Tag Archives: Poetry

I am so sick of poets

I am so sick of poets, in real life and found online;
how they tend to wax poetic, and pretend to be sublime
when describing some quite minuscule and unimportant thing:
the dewdrop on the lily, a mosquito’s lacy wing.

With pretense they have pretensions, and expect to be profound;
particularly when their fancy talk has drawn a crowd around,
and every word that drops like nectar from their honeyed lips
is guaranteed to break a heart, or at least, sink a ship.

But worse are poem lovers: those sad, sycophantic thralls
who quote their favorite bards by name whilst walking through the halls,
and without grace or courtesy, expose the world to verse
that often only merely stinks, but sometimes, is much worse.

Not everyone can hold a tune, or expect that their voice
will earn them any supper, if the listener has a choice.
Likewise, because you cast in rhyme a metaphor or two,
and hang a shingle (or a website), does not make true

that you are either poet, or can recognize the same;
such things are proven over time, and not by just a name
applied by those who dare not prick your bubble of esteem
for fear their own imagined greatness will be robbed of steam.

I am so sick of poets; every single one I’ve met
is either spent and sick and sad, or hasn’t happened yet.
In either case, I have no interest in their point of view
unless it can be spoken in a simple phrase or two

that doesn’t count on me to picture some fantastic scene,
and waste my time imagining I know just what they mean.
Dispense with all that sentiment, and vivid imagery;
a life that needs a poet is a boring life, indeed.

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Crime and Punishment

I would admit a lesser crime
if only it were worth my while;
but in these days when wish makes fact
the simple notoriety
of having lived will sentence me.

There is no justice in the world
when thought alone is quite enough
to stripe a convict without bars,
at least the steel variety,
and clang the door shut on their cage.

What bargain would I strike, besides?
Admit the world is right as rain,
that equal opportunity
exists to knock on every door,
and offers all their dollar’s worth?

What kind of poet would I be,
were that the case? What kind of man,
to live and breathe among such lies?
What shame that such a bold offense
results in nothing but fools’ praise.

I would admit a lesser crime;
but what’s the use? The truth will out,
and I would rather form the noose
from my own actions, my own words,
than feign guilt worth a coward’s mind.

05 AUG 2007

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Such Times Are These

Such times are these that rich men gloat
to turn great woods to creosote
and laugh to see the world take note
as style takes substance by the throat.

Such times are these that poor men work
their fingers fleshless for these jerks
who waiting in the shadows lurk
to claim as theirs both purse and perk.

Such times are these that men and boys
forgo their fortunes and love’s joys
to strut about and make loud noise,
their goal to other men destroy.

Such times are these that pious words
are used to pardon the absurd:
that war brings peace, that freedom’s bird
would choose to nest in such a turd.

Such times are these that there should be
cult worship of celebrity
where children want as destiny
a fleeting moment on TV.

Such times are these when young and old
accept as truth what they’ve been told
and do not mind that they’ve been sold
a fire that brings not heat, but cold.

Such times are these that perpetrate
the myth that might is right and great,
that the one path to truth is straight,
and those who rule control the gate.

Such times are these when poets must
regard their words a sacred trust
to speak against their culture’s lust
to turn what’s left of gold, to dust.

08 MAY 2005

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Ranting on Poetics

I will not write for other poets.

They exist to ridicule each other,
and failing that, to share inside jokes
on what words are or aren’t clich
on poems written in metered speech
on lines that rhyme, even if well done,
on absurd show instead of tell
(as if a poem could only exist for its own sake,
without serving a greater purpose
than entertaining a few self-important snobs;
perhaps, I offer to such critics,
if you don’t feel a connection with the work
you’re either in the wrong profession,
the piece was beyond your frame of reference,
or just maybe the poem wasn’t all about you).

And those who claim to teach, who write
in back rooms, sneaking off to slams on weekends,
lording it over a gathering of teen angst
and tossing their black pearls of wisdom:

How dare you offer as advice
“For God’s sake, nothing before 1900”
as if what’s new and now and wow
will be remembered even half that long?
Poetry is how culture is transmitted.

It’s not just a mindless TV program designed
to inundate the captive audience
with strings of images.

It’s a story, too. And sometimes a lesson.

And it’s the way poets talk.

About what’s important to them.

And if that happens to also be meaningful to just one other person,
let’s hope that person hears or reads it —
because the other poets also in the room
don’t mean anything without that, either.

28 DEC 2004

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Coming of Age … an ongoing diatribe … LOL

In the most recent issue of American Poet, the journal of the American Academy of Poets, there is an advertisement for a book, Coming of Age as a Poet: Milton, Keats, Eliot, Plath, written by Helen Vendler, who seems to have written a great number of books on poetry.
The blurb in the ad, which probably comes straight from the jacket sleeve (although having not read the book, I can neither confirm or deny this), starts with the following sentence, which I found most intriguing:

To find a personal style is, for a writer, to become adult; and to write one’s first “perfect” poem — a poem that wholly and successfully embodies that style — is to come of age as a poet.

To come of age, to reach maturity as a poet. Hmmmm … I wonder if that achievement is self-measured, or if its length is drawn against the yardstick of others. Which brings me to my current train of thought: as a Druid, I am more than a poet. I am a poet, musician, historian, philosopher, teacher, and priest. How does one come of age in a single discipline if one’s life path is multi-disciplinary? Does not maturity (or immaturity) in one area affect one’s level of achievement in all others? And what is the purpose of that maturity? For me, the ultimate goal of poetry is not simply to influence other poets; neither is the goal of any preacher or priest to influence only other preachers. At least, not that alone.

My audience is humanity. My goal, I suppose then would be to assist humanity in the recognition of that humanity. Or something like that.

Perhaps my self-questing is the result of having recently started rereading Plato’s Republic. Resulting in the question, what is the ultimate purpose of performing any action?

What is the reason a musician plays? A poet writes? A preacher preaches? A philosopher ponders? A teacher educates? Who is really their audience?
It boils down to a quip that I made several years ago when I contemplated writing music reviews. In order to change the way people think about music, first they must be thinking about music in the first place. So how to ensure that prerequisite dependency of thinking on a subject before launching into said dissertation? Who really cares if people who are on your wavelength are already listening? Aren’t words on their subject extraneous, like coals to Newcastle? Dr. Gene Scott, a Los Angeles based preacher, once said that there are two kinds of people in any congregation … there are saints in the making, and there are preachers. If you’re not a saint in the making, and you don’t like what the preacher in front is saying, you are obligated to form your own church. How that relates, I leave you to decide, dear readers.

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No Critique Requested

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

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Seed Thought for the Day

The truth is that a man’s sense of the world dictates his subjects to him and that this sense is derived from his personality, his temperament, over which he has little control and possibly none, except superficially. It is not a literary problem. It is the problem of his mind and nerves. These sayings are another form of the saying that poets are born not made. A poet writes of twilight because he shrinks from noon-day. He writes about the country because he dislikes the city, and he likes the one and dislikes the other because of some trait of mind or nerves; that is to say, because of something in himself that influences his thinking and feeling. So seen, the poet and his subject are inseparable. There are stresses that he invites; there are stresses that he avoids. There are colors that have the blandest effect on him; there are others with which he can do nothing but find fault. In Music he likes the strings. But the horn shocks him. A flat landscape extending in all directions to immense distances placates him. But he shrugs his shoulders at mountains.

— Wallace Stevens, from Effects of Analogy (1948), The Necessary Angel

If, as Stevens proposes, a poet’s subject is congenital, that leads me to wonder about my own. While he states, earlier in the above-referenced essay, that “great numbers of poets come and go who have never had a subject at all,” I cannot see myself in that group. Perhaps after reading Foster’s biography of Yeats, I realized that I was not such a diletante, or rather a scatterbrain, at all, when it came to artistic endeavor. To be a playwright, poet, Musician, lyricist, essayist, polemicist, all in one frame-of-reference, is an achievable thing. And yet, I found in myself as compared to Yeats two things missing: one, an unerring belief in my own greatness; and two, the tenacity for self-publicizing that would drive me to have my voice heard, first, and heard in an environment that I created and/or controlled, second.

All that aside, I wonder on what my congenitally designated “poetic subject” might be. Or what, when I can avail myself of the ivory tower of solitary meditation and creative focus, is it that draws my thoughts in such a way that it is impossible NOT to write about them, or in some artistic manner, express my acknowledgment of it.

Looking back on the Poetry I’ve written in the past two years (probably my most consistently fruitful period in a single medium), I encounter a certain repetition of thematic elements: sound, silence, space, Music, balance and and underlying system of energy that runs through all that exists. But that seems too broad a spectrum of thought – and how it relates to the life I live, is questionable, although I can see how these things affect me, it is difficult to determine what exactly these concepts outline in my reality.

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