Saturday, April 08, 2006

POEM - Listening to Gary Snyder At A Poetry Reading

We came in from the cold like Canadian geese
Honking and boisterous
And I swear in a V-formation;
Filing into the great hall
Poets of every size and shape and color,
Gray haired and bearded
Sandaled and booted,
Tall ones and short ones,
Ones whose faces wore the look
Of someone who loved words too much,
Smooth-haired and wiry brillo haired ones;
Ones who write in really small, neat print
And ones who write with large, circular strokes.

We came to listen, carrying aspirations
Like journals, as cumulus as clouds.
We, professorial types and we student types
Together,
We who liked to get dirty in language,
Books cinched tightly under our arms
Books we hoped to have signed by Gary Snyder himself,
As if this act lends meaning to what we read.

We came with secret writings
Like hierogyphs honoring royalty
We came in trenchcoats and parkas,
We came in pajama bottoms and ponchos
Wearing too much makeup or none at all;
We came wearing newsie caps and bright orange “tukes”
We all came to genuflect
For where there are two or three hundred gathered in my name
Well - that just makes a market -
A poet’s dream demographic.

We came because there is nothing like this
In our daily lives -
Not on the radio, not in talking
With our husbands nor our wives,
Not with our friends and certainly not with T.V.

We came because we are starving
And like most hungry people,
We wear dervish looks in our eyes.

When Gary read and when he spoke
The calculus of poetry was laid
Before us at our feet.
It is something we already knew,
Something that enslaves us,
Something like a soduku puzzle,
We can’t seem to quit:
POETRY = OBSERVATION + MEMORY

We left our heated homes and comfy chairs,
We struggled through the road rage
That we seem so inured of these days,
We struggled to find parking spaces,
We struggled to find child care,
And in one case, one woman I know struggled through
The onset of early labor -
Just so we could be seduced!

Just so we could be fooled that outside
These auditorium walls, everything has meaning!

We came to announce to each other
That we are poets and that inside each of us
Is the deepest, blackest stuff -
Older than the solar system -
Which through a simple poem,
Falls to earth like the blackened bits
Of meteor shards that litter the
Antarctic ice floor waiting to be discovered.

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