The poem speaks itself in seven variations

(for Dean)


unread & unknown
I refuse to be still, see
I am the spirit of all times
a pulse that insists,
a balanced thunder,
my voice defying dark.
I happen, muse.


they want me like this:
the sum total,
nice straight lines
of experience
& rhymes like ice.
at best I can offer
a plunge, a candor,
ellipsis & perhaps
a great thaw.


first-rate & yet naught
I persist despite
our many gulfs & fuses.
my lightning dances
on your taut skin,
alters neurons
in a sifting process–
makes new laws ‘@&#~*+
(there is hope for us yet.)


‘oh god, I’m alive’
thinks the poem
in an unguarded moment
to no one reader
over & over again,
confessing to verities
not wholly common.
mute & alert
I speak of great symptoms,
my shape, a condition
my form, a necessity.


remaindered value
to the contrary,
my range jangles your vision
with its absences & tones:
a tingling catechism of words
exorcized slowly…
a rehearsal of eloquence
for other poems listening.

this terrible ordeal of verse
conversant with possibility
convergent with failure.
I sound, notwithstanding,
the subterfuges of
critic, school & dust,
an ever-pregnant imagination
in use, a heresy of truth.


no longer safely stowed
but conscious of its self,
the poem reaches 7.
the details of its life
fully felt & formed
in a wash of image & blood–
organic now, advancing toward
an appointed equilibrium.
juggernaut of mind & hand
moving confident now
across the page
like a meaning finally read.


“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”–T.S. Eliot

Frost said that poetry was “a performance in words”. Dickinson wrote “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant–“. This 1990 AD selection is about the artistic process which has its own analogous birthing qualities.

Stanza 2 reflects Dickinson’s quote and certainly the conflict with conformity as the individual seeks to express himself as well. “Permanence?” is that starting hope and possibility that a given poem in process might turn out to be special and have some kind of lasting resonance.

Stanza 3 is about the possibility of connection and communication. Stanza 4 is about the poem as consciousness and self-consciousness, something every artist becomes aware in the process of making whatever work. If the artist is lucky, s/he will have something significant to say.

(Stanza 5) One of writers’ great fears is that their book will end up on a sales table somewhere, resigned to the dustbin of inconsequence. Writing and most art is a kind of exorcism, again a form of birthing or bringing into being for an audience, at minimum, of other artists.

(Stanza 6) Writing, like most of the arts, is fraught with huge risk and may be sabotaged (making a “heresy of Truth”) by critics, schools, and teachers.

At some point, though, the artist or poet has to be true to him/herself and the spirit of whatever s/he is creating, this poem no less. The words begin to flow and ultimately there may be meanings to be read, understood, appreciated, savoured by the creator and his/her audience. I wrote this poem to let the poem speak for itself and to show the creative process from ‘inside’ the work.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply