if it has no flaws. The flaws make us unique and the flaws of our past make us who we are. What’s more poetic than that?

Does poetry study our mind? Sure. Why not? The Mind is the agent of the body, it links us to the rest of humanity and divides us from the person next door. It makes us happy and sad, it makes it healthy and sick. The mind is too powerful for just one person to handle, so we let it out. We scream and cry and whine. We whisper and talk and gossip. We giggle and laugh and go hoarse. There’s too much going on up there to keep it to ourselves. Poetry lets it out. Let it out. Find the words to mean what you mean. Be a little too random and see where it flows. I’m lost right now, but you’ll guide me back, my Mind will figure out where I’m going. I’ll celebrate that for the minute and write it, poetically, because it’s part of me, and I find it beautiful.

Is poetry the great almighty equalizer? If it’s us we search for in between the lines of random letters and strings, then can’t it bring us together? Vagueness is its muse and form. In vagueness, we all find what we’re looking for. It’s a black spot, no it’s a bird, no it’s the nest in a black hole of space, it’s nothing. We all see the painting differently, but who’s to say we’re wrong in what we see.

Poetry embraces all of it. It embraces the obvious, like red roses and loving you. It sits in the misty water too, catachresis is nothing to fear here. Don’t be afraid to stand in a pond, that’s trying to consume you, like a kitten without milk.

What do I think poetry is? I’m still not sure. Maybe it’s what we do. How we choose to live.

For example: I give you “The Instinct of Nature”

“In the worst of times
we do what we have to do
It's a choice of Instinct
a choice of Nature
But most of all
It's the choice of Determination
And our Will to live
rather than just survive
We will move on
we will keep pushing
And in the end
When the light grows too dim to see
We will sigh
And Instinct and Nature will be over masked
by the life we were Determined to live
And the choices we made to Survive
Rather than just fold upand fade away
The Beacon of Distance
and the Truth of Existence
is that we fight
and keep fighting
till all the final bells have tolled
and we choose to see it
to the end.”

That’s my poetry. That’s what poetry is to me, today. I wrote what I felt and what I saw and what I believe. Today poetry is random, overreaching, and an exploration of what we find pulling us through the day. Tomorrow it will be something new.

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