Friday, April 1, 2011

Poem in my Pocket: I Believe by Jim Harrison

April is National Poetry Month. For me every month is National Poetry Month, but my fire for poetry burns much hotter in April. Last year I celebrated Nation Poetry Month by spotlighting some poems on this blog, but I also tried to spread my passion for poetry in more conventional ways. For example last year, I participated in Poem In Your Pocket Day (I know this sounds odd, but I like odd), where I carried the following poem in my pocket and shared it others:

I Believe

I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake

in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools,

the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic,

used tires, taverns, saloons, bars, gallons of red wine,

abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves,

gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls

who haven't quite gone totally wild, river eddies,

leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil,

turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages lost in the woods,

the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands

of birds I've talked to all of my life, the dogs

that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow

me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose,

the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see

from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling

to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot.

I don't know what everything in the above poem means. Experience and age are probably essential to completely understand everything.

However, I do know this: Everyone needs to carry a poem around with them that states his/her beliefs. The words should be original, not phrases cut and pasted from some pop cultural artifact or something processed and sold. The words should be real and true and sincere and unabashed. The words should steer clear of politics and religion because those well-worn sentiments are best suited for bumper stickers and protest signs. I don't know if I can write something like this, but I'm going to try and when I finish, I'll fold it up and place it right next to my organ donor card.

There ain't no money in poetry; that's what sets the poet free,


PS. Poem In Your Pocket Day is April 14th, so start selecting your poem today.


Jenni said...

If I had written this poem, it would be called Some of My Very Favorite Things and a Few Others I Don't Know About. Yeah, I've never been good at writing titles. I like the idea of stating what you believe through poetry. It sounds like an overwhelming task, but maybe I will have a cup of coffee and then give it a try. It certainly won't be a haiku.

Anonymous said...

got too many store discount cards in my wallet, not enough pictures or poems.

if i were to die in a fiery crash that somehow spared my wallet, no one would know who was important to me ... but they would know where they could get a free bagel if they get two more hole punches.

Johnny said...

Thats an awesome selection. Very inspiring.

In my opinion, as crazy as it sounds, real poetry is a calling from above that flows from the heart. Even when you don't want to write, it hunts you down and forces you to do it. Sometimes its 3:30 in the morning and this internal light comes on and I have to write that stuff down. Or I'm driving down the road and have to pull over in order to scribble with a crayon on the back of a grease stained fast food bag if I'm lucky enough to have either one. There isn't any money in poetry, but there is a huge joyful profit that makes your heart feel like pure gold and brings tears to your eyes like a language only god understands.

"Poets are both clean and warm
And most are far above the norm
Whether here or on the roam
Have a poet in every home!"

The Architects Sketch

As featured in the Flying Circus TV Show - Episode 17