Jul 06, 2021, 05:55AM

The Poverty Of Poetry

My apologies to academia.

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I could be many things I never wanted, and my problems took me to precarious places constantly revolving around the art of survival. Unfortunately, the business of living always got in the way of life. Achieving a comfortable existence has eluded me. I was never good at math, counting money, or taking orders. It all adds up minus the hassle of existence. I gained a wealth of unique experiences by taking shortcuts, yet lacked financial rewards. I reckon that makes all the difference. Never wishing to gain the world, always an outsider looking in, I never wanted a gold-plated toilet.

I was always broke. The glory years of reckless youth convinced me I'd lived an unusual life of carefree wanton abandon stepping over the line of hedonism. I've done more in one lost weekend's wild abandon than most could do in a lifetime. I earned my bragging rights. I was born with the talent to create art, play music, write, dance, embrace joy, and seek love while laughing with a sneer behind the backs of authority. I was screaming in the face of unfeeling gods, friendly demons, unfriendly ghosts, even that trickster death itself. One thing is sure: I know less every day about how it all works and where it fits into the digital computer picture scheme. Visions come together right now in harmony with the music of the universe if you let them.

Is it possible to be born a poet? Am I kidding? It appears I'm most at home in my literary skin. The straightforward path is the way of the word. I'm still broke. Money was never at issue, but obsession always is. Happiness is where you find it, right in front of your face or inside your soul somewhere. Alternatives to the dead-end route, working full-time in self-made ruts, a  monotonous grind in a rat race. No, thank you. Hallelujah, I'm a bum again. There are no winners in the human race. They don't hand out prizes for ordinary mediocrity.

I've found contentment rekindling a long-lost love, settling down with her to a less complicated lifestyle. We have each other's back, and for the first time, I no longer worry about living as a hobo or looking over my shoulder for the next big bummer to come along. I don't know where I'd be without her. Playing our part in this mad beautiful tragicomedy has made me a happy camper. I dismiss everything I never wanted to be—no problem with what isn't needed. Poetry is salvation, redemption, and a blessed curse.

The act of writing poetry has no standard rules, and you can afford to be lazy. Poems need no guidelines or protocol. My apologies to academia. The meanings are interpreted differently by every reader. Not that I'm lazy, more of a dreamer than a doer. It's a gentler way of musing away the waking moments, turning thoughts into words to process. It takes the edge off tedium. Poets by nature and poetry become otherworldly, provoking new thoughts, creating fun out of thin air playing with magical ideas. It makes me giddy, drunk on poetic notions and high art.

The titans of modern poetry have lasting success as they triumph against the odds. Poets In the anti-hero roll call are never-ending. They leave behind a roadmap to immortality. But, like great art, their work is there for those to discover and choose to follow the path. So finally, I consider where it all goes when it's gone. It drives the hustle of poetry to hustlers of words and the great pantheon lives on forever. It doesn't matter. The late Baltimore poet Sandie Castle once said, pay me if you want me to read my poems. She had balls. It was unheard of when poetry was a popular spectator sport in the city's cultural heyday, and poets still read, passing the hat everywhere. A great notion but reality begs to differ. A shitty painter informed me, "My paintings are worth more than your poetry. All you do is write words." A picture is worth 1000 words, and every picture tells a story. Don't it?


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