Buried In Poetry

In January, I began reading poetry incessantly.  Since I tend to write 8-12  poems per week, I figured I should start reviewing the greats, contemporaries of the greats, and contemporary (modern?) poets.

Now that it’s National Poetry Month, I have redoubled my efforts.  My twitter feed is chock-a-block with links to poetry I’ve never read before.  My office is piled with books, handy at a moments notice.  I’m reviewing T.S. Eliot, Benét, Don Marquis, and James Thurber (Thurber wasn’t a poet, but he always makes me laugh; my wife has a standing order that when I fall into my first coma, she is to read Thurber to me incessantly).

I found a fine hardbound book at the local used bookstore recently, The Bellman Book Of Verses, 1906-1919.  Many fine poems here amid the ones that simply don’t speak to me.  That is, not my cup of tea.

Well, isn’t that the way with poetry, art, music and literature?  When a bit of art is revered, it’s not a bad idea to observe it on your own and attempt to suss out why it is revered.  Of course, you can look at post analysis and comparative studies to find out what the fuss is all about.  As I have tromped about gracelessly on this planet, I have discovered a wonderful escape hatch which I use often.

I Immerse myself in a style or genre for a little while.  One that is just a bit outside of my own established interests.  There’s no real work involved.  Just read, or observe, or listen to that art, attempting to experience what others might.  My brain begins to make connections, revealing overlaps.  I’ll know when I think to myself, “Hey, that kinda reminds me of X”.

When I’m studying poetry, I know I already have an established feather bed to fall into if things get weird.  I can read 3 consecutive modern poems that do not rev me up.  No need to be disillusioned.  I can always rinse my brain’s mouth out with  Kipling.  Or Browning.  And in dire emergencies, break glass to access James Thurber.

Happy hunting fellow poets.  ~Tom~

There Are A Thousand Ways

There Are A Thousand Ways, by PHILIP ALPHONSE RIZZO, published in Spillway number 6, 1997

I long for the earth
Honor dirt in fingernails
soil that blows into corners

Thank the dust
clarioned from the stars
impacts the tundra
that feed caribou

Bless ancestral ashes
that make roses bloom
Praise Sahara dunes
the droppings of camels
and horses

Give reverence to
warm grays ochres siennas
the burnt umber
that roots the pine
in Sedona

I love the black humus
that sticks to Italian names
hugs celery
around Rome and Utica

Kneel and kiss bricks
fired to propagate courtyards
Massage glazing pots
hungering for marigolds

Prostrate myself before loam
holy blend that substrates
corn and wheat and soy beans
in Iowa and Nebraska
gives artichokes to salads
grapes to wind in California

Wash not my hands too well
after digging in the garden

Am not harsh with what we were
or shall become