I may occasionally write the junk, but rarely do I read it.
And it is not because I don’t like it that I rarely read it…
It’s because it, the really good stuff anyway, is so durn hard to read.
I’m talking Poetry here…
Poetry with a big, bold capital P.
And it is so hard for me to read (And by read I mean read. I mean really digging into the poem and fighting through the initial confusion and the complicated and often archaic words. I mean, not just reading the poem, but studying it and trying to close the gap in time from when the poem was written to when the poem is being read by learning about the poet and where and when and why and how he or she is from and where and when and why and how he or she lived and then coming to my own understanding of what I think the poem means and then trying to apply that meaning to my own life and where and when and why and how I live it. That’s what I mean by read.) because it takes more than a little bit of effort to read it.
I certainly don’t have time for all that junk.
Okay, since I’m “retired,” maybe I do have the time.
So what could it possibly be then?
And by it I mean my hesitation…
Perhaps the reason I don’t read that much poetry is because, well, let’s face it, I just don’t have the stones for it.
Perhaps I am just not manly enough for it.
You know, it’s funny how we, and by we I mostly mean men, especially men of the “Manly Men” variety, often regard poetry as being light and fluffy, and that if we read it too often it will make our wrists go limp so therefore it shall forever be shunned and looked down upon and laughed at by us.
Well, let’s face it, once again, maybe us doesn’t include me so much any longer, and maybe it never really did; but I like to at least think there used to be a time when I could have been considered, however slight, as a “Manly Man”…
Even though back then I loved poetry…
And still do.
And while I now disavow most of the qualities “Manly Men” embody…at least publicly, anyway…I feel I speak with some authority on this “Manly Men” cultural phenomenon, with all its rugged-individualism-FOLLOW-ME!-while-I-lead-you-helpless-followers-once-more-to-the-beach…er, I mean…once-more-into-the-breach-my-friends-just like-a-man-should thing.
While it’s debatable whether or not I am or ever have been of them, there is no doubt that I have always been around them.
Ehem…some of my best friends are “Manly Men.”
So I kinda sorta know of what I speak when comparing and contrasting the art and sensibilities of Poetry with the artless insensitivity of the stereotypical Manly Men.
So here is what I surmise from what I kinda sorta know…
Sure, there are many poems out there that are light and fluffy and that, strangely enough, may have a tendency to loosen up our wrists a bit when we read them.
Nothing wrong with that at all since I consider some of that sensitive and muscle relaxing sort of poetry to be of the really good stuff.
But it seems that most of the poems that I regard to be of the really good stuff, are less of the light and fluffy sort and more of the dense and thickly tangled sort.
And the really good stuff of poetry is dense (Profound) and thickly tangled (Complex), not just for Profundity’s and Complexity’s sake (Although, we all know that there are certainly many poems that are written just for the sake of trying to be profound and complex and nothing else—those poems, and poets who write them, are to be quickly forgotten and discarded. (Hold on, hold on…before you quickly forget and discard me and the poetry of my sort, can you please at least finish reading this less-than-poetic post?!)), they are dense and thickly tangled because most of them are about the Essence of Life; and isn’t life and all its essence—at least the aspects of it that seem to leave the biggest impacts and impressions—completely Profound and wholly Complex?
Yeah, I don’t know…
But it seems to me that when we do take the time and make the effort to read poetry of the really good stuff and to come to our own understanding of it, we find that its profundity and complexity are so equally heavy and deep and full of impact that we are launched immediately and directly into the Heart of the Eternal Void…
(And since we, and by we I mean us of the US of American locale and/or persuasion, are in the thick of our six-month-long National Football League Holiday Season, it may be most apropos to use the metaphor of a football game to illustrate to our less than culturally sensitive “Manly Men” just what I mean by being launched directly into the Heart of the Eternal Void, no?)
Cue the metaphor!
A Manly Quarterback passes the revered and properly inflated pig-skinned football to that one and only place in play he knows only his manly receiver will be able to receive it — right down the middle of the field. In a primordial response, one massive and exceedingly Manly Outside Linebacker rushes toward the trajectory of the ball in “play” and then launches himself into vulnerable and outstretched midsection the opposing Manly Wide Receiver who has just bravely and dutifully and more than a little recklessly strayed across the treacherous and well-protected middle of the playing field to receive the passed revered and properly inflated pig-skinned football.
After releasing a collective Gasp!, a hush falls over the stadium.
The Jumbo-Tron cuts away quickly from the mangled Manly Wide Receiver carnage heaped in the middle of the field to his helmet rolling empty away from him.
And then the hush becomes even more pronounced as the crowd strains to see the mangled Manly Wide Receiver carnage through the huddle of concerned Manly Footballers huddling around him as he lies limp in the middle of the field of “play.”
And then it becomes completely silent as everyone sucks in their collective breathes as they collectively realize that the Manly Wide Receiver is no longer with them and that he has just been launched somewhere deep within the Heart of the Eternal Void…
And, without having to say a word about it, the somber, quiet crowd would all agree in respectful silence, that the impact of the massive and exceedingly Manly Outside Linebacker upon the brave and dutiful and more than a little reckless Manly Wide Receiver received was a bit more than incidental contact…
Okay, pretty lame metaphor, I agree…
But like football, poetry of the really good stuff is, itself, a collision sport.
Especially to those who play with it unaware and unsuspecting.
Often, it usually smacks me in the kisser when I least expect it…
Leaving me blissfully shaken and confused, lost deep with the Heart of the Eternal Void…
And to me, that makes it, and by it I mean Poetry, pretty Manly, indeed.
Heck, come to think of it, it makes it even more manly than just Manly.
Bear with me now…
In its complete Profundity and Complexity, poetry of the really good stuff is so tough and hard hitting and so thoroughly encompasses and expresses the Essence of Life that it seems even …WoManly.
Can’t get any more manly than that, can it?
I mean, we all know that due to our historical “manly” biases and patriarchal prejudices, just to be judged on equal terms with men, women’s performance has to exceed that of their male counterparts and they have to be willing to receive much less in compensation for their superior and herculean womanly efforts just to overcome these historical and persistent barriers.
Maybe our, and by our I mostly mean men’s, resistance to women’s equality is similar to why some of us try to make light of poetry and tend to ignore it.
And that is because we fear that which we cannot understand.
And we understand that fear is an effective method in helping to maintain the status quo.
Therefore, in fear, we shy clear of it, while scoffing at it as inconsequential and weak, thereby allowing us to both mask and maintain our ignorance and insecurities.
So, knowing that the really good stuff of poetry is so dense and tangled and difficult to understand and, as a result, is threatening to some of us, I offer you a poem of mine that is not of the good stuff and that is not difficult to understand and is of no threat to you whatsoever…
Sunshine on a rainy day
Sunshine on a rainy day
especially those without rainbows
(because rainbows have become so, well, Hollywood)
tends to turn my soul around
not in the melodramatic (Hollywood) sense
but in the universe-has-no-end sense
the sense that
I am not just another person moving and shifting within a plastic world
but instead a force among other forces that are equally important and
like the universe
Featured image courtesy of this.