Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hope To God I'm No Greeting Card

I've not done any substantial writing for a long time now, it feels. I've spent most of today and yesterday either at, or at least hovering around my piano keyboard in some tense, exploding state of consciousness. Creating makes me feel like the bird that has just broken out of an egg. Exhilarated, breathing, insane.

I pace the flat for something to distract me from the inevitable truth of those black and white keys. And still I haven't written anything of note for a long time now. The novel, or at least the drive towards a novel, on the 'back burner', that is, crept back into the recesses of my mind. A book of short stories, is reduced to two ideas only: birds' nests and windy places.

The post sinks into the ground. I am more preoccupied with things that make no sense than those that do. I walk to the shop. I walk back.

This thing I call creativity makes me happier than any sex, is as great as the greatest love. And sadder than all sorrows put together. I like myself a lot when I write, because I am not hindered by my own 'thereness', I am free to wander into whichever room of experience I please, untroubled by my own preferences and predelictions. And I sometimes hate all that I am too, saddled by my insecurities and cracking bravados, on nights like these.

Tonight, experience is painful and the rain dances.

But creating is giving birth, it is about something being birthed, born. And as I feel like the chick out of the egg, I also feel like the bloody mother, I can feel my body torn in labour. So this is a necessary pain, a necessary tension. Like new teeth pushing through gums. Skin ripping open.

And for what? For what reason do we give birth in this way? For sure, there is no fulfllment for me without it, to let the words or the song come into fruition without the tension of struggle, without working for it. Those slippy slidy works of supposed art, that trip so easily and so correctly off the smoothest tongue, they leave me unmoved by their composure, by their lack of a crime scene. No dying bull to trace in the sand, no ideal to stretch to the limit. Art can never be hidden behind, but exposes it all, all the workings. Ah, we are all so clever at this, still we try and tame the animal, lassoo it all so it belongs to us, not the other way round. Idiots, we are.

Can we make poetry with the head? Some people seem to think so. We can stare out to space with special instruments, we can calculate the mass of the world. We can float in space suits far above this bluest planet and watch the gases and the atmosphere, imbibe the greens and the corals and the turquoise patches, sail the infinite seas above, notating the wonders with a biro pen. And what does that make us? If we don't see it, it is all just another TV show, just an interesting experiment.

Poetry is not an interesting experiment. It is living, life itself. It is the often agonising process of opening up to what this universe is made of, and looking around, taking it in.

It is a space ship that travels to places otherwise unreachable, no other vehicle has the engine power, the correct design. It brings this human back, with the wonders and horrors of the world, of space, to write shakily some 'feeble approximation of starlight'.

It also travels underwater, to where the plants and the jellied fish grow. To where light cuts out under the ice, where sound is an ancient song from far above tides.

Descends, descends, past trees and caves and earth and matter and stone, into the stone it goes, the greyest, smoothest stone. Then the peat, and the ashes, the burnt out coal, the embers, the black chalk in the fire, soil and worms. Feel it in your hand, cool dark and sodden.

To the people, the stares, the unrelenting dreams. We say we are a million miles from the sky and the wood and the ground, from under the water.

No, we are the same life. In the human, there is always the valley and the rock, the repetitive seasons and the swimming fish. Discovered lakes, so much unchartered territory. The horrors of the flesh, the sinking stone, buried under ivy, human sleeps with fur and paw, eats its brother, dazzles with the sunlight and becomes dawn itself.

We are the night and the day, the afternoon, Northern Lights. We are neutron stars, gas and pollution. Moving in a haze of cloud. Whiskers. Dead creatures. Our own faeces. The blazing cottage. The never born girl child, left in a dream. A window, this book you hold, spent, spent, always spent.

This is all poetry to me. And to sit with that, is to sit with life itself. And the bravest poets are the Captains of the Boats at roughest sea. They bring the words home, they inspire, touch the fabric, rub the thread between their old warm fingers.

If I ever doubt poetry has a purpose, I think of this. I think of the bold. The death defyers. On a night like tonight, that I can be so bold, take these controls and launch again, is all I ask.

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