( Port Angeles, Washington )Credo — Uncouched
I know I am supposed to be grim-lipped and all writing poetry, supposed to apologize for everything I did not do before I was born – flagellant for every cretin and prodigal and societal numbskull that ever lived; deep in angst and anomie over the muttonheads of this world – but a gale of laughter keeps blowing in with more alpha-names than ever dubbed hurricane. Sweet Abe Lincoln had the correct political summation:“You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong; you cannot help the poor by destroying the rich; you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”Muse-bound, I know I am supposed to gather crumbs left under Homer’s table, call upon one or more of those nine yakking daughters of Mnemosyne for inspiration, but I watch deer saltate across my lawn eating everything I’ve planted, and watch the colt across the county road romp round its mom each sunrise; and I see my all-white – pink-nosed/blind – Samoeyed Sasha wanting love before I sip a first cup of coffee at 5 a.m., and so an ear-to-ear grin slides across my face like cumulopufferies sucked landward off the serene Pacific…and I burst, reminded of René Decartes’ admonition:“It is not barbara and baralipton which form the reason.”I know that, spiritually, I am supposed to fret about aggression and my lascivious libido loving each roundness on every woman I see (going/coming); and worry that my inner-child is not to the fore (I make inferences, I make judgements)! I must torment my character because I do not suffer Fools one nanosecond, or walk-on-eggs round loathsome ideologues who social-engineer, over-regulate, over-tax my God-given liberty and individuality. So I let my burn-barrel blaze away whenever trash needs flame, and put great & grand heaps of fall leaves-to-swoon-smoke (in that season). And as any good American must, I write letters to tell government-funded talking heads to find real jobs in the private sector. I guffaw whenever hearing the phrase ‘quality time’ or note baffelgabbers mouthing New Age anything; or hear the benighted speak of UFOs, ESP, OBE…, simply because hilarity bubbles up like overwhelming dandelion, nettle, and I choose “2 Corinthians” 12:10:“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.”I know that, linguistically, I am supposed to turn happy words into newsworthy film-at-eleven hysteria, bemoan AIDS, edit for Political Correctness – extol Affirmative action: nonsense! I must also discover an impossible-to-account-for-cause-of-interest in the Dark Force and Bukowski-ites (and other such versifiers in New Yorker or Atlantic or Poetry): pass the barf-bag – please! What I recall is every birthday celebrated whether mom and dad had money or no, always having three squares-a-day (if long stretches of bean and burger). And I was never prevented – even once – from browsing every library lived by to borrow anything I wanted: the grace of V.S. Naipaul’s 23 books; Huck Finn and Jane Eyre and Shane and The Big Sky and Lady Chatterley’s Lover (bought, at 14, in a Chicago bookstore [with a childhood bud, for nerve]).
Therefore, why should my spirit not romp and rejoice, frolic and gambol in the beaming startle of waking up each blessed day? Why should I not self-start my own feet, raise butt-up-off-the-chair when something needs doing? Why shouldn’t I, quitting the eleven jobs I had, hustle the next day to get another? Who says I can’t entirely ignore the inane - stupid - 1960s (its drugs, infantile music and flower-child shallowness)? Why shouldn’t I double over in laughter hearing humans call themselves ‘Victims of Modernity’ (their - THANK-GOD! - workable arms & legs & lips & eyes & ears slouching, moping, whining)? I know and accept the truth of Samuel Beckett:“The galley slave sticks to his oar.”So, yes, I write poems of rue, but glory too; poems that cry, but chuckle as well; poems of life’s crush, yet of release also; poems that are hard, but muffin-light moreover; poems that wince, yet exult besides; poems that ache, but triumph at the same time: ONE LIFE!
I - Old Dance, New Paint
II - A Most Inconvenient Appetite
III - Ground Heavy With Thought
IV - At the World's Well
Featured Poet - E. Ethelbert Miller
A Review - Nell Maiden
Summer 2002 Issue