Is the Nose of the Plane Rising?

“A poem, basically, is an ambulance.”
          -Yevgeny Yevtushenko

My philosophy of poetry
Isn’t so much style points

As are not strictly necessary when
Success of the mission is measured

By is the nose of the plane


Always Bow to the Poetry Goddesses

Mark Twain had I hear
Only one moral precept:
Never to smoke more than five
Cigars at a time

And I have another:
Always bow to the poetry goddesses.
If one is at your door drop everything

Invite her in pay attention
Make yourself
Her work of art

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Garden Candlelight and a Book About a Marriage

It’s dusk in Guatemala
But I can still see the pretty garden
Out my window soon

I won’t or anything else
Except by candlelight:
There’s no electricity now you see

So I’m at my kitchen table
Lit like an altar with candles
Reading a novel about a marriage:

I think the muse works like a battery–shift
In two directions creates energy or is it
A heartfelt earthquake thing?

And do I make my shift with the beauty
Of the fading garden
And the loss of that becomes a reverie?

A lot of my poems happen like that
I guess this is a poem
Because intensely I wonder what will happen

Now when it’s dark and there’s only
A memory of garden candlelight
And a book about a marriage

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My Own Heart Rushing to the Scene

“A remarkable number – writers especially – volunteered as ambulance drivers for the Allied Powers.”

In my extreme youth
But not too young to think
I might be a poet

Not too young to try my hand
I heard on public radio talking
Yevgeny Yevtushenko about poetry

In which he said just like a poet
With those metaphors
That poetry was an ambulance

Rushing people to their cure
But now many years removed from
A blessedly non-suicidal cowardice

I am finally delivered unto happiness
Not from an outward ambulance
Of some external poet

(Though that has been a tourniquet)
But inward from my own heart
Rushing to the scene

New PR-171

Talking to Your Befriended Self

It’s a handy poet habit
Talking to your (befriended)
Self and here’s a writer secret:

(Apart from be persistent)

Address it in a letter to a daughter to
A friend–to an all-encompassing personal
High water beloved:

Your tone will be consistent
And if there are tears as you write
Your intended will understand

New PR-191

You at Least Write a Poem

“Failure never let anybody down.”
     -Murshida Ivy Duce

Do you ever get that sad feeling there’s
A poem in the background and sure
You sketch out its outlines but tragic

You can’t cross some perhaps picket line
To those magic roses which maddeningly
You sniff out but cannot paint or draw

What shines like some preternatural
Atop the tower of truth which after glows
Independently of anything we can understand:

You can’t quite reach across the abyss unless …

So you start with undermine depressing:
Remembering poetry is the art of the attempt
At expressing the inexpressible and so impossible

Becomes possible the intention becomes God
And if and as you fail you at least write a poem like this:
To the tomb of some unknown poem

New PR-281

Stuff That Dissolves into Joy

I find it interesting that I who
Formerly sat firmly chicken stricken
Am now so confident

It’s like jumping into the water
With your clothes on
Your gut tells:

You’re going to get wet
You’re going to get to write

With souls and tears with charged
Words swords and white horses:
The holistic proverbial epic

Of oil and water
You know is electrolytic to stuff
That dissolves into joy

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The Vasty Hard Stuff, Like Diamonds from the Sea

What a playground for the child poet!
We are free to dream up connections
To superimpose our colored clouds

Which kaleidoscopic jumble
We watch through the sun
And extrapolate upon

Like a rain trampoline
Like aquamarine and topaz
And as we grow older and bolder

(More humble)
We tumble on to the vasty hard stuff
Like diamonds from the sea

New PR-303

The Damning Subtlety of the Incipient Smile

I wonder if the old silent movies
Weren’t analogous to how in poetry
You have to lay it on thick

Whereas in song you get
Hoisted to the heavens
By a pretty melody

I mean in the fabled silence
(The movies)
We saw

Rather than merely heard
The look of the eye direct
The damning subtlety

Of the incipient smile
Just as in poetry
Subtlety must needs wax Wagnerian

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