Because this is a longish post, I’ll spoil now that I wrote a poem and
it’s published at the end of this article. You have been warned.
Peter came to work for me some ten to fifteen years ago. Despite that damaging influence, he has become a talented manager in his own right. Apparently, he is an artistic poet as well. People should be reading his stuff.
Poetry and Lyrics
I am not a huge fan of poetry and its production escapes me. This poetic failing is most apparent in my fruitless attempts at songwriting.
Music has been ‘a thing’ for me over the course of my life. I have a degree in bass performance (yes, there is such a thing). I’ve been on a handful of albums (probably none that you’ve ever heard of). I’ve enjoyed many musical successes, but writing songs ain’t on the list.
There are a couple of reasons for that. First, I guess that I don’t particularly like instrumental music. I want words. I want to hear a human voice. I want a story.
Not that you can’t tell a musical story without lyrics. I’m just stating my preference. Lyrics please.
So, given that 1) my preference is for lyrics, and 2) I habitually fail at writing them, songwriting is somewhat of a non-starter for me.
It’s All Just So Damn Personal
I think another reason why I fail is that lyrics, like poems, are too raw. They’re too close to the bone. They let on too much.
When I write, I can articulate a rhetorical or persuasive position on a philosophy, method, solution, ideology… whatever. I may or may not actually hold that position, but I can craft an argument in writing.
It’s even easier with fiction. You just start hitting keys and telling lies. And everyone knows that it’s lies because, well… it’s fiction ‘n stuff.
Poetry Scares Me
Poetry, like the lyric, eludes me because I’m afraid of it. It’s too easy to be caught out expressing something that I actually think or feel about something personal or that I genuinely give a damn about. I’m impressed and inspired by people like Pete who can write poems.
One particular poem caught my attention and it is used here by permission.
by Peter House
My daughter, younger than a breath,
Has already developed a contempt
For boy toys.
Her lip curls and she calls them ugly.
Brutish, vaguely suggestive of
Violence. Or outrightly so.
Even the colors are wrong. These are not
Things one would find in a meadow.
They undo meadows.
I never thought I would prefer flowers
To tank treads. I hesitate to get preachy
But she’s not wrong. They are ugly.
I read this and I was all like, “Huh… that’s so undeniably true.” And then I was like, “But wait. There are other viewpoints with which one can look at the same objects of destruction.”
And then, because my brain is broken…
Cut to a shot of a tank with its arms spread (Yes, tanks have arms in this corner of my brain. Shut up.) Cut to the tank shrugging and saying, “Dude! So not cool. What did I do?”
The tank didn’t ask to be a tank. It could have been a bunch of cell phones and escalator stairs, but no. It’s a tank. It’s a monster that has no business living in the world it is designed to defend. Who speaks for the voiceless tank?
Maybe I Can
So I asked Pete if he’d be ok with me republishing his poem and attempting to write a companion piece to it. He agreed.
I tried to model my poem after Pete’s but this is my first rodeo so cut me some slack if I’ve made some sort of poetry-form faux pas.
And so, I give to you, dear internets, my first poem. Enjoy, comment below, and be sure to visit Pete’s blog to see more of his work.
by Andy Rogers
Raw. From the earth I am remade.
If I was a wagon, I would be cherry red
And true under knee.
If a plowshare, my work would be honest
For tyrant or altruist. My memories, peals of
Laughter and shared meals.
But ugly, long of barrel and heavy of tread.
But proud, gleaming to shine like pin on lapel.
Only as I must be.
So all toys for girls and boys, little hands
Enfold them. For all rings and pretty things,
Free hands to hold them.