Saturday, July 5, 2008


beware  :   do not read this poem

tonite ,   thriller was
abt an ol woman , so vain she
surrounded herself w /
  many mirrors

it got so bad that finally she
locked herself indoors & her
whole life became the

one day the villagers broke
into her house  ,   but she was too
swift for them  .   she disappeared
  into a mirror

each tenant who bought the house
after that  ,   lost a loved one to
  the ol woman in the mirror :

  first a little girl
  then a young woman
  then the young woman/s husband

the hunger of this poem is legendary
it has taken in many victims
back off from this poem
it has drawn in yr feet
back off from this poemit has drawn in yr legs

back off from this poem
it is a greedy mirror
you are into this poem  .   from
  the waist down
nobody can hear you can they  ?
this poem has had you up to here
this poem aint got no manners
you cant call out frm this poem
relax now & go w / this poem
move & roll on to this poem

do not resist this poem
this poem has yr eyes
this poem has his head
this poem has his arms
this poem has his fingers
this poem has his fingertips

this poem is the reader & the
reader this poem

statistic  :   the us bureau of missing persons reports
      that in 1968 over 100,000 people disappeared
      leaving no solid clues
        nor trace   only
    a space     in the lives of their friends

Ishmael Reed, 1970

Sometimes the problem with poetry is that it can suck me in, capture me, slowly but steadily take me over--not just for the moments I am reading the poem, but after I have put the poem away. This, of course, is not a problem if the poem is uplifting or cheerful or otherwise positive. Other poems, however--the melancholy, the bitter, the hopeless--those poems can bounce around and around in my mind. Sometimes I begin to react to the poem in my head instead of the people and events around me.

It can be hard, too, for me not to take poetry personally, as though it had been written and published just for me to see or hear. As though it were meant for me and each line, each syllable holds a secret message that only I can unlock if I try hard enough. Some will argue that of course poetry is written for the reader and the reader is me. I'm not sure that's always true. Sometimes, I think poems, as well as other kinds of writing, take on their own life, and break away from the author's original intent. Sometimes, I think, poems are written just because they needed to be heard.


Troy McClure said...

Check this out. Only stretchedly related, but I liked it, & you might too.

lizardrinking said...

the poem must be true. it's about the third or fourth time I've popped back to see it, and so it has finally suckered me in to leaving a comment. (I wanted to anyway, just couldn't think of what I wanted to say).

Wade said...

A good poem will take me to a "thin place", where reality blurs and blends with possibility.

morpho aurora said...

i always thought a good poem was written simply because the poem kept running around in the author's brain - and it wouldn't shut up and sit down so it was evicted. this one kept buzzing around in my head after i read it, i can only imagine the things it did to the author's brain!

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

That's really scaring me.