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As the poet David Whyte says, “Poetry is language against which you have no defenses.” It is for the same reason that I believe the best love poetry is often not about love at all: love is another force against which we have no defenses and great poetry teaches us to love—it doesn’t tell us what love is.
Truce, Surrenders, and Stalemates
Never forget those who oppose you—
the outer limits of their camps, the energy you’ll spend
to stave off their assault, how far you will allow them
to make inroads.
And there is what you believe in.
You can measure by the friends you have
to know a gentler kind of differentiation, but
harsher truths require sharper means.
Let the knife that they would cut you with
be the cutting edge of your evolution and the cutting
will never happen.
And only later, the battle killing both of you,
you wander weary to neutral ground to negotiate
terms of surrender.
Ah, both of you have changed.
It is comfort to know some things are truth.
Some things endure beyond
truces, surrenders, and stalemates.
In the intuitive march of the poet’s life, the compass points to truth and beauty. Fearless speech is a prerequisite, but so is fearless observation. Every day we see things that frighten us and we look away. The poet has an agreement to not only to not look away, but to look deeper—and to describe what he sees there in terms for which there can be no defense.
From “Postmodern Crucifixion” (work in progress)The wire they put us up onduring family gatheringsand in polite companyis falling down with the weightand not one of us can live wherethere is no food or water.The only wire I’m going tosing from is the one thatstrings me up well beyond the crowd—past the entrances to wilderness,where I am one.Far from any chance of survival.
Every month, I’ll send one or two complete poems via email, updates on opportunities to attend readings by great poets, training for aspiring poets and announcements about my forthcoming books and events. Not only is this the only place you can get my full-length poetry on the internet, you’ll also get a free download of my book “Winter is Death Everything is Alive”, which I hope you enjoy.
Thanks for your interest.
Ann Arbor, Michigan 2017