Friday, December 16, 2016

December 16: Inner High Schooler, Walt Whitman, "Make Me a Poet"

You know, over the last few days, I've been wondering how I managed to end up a finalist for Poet Laureate of the U. P.  I mean, I know how the process works--the nominations and all.  But I've never been good a self-promotion.  I love talking about poems, going to poetry reading, giving poetry reading, teaching poetry.  Every once in a while, though, my inner high schooler sometimes taps me on the shoulder and whispers, "You're not really that good."

It's a battle that I constantly fight.  When somebody compliments one of my poems, I have a difficult time not pointing out its flaws.  I don't think that I'm alone in this, however.  Walt Whitman was rewriting Leaves of Grass up until the day he died.  It was never finished.

I often tell my students that no writing is ever done.  It's just due.  I believe that.  I think Walt Whitman believed that, too. 

I'm constantly in the process of becoming a poet.

Make Me a Poet

by:  Martin Achatz

Dear Lord, make me a poet like cummings,
Except with capitalization and punctuation.
Make me hungry, wild as Uncle Walt,
Less the fingers of grass in delicate places,
Prolific as Emily, know Death's home phone,
Minus the agoraphobia, moth-white dresses.
Lord, I want to be Dr. Williams
With his wheelbarrow, rain, chickens,
But I don't want to go to medical school.
I'll observe the mating habits of blackbirds
With Mr. Stevens, but I won't sell car or life insurance.
I want to walk like Bob down a yellow road
That forks, get lost on a snowy evening, but can't
Pretend to farm, raise poultry, or pick apples.
I want to rage against dimming light like Dylan,
Without having to drink anybody under the table,
Dive, as Adrienne did, into the shipwreck,
Without the Jewish angst, the struggle of being
Woman, wife, mother, political activist, lesbian.
Let me sing like Sylvia against Nazi daddies
And not have to stick my head in an oven.
Allow me to garden words like Stanley,
Live a century, but also win the Nobel Prize.
Lord, I will leap in the streets, dance like a fool,
Strip naked, grab a tambourine, shake
My hairy goods at all onlookers if only
You will let me raise my voice, weave
My poems like David, the lucky bastard.
Of course, I don't want to cheat on my wife
Or kill a friend.  I won't go that far.
Other than that, anything for You, Lord.

Please vote for Saint Marty:

Voting for next Poet Laureate of the U. P.

1 comment:

  1. Catholic angst - at least it's something. Pity those of us who were raised mere Lutheran; everything's always 'just fine'.