Writing Verse

by Poetry

why did it work on you?

never even mentioned it
when you smiled, laughed
at cruel humour –
                touched your fingers
to my arm
became concerned at
the coldness there.

not being a poet
I never called myself a poet
& when you asked
what you had to do
for me to write
a verse or two
about your eyes
                       lips
                       you
the world fell apart

                                                I
staggered through the crowd
pushing smoky demons away
to see them reform in my fingers
                to the bathroom hidden
beneath the stage

                                                I
forced cursed fingers
into my throat
and vomited
mad affections

do I stink of poetry now? is it ingrained in my skin? is it that obvious?
does my shirt reek? does my suit jacket scream?
do my frayed boot hum & my hair give me away?
have gnarled, bone-bent fingers learned to sing & does my tongue make my body rancid?
are my eyes now the eyes of endless nights in pursuit of nothing?
does my skin smell of whatever poets smell of?

I think I believe that poetry isn’t necessarily a form but is, instead, a kind of judgement. Poems may strive for poetry, but few achieve it. I don’t think I’ve ever written poetry, though I have written a thousand poems. I think that’s why I’m not, and most likely never will be, a poet. Or, perhaps, I’m one of those who have fallen for the sheer bloody romanticism of poetry; in the absence of an immediate god, I have made poetry into my g-d. In the absence of anything above us but the sky and the exploding gas and all the warped time of the universe, I have turned my prayers inwards and around; never reaching up, but always plunging into the body – always rifling through the purses and pockets of those around me.

I am certainly not qualified to tell you, or anyone, what poetry is or isn’t; what poems are and what poems are not – I’m barely qualified to explain it to myself. Still, I find it difficult to believe that anyone else feels this motion in their breast; this seasickness when the waves of poetry rise above my head. I’m afraid I’m going to drown in it soon. Take one last great breath of poetry before I let my head sink into the bitter waters.

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after years I understood that I
am not the great hero of my
own poems; all failures &
cruelties are mine & belong
to me – all weaknesses of the world
are the weaknesses I own