Again On Getting Started

   One may as well ask why'd we start this war?
   Who gets the blame? Will who might win out count?
   I've done that for the record more than once,
   confessed the crimes they wanted me to hear
   from my own lips, in my own legend's chants
   with all my ghosts like you come sitting round
   as though they might find something in the air
   of substance, form and meaning. Please the court,
   for evidence this song's my fingerprints.

   They're not my own, those smudges of my prints.
   Like ballads they just dream the way things were,
   selective in what visions they record,
   which names get named when I give my account
   of those first words. The prior versions err
   in mentioning that origin not once
   with much conviction, no true ground
   to justify such struggle as I hear
   consumes us every time it gets its chance.

   I'm told this whole affair began by chance,
   and in each throat our bangbang god imprints
   his random voice, and gives to every ear
   his endless background static as it were.
   Is there some better myth been going round?
   as though my rhyme or rhythm weren't discord
   and merged with image everything at once
   to make up words I might dare to recount,
   the dawn of new creation in the air?

   A poem, my friend, is nothing more than air.
   Thin air. You were expecting more, perchance?
   The words you really mean to say don't count
   no more than if you'd used God's used blueprints
   to stack the shelves with books that no one wants,
   especially no one who might learn to hear
   from sonnet to free verse poems we record
   from library to kitchen to boudoir
   in measured heartbeats worth us passing round.

   Ah yes, but was this not our holy ground
   with sacrificial incense in the air?
   Like dreams that breathed into the dreams they were,
   our poems sang our gods' most sacred chants,
   our own hearts in harmonious accord.
   Let silence do its worst ― no word's uncounted
   since that very first one I still hear
   like yesterday's tomorrow's out-of-prints
   still loved. In love. That's all the poet wants.

   In love. Yeah right. I thought it so that once.
   Reality came crashing to the ground
   like Cinderella scouting for her prince
   and landing busted on her derrière
   in ash and dust. That's what we breathe down here,
   is ash and dust, the futile ruin of war
   where poems line up like victims we can't count.
   We write for our survival, if by chance
   the words we leave felt worth it to record.

   They weren't. Our doctors chewed away the cord
   connecting sound our inner spirit wants 
   with truth. Love's just a word without a chance.
   What started dead must wind up in the ground,
   and what we write about it doesn't count.
   Our nurses' fingers click, their gadget prints,
   and what comes out is all we maybe were.
   Not poetry. Just sterile harmless air,
   no threat to speak, no accident to hear.

   Besides, who'd even know that I've been here?
   My poetry's like me ― ward of the court,
   the orphaned symbol of somebody's error
   making something up from aimless wants,
   debris abandoned, victim of the war.
   Will any good come from it? Not a chance!
   I walk through halls where walking leaves no prints
   and only shadows watch me walking round
   and only walking helps me keep my count.

   And writing's what I do to keep my count
   of days and nights and other moments here
   in hell, a thousand miles beneath the ground
   where no one's grace is worth the time to court.
   The gods speak to create. Creation prints
   to sell. What's bought evaporates in air
   miscarried on the winds of random chance.
   And when the war is over, will I once
   again find peace? My muse mouths au revoir.

        (These sprints don't count. They've not made up lost ground, 
        just wore my head out airing it out here,
        recording it this once while I'd the chance.)


1 Response to “Again On Getting Started”

  1. 2010.12.15 at 3:35 pm

    So much to think about in this one…you’ve really presented some very powerful metaphors in this one.

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