Note: I have been so busy editing books for other writers that I have had almost no time to do my regular blogging. I hope you’ll forgive me dear friends, but I have come up with sort of a makeshift solution. I have always written poetry and about poetry, and am in the process of assembling a new collection of my verse for publication. Some of them have been pubbed in periodicals, though most have not.
What follows is one, a prose poem, that has received no exposure so far. It’s kind of quirky and about how poems often get written (not a straightforward process usually), and ultimately about poetry itself.
For the time being, I’m going to share with you some unpublished verse from time to time in lieu of my more serious writing advice and criticism until I get caught up with my editorial assignments. If you have some poems of your own that you’d like to share here, please let me know. I’d love to showcase them for you!
© Copyright 2015, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved (first publication of this polymorphous perversity)
There are so many squirming things to be, amphibiously (or otherwise): polymorphs, artiodactyla, stones and pebbles between the toes in your shoe, stars, star dust, spring chickens, fried chickens, deep summer watermelons—lush, sweet, seeded with hope and enough juice to survive the dog days, Autumn mums, Wintry dads, a leaf born along by a wind for good or ill, statesmen, saints, cogitators general, imperial wizards, dictators, terrorists, dirt beneath a shoe that once housed a soul (tempus fugit, and so do we), endless permutations, shape shifting phenomena, bodily and psychically, truly in view of the indisputable foregoing, why be a poet? Why attempt poetry?
Henry Ford, and he ought to have known, said with leaden finality: “Explanations are dangerous.” Like last year’s models, they are soon obsolete and create such pointless contention and ill will.
This frog himself knows a thing or two—too. And though noisy, abrasive and polemical as only a loud mouthed, smugly secure frog can be, his vigorous grandstanding is not for fame, fortune or sparkling insights sure to dazzle, inform and make all things new, for even nitwit frogs know everything old is new again ad infinitum. No, like all rhymers and metrical schemers, he is simply intent on being noticed, acknowledged, and bent on making a name for himself, he aspires to become a name on a plaque, create an award, run a famous impossible to get in workshop, maybe become an inspiration, or—if snubbed—an evil lying genius determined to destroy another’s good name and rep in high bombast of sulfuric ill will. Though why he or anyone would go to all that bother, prevaricating like The Father of Lies himself, I don’t know.
What good does it do, how does it profit a poet, to be a big toe on account of his big duplicitous mouth? This is not exactly news. “Poets are liars,” Plato said, thousands of years ago. His words remain unchallenged.
So then why all the lyrical fuss and heartache? Poets and poetry sprout because, when all is said and done, the truth remains cagey and elusive, and given this quagmire, there is nothing left to do but crack the nuts of the words themselves, pretend they render Band-Aids and lullabies in lieu of eternal truths; yes, crack those memes melodiously and make believe pleasurably, crack them open in one’s rough’s hands in the search for something more, maybe kernels of truth or pleasant lies or ambiguous disambiguation, a singular musical progress to who knows where, metrical, alive with slippery nuance, elusive, and pretty damn pointless if you’re looking for a point.
Which is often love or the lack thereof.
But I have been waylaid by the tangents poets always succumb to, a fascination with the sound of my own voice and temptation to think I’m onto something (Walker Percy warned scribblers about this in Lost in the Cosmos) because the words are beautiful and portentous seeming—and there’s always a chance something will survive and prove the useful anodyne all crave once we acknowledge the grave as prima fascia evidence that we are doodle bugs in the sand and can’t for the life of us achieve the blissful certainty that we are headed in any consistent direction at all for any particular reason.
Back to square one. As I was saying 800 words ago, case in point: a frog the size of a man’s fist has taken refuge in my boot outside the front door. He is gustatory, insistent, and as obnoxious as a large white quacking duck. Like all poets, he is in love with the sound of his own voice and the illusory metronome between his ears or buried in his bowels, a deep rasping sonority and irksome persistence that will carry his day to a satisfactory croaking decibel-busting, mind-bending conclusion, his ear-shattering, clattering sum of all things, rattling us into a teeth-grinding agreement with his folderol froggerall.
He thinks he is singing scripturally, prophetically, telling a timeless tale rigid with the truth that will echo down through the ages. Relentless, restless, Ack Ack, he complains as he crawls and flops out of the turned over boot, full throated Ack utterer, and imposing Buddha fat and self-satisfied. He quaffs the moment deeply with a long unblinking bulbous stare at the red horizon, and bellies up to a tasty, convenient buffet of insects swarming under the entrance light (fools!) which he swallows whole and struggling. They squirm, their tiny brown legs kick in panic. The frog swallows hard. He wears a permanent grin. No bug, once on his long fat sticky pink tongue can escape.
Emerging from the dark shadows like a drunken poesy potentate in the last rays of the red-cheeked sun, the lumpy wad of widely waddling frog, long tongue lashing the air with his clattering, clacking arias, I see for the first time he’s an pink eyed albino, as white as chalk, and real as E=MC2.
By God, this is a sign, a signal from another dimension. There are more like him. I will never wear those boots again. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard of such as this.
Chilled, I slam the door and switch off the porch light. Time for some bracing poems by St. John of the Cross or a bit of Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday,” for I will never know froglisch or Indo Amphibian.
If he is on my porch in the morning, I will either shoot him or catch him in my boot and take him to my six-year-old nephew. He wants to be an astronaut and finds frogs companionable and hale fellows well met.
© 2015 Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved. Margaret@margaretlangstaffeditorial.com