Every so often someone asks what poems I’ve written lately or where they might find a poem of mine, and I don’t know what to say. My poems travel in posses and packs (a chapbook, a collection, a body of work) so much that I don’t think of them as individuals striking out into the big world alone. Instead, I see them as tribal, and whatever they do on their own, they do for the good of the tribe.
To be honest, I think the other poems in any given collection would slap or shun any poem that ran for office, paraded for adornment, or competed in American Idol. The individual poems would be forlorn to be alone too since they’ve gown up in the context of other poems. Even occasional poems fly around with the swarm of other occasional poems in their praise poem skies.
While some of the poems occasionally do a star turn (such as “Enraptured,” featured on a photo by Stephen Locke, currently on display at the Percolator Gallery), even that poem is part of an ongoing small herd of work, all concerning weather. The poem published here or there alone usually lives with other poems in a house long-ago built or just under construction.
Poems are like that, not just mine, but most poems. They’re social, and multiple births run rampart among their parents. You won’t find them isolated at spas, steeling themselves away on deserted islands or hiding out in a hermitage on the hill, but rather in the spaces where we meet and travel together. They get their ideas from one other, their linguistic GPS from the sparks they make with other poems, and their DNA from generative communities.
Climb on board one, and you’ll find yourself riding in a small and vibrant herd, into and beyond the sunset.