Poetry

I know a businesswoman who’s no longer idealistic
She let the cynicism win
Now her progressivism’s distant
She once was an idol
A model who followed tenets
A dreamer among a sea of professionals who don’t get it
The system got to her
Now she’s gonna quit it
To watch your comrades fall in the trenches is tough to witness
I guess the heat gets rough at the top
Innovation will test limits
You might get labeled a misfit
Get shunned by those who the system gives benefits
It takes courage to stand in one’s conviction
To boldly be resistant
Reform takes patience and daring to ask questions
It’s hard to be original, principled, and address methods
It’s safer to be idle and go along
Despite threats to accepted ethics
It stands to reason that fairness demands willingness to be restless
To express passion and call for different perspectives
This woman helped make me
She advised, stood by, and showed me a path worth changing
A network to guide visions for new generations
One that welcomed minorities and ladies
I’ll continue to be patient
Carry a torch of faith
And lighting a way despite obstacles and being afraid
Because it’s not for us, it’s for the kids without a shot
The one’s without power because they aren’t given a lot

What’s right for you
Ask yourself
I’ve read other books
And I don’t have the answers

That’s right for you
Don’t let nobody else
Trample on your visions

You’re finding hope
Don’t let it go
This world will test you

But all you need to know is…

What’s right for you
I know it’s easier said than done
You’re sad, you’re scared, you’re lonely
And you feel like “if only”
And you feel like it’s so confusing

The world seems selfish
Someone tell it
You. Are. Just. A. Kid.

It can’t help itself
We’re rolling down a mineshaft

Covered in coal
Our backs are broke
Craving a mother’s love
And a place to call home

We need more artists
Thank you, God, for kindness and Susan Sontag
Thank you, God, for good books
Campfires, snuggles, and cozy nooks
Folks who think
And movies with Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio

You’re different
You’ve got this
Just trust your conscience
And find friends who think that farts are funny

That smarts are sexier than money
That a Benz is dope but would much prefer
Vision quests, pillow talks, and games on Easter

No one’s perfect
No one’s read enough books
No one has the answers
The world is far too busy
Out there working instead of living

I know, it’s really, really hard
But believe me
Just do what’s right for you

And forget money. And fame. And anything besides what you love because I promise the success isn’t worth it, and the vast majority of the fans and fair-weather friends you make along the way will not care about you.

You’re a human being, not a commodity. You’re a feeler, not a competer.

So ditch the Beamer for a beater and live a life you love.

Oft-brash or brazen leaders
Call their plays without heart or thought
They seek their mark from deeds they’ve wrought
With pride they hold their titles high and status sought

They tend to go along to get along, never asking why they’ve gone
Striving for their name in lights or throngs to sing a Song of Songs
It’s easy, I suppose, to smugly cast a life, comfortably in an upper class
To go to class, just get by, and never ask for whys or extra tasks

Certainly, it’s not the case that all don’t care
It’s true that many do, but we need more
Selfishness and greediness brought a world that’s unfair and war-torn
I hope we can work together to speak against these elite and bring what’s right
What the world needs is listening and kind souls, unafraid to fight

Gazing upon the still waters of my mind
I sit, pondering
Ripples course through, offering visions of those from another life
Love lost, chains broken, the richness of shared sentiment shattered by mistakes unforgiven and habits untempered
Why do we not accept our own humanity? Why do we not recognize our own selfishness? Why do we wallow in our discontents, paradoxically pleased at the torments and losses of those most near?
I suppose it’s ignorance
I suppose it’s capitalism
I suppose it’s the need to replace the void of our self-worth
To assert that, “Indeed, I know better!”
“Indeed, I am better!”
“Indeed, I am the conqueror!”
“Indeed, I am of the higher class!”
“Of the higher status!”
“Of the higher authority!”
“Of the higher sensibility or absolute true opinion!”
“These are the convictions I have accepted, how could they NOT be right?!”
In reality, none of know barely a thing
We are most but willows in the wind, which is the accepted postulates, positions, or proposed notions of those who have come before, those who, for some reason, have set the standard of behavior and practice
Popular will at the same time abhors and celebrates the eccentric
The eccentric is only odd insofar as they are unaccepted
As their grooves deepen and their art made resonant, so their oddness beams in the darkness, spouting glimmering phantasms that inspire genius and move mountains

E.E. Cummings

E.E. Cummings by Edward Weston (Photograph courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography)

So, if you didn’t know, E.E. Cummings is delightful. His words have this strange way of making you feel warm and wonderful inside. It’s probably because he’s a hoper, and hopers inspire.

This is prose. It’s a poetic narrative but not a poem.

It’s about the power of feeling feelings and how feeling feelings is the hardest thing in the world – harder than blowing up the world, actually. And it’s about how feeling feelings makes you the realest you.

From a hoper to (hopefully) another hoper, I present: A Poet’s Advice to Students by E.E. Cummings.

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feeling through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel-but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling-not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time-and whenever we do it, we’re not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world-unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does this sound dismal? It isn’t.

It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.

For more information, check out this article by Maria Popova.

Unwaveringly fuel your warm tinder of purpose; follow the voice of guidance, evidenced by karmic joy.

Inquire about the meaning of goodness and trueness; shun deceit and hypocrisy.

Greatness is a collage of principle; slowly stitching the fabric of wisdom.

The piece is never quite complete, but in time, you’ll find the warm tinder and the quilt which character has made will together offer kindly the comfort of a life lived well.