portrait of the poet, "birth mark"

the heat that precedes her approach attracts demons, Djinn, spirits ancient tongues and devices mechanisms of deliverance

My Life So Far:

"Entering the service of the Muse, a period piece."

I was a baptized baby. I entered into the service of god early on. Oh, I went to Sunday school with the southern baptist fellows, had my initials stamped in gold letters on the face of my large novelty bible, the one with the gold leaf trim and large color prints. I'd speak with my bible, when it was just god and me, i'd keep the large cover closed and expect it to part to a page. I was disappointed. I'll get over it.
Throughout my younger years I kept god in one form or another nearby. I spoke to him, aloud, having taken up the habit of walking alone as a tonic for all the thinking I found myself prone to. I read. Philosophy, theology, theosophy, ontology, etymology, literature; I found myself thinking and hungry for shapes to put my thoughts to. That, I have no intention of getting over.
I turned to prayer as a means to communicate with god what I thought other people needed, occasionally dropping a dog or an encyclopedia set in for myself, but never under a lever. I made prayer like you'd make a telephone out of Dixie cups and culinary twine. You give your best, try to make it clear and hope that when the other end lights up your end, everyone cheers, a celebration ensues and all is well. Born, "It's the thought that counts." I also discovered that when you pray, you occasionally get a response. God actually does answer back. You get to ask him whatever you want. "God, I have this urge to write poetry. Please help me make this happen, can you put me in touch with Jesus sister?" That sort of thing.
I had a stunt club. You had to drink a raw egg to gain entrance to the little clubhouse we had. After that, we had meetings that we made everyone agree to show up for, but no one ever really showed up. The meetings were all held past our bed times. We did perform stunts. We jumped off of moving things, we moved and ran and jumped on to things, we threw ourselves from rooftops, one and two story, and a friend of ours had a mattress outside for our three story extravaganza jumps. At least one of us broke a leg on that jump. Not me.
Also, it is important that I note here that prayer then, at least for me was a means of sharing what life is like on earth with god. I was operating under the assumption that I was here to feel things with a body for him, because he was busy maintaining the whole cosmos and that kept his free time to a minimum. I've prayed to god at least as many times to say, "oh yes, Jonathan says that when we run, we should cup our hands around the wind, like this, and throw the air behind us. It makes us go faster. God? God, don't forget to take a break. You work too much, and we have things decently well under control down here for the moment."
As I grew into young adulthood, there were a lot of moments where I felt as though I were walking side by side with angels, with god. Like god was working little magics through me, allowing me to kibbutz. I worked hard to remain objective, not detached but clear about who was actually working what. I felt a kinship with what I imagine gods will to be, at least what it seemed to be through my perspective. Had a wonderful time watching wonderful things happen. I walked regularly, and began running too, once a week out of school, every night during. Got on to a running team, cross country. My first year, others would pray for me. Soon, I became the most improved.
Then girls. Oh lord, the girls. I found myself caught in a few nets, gasped for air a few times, I gave deep and honest love every time. Still love every woman I ever loved. Every woman I ever met, really. I grew with a natural and abiding respect for women. That will never change. Another story.
One woman, and the critical element to this fragment of my tale, found me through a book. Having always been a writer and a reader of the lifer ward, I stuck primarily to behaviorism, religious examination, etymology and literature until that day, the day I met her.
Anna Ahkmatova. She stole my heart, my soul, she swept my feet out from under me, she cracked the plate beneath the soles of my feet and froze me to my core. I was grazing an unfamiliar section of the bookstore, waiting on a friend and upon noticing that it was the poetry section, I commented to myself that the section "seems woefully small." At that, I understood that I had very little exposure to poetry. Of course, I had explored a little Whitman, a little Frost.
...but, and I do not exaggerate here, she literally leaped off of the shelf (I'd begun combing the section, starting in the uppermost corner, the darkest corner where the A's live) and into my grasp as I moved to pull her from the shelf. Magnets were involved. No doubt.
I opened the book, the Max Hayward and Stanley Kunitz edition, and I was destroyed.
"Only be sure the Poet's House is spared."
From that moment on (2002 - ) I knew that I was meant to be a poet. God gave me this body, gave me lungs and breath, but it was the Muse that gave that breath heat. I held a walk with god, one day. Told him I would continue to pray for him.

and so I waited there
on the shores where mountains
bent low to meet the parted lip
of a darkened sea

for days the trumpets faded
the long line of heavens house
pulled not loose, but taught
fell to cold, slowly run down line

the heat that precedes her approach
attracts demons, Djinn, spirits ancient
tongues and devices
mechanisms of deliverance

and then, when at last I died
choking on the fumes, remnants
of my protected ash risen
to blot out the sun

she who "Dante heard dictate the lines
of his inferno" approached what remained

and in a gesture considered flippant
to fire, she signed my clay self.

~ So did I pass from the service of god, into the service of the one whom no one can command.


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