Do you know how poets live? They write about how others feel about them. They think about words and sounds and meanings and then ping them off each other until somebody gets hurt, and then they gather up all the sounds their skin makes and rub them into the paper with pen and ink. They sit and smooth and crumple until there is nothing left but a lattice work of worry and these are the places in which they grow their words. For supple they smooth and soften the page with whispers, for calm they steep it in chamomile, for use they look around for purpose (but rarely find one). Loss comes easily to poets; they don’t have to sound out that one. It arrives between here and the next time and all the times they forgot to do things better than the last time and it is where they live most of the time. It is the colour of the drapes in their living room, it is the curlicue of their eyelashes; it makes sense to them. It’s where they live.
Do you know what they feed on, these poets, because none of them have jobs and donations are rarely forthcoming? They grow chaos, and in the middle of storms they pick flowers to seed at the market and these flowers are the things that will buy them bread, that will fill their cups, they need these flowers, they knead these flowers from chaos into bread.
And they tuck themselves in at night with catastrophic fantasies because the speeded breath of their worry creates a cloak they can live under, and behind. It keeps them warm on the inside. This is how poets dream. They dream of all the places that have been forgotten about in the sad, mad rush of the world and they feel sorry for them. The wish a thousand dreams away just to get closer to them and find out that these sad and lonely places are there for a reason, so we can tell the difference between them and the ones where the sunlight lay.
And when they are tired of fighting their way into corners that have no room for them, poets will curl themselves up in a patch of sunlight, and find a way to funnel words from their imaginings, they will wake up from the trellises of everything they forgot to remember and it will appear to them like words, like dreams that have come into fashion, like the life blood of a poets imaginings, like the colour of recess blushed cheekbones, like the dreams of dreams they forgot to write home to, like the life memory of architecture, like stories lost and risen, on their lips.
This is what poets do. They play in corners that won’t have them, just so they will have something to mourn about, because mourn rhymes with morning and it is like holding hands with the light. For poets have no rest in calm, it is flurry and happenings they imagine, big tumble fulls of them, big drawers full of chaos and torment and socks, and all the ways in which they can’t fit into the world – they count them on their fingers, they find themselves in the toe jam, they knit sonnets from the brows of their mothers who wonder when, oh god when, they will settle down.
And they do settle, sometimes, but not for men. They settle when the words arrive and fit themselves into patterns and designs like nothing that has been seen before. They find themselves in all that nature hasn’t found for them and they add them up, they cry tulips and trace rain drops and outline their cuticles in place of a smile. They are hungry, wet, sacred, happy, angry, blossomed, fresh, they are poets, they are here, they are alive.
Is there more to say, other places that poets spend their daydreams? I guess there is the sandbox of it all, the place they play when doing all the other things the world demands of them, where they pull out the nails and watch the frame tumble and cry for all the sand that was spilt. This is what poets do. This is how they live. They are angry, petty, hungry, sore, this is the way they make business. They are under and over, they are listened and more, they are rested and sated and hungry.
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