When you sit down to write a poem
it mostly happens. I believe that anyone can do it.
Writing poems is easy, depending on the poems
you write and the audience you write to.
If you were a press and your goal was to make money
off of poems, then your audience would be donors.
I assume they are harder to write to than bloggers.
I guess an idea that blew my mind is
publishers would have competitions
and offer cash prizes and then after they rejected you
they would send out emails about
how they need your money. I never got that.
People asking for donations after they rejected your work,
as if the words you wrote lacked the luster
and the importance of the words of others.
I suppose certain grant writers get more money
for certain words, certain editors need salaries,
and certain ideas hit closer to home.
I mean, I am a father, a husband; I am white and male
(but none of that matters; but identity is chic now);
I have tried hard as any to get to where I am.
I would say I am a poet but by most accounts
and the emails I get, that means I am a failed poet.
I don’t make rent or pay bills off of my work,
it pays in smiles and a sort of pride
that only you and I would understand.
What I do is safe as a handrail on icy stairs.
What I do is very, very, very easy
because doing something you love shouldn’t be hard.
What I do isn’t exactly defined, thankfully;
in a scene you have to either be or not
or just keep going until someone notices you
and either says “shit” or “genius” or “you are that poet”
and that really depends on the time of year
and who you are close friends with,
and what kind of poem you read at the open mic, and how.
So, I have noticed, when you sit down and write a poem
it usually happens, and you can do it,
though I would say most are worried about perfection,
how other people feel about their ideas,
and would hide their art because
it might lack meaning, identity, or a soapbox purpose,
absolutely defined by others in a social vaccuum.
But we will never know. And that is why I wrote this poem
precisely for you. I find it a huge success.
Writing mostly happens, or I guess it doesn’t.
Easy as mom’s Facebook post or Trump’s tweets.
Easy as pressing keys and not marketing.
what i know
is that people
they create it
people only want
words, art, ideas,
if they create
cite the editors,
the talking heads,
best of friends
in foggy dawn
hot summer’s day,
but i didn’t
and that is why they
only the best.
amidst trailing bluffs above oil-rainbowed waters
where a man at the bow shot arrows at gar with a bow
a boy floated into the mind of a new man dad,
focused on churning barge death dealt
coming in cool crossed wakes,
water’s spray, fish gut aroma & cracked beers,
wetting the hand and drying the mouth,
jet boat reprieve wading at Stoddard calm—
above a dam, pissing swimming pants at the back,
speaking of motorbiking to Iowa for a pack of smokes
and a gallon of water, going 110 mph: passing cars,
hiding weekend fun from a sheriff’s skiff
going so fast on by that we couldn’t tell,
back up to just below Cass Street bridge in peak heat,
the kind that grows on you in color
and only halfway through a no wake zone,
halfway wishing i was with my love,
halfway somewhere: growing old, staying awake,
sipping pina coladas, bumming cigarettes,
and spraying thick sticky suntan lotion clouds
not long after the occurrence of already changing red,
my crushed fedora & new frames sans transition lenses,
this real life escape. something like a
last-minute decision over a landline,
moments later he picked me up saying: we’re late.
i wonder if the gnat in the shower mist
understands that money changes art.
the very idea of creating something for
pay transforms the something you create.
as if you aren’t going at it for self,
but now going at it for millions. this comedian
bug in our bathtub garden had the sense of
humor to remind me the importance of not
knowing, of not assuming, of not trying to be
the best in any situation, because there is only
self happiness inspired by the true muse.
and nothing more. and those words changed
for the pennies they paid, and some poets
would rather fill their bank accounts than self
actualize. and especially not talk about it.
notice it in similar words and formulas and
themes around these twin towns. i’ve seen
art on the green line, art on the transit, art
at the office desk top in non-profit form that
gave more to the world, so much more.
and i’ve begged and asked of some time to
merely experience, and some think they
have a chance at competition that proves
nothing more than some of us like just this.
It’d be a shame to not realize…
this breakfast has more passion,
my tongue has more taste;
the bold world we now live in,
everyone’s got something to say.
Oh, you’re also a local writer?
Oh, you write about injustices too?
See, I want something truly novel,
I really want something new.
And what about the morning coffee?
A poet writes in SE Minneapolis about the trials and tribulations of a Friday night gone mildly awry. He is surrounded by the cat’s meow, a blowing electrical heater, and the buzz of a refrigerator standing in a near vacant kitchen. The sky is overcast mute through slitted shades. He broods in his mildly sarcastic Minnesotan fashion, feeling the pains of last night’s waste while coming to terms with how his workouts aren’t working out. And nothing happens…
to wake in uptown
fully clothed and hot,
pajamas and enough
beer to consume
an entire Heggies pizza.
(and people starve abroad,
and others win
the lottery at home, and he
i’d rather see myself
in Beat coffeehouse
cutting ties with
negatives, and always
smiling through the shit,
and elaborate schemes…
i’d rather be
in the same
certain days you wake
up away, and certain days
you don’t wake up at all.
but i won’t wait,
why, why sit back
at the theatre
and watch the
take what they will?
(all life is
no, it was a nice way
to wake up, in the dark
on the phone with love
at five am,
to need water,
to set the alarm,
to find my glasses to
see it all perfectly
clear in grey light.
(the cold was there
waiting for him just
as it was the night
before, and he went to it.)
i just found myself
at the darkest place before
i came back home
huffing on a cold bike,
and someone at the open
mic knew my name,
still all the words for
the poem were lost
in alcohol and water,
in laughs and sighs.
they snapped at the wrong
parts and guffawed
at pigment jokes;
i guess pink is a funny color.
so, sitting over
simple english and
with coffee on my breath
i found the song
i had searched months
for and wrote it down
with my blog link
shamelessly on the back of
someone else’s ephemera,
then i stuck it to a blackboard
and biked with thin layers
from south to north,
to home to shower,
to think i think.
this is where you can find me.
I wish so much that I could change it,
just as much as everyone else.
The way you want something
and you really can’t have it.
Like to be independently wealthy,
or have the perfect dream job.
Only because in impossible ways
these entities don’t exist.
That sort of fading obsession
eventually becomes you—you are it.
In the morning from a deep sleep
the thought travels lifetimes
between two eyes, bounds up over
synapse, carries to perspire.
It is in you. And although it is there,
the momentary chill of outside air
seeing a banded local paper folded,
resting, stirs shivers, takes you away.
Some aspects are unavoidable,
some are just there to be taken.
Here is the La Crosse Tribune and
its pointed, objective, new words.
Picking up the rag, I head back inside.
I pull the band loose with fingers
and go at the emboldened headlines.
Thinking: how useless is a wish?
Thinking: it doesn’t really matter.
saying “i love you”
is not a transaction.
there is nothing
to be given nor
taken away. it just is
that, something said;
all important, all
but only if it is meant.
like taking a breath.
you do or you don’t.
if you do, you are.
if you don’t, you are not.
love is not currency
love just is simply.
and these things we
say make us smile.
and that is mostly why
i say “i love you.”