Monday, April 17, 2006

Poetry about poetry

I try not to write a lot of poetry about poetry; it seems to me to be something that quickly becomes self-indulgent and self-contained. Too easy to end up going in circles and swallowing your own tail. But: April is National Poetry Month, and Sol Magazine (see two previous posts) wants people to submit poetry about poetry.

This competition isn't on their website and was mailed out to members only, so I'm not going to post the details here. Suffice it to say, they asked us to find two short quotes about poetry and write a short poem inspired by each, to a total of 20 lines. So here we go:

Hearing Voices
The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau

Listen: what do you hear?
I hear a dead tree weeping in the rain,
sorrow hangs from her naked branches.
In the deep ocean, salmon sing of the return home.
Leaves whisper in the wind's tongue.
I hear cicadas in their strident triumph,
seventeen years of darkness ended at last.
Like a seashell lamenting the distant sea,
I empty myself and echo the world's voices
and call it poetry.

Speaking in Tongues
This poetry. I never know what I am going to say. ~Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

I swear I didn't write this--
this vision in a shattered mirror
this symphony for train-whistle, accordion and zither
this feast of knucklebones and armadillo chili,
speech fit only for Harlequin's painted mouth.
Poem? It's more like a blueprint on a crumpled napkin--
for a cathedral designed by Escher and John Cage!
I'm far too sane for that. Someone stole my pen,
scribbled those lines when I wasn't looking,
and signed my name.

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