Eating a kumquat is an act of poetry…
because everything is poetry.
I am moved by poetry and consider the writing of it to be the highest form of art. I make this statement as a lover of fiction and the essay form, as one who derives intense pleasure from paintings and etchings and watercolors. I say this as an admirer of opera and classic rock, of blues and ska. As one who has benefited much from the rich diversity across genres.
But poetry moves me like nothing else. I still remember the day I came upon Louise Bogan’s poem, The Dragonfly. I remember how it entered into me like a light and brightened every cell of me, filled all my molecules with epiphany and an aching to connect to the whole world.
I started writing poetry when I was in the 6th grade because I had a teacher who put it on my radar (teachers really do make a difference in our lives). Back then, I mostly wrote about flowers––wishful thinking for a city kid who didn’t come across too many? Probably.
I concede that you can have lived intensely in a handful of years and write about it quite convincingly, but I’m one who needs the scab to form before I can speak the langugage of pain. The many years between now and then have put the underbelly of my childhood and lost love into perspective. Their place in the landscape of my life is finite, though they can take over the entire picture.
Recently, I sent in a few poems to Hanging Loose, a Brooklyn based literary press going strong since 1966, which published them in their magazine, issue #103. One of the poems, I realize, I have been writing for twenty years. Understandable because there were so many threads, tangled and knotted, I needed to get loose:
do you ever think of me?
send me a signal––
a squawking gull, a lonely pigeon
with a note
tied around her flank
or shove a piece of paper
into an empty beer bottle.
––excerpted from “All Roads Lead to Rockaway Beach 143rd”