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Poetry on the Path
by Charles Keil
Submitted 06/22/02

          As far as I can tell all human beings have poetry coming through them hundreds of times each day - you know, funny turns in a conversation, something described just right in the moment, a juxtaposition of words that makes a little light go on or a bell ring but you don't know why it happened or what the bell or the light really means, one of the many voices in your head suddenly gets louder than the rest and says something just right that you really agree with (might not be great advice to act on, might be a poem tho), someone asks you a stupid question and you have a too clever by half answer but the rhythm of it is cool, you thought you heard that slurred voice singer on the radio sing one set of words but it turns out on hearing the refrain a second time that he was singing something else entirely but you liked the words you heard her sing the first time better because they turned out to be your words, something you're looking at morphs into something else and is about to speak to you - what does that flower or that specific shadow or her armpit or the old wooden spoon or your cat want to say to you today?

               Why some of us decide to capture some of this by writing it down or wordprocessing it or speaking it into a tape recorder or chanting it to a crowd, I don't know, but it always feels like a relief or release to me whenever I put a few of these words on paper; some small thing taken from the secular world word flow and made sacred by accident, something released from captivity and made free, something captured and saved that was flowing by, something about to disappear given new life instead. I like to do a few poems every morning before and after meditating because channels seem to be more open then, but sometimes irresistable stuff comes through during the day and i put it on a handy envelope or napkin or three by five card. I wake up with a dream still resonating in my head so i put it down on paper as fast as i can, awful or not - like this morning i woke up having shot and killed someone with a rifle at a great distance just for the curiousity of it, not even a thrill killing, just what would happen if . . . will a .22 really do damage at such a distance? Bad news, there's some kind of "drive by guy" inside me! At least I got some of it down on paper, won't go into complete denial over it immediately.

               The 12/8 Path I'm on just makes poeticizing, capturing some of the verbal flotsam and jetsam that goes through my mind, more fun. The Path of Participation gives me Permission. It's o.k. to be a nut. To be batty. There's over 900 species of bats so maybe i'm the 932nd version of battiness, echolocating small "insects" on the wing. The "insects" are flying. I'm flying. I send out sounds, sounds bounce back. I find my prey. I eat. And pray some more. letting these prose sentences drift toward poetry is o.k. .... . . the "insects" are poems, get it? that prey/pray pun is a killer, right?

          i'm not much of a poet and i know it
          but i'm all the poet i am ever going to be at any given moment
          and the poet's work is done in the pulsation of an artery (Wm Blake)

soooo. . . . one can self-censor in advance, or maintain denial being constantly vigilant to not let a poem come through lest it embarrass you, or write poems out and hide them, or just ignore the stream of poems that come through each day, pretend they don't occur, or . . . invent more ways to stop compassion from becoming joy, find more ways to stay stuck in the worrying self, the fidgeting self, the dithering self, the self-pitying self, the self-glorifying self, the pathetic, bathetic, blathering blithering shabble dabble yada yada self and yet every single one of those yadas, shabbles, blathers, is a possible poem and probably a very funny and liberating one too.

               A few of the many, many, many tricks of just letting yourself be a poet on the path:

               Let a lot of the shabble dabble dribble on to the page each day, come back to it later, usually months or years later is best.

               Don't compare. Identify. You could spend over two years just identifying with a different species of bat each day. Move on to shrews, or whales, or republican senators, or spiders, or birds, or cartoonists, or monsters and angels of your imagination, or flowers, or friends, or . . . . . Just be sure to identify. Don't compare.

               Associate freely. Mix it up with other people, especially other people who have figured out that we are all poets and have moments when they drop comparison completely.

               Free associate. Let klang associations klang. Cling to them.

               Leave it to Beulah the Mother of Dreams and write down dreams while you're still half asleep.

               Homologous mandala. You are a tiny speck-connect to the universe, a teeny piece of the Vast, containing all there is in miniature. So just manifest this universal with every breath, every pulsation of the artery, as musicking, dancing, poetizing, painting, flowing.

"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah's night
And twofold always; may God us keep
From single vision and Newton's sleep"(Wm. Blake -- See Path Times 7/29/01 for the Fourfold Vision Explained)

          Use the oodles of Buddhist "wake up" slogans, "wake up" calls, "wake up" sounds, "wake up" practices to put you in the poetry head.

          Do live music for dancers, indoors and outdoors.

          Keep sounding.

          Stay on the 12/8 Path.

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