My Time for Poetry
No, I cannot call it a life or career, for my life is not yet
Coming to its end, although its course might be unalterable;
I still have visions or illusions for other possibles.
Most of my time has been spent on answering for the more practical matters,
And writing poems does not bring any worldly satisfactions;
I am even ashamed of the occasional thought
That there might be readers who, unpronounced, adore me
For what I am, after they read these personal sentiments of mine.
Poetry-writing yields no more pleasure than any everyday doing,
For a dish, a fuck, an appropriate spicy humor would respectively bring
Aftertaste, comfortable tiredness and self-aware smiles in reflection,
And these dredged sensations would tinge the whole scene, and even pulsate
The context, more intriguing than a poem. I have learned this
Long ago, and yet I have always wanted to build the one or two sparkling lines
Into a composition formally finished. This, I know, is a vanity
Which drowns my original wits in lusterless clichés or strained redundancies.
I can at best make my thought flow easier in plainer language, not able
To sustain a heightened surprise
This may be also a necessary fault, in a more relaxed mind.
As in musical composition, most often it is the leitmotif of several bars
That is the most memorable and inspirational, and the rest
Usually bridges chunks to channel the ears into inertia.
How to turn and divert smoothly and artlessly is a genuine art,
For grabbing fate by the throat, as Beethoven did, is not enough;
Ultimate triumph goes to the one
Who could punch and kick like tangoing in a scuffle.
This is a wire-walker’s skill. He learns to be better than an amateur
Before he could imitate the beginner’s stagger.
Risky steps require a way of super control.
This may also be Milan Kundera’s implications, though he is primarily
Concerned with the art of fiction.
The art behind all the artistry is disinterest and cool-mindedness;
In Roman Jakobson’s claim, the language of poetry is estranged, a detour
Or a hidden exit, calling a spade anything but a spade. This is
A metaphor for poetry, for the act of writing poetry points to itself,
And the pointing-to is poetry,
Like a toad crawling in a labyrinth, a night garden with forking path.
What is required is a certain degree of detachedness, aloofness,
Not imagining anyone to be moved.
As for the language, dried transparency, warm richness or chill cream,
Whatever comes may do, only to remember that consuming passion
Should be "recollected in tranquility," as Wordsworth maintained.
Poetry-writing, in essence, is a dodge.
This claim may court disdain, and I gladly acknowledge their reprimand.
For me, no matter how deep I sink into words, a man is still a man only,
Incapable of being a legislator of the world or turning to ivory.
A poem cannot do anything like an inch of steel bar to reinforce a schoolhouse
Or a spoonful of uncontaminated milk powder for the poor babies;
When it is sent out on paper or read to the victims, the poets may consider it
Their conscience, but tissue paper may be a better form of disaster relief.
Writing poems is a way to branch into the course of time, and then
If he will, come back and join the mainstream again;
If he will not, try to be violent and wash out his own way to the sea.
Sometimes, I am waist-deep in the restlessness before and the desertedness after writing,
And I forget them only in writing, but this does not numb my feeling of hunger
As now, at such a later night in winter.
I like hot chocolate, with a little milk, so I can imagine the swarthy beach girls…
This makes me excited about words for the local and the scheme for the whole,
Like weighing the events in a year or a life to find out
Which are both inspirational and word-inducing and can be finalized.
They are understandably few, and I cannot even claim
Whether the passionate moments strung together by time mark a process
Of maturity or progress, but certainly time is eternal for itself but aging for a man.
Jan. 23, 2009