Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Plea to Open Mic Poets

Do not introduce your poem. Please.

If you feel you have to say something, at least do not tell me what the poem is about.

You do not own your poem. As soon as one word leaves your mouth on its way to a listener's ears, the poem no longer belongs to you. It is a gift. Each audience member receives your poem as a unique and personal version of what you wrote. Do not spoil the gift by placing conditions on your giving. If you tell us the meaning, you limit the way we can receive your poem.

Like any gift, a poem brings surprise and discovery. Let your audience unwrap your poem for themselves. Let them absorb your words and discover their meanings on their own. Never spoil the surprise.

Please, please, please. Do not introduce your poem.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Warhol's Wisdom

Recently, I was fortunate to view an installation of Warhol's Shadows, 102 screenprinted and handpainted variations of a photo of shadows from the corner of his studio.

I find a lot of inspiration in other forms of art, but in this case the accompanying Warhol quote captured my imagination and humour:
'Someone asked me if I thought they [the Shadows canvases] were art and I said no. You see, the opening party had disco. I guess that makes them disco decor.
This show will be like all the others. The review will be bad - my reviews always are. But the reviews of the party will be terrific.'

Thursday, January 5, 2012


You feel alone, as you climb my steel side,
But you are the same as all the others, all alone,
Who come at night, more often after rain,
To mount my rails robotic in the metal light.
Some jump, some drop, but all fall alone,
Ride silent a moon shaft to the river’s skin,
A muffled shot their end.

The river throws up its arms , always throwing up its arms,
As if to say: ‘Again? You toss another life at me?’
But it never rejects the offer,
Always slides that life inside its cold pocket,
As time rewinds,
The water fingers fold back into place
And the river’s face as if nothing happened.

The river lies.
I know a light just died in a home someplace.
The river never stays to listen.
I am a constant, a coefficient,
I dampen commerce’s restless leg
My backbone carries the current of the city
I take the warmth of rubber and internal combustion
And through my arms and legs on the banks
I bury it deep in the earth.

You feel that, through your feet on my rails,
Your hands on my cables? That mantric hum?
There is more life in me than in that shifting creek;
Beneath its scales there is no buzz
Just a wet muffle,
Where you would be dissolved cold as a fish.
In the river you will stay alone, disconnected.

But my ribs sing to you the world out there.
Step down and press your cheek against my deck
Let me relay your heartbeat
Share my heat with you
And make chords with your sighs.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

We Are the Poem

Can you hear it?
We are the poem
It is in our water in our voices streaming its rhythm in our temples beating
It is the dreaming, the metre beats through the soles of our feet in the earth beneath us
Our eyes following birds through sun blushed skies brushed by the flames of beach bonfires
It is holding hands; it is first kisses
3am conversations and shooting star wishes
It is music it is here
As light as babies’ laughter and as dense as old men’s cellared tears
It danced like prayers on Plato’s lips as he rested
The poem is in the way she sways her hips when she walks,
The way the sun sheens as he lays bricks bare-chested

You are the poem
You are a symbol, you are meaning
Each of us a line
Together we make tight stanzas
Can’t you hear the way we rhyme
When our vowels arc electric across our lips
Can’t you hear the way we rhyme
You are born to know this, your mother whispered the poem through the red curtain of her belly
Our lives are performed in the round to subliminal libretti
When we die our funerals are merely rehearsing
Our pieces remembered resonance resounding

I am the poem
I can feel it like static crackling along my skin
My pen hand twitching
It’s voice in my throat itching
And when I share my woeful hoarse echo of the poem it is a remembering
Like, yes, this is home

Sometimes we forget to listen
Sometimes we lose our place in the chorus
And it takes the kindness of a stranger,
Coffee conversation pauses
Or the knowing curiosity of a child to restore us
Come, let’s rehearse the verse that skips on our tongues
Come, let’s lay down the words that our fingertips know.
Listen. You can hear it.
We are the poem.