There are poems everywhere. Mine. I find them on my phone, and on my computer, electronic napkin-back scrawlings I’d thought to hold some poignancy at some point, ideas or phrases shouted into my phone while speeding at 85 MPH and late for work, poems that I’d planned to finish when I parked the car later that day, or later that night, or maybe the next. Most never get written. But even of those that have, just look at them all! There are thousands of the damned things! And what have I said so far? What has anyone said so far?
Think on Neruda, or Bukowski, or on Ginsberg. Pick your own poet. How many poems that each has written are actually remembered? Maybe a phrase or two is retained. Certainly, the theme is more likely to stay with us, the tone, the title, hopefully. Everyone remembers ‘howl’, at least by title. Fewer know any of the words. Unless studied, nobody remembers the words. No, you don’t remember them either.
Thinking about ‘howl’ now, all I’ve got is ‘negro streets’. Two words made the cut. And I remember that Ginsberg seemed to be pissed off or quite anxious about something or other, but didn’t necessarily hold any hostility toward anything black or any streets in particular. Though, I haven’t had my coffee yet, neither black nor with cream. To be fair, I’ll try to remember again when more awake. Though, also to be fair, I expect similar results.
I stumbled upon a Neruda poem the other day. This was just a couple of days ago, maybe even yesterday. He seemed to think that young men and priests tend to masturbate in the early afternoons. That’s all I’ve still got from that one. It was unclear as to whether they do this as a group act or in each in their own privacy, but that’s all I remember from the poem. Priests jerking off.
Poems are small, haughty trifles, and many poets the shock jocks of literature. Poems are the shining copper pennies dropped on the sidewalk that few bother to pick up. Most wash into the storm drain when the rain comes. Of those noticed, they are quickly jammed into a pocket and later dumped in a bucket with the other loose change. They all seem the same, one indistinguishable from the next. And yet, we have those who wish to call themselves a poet.
I’m a writer. That’s all I ever wish to be. But I’ll write some poems, and you’ll forget them, that is, if any of my poems are even read. Let’s not make too much of this, but let’s write, if that’s what we desire to do. And if it’s fame or immortality that you seek, be sure to include terms like ‘negro streets’ and don’t neglect to include some lascivious priests.