Poetry’s a sneaky bastard.
All the time sidling up to one on false pretenses — ‘It’s just the one’ … ‘We won’t intrude’ — and they’re all lies damn one’s eyes! Lies-damned-lies and no need for statistics and the pile of warm laundry does not diminish and soon loses its warmth and begins to glower at one, and no one toe-taps the vacuum’s red lever, to turn it on, nor its grey one, to angle it under one’s coffee tables, and some days one is also late to work, and there are even places that will send one a single poem every day.
First one’s free, as are all the others.
It’s an addiction really. There ought to be a 12-step program for this 12-bar progression which demands one supply one’s own music — ‘We’ll just bring the words, luv’ … ‘Won’t take up much space a’tall’ — for (get this) no pay. And one is late to work again, and early getting home, to beat the traffic of them who do not have to read poetry, do not have to stop off at Barnes & Noble (who shops there anymore? they’d say) for one more Moleskin, or pack of three perhaps.
First one’s free, then one’s a slave.
It’s how addiction works, they say.
One reads the first one and before one knows it one is ‘in the poems’ again and sobbing to one’s sponsor — ‘cunning, baffling, and powerful’ … ‘work the steps’ — and one tries one really does but it is no use for fighting a thing of no use. It is hard enough to explain how one fucked up food or drink to those folks in those church basements; it cannot be conceived to justify the abuse of the unknown to the un-knowing, the nonexistent to the non-plussed, them who’d marvel rodent pelts are retailed, and at a bookstore.
How sin works, you know. Satan’s a tough barman.
Not even the first one’s free with him, though he’ll extend credit.
And before one knows it there is sin and regret, again, and repentance is of no use to one and let us not even speak of forgiveness for one’s certain one will not change but return, again and again, and it takes years, decades-I-tell-you! to realize and learn and act upon then one’s lifetimes to live into one singular aspect of poetry, facet di tutto facet of the rough cutting diamond forged by time and distance, by one’s multi-millennia history of formation since the bang of fiat lux! and it is this.
The way, it’s-the-only-way! you must listen to one, to win this war is surrender.