Nothing like bringing out the intense, poetic hubris in me than rejection letters that say I am too deep for them.
“Hi, Tamarah. thanks for writing! Sorry to add to the rejection thingy, but don’t think this quite works. It’s deep and a wee vague, we’re hands on and nitty gritty. Best, pam”
The problem with poetry is….
There are lots of problems with poetry. Some problems are on the poet’s side, some problems are on the reader’s side. Sometimes poetry is too obscure to understand on the first read. Sometimes poetry is too simple, and it is just embarrassing how bad it is. Sometimes the reader doesn’t understand how to read poetry, and sometimes the reader can understand it too well…and dismiss it as rubbish. There is a lot going on with poetry, all in all. The same reader who loves Robert Frost will hate Tracy K. Smith, while those of us who love Tracy K. Smith will still be able to see the poetic honesty in Robert Frost.
The relationship people have with poetry will never be easy. In short: it’s complicated.
It isn’t too dissimilar to being a SysAdmin, I don’t think. A SysAdmin is responsible for… honestly, I am married to a SysAdmin and I know what a SysAdmin does, but that is like defining what a mother does.
What does a SysAdmin do? everything.
But I’m sure there is a better, clearer definition out there:
“A system administrator, or sysadmin, is a person who is responsible for the upkeep, configuration, and reliable operation of computer systems; especially multi-user computers, such as servers. The system administrator seeks to ensure that the uptime, performance, resources, and security of the computers he or she manages meet the needs of the users, without exceeding the budget. To meet these needs, a system administrator may acquire, install, or upgrade computer components and software; provide routine automation; maintain security policies; troubleshoot; train and/or supervise staff; or offer technical support for projects.”
That is a pretty good summary. There is a lot more to it, like, “you need to know where everything is, how everything works, who is using everything, how to fix everything when everything is bungled, how to warp time,” etc.
That is correct, Thor. I, indeed, read all your emails.
SysAdmins are very much like Heimdall, the guard in Asgard. “Heimdall is the god of light, the son of nine mothers . He was born at the end of the world and raised by the force of the earth, seawater and the blood of a boar. Because of his shining, golden teeth he is also called Gullintani (“gold tooth”). His hall is Himinbjorg, The Cliffs of Heaven, and his horse is Gulltop. Heimdall carries the horn Gjallar.”
“He is the watchman of the gods and guards Bifrost, the only entrance to Asgard, the realm of the gods. It is Heimdall’s duty to prevent the giants from forcing their way into Asgard. He requires less sleep than a bird and can see a hundred miles around him, by night as well as by day. His hearing is so accurate that no sound escapes him: he can even hear the grass grow or the wool on a sheep’s back.”
And I think Heimdall is also very much like poets.
He lives by himself and watches Asgard. He guards the burning rainbow bridge called the Bifrost, which leads into the world. He sees all, hears all, and is fiercely protective of what he loves. He is overly dramatic and will stand his ground regardless of what god demands anything from him.
Tell me poets aren’t over-the-top dramatic like this, and I’ll tell you that you have never met a poet.
“The world revolves around me!” “Poetry is the verse of life!” “You just don’t get me, man.”
Yet, even poets are unable to truly define what it means to be a poet:
“Poetry, in a general sense, may be defined to be ‘the expression of the imagination’: and poetry is connate with the origin of man. Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. Poetry is a sword of lightning, ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it. All high poetry is infinite; it is as the first acorn, which contained all oaks potentially.” –Percy Blythe Shelley
“Poetry is not a turning lose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.” -T.S.Eliot
“I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is prose; words in their best order; -poetry; the best words in the best order.” -S.T. Coleridge
“Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.” -Dylan Thomas
“Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive, and widely effective mode of saying things, and hence its importance.” -Matthew Arnold
Poets are pretty impressive people, you have to admit. They literally walk around the world with this hubris within them, as if it is totally normal to do so.
So, without further ado, and with much hubris, here is a poem I wrote last year.
The Buffalo In The Room
by Tamarah Rockwood
Sometime, in between, the beats of torn petals
we meet in the parlor, sharing
a mint mocha called a Snuggler
and scrape the soft, slightly melty chocolate chips
out of the nook at the bottom of the tall
glass, garage sale, cafe` cup.
Somewhere in between little chuckles and
bullish smiles, quickly hidden by a napkin,
we stare at our fingers.
Sequentially, beating the dance of our parents
on the timeworn wooden table, shuffling silverware
shoulder shaking the hustle to the rhythm of our screed.
A lifesize buffalo head looms over our table
as our spirit animal. He remembers the days
of indulgent opportunity, the long days on the long American veldt
spent in slow ambulate with his tribe.
Minding the calves and entertaining the satisfied ladies.
With a glassy stare he could almost see the valley
filled with long shadows, thrown in billows over the tributary
leading to the Missouri River,
whose waters dried up after Jesse James was shot in 1882.