The Openness of Rhyme and Reason
the space between words better left
unsaid. The cruelest of sharp criticisms and
dreariest of dull explanations can’t
tarnish the beauty of music put to speech, the sheer
wonder of sounds that shouldn’t belong
together, but do, like clouds
can’t dim the
brightness of the night.
the way the stars turn on one of those
open-shutter long-exposure reels on
Animal Planet’s Alaska Special -
all in concentric circles, around and around.
Only Polaris remains motionless.
Words move astrally in poetry,
without start or end.
Perhaps poetry’s Polaris is the sense of it -
the thin, strange line between prose and verse,
the amphoteric stage between
statement and music.
The words dance around it,
but don’t ever dare to touch.
It draws near to its subject, like
Tom and Jerry in those old cartoons, but all the
magic would be lost
if the mouse were caught, and
all the mystery of poesy is
bound up in the chase.
The only perfect poem is
an empty page,
everything else is just
an attempt to return to
the empirical form.
Its elements must all combine in
and while it looks easy to master,
it is all too simple to add too much hydrogen
(in poetic terms, hot air)
to a reaction.
pushing the wrong buttons at the
Good poetry is infuriating
indiscernible in its irritation.
A bad poem will let you know up front what
the author’s issue is, but a good one shows a
world of suffering and
lets you take your pick of sorrows.
the subtle irritation that
scratches at you,
like a friend’s kitten. It doesn’t go away until
you pick it up, and even then,
it makes you sneeze.
an allergic reaction to
I wonder sometimes, if
we were immortal,
would we still have Shakespeare, or Milton, or Lovelace, or Frost?
Reading poetry, writing poetry, is
a ticket to immortality.
There is no death in verse.
No oblivion can ever swallow words on a page, or the
nothingness refined to the point that it contains
the history of the universe
bound into a few well-turned
good words in good places, with
*The beautiful photograph was taken by photographer Lincoln Harris, whose work with long-exposure images is always stunning.*