Funny. On my way to get coffee this morning I thought about many extremely gifted poets whose work I admire greatly but who I might bypass in my search for inspiration (in art, life, death). I thought about me, more than twenty years ago, when I began writing fiction.
I spent a few years trying to write my first mystery novel that didn't fly (tried a few others that didn't fly), and found short fiction in the process. Being in love with Cheever's stories, Chekhov, Flannery O'Connor and others I am slighting only because I have the memory of one hand clapping, I felt honored, heck, relieved, to even be involved the process. The crossover from ne'er-do-well to writer, reckless and easy, justifies an oddlife.
I was in love with the smallness of the form, the Indian minature-ness, the possibilities a small story held for perfection. I crafted and rewrote, in hopes I could like God create a jewel. I don't say that's the case of the poets I allude to above, that they spend years rewriting or foolishly attempting to sing as an angel, but their end product, however wonderful, can't compare with my snowflake. This does not, and should not, bother any poet or writer. This is about acceptance appreciation and love of my voice. If I don't love it, how can I nurture it?
This is an assessment of my goals, not of others' goals. My goal in poetry is to find God, to heal the world, to create consciousness. I don't mind if my poems, carefully wrought though they are, or at least labored over, get wild and strange. I'm a little wild and strange and okay with it. Hey, I'm stuck with it.
(Caveat. I can only labor or a word in a poem if I am able to stay alert. I wonder if I don't sleep through some phrases, or give up, or OCD my way out. Total consciousness work, a perfection of its own.)
White paper snowflakes dangle by the counter and float on the walls at my coffee place. I asked about them this morning--when I came in it was just me and two kids behind the counter. They told me I'd get a free small coffee if I made one. As Jama handed over a piece of paper and scissors I felt a jolt from space. I'd been listening to Sun Ra at home. That'll prepare your mind to be a landing strip for the ships. I knew mine would be different and that if I TRIED to make it look like every other, or any other snowflake, I'd fail. It's been that way my whole life.
My snowflake looks like a tribal mask, simple, rectangular, jagged and if you don't mind my saying so, arresting. Yes. I'm bragging about my paper snowflake. It is, as one esteemed journal wrote in their we're not taking this batch but send another as you have an original voice note, different.
The short stories I wrote in the past are wonderful and careful. I futilely hope they can be collected and published. Whatever. But my poems are channeled. That's that and Merry Christmas, my children of light and affection.