“Backwards and downwards,” the laughter and then the deep breaths, for long durations there had been nothing else. These were the only pieces of me left intact, or that I was able to find in my animated demeanor.
I sometimes felt like a memory of three words, carried by a broken down glory on the back of an empty pack of cigarettes. But it sufficed. The experience of life has been both essential and delightful in regards to the growth of me.
Over in the corner, on the fringe of awareness, the light still lingers; and in a flash of two memories colliding, my sensitivity to the light has somehow improved.
In the beginning brightness had been all over the place and everywhere the same. It was a shining spectrum of silence, boundless but uniform. Essentially, it was without flaw, still indeterminate. And yet, while It remains all that It has forever been, it was as though the gentleness of bliss had been limited by the interpretation of an activity.
The first time I finagled with the rhythm of rhyme, I felt like my soul was bouncing all over the place. Funny enough, it was when I first stepped off a plane in Colorado with the deepest cut by my side some twenty years ago. It’s true—every movement in genuine love is poetic, if not hallucinoginec.
This is how I behaved over the next few years. I was determined to stabilize myself from this exercise in spiritual growth and self-recollection from the grip of an adolescent lesson layered with love and loss, all the while doing it with a smile. I felt that the aim of poetry would saturate the deserted depths of my arid soul, only to revive the active connection between my self and the divine powers that Be. I felt that it helped to heal. I realized that it was, as it is that follows.
Poetry is an activity that is at the same time a pattern, a kind of living lattice of discovery; universal, infinitely complex, and exquisitely delicate. A vast web of knots and divergences, of parallels and spirals, of intricate figures and their curiously distorted projections—all shining, active, and most importantly alive.
It was from then on, that first written poem, that I wanted to drape the world in the radiance of poetry, but I didn’t have enough material, nor the confidence to boot. My first attempt ended somewhere back in my twenties between my head and my heart. Sure poetry was lovely and generous, with its fields of gold. Still its goodness was the sort of goodness society had long considered out of date, so I gave it all up.
Besides, the radiance I wanted to deal in was an antiquated kind and in short supply throughout this shallow world. What I needed was a newfound radiance altogether, something a little more gorgeous and chivalrous that wouldn’t allow my imagination the time to pine away in the darkness of me. My imagination had to assert itself so that the art manifested the inner powers of my own nature, that which is love.
Without leaving himself, one grows with the vastness of the cosmic scope within; and yet: the farther one goes, the less he knows.
Then I found it again, that need for poetry, out west, a few years ago, this time it hit pretty close to home.
Does poetry have the power to pick you up in California and land you in sunny Salt Lake City a few hours later? Could it validate the distance between ourselves, and that, which lies ahead of us? Some think it has no such power. And nowadays public interest only grew wherever power did.
In the days of old, poetry was a force to be reckoned with. The poet had real romantic strength in the material world. Of course, the material was different then. Souls were still being wrapped in the fabric of divine magic, right up until the Industrial age slithered its greed around the heart and soul of mankind.
The romantic poets of society’s influence have always done what they were expected to do, they sprinkle beauty amongst the chaos, only to eventually give in to the pursuit. They chase ruin and death harder than they chase women. They set their talent ablaze, followed by a mental decline just before they reach home, and they dive headfirst down a slippery slope that slides upon a watery grave.
No, society is proud of its dead poets. Most everyone takes tremendous satisfaction in the poet’s self-taught testimony that reality is too tough, too big, too damn much; too awfully rigid with an expectation that bounces off the emotional checks and balances of a soul.
It is often thought that to be a poet is a school thing, a skirt thing, a church thing. The weakness of an unhinged spiritual prowess was proved in the childishness, madness, drunkenness, and despair of such marvelous martyrs.
So poets are loved, but loved because they just can’t make it here in the real world. We exist to loosen the grip on the feelings of experience by unraveling the tangled knots of life. We justify the cynicism of the hard-hearted men who say, “If I weren’t such a corrupt, unemotional piece of work, I couldn’t get through these times either. Look at these good, tenderhearted men, the best of us. The poor bastards perished by their own weakness, crazy sons of bitches.”
All the same, the desire of a poet will at times intersect at the corner of contradiction within himself. Maybe it’s an urge to be magical and cosmically expressive, shadowed articulate; to be able to approximate anything. Maybe it’s to be wise, philosophical, to find that common ground between the beauty of words, spirituality, love, and science, to prove that the animated emotions of the spiritual imagination are just as potent as any well-oiled war machine. Maybe it’s to believe in an ability to free and bless humankind with an unconditional love that spills from the light in the sky above.
But all the same, there in the shadows of his drive and desire, hides an inkling of expectation to be famous, and in this expectation of fame, there always hides a muse, a woman, there was always a woman behind the scenes.
Of course, it always came down to women. Freud himself believed that fame was pursued for the sake of the women. But the women were pursuing something else.
Everyone of us, both man and woman alike, are always looking for the real thing after being had and had by all the phonies. So we pray for the real thing and we rejoice when the real thing comes along. That’s why the world will always romanticize its love for poets. This is the bittersweet truth of poetry.
“Upwards and forwards,” I say silent to myself shadowed by a sudden glorified onslaught of distant laughter.
Once more a few lit fragments of self fall back to me—the same as they always were, but in some way associated, this time, with a particular light in the bright lattice of an intricate relationship, located somewhere in between what is right and what is wrong in the middle of me. It situates itself approximately on one of those little infinite nodes of intersecting alignment that shines from the core of all souls. I believe we can all agree from where in which I believe this light shines.
This pattern of intersection projects itself from another pattern, and within the other pattern I find another, larger fragment of me—a long lost memoir as a boy, scrambling out of the puddles of an adolescent ditch, wet and muddy to my knees in childlike poetry. I shout at the shadow of a man above, “jump you chicken shit, just jump.” And as the shadow jumps, I hear a faint howl echo with laughter.
An indeterminable voice within my immediate surroundings introduces itself as gentle as possible to my contemplative state, startling both me, and my thought process awake.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated and fasten your seatbelts, flight attendants please see that all tray tables are folded forward and seat backs are in the upright position, and that all overhead baggage is put away and bins are secure. We are clear for takeoff.”
Yes, it is true that a poet cannot perform societal open heart surgery, nor can he heave a bird of pewter steel thirty thousand feet in the air at seven hundred and seventy seven miles per hour, only to land soft, gentle and safe in good ole sunny Utah.
But he can damn sure die trying.