I asked a poet, “What do poets do?” She answered, “We attempt to speak the truth,
as we perceive it, through the flow of speech,
and only rarely are we paid for this.
“We each must toil at other things to earn
the leisure that we need to write our verse,
and though at times we might get some acclaim,
the poets true prefer the wage of bliss.
“For poets, like the rest of humans, are
as filled with vices as with frailties.
Temptations rise, but those of wisdom know
their verse is still their truest sustenance.
“So should they caper with the passing troupe
and cater to the ones who suffer from
the damage wrought by commerce to the soul –
or should they write for those who nurture mind?
“They do not fashion what they write to please
the critic and the fashion of the day.
They choose to write instead to please themselves
and those not jaded, those who still have heart.
“We see, around us, beauty, ugliness –
and kindness, cruelty. We stand in awe
beneath the sky that is our window to
the vastness of the universe beyond.
“And each of these is cause enough for each
to pause and then reflect – and even ask
those questions that have each been asked through time
and yet, like every breath, is each as new.
“We do not listen to the cynics then.
We write instead on what we sense and feel,
on what we think, on what is wrong and right.
We say, to those who’re jaded, “Wake and see.”
“We learn the forms, the disciplines, but then
We break from them, for we are not their slaves.
Respecting still the past, we walk awhile
with current trends, then go our lonesome ways.”
And so she answered me. I thanked her then. I’d fancied words – and so I’d thought to earn My living through my writing. Hearing her, I told myself I’d better think again. 2015 April 8th, Wed. Brooklyn, New York