Monday, May 9, 2011

the value of poems isn't dollars

Life keeps on truckin. Like...

... a truck? One of those big noisy and powerful transfer trucks? (That I always call "transford trucks" in my head. Do you?)

I'm listening to hiphop in earphones, and rocking out in my desk chair, swaying at the hips. It's Acadian rap, too. I'm too lazy to link to it, so if your interest is piqued, get that old Google going and type in "Radio Radio". Two dudes - or maybe more dudes than that, I don't know - from somewhere in New Brunswick that make rad music, no pun intended. Danceable and groovy and well put together, and yet silly at the same time. The best kind of music if you ask me.

Spring comes to Cape Breton, again. And again and again. Little fluff balls on the ends of maple trees, fill with water droplets on yet another misty day. I drive by them and smile, and think of Dr. Seuss. People complain about the week's forecast of rain. I like the coolness of the air, and all the different tones of greys and blues. But, I do like sun too. I like all the weather. I'm pretty easy that way.

On the weekend I was part of a poetry workshop. From 10 am to 4:30, with a break for lunch and a few random breaks for coffee and tea and fresh air. In a small hall that used to be a schoolhouse, and still has that wavy glass for windows. A professor from the local university, and maybe six others. We sat around a table all day and talked about poetry. We read it aloud to each other. We showed each other poems we'd written, read them aloud too. Talked about the lines, the images, what worked, what didn't. Lines can work like people can work. In all those different ways.

Now, I'm thinking that I'm in the midst of a kind of coming out. I'm realizing that - despite what culture tells me, despite what my family might tell me about "earning a living", despite how I think I shouldn't feel the way I do - I'm really attracted to -- poems. I am a poet. I was born this way. This is how God made me. I can't help it. I read poems and my heart beats a little faster. My skin flushes. Words together, on top of each other and flirting with one another, well they make me want to be in a room alone with them. It's sexy. It makes me feel alive.

But it's scary to admit this to yourself. And to go sit for a whole day with other people who are the same way - to openly admit it's valid to love like this - well, it's a little overwhelming. It's a door opening and then going to look and see what's behind it. Wait, there was a door THERE?

Because culturally, poems might as well be pieces of paper plastered to the sidewalk and walked on. Rained on. Mudded on. But some of us stop and look down and read them and say "hey, this is a talent, this person had, in order to do that, put those words like she did."

For example: Mary Oliver. "Logos." From "Why I Wake Early" (part of my new and growing collection of poetry books. Oh, they're so slim, you hardly notice you're buying it, and they all look so nice on the shelf together.)

Here we go, here's her poem:

Why wonder about the loaves and the fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don't worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.


OK, this is me again. Doesn't that just kill you? Or the opposite of kill you?

So the value of poems isn't dollars. It's love.

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