Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ten Differences

1.         While fiction can try to tell the truth by lying, poetry can only try and tell the truth directly without any dissemblance.  Any work that starts with “. . . the following is based on a true story” is simply stating that the following is malarkey. It’s not an accident that poetry requires no such disclaimer.

2.         Both fiction and poetry are playful acts.  Fiction’s story line is akin to children playing outside before super.  Poetry’ scope is akin to a parent standing in a doorway watching them play for a moment before calling them in to eat.  Tell me what play is (the joy of looking, the joy of having a body) and I’ll tell you what poetry is.

3.         A poet is much like an atheist, but the poet feels a soft breeze from who knows where that carries the scent of an opportunity to say something new.  The atheist, on the other hand, is so consumed with pushing against God, he doesn’t notice any breeze at all, which is why, I think, God likes the atheist more.  They’re on more intimate terms.

4.         A poet is similar to a believer, but not all that much.  He goes to church for the free food, and the softball games but tries to hide the fact that not only did he flunk Sunday school, but was asked personally by someone close to God to never to come back again.  Never!

5.         Success is an anathema to the poet; glorious anonymity is better; better to be escaping like Moon in Peter Matthiessen’s At Play in the Fields of the Lord, one man under the eye of God, than a five-minute guest spot on Letterman under TV lights; better to be as public as a toad than a book signer.

6.         Most like poetry for all the wrong reasons.  Most hate poetry for all the wrong reasons.  Poetry is the coin spinning in the air, “Call it, call it.”

7.         Novels are long, poems are short.  A big book is a big mistake.  A small poem is just right.

8.         Writing about poetry is not the same as writing poetry, but the difference is accidental and depends upon who is doing the writing.

9.         The poet is different than other members of his immediate family with the possible exception of Butch who was in a state of bounding joy when a farmer shot him dead for chasing a chicken.

10.       Being mindful that Robert Francis was so poor that he use to ask for the unused paper plates and coffee cups after a reading, and knowing full well that this list is inexhaustible, and being myself somewhat sick of surviving on dog-rice and rain water, and because happiness is only an accidental side effect of doing something you love, I’ve decided to concentrate on doing only what I love.  Come what may.  I doubt it will make any difference, though.

FG Oct. 31, 2012

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