"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand… and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: 'What can this be?' And it was generally answered thus: 'It is all that was made.' It was so small I thought it might disappear, but I was answered... everything has being through the love of God." --Julian of Norwich

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mr. Eliot, I would like to introduce you to K'naan.

(Today was a tough day. I've been very undisciplined and I was sinking into a funk of existential despair and malaise. But then I remembered that tonight there was an open mic at Regent. I hadn't written a poem in a very long time, so I figured it was time to claw my way out of the malaise. I've been wanting to write a hip hop inspired rhyming poem for a while since we've been listening to a lot of very good rap recently. So, here it is with love for you all.)

Reading and writing,
Reading and writing,
much like fighting
thunder and lightning
I always lose.
Yet my throat is tightening
as I shake to my shoes,
in a holy act of words:
I choose.

I thought that rhyme was dead
all possibility exhausted
by the men in my Norton’s Anthology.
My professor in college, she
taught me it was about innovation
while I saw gradual stagnation--
language became a still pool
overwrought and uncool.
Then I heard slam and I learned
to fondle the words and their turns
to apply pressure and let them express
the strange power of their native noblesse;
cacophony of origins diverse,
epiphany of courage new in verse.
Perhaps what we have lost
is not the words but their cost:
we must bare our souls
to them without a higher goal
than just to listen and let them flow
But who am I to say I know
anything about words?

Reading and writing
reading and writing
like humans flying
straining and trying,
with waxen wings,
I tremble, crying
in the wind each word sings,
we think we know so many things.

So I’ve set aside poetry to listen
long blinded by the glisten
of fresh black on a blank page.
The silence sends me into a haze
where the words pummel me with force
plebian and coarse,
words that have not been civilized
like I have, black eyed
from the way the world is.
Words that hum and fizz
can only be heard and never seen,
to see is to make them everlasting,
and they are only breath in air
or they would cease to be there
at all. Unless I think of them as waves
pulsing the dusty motes, hardly slaves
to brother light who only theoretically
plays the particle, holding mystery
in the glint of sunset from a snowy peak
in wind-whipped ocean, grey and bleak.
Seen and not word.

Reading and writing,
reading and writing,
fighting and flying,
tightening and crying,
Who am I to say that when I choose
I lose?

1 comment:

  1. I would love to have list of the hip-hop you've been listening to. I've been digging into issues of race and the church, and I'm ashamed at how white my ipod remains.