Why do we do it, you and I, this poetry thing?
I guess that one explanation these days is that
someone, somewhere, will react, maybe make a
low cost pact with me to read a few lines, then
take up (or decline) the offer of more in return for
a Comment (or a Like). I’d say that’s a deal worth
due consideration; meanwhile, the nation waits,
patiently, for little to change.
Does the process really reveal what lies inside,
nursing its need to climb out, insinuate itself into
some kind of uncertain pattern for wannabe poets
and call it a message, a sign, a semi-conscious
fanfare for something that few will have seen was
required, just then, on time, on tap. I think I hear
an affirmative rap but the line then clicks as if
the signal’s gone and there’s no-one there to care.
Today’s cold snap has put me right off my stroke;
my usual chipping away at the coalface with a view to
reproducing a Rodin in an everyday solid fuel,
feels somehow short on romance and universality, so I
shall try to teach myself (beginning at the beginning)
why I pursue, blindfold and in shackles, in the way I do,
unfashionable reasons – usually sniffed at, infra dig.
And now I’ve started, I know I’ve just dedicated
an entire day to point my thoughts in this direction,
towards the inner jungle of loves and hates, likes and
unlikes, beliefs and creeds, fads and fancies,
prejudices and persuasions. I begin to feel a collage
of words – as is my habit – forming, pulsing but
pinch myself to remember that today is different;
I shout out, for the record, I want to know Why, not What!
Of course, I soon work out that there is
no answer to Why without pushing What to its limits –
What being the medium to explain Why. Why, as to
both question and answer, is pretty much dumb without What.
So how far have I got? Not a lot further but do I discern
a whispered prompt, or more like a mantra, mouthed
slowly, clearly, softly, ethereally, its message
mine for the taking, disarmingly simple?
I skate over echos of the close to obvious: the sheer
beauty of language, of words, the mode for conveyance of
tricky thoughts and notions, the learning of literary
litanies, potions. Meanwhile, the mantra ebbs and flows
and I struggle to hold it. Perhaps I should start with a
decanting of mankind’s and my ideals and desires, a
cocktail of core and raw tenets where the Why might reside?
And I must decide; no more What without Why.
So I say to myself that you need three good Why’s before bed –
then your head’s entirely free and, if there are more tomorrow,
so be it, there’ll always be room. Concerned about the gloom
gathering, I close my eyes and picture a river which is never
unseen, there is no darkness that it knows. I can teach how to
build a world that is as real as any, no flight of fancy; and
I know that if the skiff that I use daily is taken, I know how to
befriend the thieves and share it; and, if the river should run dry,
my third Why will be that I have the words to persuade the people
to walk with me and settle on fertile riverbanks once more.