Wednesday, June 4, 2014

finding time for poetry

my friend peter mullins wrote this poem recently.

peter is one of those teachers that kids dream of getting, adore when they do get him, and miss him forever afterwards . . .

Finding Time for Poetry 


I don’t have time for poetry. Poetry is too messy.

You know words spilling off the page;
dickering around in the margins.

The random cupboard of connotation.
Infinitives dangling from the edges of a phrase.
Overcooked similes stuck to the ceiling.
The chaos of upturned verse.

I don’t have time for poetry. Poetry is too fastidiously clean.

You know words with the rapier sharpness of ledger sheets;
as solemn as girls at prayer.

Or pesticidal words formulated to choke roots, to sever stems.
Used to force the petals of a flower closed;
Words that stop watches.

So I’m not into margins, and I’m not into fauna.
I’m conscious of cleaning up messes before they stream
like free verse across the page.


I could have time for poetry.

You know words that actually mean something?
Or maybe more?
Meaning more than was ever meant, meaning more than manna?

And one, or me, or you

Hearing it perhaps because one needs to hear it!
Hearing it because perhaps one’s ears are as anxious for words as petals are for rain.
Hearing it because it has occurred to one that perhaps poems are as precious as soil.

I might have time for poetry. I must say I’m enticed.

I wonder if poems seep out of catacombs like ancient echoes.
I cannot calculate the infinite possibility of the sentence.
I wonder what the parabola of time chooses for its meter.
Is there an abacus to register the potency of voice?


I am finding time for poetry, because I’ve learned that poetry does things.

You know words that, because of their razorness
cleave like a cutlass through the stubble of language
and shave an intention clean?

You know words you can set your watch by:
The metronome of timbre that punctuates time.
Words that tick in exquisite cycles of ecstasy and grief,
of liberation and stigma,
tumult and method,
drought and bounty;
of coming to the moment as a linguistic troubadour
and casting words like seeds into the rolling tract of language,
-- messily clean –
to plant in the firm, dark earth precisely what was meant.
The accomplishment of clarity.

You know words because of their supple sexiness,
their sensual suggestiveness,
their working their way down to your navel, and up your inner thighness,
could make you circle your finger around your lips and revel in the surprise of it;
could make you admit you were wrong about saying no to it,
about denying its power after a first awkward date with it;
could make you cast a wry sideways glance its way and rekindle a connection with it;
could make you prance out of shant I and into shall I with it;
could make you kick off your shoes and run your toes through the sands of diction;
could make you peel off your clothes and be exposed to the sun of saying it;
could make your eyes peel open to the infinite depth of it.

(The match struck unexpectedly in the dark pure magic of it.)

Could make one startle that its softness could calm like the connotations of a harvest!
Could make one furrow into it, rich and dark, and plant ones dreams in it.

And express something meant to reach somebody
to touch them right down to the lichen.
Could make one slowly gather meter like breath, like loam,
 -- finding the time –
for one, for me, for you
to exhale a good line, plant a stanza perhaps, a poem.

By: Peter Mullins
May 2014

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