Sunday, April 7, 2013

Impotence and Listening - Poem for April 7

April 7 Sometimes writing is about listening. Maybe that seems obvious, but a writer often forgets that what he or she hears, and how they listen to what they hear, finds its way back out again in what they say. It’s like learning a language as a young child: you hear a word, you think you understand it, and you find a way to work it into the conversation to test your understanding. With poetry, what you hear is emotion. You write to play it back and see if you got it right. You become an active listener. Sometimes you are feeding back directly into a conversation. Other times you are feeding back generally to your understanding of life itself. I don’t think it matters so much what you write about, than writing itself. Of course, it is nice to have something clever or poignant or spot-on to share. But it is the writing that is the work, and it is the work that matters. Given that preamble, my poem today is about what I can and cannot do as a listener. I hope you like it. /IMPOTENCE /I can’t help you. /I want to but I can’t. /Your burdens are your own, /I cannot lift them /From you, /I cannot lessen them /Or make them lighter, /Or take them away altogether. /It irks me, this inability, /This handicap I’m plagued with ----- /My burden, my load, my weight. /I hear you tell me things /I can do nothing about, /Cannot make better, /Cannot set right. /Each word, each thought /Enters my heart like a dagger point /But the pain I feel is yours, /And I am no empath. /What you feel is yours alone. /I cannot help you /But I can hear you /Hold you /Love you, /Let you talk /And let you cry.

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