The Confusing Faces Of PoetryPosted: April 24, 2019
I struggle with such questions as “What is poetry?” Or “Why is poetry?” I don’t HAVE to struggle; it seems like a waste of energy, except that any honest inquiry into the nature of important things is…well, important. Yesterday I read three poems in a prestigious literary magazine. They were written by a prestigious lady who is a professor at a prestigious school. I’d better take these seriously, I thought. They have the imprimatur of critical acclaim. They’re supposed to be good.
I read the three poems several times. They are contemporary poetry. They have rhythm without rhyme. They are abstract. They are boring as hell. In order to run a quality check, to ensure that it wasn’t just me, quietly going insane, I referred to some poets that I love. I read some Lorca, and then Charles Bukowski. Okay, okay, it’s not just me. The latter poets wrote great poetry. I can sense THE PERSON inside these poems. I know who, where is Bukowsky, what he’s thinking. Lorca, even translated from Spanish, had poetry full of blood, I mean “Blaaahhhdd”, okay?
Poetry has always been the bastard child of my prose work. It’s the long prose, the novels, that challenge me. Poetry’s easy. I write a poem, like that! boom, done. A few corrections the next day. Trim it a little. I can go years without writing a poem. This month I’ve struck a seam, I’m writing poems. My poetry is ME, it penetrates to the core of myself and exposes my sense of failure, confusion, ambivalence. Sometimes it’s mystic, it’s pure celebration of what I know is GOD but I don’t want to preach.
These poems were written in the last ten days. I got pleasure in writing them, and more pleasure reading them. The second poem is among the best I have. It’s one of “those”.
It Don’t Rub Off
More and more each day
my life looks like a stage set.
my green rubber key chain,
the white bowl from which
I eat Cheerios .
More and more it looks less real;
it’s nothing like I wanted, not at all.
It’s more like a joke that’s on me, the opposite
of my desires. It waits to see
if I’ll laugh. I do; I laugh. It’s so silly, wanting,
but it can’t be helped. Wanting is like breathing
while something giant hurtles towards me
too far away to sense
but it’s coming.
And I need it.
I’m in no hurry to see through things;
they control the pace.
Who I am
is not a mistake. I came here for an exercise
a knowledge that slips through my fingers.
One day my hand will close around it.
My car is banged up
my knees hurt.
I’m poor but never broke.
My broke friends know
that I’ll pay them for work on my car
or my house.
I carry some of their Stupid for a while.
It don’t rub off.
I always think I’m injured but I’m not:
except that life is injury, an obscure pathway
through a forest full of thrilling birds
and venomous snakes.
Is this real?
Yeah, I guess so.
There’s shit on my shoes;
cat shit, dog shit, I hope that’s all shit.
Every step I take I risk stepping in shit:
Is this not life? There’s nothing wrong with shit.
Like bugs, we need shit, desperately
to nourish with its stink the most unlikely growth.
This poo is for you, it says, as I wipe it off my shoe
foolishly trying to keep it from my hands, then washing
again and again. How often in a day do I inwardly exclaim,
“Shit!”? More than I would admit. My mind is full of bricks, pies and purges.
Cats, dogs, owls, horses, all shit. People shit,
the universe shits on these very shoes
which I try so hard to keep clean. Many are obsessed
with the microscopic haunt of e.coli. I don’t bother to say
“Relax, we intermix with e.coli and far worse
every day, we are sturdy,
knocking off shits right and left, undaunted
by the invisible spores of imagination”. Instead I give this benediction:
“You must be crazy in whatever way you want.”
Not every disease is preventable, nor is every affliction brought on board
by the shit on our shoes. Every time you stroke the cat, the dog, the horse
your hands investigate bacteria, resist infection.
After all, shit is the most common thing in the world.
A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He hearkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good. His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv.
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