On One Hand

July 4, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:12 am

The past is unchageable and the future is unknowable. I am in a constant flux and if anything I know has any substance I’ll be the first to turn it into words. For now I’m in the lull between the pulse and the pulse and I’m waiting for that stuff of meaning to come glinting out. I’m two pulses in from the beginning of my first pulse, and how many more are coming? I hope for one that doesn’t end, or a different kind of pulse that doesn’t quite pulse; just holds me alive. Well, one chance is mourning, an extension of the last: now a sputtering vehicle and a long snake of road leading hundreds of miles away, another just fifteen feet, a damage deposit and a washer and dryer from me, up some stairs but I’m leaving, a third floating down a river, red as clay, a fourth inside me waiting to be told, keyboard and deminishing random-access-memory both here and at my fingertips, and all are caught in the inescapable binds of doubt and obligation that make one thing OK, one thing not, and everything all about situation and context: would you want to get involved with your friend’s ex or your ex’s friend or your neighbors or teachers or those who talked you through the vats of oil when you were in the midst of them? Those, I hope, are all just conventions that can be ignored.

The past is unchangeable, and the future is hidden. What can I do but wait it out? I just mutter angry poetry while pace across the dirty carpet, so someday when my body is old and parts of it refuse to work, if all else fails I’ll be sitting right here, right here on the dirty carpet at the end of my lease where I now stand and walk with bare feet and peices of scrap paper and pennies sticking for moments to the soles, and I’ll have my poems heaped around me invisible in the air like angels’ dandruff and they’ll keep my skin warm to the touch long after the furnace in my body has stopped heating it. At least that’s the best I can hope for.

People are never who they say they are. But when they show you who they are, you know. The most important things about us are those things we don’t speak, or we try, and fail, to conceal: and besides, what the fuck is a homosexual anyway? I’d like to ask and answer myself; none of us are, any more than anyone else, and all of us are as much as everyone.

Here’s the one question you may answer, if inclined: If a poet has a poem in mind but never writes or speaks it before he dies, was there ever a poem (or do we care)? Of course other poets would say so, because they are fucking poets, but to go further, was there ever a poem exceeding inasmuch as we are all poets of ourselves?



  1. Absolutely not. A poem is not about the physical poem itself (which is to say, the poem is not the words themselves), but is the interaction between the actual words on the page and the reader. It’s like the tree falling in the woods: without the listener’s brain to interpret the vibrations (or, in the original situation, meaning) there is no sound. The poem does not exist until there is a reader. An author cannot own a poem.

    I would like to think that any poet worth his weight in well ink would agree with me.

    Comment by beatniknight — July 4, 2006 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  2. If every copy of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was destroyed…every written version, every CD/tape/vinyl/etc, and everyone that had ever heard it died and there no longer existed anyone that knew what Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony had sounded like…would the poem still exist?

    If all that had happened and someone were to write a song that was, for all intents and purposes, EXACTLY the same as the Ninth Symphony written by Beethoven…would it be the same song?

    That may get you thinking about it in one way…another few questions maybe just to help your mind travel another path of thought…

    When you’ve written a poem and you look back on it 50 years from now…will it be the same poem? Will you have the same reaction to it that you had when you wrote it? What about the poem you wrote yesterday? Do you have the same reaction to it now as you did then?
    Do other people read the same poem that you wrote? Is it a different poem to each person?

    Was there a poem to begin with? Most dictionary definitions of poetry say that it is a “composition” of some sort. If you wrote the poem down, would that make it more of a composition than if you were to keep it in your mind? Why would the composition end if it was on paper?

    Did Shakespeare compose Sonnet 18 in 1607 or do I re-compose it (or at least add to its composition) when I read it in 2006?

    I don’t particularly have a point…philosophers have always been much better at asking further questions than they ever were at providing answers 🙂

    Comment by brian33 — July 4, 2006 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

  3. It seems that impermanence is at the heart of this question, being a fundamental fear present in all of us to varying extents. If something is not spoken, remembered, and anticipated to continue, it is almost as if was never worth it all. Somehow, a lack of perpetual longevity takes away the joy we could feel in the now. Someone needs to recognize our efforts, our strengths, our accomplishments, and our existence in order for us to feel validated. And the sense of continuity is an absolute must! The fear of losing this validation, from bring forgotten or from meeting an end, only makes us more afraid. More afraid to lose the things we want the most when we eventually lose them (even though we know nothing lasts forever). This is the fear of impermanence. Do we need to be recognized for who we are, what we have done, and what we have accomplished for it have meant anything? An end only takes away the joy we derive from an experience if we allow it to. The one, true meaning anything has is what we make mean to us. In other words, we choose the context in which we live. My answer to this question depends on the poet (or person), and the context they choose to live in. Maybe “meaning” for them is a financial return on their work through publication, or maybe the “meaning” is an exercise in reflective thinking from which they hope to learn. For some, living in the now minimizes the fear associated with anticipation of a future outcome or impermanence (and everything is impermanent when delineated far enough), allowing them to enjoy the moment, be it poetry or anything, no matter what the future may hold. Easier said then done. We will all die someday, and in the scale of time, we will all be forgotten when the universe collapses on itself. And though some do not care, others are incapable of having love, or anything they may want, because they are so afraid to lose it. If it means something to you, does anything else matter?

    I am still going to enjoy my mint chip ice cream despite where I know it will end up. 😉


    Comment by Anonymous — July 5, 2006 @ 1:20 am | Reply

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