A Ploy Called Poetry
A word of explanation about my poetry
Or maybe it’s more a full disclosure bit:
I write poems about the issues in my face
Like the disgrace of poor meditation
Or breath control
But I defend myself with a ploy called poetry
Which works in place of my Sufi “meditation”
I qualify the word because I was never good
At meditation which in the Sufi ashram was de rigueur
For fifteen minutes a day (And on spiritual themes!)
My other bugaboo Waterloo was because the Sufis were
Big on the breath too for instance they have a thing
Called Fikr in which you imagine your breath being
A playground swing thing and as it swings
Back and forth you ponder a choice
To be decided in your life
And if all goes well
Well then that’s like fine wine
But if it’s a bad thing for you
Your breath will falter
Yet I could never get that far
You see my mind is a steel trap
And not in a good way
For instance if told to watch the swing
Go back and forth
My mind says “Watch this!”
And makes the swing come to a dead stop
But as I write a poem I meditate quite naturally
Because all meditation is is paying attention
And I love my little inchoate poem I do
Wouldn’t you? If only for gratitude
For somebody listening to your heart?
And this love breeds attention span so I can
Refract hope through the rainbow window
Of translucent colored pebbles in my heart
Like a Good Little Kaleidoscope
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:
“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”
While I am on the subject of my poetry (see above), perhaps you have noticed that often the poem is not so much for artistic expression but is rather my medium for expressing a thing of importance to me metaphysically (see above). I even use a poem instead of prose to express a metaphysical idea. What I am getting at is sometimes my poems are also a sort of essay, which you’d think is perforce a prose thing.
But I do suspect something is lost when writing poems whose primary function is to explain ideas and so is not as dynamic as a lyrical poem for instance.
I like to think of it as a musical in which there is a switch from exposition to exhibition.
In other words the prosaic ideas are sort of dressed up (like for when company comes for Sunday dinner) as poetry inspired from the heart.
I guess it’s then this simple:
A lot of my poems are about how I approach how-to Sufi questions, (like a woodworker may read or write a woodworking magazine).
Whereas other poems have a different purpose and if you asked what was the purpose? It would be a meaningless question like asking Beethoven what was the purpose of an arpeggio.*
I should emphasize once again that Sufism is not like other “religions” in which one is given rules and a dogma to study. No, Sufis start from scratch. Although this Sufi believes in reincarnation which make starting from scratch like the old saying that scientists have stood on the shoulders of previous scientists.
It’s all a matter of successive progress. But I digress.
Anyway, to further clarify, I am like Will Rogers, who denied belonging to any “organized political party” on the grounds he was a Democrat.
Yup Sufis aren’t necessarily organized and if someone gathers a following it is on a case by case basis which depends on both the pupil’s interest and background but also his or her deepest longing which after millions of lifetimes well you add up the variables and then tell me how we should all just follow one size fits all rules.
God be with you,
PS—I am imminently off to my annual California vacation, for a month or so (to visit family and old friends) and then a week or so back in Guatemala to visit my best friend here the nonpareil art restorer, Daniel Casimiro, who works for the Basilica in Esquipulas (home of world famous “Black Jesus”) as their art restorer for their cache of centuries old Christian art. And I just fell and broke my right arm, which may occasion a delay in my next post (Fortunately yhis post was about ready, and but it’s hard to type with only the left (non-dominant) hand.
PPS—Please forgive any typos. It’s hard to play copy editor with a broken dominant hand.
*Which brings to mind an amusing story about Robert Frost.
Once, when he was giving a reading, and during questions afterwards a lady asked him to explain what the poem meant.
He smiled and agreed to try, and proceeded to read the poem again.
When she still had the same question, he smiled encouragement and patiently read the poem again. And at some point she wised and shut up.
I will leave you to draw inferences as to how this applies to poems that are more like music or have that quality mixed and if you tried to dissect out which part was which and how it worked together, well now that reminds me of another story, this from E. B. White (author of Charlotte’s Web) who said “You can dissect a joke like you can dissect a frog. But it tends to die on you.”