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On Poetry

I.
Poems come in rushes
or not at all.

They spill from the souls and pens unbound,
a waterfall of words rushing
down a passage of boulders
In the brain that would trap them
were they too weak,
Those words
Then left tangled and forgotten as something
choked and burned by summer kudzu or
an unrepentant murderous lover.

II.
When the words won’t come
or when they crawl,
disparate phrase by disparate phrase
following on the heels of an
inspired title,
I tire of trying to soothe them into order,
this rascally line of word children.
I let them play,
jottings only,
And the poem breathes,
Shallower
And shallower
Then stills.

III.
I cannot understand the man who,
for weeks has been
“working on a poem”.
You cannot rearrange water
once it has flowed onto a page –
you can only carve ice, but ice
does not curve,
not like liquid words
not like the bending turns of a poem.

IV.
A poem is or is not.
It is born of thought whole,
An Eve from somewhere behind a rib,
A Venus rising from her shell.
A tweak here or there perhaps,
After a night in a soft bed
(Never a refrigerator – too chill)
A cast of shadow caused by altered light
A pearl tucked in a tendril of hair
A wisp of chiffon draped over a bare shoulder –
just so –

But work?
Oh no.
A poem
Is birthed from soul.

Today’s guest poet: Tyler J. Yoder

(This is a stanza of a much longer work by this gifted poet/writer. He currently aspires to publish his first volume of work, so please share your thoughts and comments about this piece. I’m sure he’d appreciate any and all encouragement, and I truly think his work deserves a broad audience.  I’m thrilled that he’s joining the list of luminous poets whose works have been featured on The Weekly Wednesday Poem.)

V.  Prophets

Tell me how the prophets were
When they were young men –
Did they lust, and drink, and fight,
Get dirty, now and then?
Did they jump to join the brawl
To settle brother’s score?
Did loyalty, fidelity,
Surge from every pore?
Did honour grow like cock’s comb
As on sons of gods of war?

Tell me what the Prophets did
When they were young men –
Were they brash and bold and brave
And cocky, now and then?
Were barefoot runs up craggy trails
A commonplace event?
Were evenings spent in shady bars?
Were their youths misspent?
Were brothers pushed to dare and dream
And let the blood ferment?

Tell me how the Prophets lived
When they were young men –
How could later holy work
Compete with youthful sin?
How to fold in animal,
Whose influence was banned?
How faces flick with scars and smiles
When caged in Promised Land!
How did they hide from history
All that made them Man?

June 2020
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