The old saw is wood warms us three times. Once when we cut it, twice when we haul and stack it, and thrice when we burn it. The power of poetry plots a similar course of triple blessing. Writing a poem, reading a poem, and traditionally, at least for writers, publishing a poem are the constellation points of poetic stardom. Timeless words find their order in our peripheral vision and require a voice, a placement, like tapping found jewels into the crowns of passers- by.
The pull of poetry is to a closer reckoning of the pulse of things. The death of one breath links to the inclination of the next breath being more profound, more current, precise, and necessary. The whimsy of gravity to play with feathers and autumn leaves in the aftermath of trees being felled in the rain forest, uprooting the canopy dwellers, disturbing cloud patterns, and exposing the dirt to precarious folly.
The poem is an artifact. Art as fact in the face a world determined to ignore the contemplative plaintiff. To hold the pen lightly enough to allow perspective to shift is to be attentive to the ghosts of chance, challenge, and chagrin. This commitment to a blank page’s reveal has been done before and because we cause it again, in real time, the promise of a future reader understanding our contemporary compassions is made real.
The quality of a poem forever hidden in a notebook, or lost in a sudden gust of loose pages, is sealed as it’s own fate. Submitting a poem for perusal, for publication, for purposes personal or unknown is a dance, a song of the native tongue resurrected, a solicited drama, and a communique from the frontlines to the hearths of half remembered, half envisioned homes. Poetry shared is our part in the mystery of origin.
The infliction of a way with words heals and wounds. Empathy in context encourages our roots to reach water. The harvest of bright moments sustains understanding. There is rhyme. There is reason. There is love. There are words for it and this is their time. Sagas, psalms, and silly limericks are our epitaph, slung like living stones.
Will Schmit is a Midwestern poet transposed to Northern California. He has been writing and reading poetry for over fifty years in between bouts of learning to play the saxophone. His latest book Head Lines will be available wherever books are sold in 2020, especially if you pester your local bookstore to order it, and at www.schmitbooks.com.