Too much of what the world has been,
and is, and still might be,
has as its limits what we call
We reign imagination in
and relegate its course
to doomsday visions, worst-case scenes,
and dissipate its force.
But the first step in making change
is picturing it grow;
if we cannot imagine it,
we cannot make it so.
When Lennon said, “Imagine”,
it was not just empty talk,
but an instruction to our souls to crawl,
then try to walk.
Imagine that your point of view
is not all that there is
(to living, love or existence)
and you will learn just this:
That brotherhood and peace and love
were with you all along;
and required only listening
to one another’s song.
28 DEC 2004
for John Lennon
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