Poet as genesis

It took an hour
to make song   another hour
for stone        the river
& stone are conjugate verbs
acting together
       to make the verdict of song
       ring true

“I have always had the sense of Armageddon and it was much stronger in those days, the sense of living on the edge of chaos. Not just personally, but on the world level. That we were dying, that we were killing our world — that sense had always been with me. That whatever I was doing, whatever we were doing that was creative and right, functioned to hold us from going over the edge. That this was the most we could do while we constructed some saner future.” – Audre Lorde recalling when she had heard of Martin Luther King’s killing.

Poet as difference

Poet as difference
the smellsweet
    wrungtooth, it keeps us in guess

deference to differ
the snuckroot
    earthsweat, as blade wishes blood

rain – the differed
the nailred
    skyrust, as air as parch as wet as pain

that deep inner place where we have been taught to fear all difference—to kill it or ignore it

Audre Lorde

Poet as heart

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

the outlier      each lie lies closer than the

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


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
           tone of possible
           palpable presences

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

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

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