Monday, February 06, 2006


Not Writing

If only it were easy—like a kiss
after a lull of kisses:

the lips know how to part
to let a slip of warm breath through
and perhaps a moist tap of the tongue.

Even if the nose struggles to find a space
on the landscape of the face, bumping
as it does like knees against furniture,

at least there is movement, a sense
of purpose—the chest can feel like this—
a burning there, a familiar fire:

blue in the center, white edges
piercing like the sun.


  1. Too dense for poetry and art. Can't you give me a hint? I approach it like a jigsaw puzzle, is it wrong? Am I suppose to feel them, not analyze? Still, they all end with the same Uuggh!!! They all seem so esoteric, are they meant to be understood? Or, is it just an exercise in floating a piece of yourself out into the universe, just because. If there was an afterlife, I'd love to sit with all the poets and artists on what would be considered a pristine day in a postmortal life, and ask, "Why 'blue in the center'? Does it mean deep as an ocean? Blue as in sad? Or, blue as in frigid?" Uuggh!!!


  2. I have always felt that a poem means whatever it means to the reader. I get the most satisfaction when I come away from a poem with a sense that it was saying something to me, but also with a sense that there was story, that I don't entirely know, behind the poem. Billy Collins wrote a great poem about teaching poetry:

    I ask them to take a poem
    and hold it up to the light
    like a color slide

    or press an ear against its hive.

    I say drop a mouse into a poem
    and watch him probe his way out,

    or walk inside the poem's room
    and feel the walls for a light switch.

    I want them to waterski
    across the surface of a poem
    waving at the author's name on the shore.

    But all they want to do
    is tie the poem to a chair with rope
    and torture a confession out of it.

    They begin beating it with a hose
    to find out what it really means.

  3. Love that Billy Collins poem, Walaka, and will agree that one's understanding of a poem or art piece, I find, is indeed individual.

    It is amazing how much a reader/viewer brings to art. I read a poem at an open mic years ago and a woman came up to me after I read, tears streaming down her face, and she said something very personal about how the poem touched her. I could resonate with some of what she said about the poem, yet there was a whole story she herself was bringing to the poem. I did not mind this, however. Artistic truth is what I was going for, not actual (literal) truth. This woman didn't need to know my story to find affinity or resonance with the poem.

    A wonderful poet, Muriel Rukeyser, wrote in her book _The Life of Poetry_:

    "One of the invitations of poetry is to come to the emotional meanings at every moment. That is one reason for the high concentration of music, in poetry."

    While I don't understand every reference in another's poem, I do have an emotional reaction based on the language, vivid imagery, and interesting juxaposition.

    So, A, I would say, yes, *feel* art and poetry. I know some poets who do try to create a puzzle for the reader to decode, but I'm not so interested in this in my own work. I try to use language as a way to convey a moment in time when I faced the blank page and words (miraculously) took shape.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and asking those questions.


  4. Thanks to both of you for taking the time to explain. I'm still working on seeing the works with different eyes.