First off, I wanted to say Happy Poetry Month to all! I have written several pieces on this blog about poetry and what it means to me. Today, as I left my studio apartment, where I’ve been social distancing for several weeks now, to go pick up my prescriptions, I walked outside in my winter coat and a sweatshirt. I was fully dressed for winter. In my head, that’s where I left off. I walked outside and was sweating. I looked around and the few people around were dressed quite differently. With everything going on, days seem to flow into weeks, into months, into seasons.
Being from the north, spring is probably the most questionable season. I remember the first year I lived in the south and how amazed I was that there was this ‘real season,’ that actually existed for some length of time that was called ‘spring.’ It was almost like seeing what all the textbooks say spring is and realizing that places actually experience some sort of ‘season,’ that exists for a period of time that has the flowers and the weather steadily warming, etc.
For me, spring often just was one day. There have been years where it gets to ‘just before Memorial Day,’ and I decide it’s spring. The religious holidays of Easter or Passover often are indications or markers that I should contemplate if it’s spring. That often falls away after it snows on or around them.
Anyway, the springs I have experienced were memorable experiences. I do remember them, actually. I also have memory of several springs that I missed. I remember my last year of graduate school, I was busy preparing everything to graduate, working, finishing my clinical, etc. I don’t know why, but I walked outside one day and I can almost remember the smell of the flowers and feel the sun on that Boston morning. I remember having the thought I had today, “I somehow have been so mindless that I lost track of the season.” I remember having a sense of sadness for having lost track of time in this way, but for the rest of the spring my senses were heightened. I noticed the smells, the air, all the colors. It was as if I did not want to miss anymore of it.
I love that poetry month comes in April. I feel like it’s the perfect month that we need poems. Poetry keeps us mindful. It makes us remember to see, to smell, to imagine. Just like songs, pieces of art, other forms of writing such as novels and short stories, all art has the ability to live in a season for us. Poetry is definitely a passport to seasons and times. The beauty of a poem is its ability to really get into small places. It can get in the cracks of time and bring us back to a smell, a feeling, a blink of the eye. It’s why I love poems.
I have poems that don’t say the word winter in them, but they are winter poems. Some poems exist in the season they were written in but many don’t. The poem depends on associations of the mind. It takes the minuscule and makes it bigger. It brings what is felt as a private moment, something the collective unconscious of all of us, understands. Everybody feels poems differently. We bring ourselves into the poem.
Once a client asked me what my favorite word was. To me, that is sort of like asking a favorite album or musical artist or writer. It’s so hard to say because I’m always changing. In certain contexts I need different elements to speak to me. I paused and thought about it for a minute and came up with an answer that satisfies me to this day. My favorite word is ‘serendipity.’ According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary the word means, “: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.” I can’t think of how you can’t like the idea of this. When I asked the girl what hers was, she told me it was ‘bludgeon.’ I told her I agreed that it was a ‘powerful word.’
The word ‘serendipity,’ even though I hope it can happen and know it does in every season. I don’t know, to me, it lives in spring. I think because spring is a serendipitous season, in my view. When/if it shows up for a day or several weeks, it’s always this agreeable thing that was not totally expected. As I was looking for a poem for today, I found this really old poem. It’s so old, I can’t even tell you when I wrote it. It seemed to speak to the idea of surprise.
As I was reminded today, time passes with or without us. Perhaps why poetry has survived the test of time and why we’re still celebrating it every April is because it’s timeless. Poetry can take us back to a time or it can be completely timeless. It can work either way. A poem is experienced and judged in the heart. It is written to give birth to feeling. To each person that it comes in contact with, it will do its job and birth a feeling. It reminds us to be mindful, to notice thoughts, feelings, sensations. Poetry to me, brings about a serendipitous experience. Perhaps, that’s where my love of the word comes from. When I read a poem I love, I find the very definition of ‘serendipity.’
The poem I found for today existed for years without a title. After reading it today, I determined I’d call it ‘Serendipity.’ I hope you see why. Happy Poetry Month! Please open up some poetry and find that ‘faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.’ I guarantee the poems of this world are ripe with serendipities.
In a crawlspace of clouds
on a highway of uninterrupted destinies,
in a tuck you in to forget about sleep place.
A monolingual skyline with all the accents of gray.
A place you can just see the disappointed light
of perfect love vanishing behind a shed of blushed color.
A place where your mind
just wants to take off it’s shoes and have a smoke,
where bourbon kissed stars have conversations
with truckers passing by, through
the fertile lowlands of questioning minds. Hear…..
Right here, an ablaze pink sweater sits perfectly still.
cars swerving to miss the kill.
of something that once belonged
to someone, who once loved it.
In-between the skyscrapers of cities lost
and the vanishing farm fields that hold America’s crops,
a pink sweater marks the place in the road
where you can still find something.
A poet wrote a first line from that place,
it saved him from losing faith,
as he traveled down a highway where everything
blends into what came before.
Every town a replica of its predecessor.
Cities scattered far and few between-
just the same old monochrome dream.
Endless miles waiting for that one little taste of surprise,
A bud indicating an incoming spring.
To come to such a place and see the sight
A dirty lost pink sweater making cars swerve,
truckers blinking, cussing, at an inanimate thing,
A roll of thunder and a flash of lightening.
The piece of evidence proving
the world hasn’t lost it’s best defense-
the surprise of color & things out of place
brought together to make sudden, unexpected change.
Tell me you’ve never mistaken a weed
for the flower. Tell me you never heard
The seeds of a poem in some bathroom stall dialogue.
Tell me futures haven’t been fluctuated
By one word, one song, one pink sweater
That causes a swerve, that scares you awake.
We hold the wheel differently after something
Unexpectedly scares us off course.