What These Poems Are

“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy 

These poems are my meager attempts at getting my head into the heavens where things appear brilliant and true, where I can see things as they are. Typically a poem, for me, is what it looks like when I simplify my effort and focus all my often neurotic energy into basic consciousness, awareness, noticing. So in a sense these poems aren't poems at all. They are entirely informal. I don't have the skill or the intentionality to shape my noticings into formalized, ruled verse. There are no sonnets or haikus here, not because I'm above such formality but because my soul's more urgent need is typically for rhythmic, free-flowing release of control. To write to an outline, to an order, is an obstacle to what the practice of poetry is for me: A relinquishing of my analytical sense of control, a letting go, a seeking and finding of quiet freedom through the focus on rhythmic reflection of what is right here in front of me. This spiritual discipline gives my often aching head a rest. In a sense, a poem is to me much more like a nap than a goal to accomplish; more like laying down in a meadow to finally pay attention to what the mountain air feels and smells and tastes like than a trek to the summit. 

Practically, I don't write poems on a computer. I don't type them. And I don't revise them. I keep a Moleskine journal and buy my favorite sharpie ball-point pens by the box. This practice I call poetry is a thing that has to happen in the world of concrete things, in paper that blow frustratingly in the wind and ink that occasionally runs away and ruins a pair of pants. If I really "like" what I wrote, meaning I had an effectively disruptive session of wordwork, then I'll try to move the poem from those pages to this digital space. I'll type it out. I'll share it into the digital stratosphere. When I transcribe the poem I'll make basic grammatical and organizational edits. But sometimes I'll actually change it - replacing a word, fixing a missed sound, or even tapping back into the rhythm and adding a few more lines. 

That's what these things are: A kind of (semi-)public exposition of what results when I practice my word-therapy. There is a part of me that likes the poems themselves, that thinks rather fondly of some of these results. I hope you like them too. But these poems are just the evidence of my practicing poetry. This year, as the lack of posts reveals, I've been out of practice and, accordingly, at many points out of sorts. But my true passion is not to share these poems, these fruits, but rather to share the practice that they attest toMy real (com)passion is to win others to the soul-stilling and peace-making process of making poems. My poems may never change the world, but this practice of poetry radically changes me and therefore my presence in my place. So if you like a poem here, great. Go make one. Just sit down, pay silent attention to everything in and around you, and let words and an unruly rhythm of words describe them.