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Poetry: A Poem

The first thing
The big guns
In poetry
You know —
The ones
In the expensive literary periodicals,
The first thing the big guns will tell you
Is that you can’t live without poetry
But that poetry doesn’t stop wars
It got me to thinking as to
What do all those people do
Who try to live without poetry —
What do they do?
We all have answer, but maybe it’s better to look at the question —
How do I do it, when I’m trying to live a moment without poetry,
Without self-contradiction, irony, wonder, metaphor, or an enjambment
A sleeping slave to the Sherman Tank of my efficiencies?

It also got me thinking,
If Poetry can’t stop wars,
It must be part of them somehow,
Like the flower sticking out of the gun barrel
In those 60s anti-war posters.

If poetry were a branch of the service,
Which branch would it be?
Perhaps the chaplain’s corps,
Whispering that we are still free moral agents,
And spirits of destiny even when following orders.

If poetry was a branch of the service,
Would it be a saboteur, a spy, a partisan behind the lines,
Making sure that every soldier never forgot
That they weren’t always a soldier, and that in some future moment,
Not a soldier they will be again, one way or the other.
Partisans and poetry do not wear a uniform,
Answer to direct orders in a power-based chain of command,
Report back to the politicians that feed them.

Poetry and partisans live in the woods, off the land,
Knowing it better than those who put targets on maps.
Poetry and partisans, always whispering about, always singing about,
Always planning about:
Migrating, moving back to the land,
The continent, the world,
Where there is no war.

Poetry is a refugee, a nomad, an escape artist,
Always just two steps out of reach of those
Who would end it.


Oh my god, this is gorgeous!
So many poignant lines….”…partisans and poetry do not wear a uniform…”

Poetry and partisans live in the woods, off the land,
Knowing it better than those who put targets on maps

I’m reading this over and over again❤️🦃

Thanks much Evalyn. Cheers me in a time when I am holding some griefs not yet ready for poetry. Incubation often feels too inarticulately full.🙏❤️ Paul

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