Maps and Legends

old-world-map[1]A lot of people don’t like poetry. What many of them tell me is, “I don’t get it”, which makes sense because poetry is its’ own language. The host language is used as a tool to create a personal communication between the poet and the mysteries. Ideally, an effective– an inspired poem, transcends the host language.

I started writing poetry in my tweens after reading… I wish I could say Rimbaud or Whitman, but no, it was Rod McKuen’s, Listen to the Warm.


That was all it took. The suggestion that warm can be heard, crystalized for me all that I had been trying to understand about metaphor. Of course, I also believe that warm can actually be heard, which puts me in the transcendental  poets’ camp I suppose.

Thus, the crux of my mission as a poet: to use language as a tool to transcend language, to break the bonds of representation with symbols– to reveal the paradoxical truths.

The fun part how you use your tool. For example, I love commas. Here is an example of coma usage I was really excited about.

Home, away from Home

Why?( I promise this is the only time I will ever impose explanations of my poetry on you, but it is for a higher purpose.)

Because the comma changes the meaning of this well-known phrase from–when I am in this other locale, it feels similar to being at home, to —being in this locale and the other locale are the same.  The poems meaning; violence in the U.S. and violence in Mexico are equally horrific and by correlation- do not differentiate violence, violence is horrific, is foreshadowed with this simple punctuation. All that from a little comma, if I was successful with the rest of the poem that is.

Recently I was looking at the statistics page of my blog and I noticed that people infrequently click on the links in my posts. Clicking, in “wordpresspeak” means clicking on a link within a post. As I contemplated that, I realized the similarities between links and the tools I use in poetry.

Although many links are pretty straightforward explanation buttons, they are also used by a blogger to create more content depth within a limited format. Many bloggers have a standard word count, frequently 500 words. I shoot for a thousand or less, because I often tell stories, and for me one thousand words is more suitable for storytelling. Still, it is sometimes difficult to get the impact I want within that parameter, and that is where the photos( such as this Don Quixote reference) and links come in.

For example, this is a favorite link, Espanto, from Dinner and a Swat Team. If you read this link you will learn that the Chamula Indians of Chiapas believe humans have 13 souls including one which resides in a wild animal called a wayjel, and that soul loss can occur due to a fall or seeing a demon on a dark night. They also believe that animals and trees have souls, a belief not incongruous with those of a transcendental poet.

Some links are like a map; follow this road and you will reach this destination, a point A to point B situation. But some links are like the map’s legend,— it is a key, and that is where links, like poetry can lead you off the beaten path…come with me

Do you click? Why? Why not?

And  just for fun   Maps and Legends

A couple of interesting articles if this post got you in “clicking mode”

Dinner and a Swat Team

“We tell ourselves stories to live.”

Joan Didion wrote that it’s the first line in The White Album. I admire Didion’s writing, her spare prose permeated with insight in the guise of simple introspection. I hope someday to write something as clean and acute as she. But, neither is my way, so I will weave my way through this story.

 Dinner and a Swat Team

On the other side of our small town that lies in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, a four-year-old girl is having nightmares. She dreams of armed and masked men. She has begun to wet the bed. She is afraid in the daylight, scared of shadows, she is afraid to be alone. Her father comes to my house and beckons to our houseguest, a practitioner of Santeria*, to come heal her. He visits the girl in the morning before he and Felipe go off to work; he leaves before daylight, before coffee. Three days into the girl’s treatment I am told her tale.

EnramadaWe try to have a few nice meals together before I travel. One week before a trip to the US to renew my Visa, Felipe and I were enjoying dinner. It was a special meal, we had wine, and we got out the fancy glasses. Suddenly, so suddenly the dogs didn’t even have a chance to erupt into the usual cacophony, our patio filled with soldiers bearing arms, some of them wearing facemasks, snipers. They wear masks because executioners don’t want their identity known. Our reaction was, and here is the shocking part, casual. Felipe and I looked at each other, shook our heads, and laughed.

The captain emerged and asked for Felipe’s papers, and he went into the house to retrieve them. I was now sitting in my enramada, a nine-by-five-meter area enclosed by six-foot-high chain-link fencing with approximately 15 armed men and exactly two snipers. I smiled at them. It was a genuine smile. It seemed like a good idea to be friendly with a sniper. One of them was wearing glasses; I thought how odd, a sharpshooter with corrective lenses. Felipe emerged with his papers as the soldiers searched our garden. I pondered whether the garden search occurred because the last time the military had visited our land, there were two marijuana plants in our garden. Felipe’s Mother asked us to grow it for her. She uses it in her arthritis remedy* and was concerned about growing it in town. Continue reading