[Poem a Day] “Wanderers”

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As someone who deals almost exclusively in words, I’ve always been immensely jealous of everyone who can write music. Sure, there’s an inherent power in poetry – snap your fingers and you can take someone to a vignette you created. Use your words to craft a scene, a feeling, a generative memory that you want to share for however long it takes for the air of your piece to leave the room. But there’s a complexity to music that poetry can’t touch sometimes – the power of a few wordless notes to make you feel something powerfully and instantly. It’s easy enough to connect a word or an image to loneliness, longing, happiness, passion – but collections of notes, alone without lyrics, can make you inexplicably feel these things all the same, and you can’t really ever explain why.

[Poem a Day] “Politics of Being”

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This is actually a part of a larger poem I’ve got slotted for the collection. Without giving too much away, it has something to do with a certain fixation on “stakes” when it comes to writing, and how it’s something I’ve always kind of understood, but never really something I’ve subscribed to.

I think a lot of it comes from the fact that poetry is often a vehicle for people with very particular thoughts about certain things, whether that might be ethics, politics, race, religion – it’s really hard to take as many poetry courses as I did back in college and not run into anyone who really strives to inject a point of turmoil into the core of what they produce as a writer. For those people, poetry has a direct purpose. Each piece is directed – almost like all their work is addressed with varying degrees of obvious direction. Whether it’s some piece about gender politics masked under descriptions of rolling waves, or something as explicitly targeted as a piece called “Dear Aerie”, everyone had a target, and if you didn’t, you seemed to get called out for having a piece that just…existed. Floating there, as if that was its fault.

Coming from a photography background, I never really subscribed to that. I never take my work and break it down as I’m creating with the mindset of “this exists because ______”. For me, the beauty of poetry is that sometimes, it just IS.

A scene in some random house, on some random street, at some non-specified time, away from all the shit that’s out there.  A piece that doesn’t need to be indignant or defiant or justify the terms of its existence. Work that doesn’t have to subscribe to an ism, or champion a cause.

[Poem a Day] “The Artists”

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I had this whole post planned out about the fundamental disconnect I talk about in this poem, but I realized it kind of sounds a lot like something I’ve already written about before on here. So I think I’ll scrap that and refrain from beating the old drum today.

On a totally unrelated note, though, I did find out something funny. When you google my Instagram name, you end up with a torrent of pictures of a Philadelphia jazz and R&B group from the 1970s.

Whooooops.

 

[Poem a Day] “All Those Old Hiking Trails”

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Words carved into trees are their own kind of poetry. They have the same connective quality – we don’t quite know who put them there, why – but we do get a glimpse of maybe when, and sometimes even a handful of words that might hint at why. It’s enough to start putting together just a vague silhouette of what that day might have looked like – enough for our heads to start filling in the gaps.

True or not, we can feel something behind those etched letters.

[Poem a Day] “More Lonely Nightlife”

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So much of our lives depends on collision. Random variables. The meeting of objects in space that have an astronomically low probability of even existing to begin with. When I sit and think too much about it, sometimes it makes me feel like I’ve got no control – like every day, regardless of my own agency comes down to countless rolls of the dice, and I’m just helpless.

But a lot of good still comes out of it. I still get out of bed and do things worth at least remembering without really meaning to. And the more I fixate on that, the more the mess looks almost beautiful in its own right. Less like millions of spilled drinks, and more like a Pollock.

 

[Poem a Day] “Happy Hour”

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I don’t think our bar habit came out of any particular reliance on alcohol to get by, or any particular dislike of the lectures we were skipping to make it to our usual seats by the time happy hour rolled around (don’t judge – I was subsisting off of $5 highball gin and tonics).

I think at least a little portion of it was fear. Or maybe a dull, throbbing uncertainty that was always kind of there when we went to college. You took your classes and you got by, but you were really only maybe half sure of what you wanted to do with these lessons you were dropping some major bank for. At the old place on Paterson, there was no uncertainty. You knew what you wanted, and you called it out. And you left at the end of the night feeling better for it.

[Poem a Day] “Snooze”

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There’s a certain comfort in knowing that everything’s just sort of contained in an instant. Sure, the world’s gone on for your current life span over and over and over so far, and it’ll continue going on after you, but for (optimistically) 80 or so years, you’ve got control. That enough time to do something – anything – and all it really boils down to is you deciding what in the hell you want that to be.