Friday, August 10, 2012

{ 26 } Poetry and Other Atrocities

Warning: this post is long and rant-tastic. It's also a great read. But, if you're short on time, feel free to jump past the diatribe on poetry and skip straight on to the (gulp) poems I wrote. 

In some sort of desperate attempt to recapture a missing part of me that I had forgotten I even had, I've been sorting and sifting through old files and old blogs, looking for little bits and pieces of writing. My really old stuff is all hand written, which is a problem because I have about a billion notebooks. But my files are limited and way easier to sort through.

To the point: I have some old new stuff to share with you again. But I should warn you that they are both poems. Faithful readers and new obsessive readers should know that I have a slight poetry fear, as I ranted about it in Post #15. The quick and dirty is thus: I find poetry pretentious and overrated.

Now hold on, hold on. I grew up on poetry. My parents were both huge poet freaks, in reading and writing (my dad had a poem published in American Poetry Anthology, 1984, ISBN 0-88147-008-2, for those of you that didn't read Post #15). Some of my first books were by Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, and Jeff Moss (some are even signed by the authors). I would regularly recite "The New Kid On The Block" and "Homework! Oh, Homework!" for talent shows.

I eventually graduated to Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and Charles Bukowski. Talk about a leap. Sexton's "I Remember" can still make me cry. I have "So This is Love" by Lorna Crozier committed to memory. Once I hit 30, Judith Viorst's age poems rang so many true notes it was startling. A glace at my book shelf and I see no less than twenty poetry books.

Now you maybe wondering, how can I claim to dislike something that I seem to have such a fondness for? Easy answer: I read too much.

Poetry for me was like a favorite food. I would eat it every day. I would devour it. I would try to recreate it on my own. I would seek it out in hidden places, looking for undiscovered gems. But eventually, as with any craving, you start to get sick of it. The love starts to wane. One day you go cheap and grab something off a food cart and then it's over. Your favorite food now disgusts you. I read so many poems by so many "poets" that I couldn't stand it.

Please don't misunderstand my "pretentious and overrated" comment. There is good and bad everything, but it seems to be that bad poetry severely outweighs the good. If poetry was a girl, I could use Longfellow's words to describe most of his own genre: "And when she was good, she was very, very good, But when she was bad she was horrid."

To point out the obvious, between my parent's history and my early readings, poems were some of the first writings I attempted. And, as I said in Post #15, most of it was, indeed, horrid. Shamefully horrid. I remember writing some of it and thinking, "Oh, man. This shit is good. It totally conveys my feels and will express to the world what an awesome talent I am." Then, years later I'll find it, read it, and wonder what the hell was wrong with me. Page after page of audacious, self-overrated crap. John Keats I was not. Hell, I wasn't even Warren G.

Enough ranting. I did have a point here somewhere... Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember...

As I pointed out in Post #15 (which you should probably just go read already. It's even got a Dune quote!), I did manage to crank out some acceptable diction over the years and I was going to self-publish a book of poetry. Mostly juvenilia, but possibly some newer stuff, of which there is little). Which brings me back to my original thought: I have new old material to share, written in 2008. I think these are probably the last poems I wrote. Maybe they suck, maybe they're good. I don't really care. If nothing else, I think they do prove that I smoke too much. To sum this all up: mayonnaise.

 * * * * *
Keep Working - 4 Feb. 2008
Nine a.m. comes early
To those of us without a schedule.
And things are over again,
Just like they've been over before:
A final prospect which I know to be true.
The dogs scratch, the cigarettes melt
Like they've done since time began.
But now time is ending.
Sleep is an impossible dream,
A far away phantom which I cannot catch.
To try is to fail.
To achieve a small victory is to lose.
Misgivings give way to an unspoken good-bye.
What you thought was a reality
Is now a dream you will never have.
The clocks tick,
I should sleep.
Nine a.m. comes early
To those of us without a schedule.

* * * * *

Stay Busy - 27 Feb. 2008
This is an empty house.
It can be filled it with smoke,
But it is fading.
They look at me with sad eyes.
The ones we love.
The ones that need us.
I tell them no.
What else is there to say?
Another drink will not fill the void,
Yet the trying is real.
Supposing that nothing means something,
What is it that nothing means?
The house cries,
The loves cry,
Yet I have no words to comfort their grief.
Another night with my Best Friends,

* * * * *

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