the poet you need to be

when i was 23

cigarette-thin, whiskey-brazen,
i feigned invincibility,
settled for caffeine-mania
in place of real happiness
sought out roller-coasters
instead of steady trains

i learned to use the language
of the jaded (who are so
because they are secretly
so hopelessly optimistic)

i wove a mythology of suffering
and reveled in pain as affirmation of
my humanity, my artistry

you can only go so long
brooding over brokenness,
turning the pieces over and
over again, before someone
saunters by, threatening to
spread a salve over all the
scars you mine for inspiration

and what will you do then?

do not destroy yourself for poetry

it takes as much courage
to write from wholeness as it does to write from emptiness
it takes as much work
to get words to encompass joy as to purge hurt

be the poet you need to be

never forget there is a place
for your celebration as much
as your mourning

the world inflicts enough bruising

we make art when we are broken
but let us not break ourselves for art

5 thoughts on “the poet you need to be

  1. I believe we must write what we see. Some writers are very serious. Will travel to war and test life. I like the old saying. On a cold day. Don’t need to test the water to know the water is cold. We learn by observer and common sense. Thank you for the excellent poetry.

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