Tag Archives: poetry

The Poet and the People

Excerpt From New Notebook

“The Poet and the People” 5/13/17

“The poet cannot be afraid of the people” – Pablo Neruda, Memoirs pg. 81

What is the relation between the poet at the people? A poet a weaver of tales and truths, a stanza and soliloquy serenading individual, a wizard of words, an artist and a creator; they invoke the power of words (written and spoken) to express some principle or experience. They rely on the understood, yet mysterious, magic of rhythm and emotion to tell a story. Even now, my words happen to conjure flighty images within the imagination of my own mind. Why though? For whom do I craft these words in such a way? Is it solely for me? If that were honest, then I am truly a selfish individual to hold such statements in, refusing to share with others.

These ideas, these sentences full of power, suffering, passion, and intellect germinated from my mind and yet, as a poet, I feel compelled to share. With The People. The people, or those who aren’t necessarily able to weave a story in a similar manner (entertaining, informative, possessive, and emotional). Those individuals who march through life following only a few pursuits,  spending a fleeting second within their own subconscious. They are everywhere, and there is no escape from the people. They are the collective. And they can be intimidating.

Both strangers and dear friends can be the people; one day their search for truth will bring them to the poet’s path. What happens then when these two fundamentally different groups intercept each other at the crossroads? Classifying myself as the poet, I will speak from my experiences (solely my own opinions). I was too, at an earlier point in my life, one of the people…before coming to know my own personal truth.

When assuming the role of a poet, as a poet should do at all times if considered as such-both by the world and self-one exists in a reality separate from the people. A poet creates a world: they form the foundation, decorate it with their favorite foliages, and even destroy some aspects of their previous world-the realm of the people. Once this world has been established and validated by the poet, they have two options: to grant entry to others, or keep their gates closed.

If one chooses the latter option then they have little fear for their world will not be tainted by outsiders; it will remain pure, completely untouched by the opinions, criticism, laughs, or cries from something other than the poet. There are those who relish in this isolation-there is nothing like having an escape from reality that is positive and progressive. However, they are also selfish and this directly conflicts with the nature of the poet.

“It is the business of the poet to communicate to others the pleasures and enthusiasm arising out of these images…within their own mind.” – Percy Blythe Shelley

The poet is tasked with communicating emotions to others- the “others” being The People. To live up to the title of poet, a being must be willing to extend entry to their world to the others. There are additional steps to take, but this is the initial one. A true poet (if there is such thing) will not only invite an individual, they will also impress their reality, their world, their universal truth, upon them. This is the duty of the poet.

Then, there can be no fear in the poet when it comes to engaging and interacting with the people, and yet, fear inherently exists within the poet (and within all of us). It’s buried in the depths of our being, pollinating thoughts, and manifesting when the words escape-whether liberation was granted from a ballpoint pen or a lubricated tongue. It is fear that will cause a poet to become selfish, and close their gates-preventing any entry into the eternal Eden within us.

There is an external factor that one must be cautious of when dealing with the people, because they are intimidating. Not as intimidating as the internal struggle of inspiration and suffering in relation to the creation of art, but a fear factor that stems from the “Unknown”. The “Unknown” is the entity that exists in our lives, and it will always exist as long as we do. It applies to people, that’s why people are so unpredictable; no matter how well we believe we know them, there is a percentage of uncertainty that rattles the spirit of the poet.

Imagine the child who is having a birthday party. They are excited to share this moment with others, but to do so they must send out invitations. Now, the invitations may be to their party, but the words originate from elsewhere-even though they say exactly what the host wants them to say. In contrast, the poet has no “real” control over their words (or ideas) that synaptically spark into their head.

First, they must make sure the invitation is correct. It has to list the truth surrounding the party; the poet must modify and complete their poems before sharing them. Then, the people to invite must be identified. Who will I give these invitations to? Who will read these lines? Who will listen to my cries, will anybody listen to my cries, is it even worth crying anymore if there is nobody to listen? These are the questions that will plague the mind of the poet (at least me) before they are introduced to their “party people”. Lastly, and possibly the most terrifying, the child must host the party. On the day of the performance, a poet will be asked to open their home to those who responded to the invitation. Bumblebee yellow balloons floating above freshly iced cupcakes, and there are snow-white streamers that catch the eyes of those who are not already mesmerized by the candle flames flickering on the cake. The world of the child will be filled with others; and together, just like the host and their guests, the poet and the people will have an experience. They will share sensations that spark individual thoughts within each of them.

The poet must not only be the commander of another’s experience, but also allow the people to dictate their diction. This dual duty is where fear strikes because of unpredictability. Some may not want an experience, they may want a different one, maybe they expected a majestic world and you offered them a frigid one where you shouldered your grief, or there is the possibility that they enjoy your world so much that they decide to stay for awhile. The best option, personally, is if the people try to make their own world after being invited to the poet’s world.

What is my greatest fear as a poet: the fear that my words will lack the impression of inspiration. But, to conquer that fear, I am dedicating my life to the crafting of a world, no, a universe where all receive an invitation, because I can no longer be afraid of my people.

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Learnin’

I’m learning what love is, and I’m realizing how little I know. Love

stretches far beyond the heart or any flutter of butterfly wings. It

Is an action full of truth, silence,

And infinity. Maybe I’ve had the formula

Wrong, trying to add pieces that didn’t

Make our equations equal, leaving one side

With more than the other. No, I’m learning

That love is a one-way street in

Manhattan, a road that you and your partner

Must learn to navigate together. They cannot be

Half a person, they can only be whole

If they plan to experience the true love that

We were told about before bedtime. That piece

Of God can only be found after removing

The layers the world smothered our spirits

with, each unraveling, leading to a new

Identity. In order to love someone, you must love yourself

You must accept you scarred knees,  your mistakes that

Only your moist pillow knows, and the way your arms want to

Twirl when the sun kisses your face. Without knowing

These things for yourself, and what they mean, then

How do you expect to discover and define them

In another? Love begins with the self, before it

Can be substituted into someone else’s game. I am

Learning that the next time love decides to

Knock on my door, I should not let her

Into my home; instead, I’ll pack my essentials in

A small bag and leave this place behind,

Taking a journey together, because love is not a

Destination, it is a starting point.

Seasonal Suffering

A chill darkness runs between my toes

Soft mud ready to smother my ankles

Hands sore from clawing at the rocks

Lining the walls of this hole

The same hole I find myself in.

 

Have I ever left this place?

Was the sunlight in my face

Just a small ruse from the angels?

 

I kept my eyes toward God

While my black body tumbled

Spiraled down the tunnel

Losing enamel,

Breaking calcium,

Viscera

Seeping out of self-inflicted wounds.

 

Here I am again,

As if I was doomed

Imprisoned the like the hands

Of a grandfather clock

Seeking liberation from this cycle

Only to arrive back at step one,

Reminding me that

I don’t know how to break free.

 

The exits have been sealed

And my palms automatically latch

To the same ridges on the wall

But, deep down 

In the furnace,

My heart hopes

That it gives way

Either due to tears or sweat.

 

Can my back bare this burden,

Like Atlas,

While my face watches the

Last clouds of the day whisper goodbye

To the horizon I never truly witnessed?

 

When will the end come?

What will take the suffering away

And give rest to my frail bones?

Curfew.

Children.

Black children, stay indoors.

Do not beat the pavement

With shoes too small.

These signs are too heavy,

Words written with a ten-ton weight,

You should not be lifting them.

Close the blinds

For seeing will make you suffer,

And suffering will make you strike.

You are too young to know your

Skin makes you a target;

Too young to have death enter your home,

Uninvited;

Too young to have to fight in a race war.

But…

Black children,

We must fight together.

Play with your dolls, but know when it is time

To put them away,

Toss the balls when the game is over.

Your springtime of youth will have rainy days,

And yet, they will help you grow,

In love,

Instead of in fear.

Weary Warrior

The tale of the weary warrior

Is long, but also short.

His goal unknown

Yet, hidden under his shield.

He wanders, through the dreams, the midnight thicket, and cosmos.

Discovering

More of himself

At each destination;

But he struggles,

Often.

Watching his knees buckle, underneath the gravity of his situation

Not all wanders are lost, most are forgotten.

But his journey has brought him to a new beginning.

Liquid State

At what point will my eyes stop revolting? Pushing moisture out instead of saving it to safeguard my sight? Tear after tear after tear they fall, droplets rolling of a dried leaf, the rain that falls before the dawn, like liquid crystals hanging upon a thatched roof.

I am afraid, fearful that this powerful feeling will decide to adhere to my dreams, forming a pond of sadness. each day they congregate, meeting between mustard colored pews, my fears being baptized in the rushing river within my veins. Why, then, do I feel the touch of the moon on my breast, the tides of truth washing over my memories, causing these sandcastles to crumble, and leaving unrecognizable ruins along the shattered shells.

Tell me, when will these tears stop falling? How many reservoirs must be drained before I accept this?

Vast lakes live within my irises, blotches of the depths, hiding the real treasures that have been lost to the abyss.

I am nothing more than a half-empty vessel, a handcrafted vase with etches upon its lip, thirsting for the wellspring, but only granted the spit of the clouded sun. And yet, each day I watch as water leaks, escapes from the pores; and my eyes, my shattered prisms, my scales of shadows and souls. They dare to revolt against the death that draws near to my shore, reminding me that the spirit is liquid at body temperature.

Fog & Farewell

Next to the river bank, I awake

With the scent of death upon my brow.

Droplets shatter against the gray waters

As the ghosts of the forests lull over the drenched leaves.

 

Palms clammy, feet soaked in viscous mud

Eyes full of nightmares long forgotten

Staring into the ominous fog,

While the ripples guide souls to the crypt.

 

The granite rocks, lodged next to the split roots,

Resemble graves,

Soft earth ready to swallow

Another serving.

 

This river is uncharted,

Untouched by the wayward wanderer

Yet I,

Alone,

Know where the delta lies,

Only accessible when the sun is gone,

Lost in the deep horizon.

 

The clouds come down,

to spirit away those who sleep in the woods

At the dusk,

Saying farewell in their final, frosted winter.