Poet as heart

To have heart is to be fearful of the familiar
to befriend

the outlier      each lie lies closer than the
shrinkiest

of distances that fond the heart      the poet
as heart –


I can brave the torrent of masked poems but
where will

the sun breathe? I can read about the how &
the big how but

who will the stone ask? I can be the pliant
bull but I won’t


the hedgehogs are in want, day
spreads its

eagle wings with disdain      it has
no need –

the full stroke of sun strikes you
as it hovers

so close to your eyes your knees
buckle –

Poet as prose

The poet as prose
   can be  but only so far -
           prose should aim to be clear, direct: mince

words and that's rhetoric, hand-waving -
   logic   requires straight lines, a
           few curves maybe, but strictly geometric (solvable

preferably in finite time, boundaries &
   all)    the poem hints, the lines are
           blurred, the curves speak to the birds, mix 

with blood & birth & then return to where 
   word    greets word, and the light that
           seeps in with each flight of dark is unconfined by 

space & time, yet bound by the liminality of 
   joy     straggling behind     this burn
           of light is just   its uncertain incomprehensiveness

   sure

Earlier today I was trying to explain to my daughter, Amina, how I saw prose vis-a-vis poetry and how they intermingle. Amu understandably found my vagueness vague, so I wrote this poem.

Poet as silence

          
As unmitigated sound    un
mediated
           tone of possible
           palpable presences

morning hints warily at
wounds
           at the tip of    trust
           of harbinged rhythms

to tug at the poetic handle
that
           scans sense of self
           as an unmundane possibility

true to beginnings    true
to
           the etched tenacities that
           bring to an end    –

Poet as will and (re)presentation

Poet as dialogue

as one whose speech has barbs of will
in each spate of

wordventure    the spite of an inturned
wall of verbiage

this talking    being oneself    as honest
as ten simplenesses

As underscream

which seething word did my voiced
underscream reach for?    was it

the curve or its sheath?    I conjectured
both    and which pith shone in

with diamond ball?    was it the
curl or its sieve?    I conjectured

abysmally even    even as the torn
pages remembered, reached, perjured

upon the lay of a seceded guile, a
wrapped up clutch of deliberatia

Poet as anarch

I.
Do your words support this one tradition or
that? did the vault of your craft meek out
yet another salve or did it glare in revulsion to craft? do you
salvage or savage the cow at the altar of the unholy? does
the sacred tempt you to sacrilege or do you bow?

will you pause to recall or
move on? will the line ever reveal
what hides or will it too linger off into
distraction (o the webs to save our
words from being more than what they pretend

to be)? where is beauty in this rubble
in the aftermath of one million six hundred sixty
seven forgettings? what molds the tank of
tumors that five hundred and fifteen
vessels of impunity contend to hide?

this is all within reason   this is all within
sight   and the bugles will sing of your
aftersong   they will burn less brilliant
with each lie unless the count
is singed anew.

II.
Caring is done with mouths / fingers
ink   tub of feel   worded want   it is done without
question   it is done within each ask of want   it
is the want of curbing blood   it is how the hammer
nails your meaning into your skin into your gender into your kin

into each marker of sin   each voice that stuns your station
your reach your win   it is done with mouths / fingers
ink   “I care for our world / if I stop / caring about one
it would be only / a matter of time / before I stop
loving / the other (Pat Parker)”

III.
Something in a poem misses a beat and a river crashes
somewhere   a village whispers the vapor of retreat   a
slur gashes the rainbow as each arrow of harm
is blurred – something in a poem misses a beat and
the heart quickens to mollify the red mishappenings.