So many poets trace, or seek to trace the root
of their art back in time, but just so far;
and would attempt to judge all verse to suit
their own agendas. Doing this, they scar
just the veneer, the surface of our craft,
by quoting others’ rules, like “show, don’t tell”;
throughout the ages, true poets have laughed
at limitations that disdain the well
of inspiration that knows not of schools,
of petty squabbles that divide with scorn
the select few from all the rest. What fools
think they decide what makes good form?
The work of poets starts first with the tale,
spoken aloud, and then put down in books;
to show, not tell, like television, pales
its gift for message, and relies on looks
to transmit to a world that cannot see
beyond its own small, self-enamored frame;
into this setting, the false sense of free
expression is not proud and strong, but lame.
For poetry is far more ancient than
the movement touting art for just art’s sake;
it must encompass all that is human
experience, or it is a mistake.
And it must tell a story, even though
there is no audience that seeks to learn,
and stand its ground, despite foul winds that blow,
to keep alight what flame in us still burns.
As for the countless journals, zines and such
that would critique using a focused knife:
To poetry, they do not matter much;
They represent its corpse, and not its life.
16 JUL 2004