If you call yourself a poet, don't just sit there. Poetry is not a sedentary occupation, not a "take your seat" practice. Stand up and let them have it.
It's been a rough couple weeks at work. After eating lunch at my desk Friday, I need fresh air. An impromptu afternoon stroll takes me to the bookstore.
I miss browsing in bookstores. The bookstores I know here on the whole simply aren't conducive to it. I go with a mission usually, for "research" or a specific purchase. Some lunch hours I may spend more time there, scanning the bargain bins, but methodically, with only the pretense of leisure. It dawns on me that I may have shut myself off from an introduction to many fine and interesting books, pretty ones that shine cleverly at the cocktail hour, but deep and secretive ones too that leak their mysteries into the last bottle of wine some time after midnight when the jazz records come on.
So I... I don't know what I'm doing there Friday. I'm angry and distracted and tired. And I pluck off the shelf, I know not why — I guess because it's black and red, slim, the title psst-ing at me — Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Poetry as Insurgent Art, and I start to read, and smile. I feel all giddy inside.
Here's the thing. I'm a poet, I'm realizing. I mean... I don't actually write verse. But. No, I'm off to a bad start. How can I explain...?
I think I'm having a midlife crisis. That is, something is crawling over me, or bursting out of me, or seeping through my pores. Part of this is a physical function of age: I'm at, or nearing, my sexual peak, chronobiologically speaking, and the time bomb of the biological clock is pulsing, pounding, through my heart, my head.
This is a lustiness beyond the physical, that has yet to be sated. I am hungry — all my senses together screaming for more! And I am vibrating! Every fibre of my being — my physical body, yes, but I mean my neurons, my heartstrings — vibrating! Singing! My God, do you have any idea how much I love crunchy leaves?!!
Am I crazy? Or is this the noise of a cocoon rustling around me, flaking away?
And it happens that I've discovered poetry. And I think these things are connected. And Ferlinghetti has me crying Yes! Yes! with every proclamation. Like I am being called to arms. Though I'm not sure my arms are literary ones. And I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this information exactly. But it's being made clear to me that this feeling, this experience, this crisis, is not a disintegration, but au contraire a synthesis, at a molecular level, of body and mind too long separate.
Instead of trying to escape reality, plunge into the flesh of the world.