CLEAR SKY OVER A KANSAS PRAIRIE

 

Anyone can write a poem about the sunset on a clear night over a Kansas prairie.  Anyone can write about mountains majesty and sea to shining sea.  It’s easy to wax poetic and rhapsodize over all the standard issue beauty in the world.

 

Now, skill is losing the remote control, flushing the toilet, drinking beer out of a can, smoking a stale Sher Bidi, listening to Brazilian music---well now it’s getting exotic again and we’re trying to simplify and get down the basics.  We want the pureness of the mundane.

 

Scrubbing the floor, stubbing your toe, scratching an itch or worrying about how many beers are left in the fridge.  That’s where the real skill comes in.  Can you write about a sticker peeling off a window?

 

This is gut check time when you take the painfully mundane and insist on finding poetry there.  It’s when you rip your heart out and feed your soul to the lions.  You might be tired or drunk or slightly disillusioned—it doesn’t matter to anyone else anyway.

 

There’s still a job to be done and someone—and it always ends up being you—has to do the job.  Take the nomination with a grain of salt and a grain of pride because it does reveal of level of expertise.

 

There is a need for the sun and moon and stars to be sure but this is about human triviality.  There are times we don’t seem to have much else.  And we’re tired and the waves of the Pacific Ocean and the sunset over the Rockies remain possibilities but not always. And each small detail has its purpose.

 

I’m not too sure if we can really get it any purer than this right now.  Lest we go off on another tangent of sub-consciousness and self-consciousness in a power meeting.  We’re just drawing from scratch and making something out of nothing.

 

My skill is getting poetry out of Camden (modern Camden, which is no longer Whitman’s Camden) or a sewer or graffiti on the bathroom wall.  It’s finding poetry in the leftover Chinese food that sat in the fridge a couple days too long. 

 

Seems not just anyone can make poetry or art out the little, minute, inane matters like that.  If you have the skill, you may as well flaunt it.

 

5-26-98

 

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Seryddwr's picture

You mentioned Camden, which

You mentioned Camden, which led me to think of Nick Virgilio, whose Haiku are so adept at finding beauty, or other profound emotional responses, in the mundane.


Seryddwr

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georgeschaefer's picture

Nick did carry on Whitman's

Nick did carry on Whitman's spirit in a now largely downtrodden city.