My house is full of people right now. One of the guests asked if I have private time, and well, here it is, after waffles for nine all morning, so many voices that it becomes white noise to me. I can think as well now as any day, which may explain my rather causal approach to poetic theory. At the reading on Friday, I forgot to say Japan was in turmoil. I forgot to pray for Coleman Barks who had a stroke, that brilliant translator of Rumi who gave us this huge gift. I wanted to say something, but felt the rush wouldn't do justice to the emotions. I had fifteen minutes and wrestled all day with how as Poet Laureate, my life is being measured out in coffee spoons. I don't drink coffee. This week I have five minutes to read in ABQ.
My joke is that I have become the parsley on the feast of poetry and mostly it is lovely. Garnish, for example with a group of young performance poets, music, fire dancing, and my daughter and fiancé in the audience. Parsley as on the Seder plate, vital, green, new life for me.
But my favorite thing is the feast and for that "Joan and the Giant Pencil," poetry for kids with music composed by Jeremy Bleich. Where the boy in the audience at Atalaya Elementary, after an hour of amazing listening and questions, asked me how many poems I had written. "Nine thousand?" he wanted to know. I started to do the math, a literalist after all my teaching of metaphor and exaggeration. Afterwards he came up on stage, "Nine thousand, nine thousand," he kept saying. I think of the Buddhists' ten thousand joys, ten thousand sorrows. I keep saying "nine thousand" to myself. I heard from two helpers for the special education kids, that they loved the poems and the kid who always walks around sat through it all. They were amazed. That many poems. I think of the weight of poems, even those written in Santa Fe alone. A ton of poems. I can feel them, the political, the prayers, the catharsis, the collaged, formal and wild.
Japan is awash and on edge of meltdown. The poems that came from that dense Island. 9,000 prayers, for Coleman, and the Nuke plants, and Los Alamos, and restraint in energy use and vile violence. 9,000 poems...the voices in the room are starting to pull me in, teens and men, and daughters. Back to the family and a drive to Santa Fe. Another Sunday in this momentary paradise.
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