I've logged in enough hours during my lifetime -
fooling around with words, in search of just the right ones
- to finally call myself a poet. For many years I would say
only, "I write poetry." To claim to "be a poet" sounds presumptuous,
unlike other claims, such as "I am a gardener," or "I am a mother."
But what other word do we have in our culture to explain one
who is so fascinated with language and with using it?
I'm the sort of person who reads a "wet paint"
sign, but still has to touch the bench to see if it's true.
I've always been curious about the alphabet that way too. I
believe that alphabet sounds have properties, like foods have
vitamins, plants have medicine and colors have the power to
affect our moods. The M…M…M sound conjures a sense of manna,
matter or mother. Whereas, the letter G…G…G sounds antagonistic,
especially if it's followed by R…R…R (Grrr). Why does an L sound
so light and lovely while D seems to say "downward descent"?
I like to play with the alphabet. I notice that
the word "slack" has "lack" right in it. (Is slack somehow the
plural of lack, the way too many pets become pests?) I notice
that silent and listen are made up of the same letters, like
note and tone are. I know that coyote is coy, because his name
tells me so.
I once met a woman who made sock puppets, not the
Sesame Street variety, but matriarchal figures, wise women,
and witches. When I learned that her last name was "Weinstock,"
I couldn't help but point out that her name also said "Wise
in Sock." When I mentioned to another woman that if she added
a G to her last name, "Robinson," it would become "Robinsong,"
she changed her name!
I believe that our names are our assignments and
that there is mathematics to language. If we take a letter away
or add another, everything changes. I don't think it's a mistake
that the word "spell" means to put letters together in the right
way, and it also means to make magic.
If you look
at the word "universe," you'll see that it implies a unifying
poetry. If you add one letter to "word" and you get the whole
"world." Why don't they teach that in school?
"In a poem the word should
be as pleasing to the ear as the meaning is to the mind." Marianne
Change armory into harmony
Change artillery into art
War into worship
and nuclear into new clear
Change invasion into vision
Conquer into concur
Change bombs into bonds
Change end into mend
"Save the Planet"
is a good slogan
Or is it a slow gun
we hold to our heads
a sound-bite to bypass our sins?
Is it a glossy sticker
on a gas guzzling bumper?
What does it mean to you?
to the first sample from Muses Like Moonlight.