Some pages from the first collection of my poems that I slapped together all those years ago on what was then, a decent typewriter, purchase price of $283.86, though I’m not quite sure about that being the change, just know that is the number stuck in my head about that, I kept the receipt for years. Possibly then leading to my lasting affection for the courier font, in particular. Some of the poems were good, some of them not so good. Poetry, I think, is the most subjective form of literary expression. Most poetry, poems, allow for the reader, more than any other form of writing, to put their own interpretation on at least some of the meaning. Thus all those puffed up explanations, dissections and discussions of “What So and So really meant was…” and I always think that’s funny because most of the time it means, they don’t know what it means.
Sentimental, because I tended to be that way, though less and less, that’s probably kind of sad but there it is. I was younger. The world was a much different place, no Internet. At that time I attended, participated in, two or three poetry readings ( maybe it was four?) at a deli/ice cream shop, of all places, actually, people were reading all sorts of things, stories, poems, one young man read his song lyrics. After each one, a little swarm kind of crushed around me, wanting to talk to me, some people asking for copies of things. Unprepared for that. Of course I was careful to read the poems of mine that I thought were the best, not necessarily these selections. There had been an article in the newspaper about the deli that was so cool to be hosting this, seeing as how the valley was a cultural dry gulch starving to death in those days. The last one of those readings that I attended, a few authors showed up with their chapbooks and what not. There were chairs lined against the wall to the door, the occupants of which could not see the reader at all, but they could hear. That little swarm crushed around me, got between me and the person I was with then and I …just couldn’t wait to get out the door to the sidewalk. Couldn’t breath. At that point began to then question every thing I’d ever written, thinking, realizing, if I were to pursue it…well, the idea was that other people were going to read it. Yes, that messed me up for a while.
So they weren’t all the best poems, essays or pieces of prose, no not at all. But what I see when I read them now are all the roots of everything after. For every really great piece of work, there were a lot of not so great and some truly bad. All of it a necessary learning process.
I’ve posted this one once or twice previously, likely edited. I think it’s self-explanatory. But there was this and a piece called The Raven, and I wrote them with great trepidation at the time. What would people think? ( if I wrote about…you know…sex.)
Birds on The Verge
The imagery of the Phoenix was working for me at the time, ideas of rebirth, regeneration. It descends into the corny, the sentimental, with the dramatic foundations of friendship and “ancient stone” but this poem remains a favorite, because I do know what I was going through at the time and all of the meanings it has for me.
Obviously, it’s about getting ones posterior kicked and getting up.
an ode to Joan of Arc at the end, a verse I sometimes drop. Otherwise, well, personal, metaphorical demons are just that, aren’t they? Personal?
I still love this poem. This was where I started to see something change, something turn. Maybe a willingness to be more honest or to express that? And it had actually been three years since I’d quit cigarettes but I felt like I needed to lie somewhat, like I didn’t want anyone to know when I had really quit smoking.
And that is not to lend to the idea that everything written in this style, confessional, is actual truth. It’s just the opposite a lot of the time. But, it’s the emotion that has to ring true. This is where I saw the change begin. Where it started to become about understanding processes to get at what was needed with the words.
We learn our craft.
I felt the need to scrawl, on the side of the apartment building where we lived in Richardson, Texas when I was four, while some boys who wouldn’t let me into their “He-Man-Woman-Haters Club” set fire to a hedge, the first word I learned to spell when I was four. You know, maybe that was it… Look here, the magnificence of this first word. I can write it in lowercase or, with capital letters. Look here at the amazing TOE, written in fine stubby pencil, four year old font.