Another poem that came to me when I wasn’t expecting it. Most of the verse I write comes from my inner muse, the unconscious, that voice which responds to song and cinema, to nature. I’ve found myself writing more poetry in recent months that comes from a place outside of me. Is it like dreaming only I’m writing instead of sleeping? I wrote this poem when I was finishing up my lunch of hot chocolate and a ham and cheese croissant sandwich. I can trace elements of it to having listened to audio book files of The Warrior’s Guide to Insanity coupled with generally thinking about how my imagination and tendency to overthink enables me to consider the whys of human behavior…except for that which no amount of open-mindedness could ever dare sample without full immersion in body, mind, and environment.
You can watch someone put a hand on a hot iron and quickly yank it back; you can listen to them tell you exactly what it was like vis-a-vis what it wasn’t like, if you have a frame of reference (putting your hand to a hot iron is not like putting your hand to a dog’s back or a sheet of thumbtacks). But you are not in that person’s psyche, you are not in that person’s corporeality, so you may glean facts and identify patterns across time, but until you put your hand to the iron, you will never know.
So, did this poem come from inside or outside? I still think it found me and wanted to see the light. For comparison, I wrote this one five years ago with more conscious effort. It came from inside.
You draped me across your back like an overcoat
over the fertile crescent.
On the other side, you emerged
with only your right eye.
You tucked me between seat cushions
like a bed sheet prone to wrinkles.
On the flight home,
you whistled limericks like
they were tart cherries.
By the back porch you erected a flag staff,
and set me flapping in the wind.
My skin stretched to 4 corners
of stars and stripes.
You stood unflinching,
and watching with your one good eye.
— yiqi 2 december 2015 11:50 am