Poetry is the air I breathe, the food I eat, and the blood that runs hotly through my veins. It sustains me. During the dry spells, (writer's block) I find myself feeling only half-alive. Charles Bukowski said poets must never force themselves to write. He said we should wait for "it" to come for us...to grab us by the throat. "It" being the voice, the muse, the magic that happens for each writer. I've heard other writers explain how they designate a certain amount of time each day to their work. I admire their fortitude, as I am completely without discipline. I am a very lazy poet,
waiting to be "spoken to" or grabbed by the throat.
The purpose of my poetry is to reach the reader; to tap him on the shoulder and say, "Hey! Don't I know you?" I want the reader to understand that we're not so different. I want him to know that we are all poets under the skin.
To fully appreciate another poet, I have only one rule. There has to be a physical reaction. For me, that rule applies to all art. A painting by Vermeer takes my breath, and thrills me. I look at Picasso's work,
and nothing happens. Stevie Ray Vaughn's music climbs up my spine, and rocks me, while classical music falls like stones at my feet. My intellectual side can recognize the genius behind every great artist, but not all of them are able to reach me. My poetry preferences are somewhat eclectic. I've read the "greats" and thought, "hmmmmm...I don't get it!" Much of it left me dry. No physical reaction.
In my quest for more accessible poetry, I became acquainted with the work of several poets who managed to consistently give me that physical reaction I crave. They are Sherman Alexie, Robert Creeley, Richard Hugo, and that beloved bum, Charles Bukowski. A very good poet friend of mine introduced me to Sherman Alexie. Well, he also introduced me to Richard Hugo, but Alexie's work definitely had the biggest influence on me. For those of you not familiar with his work, he wrote the screenplay for the movie "Smoke Signals." It's based on his book "The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven." For some really great poetry, I highly recommend "The Summer of Black Widows" and "First Indian On The Moon."
As always, I leave you with one of my poems. Peace.
Between substance and shadow
lies a yearning for the feel of you.
I extend my hands, touching air
where there should be skin.
In all of my imaginings there is
always your mouth that covers
mine, pulling me out of myself
and into you.
I have created you layer by
layer, and keep you in my veins
where you breathe my air and
reach for me in dreams.
I would let other arms hold me
and still look over shoulders for
your coming. I would know your
shadow and feel your substance.