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      I've always enjoyed writing, but I don't really enjoy writing poetry. Poetry, to me, is both slightly embarassing and thoroughly engrossing. I feel like I'm peeking inside someone else's brain and sifting through whatever sludge they've decided to let me see.
      That being said, I'm a sucker for poetry. I have held on to countless 'zines, pieces of paper, emails, books, whatever just because they had some anonymous poem that some anonymous poet thought was important enough to pour out on to the page. I remember one hand bill I had picked up in Miami that had a poem called "Gray Matter" and had the particulary useless line "A light shoots light." I loved that poem.
      A poem, to me, is a tortured heartfelt thing. A poem's supposed to make you feel a certain way. I'm with the haiku guys on this one: instill that perfect feeling in the minimum amount of words. When you read Andrew Marvell telling you, "Our vegetable love would grow/Vaster than empires and more slow" , you (or at least, I) can feel those vast empires lumbering slowly through the ages. When you read, "From far, from eve and morning/And yon twelve-winded sky" , Housman manages to intstantly put you up to wind's twelve quarters. And good Lord, but I shudder everytime I think that "the center does not hold/Things fall apart."
      Language is one giant metaphor for what's truly real. With such a clumsy tool, it's pretty incredible to me that mere words can convey meaning at all. But words are just words, they aren't really what you're trying to describe or hold or buy or love. Ordinary language has a hard enough time getting on with the business of the world, let alone trying to impart a precise emotion. I think poetry is a kind of abuse of natural language; a beautiful twisting of the ordinary tools and weapons of words into something that's adequate for carrying a freight of emotion.
      Blah blah blah.
      As I said above, poetry is slightly embarassing to me. I'm much more critical of my poetry than I am of my writing. In my adult life, I've only written four poems (as of this writing) that I ever wanted to show anyone else. The first one was called "The View from Memorial," and I'm pretty sure I've lost it along the way. I had it on some ancient Smith Corona word processor. It was pretty straight forward, just a quick poem about being where I wasn't supposed to be at the top of the University of Texas stadium watching the sun set.
      Strangely enough, the other three poems are all related to my friend Jennifer Hale (who pisses me off by being a better writer than I am). The first, a nameless thing that was shamelessly inspired by T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland, I wrote for her Christmas present in December of 1989. The other two were the two rain poems I wrote for her when we found each other again in the summer of 1996. As I put these poems up, I notice that one of these also references back to The Wasteland. The other one uses the word "benediction," which I had just used yesterday in a pretty emotional letter to someone. I was suprised to see how these things roll around in my head and occasionally resurface.
      Anyway, on to the poems.

-- February 22, 1998

      An update: in the Spring of 2001, I found The View from Memorial in an old filing cabinet. Usually I hate digging through old papers, but this made it all worth while.

-- March 19, 2001

Summer Storms

Autumn Rains, Autumn Floods

The View From Memorial

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