I was reading the August 27 issue of The New Yorker this evening when this poem, which I have reproduced below (probably illegally, but I'll leave it up until someone tells me I have to take it down) jumped off the page and whapped me between the eyes.
"Whoa," I thought, "I could have written this poem," except that I couldn't really have written it because I don't write poetry -- well, sometimes haiku of the preacher's sermons to stay awake in church, but that doesn't really count.
So, I googled the author, Philip Schultz, and discovered he runs a writing school called The Writers Studio, in which he and other teachers teach beginners and established writers how to write better. And, they have an on-line program, although it is a little pricey at $450 for a 10 week program, it is not out of reason.
Now, I'm trying to decide whether that was God whapping me between the eyes, or is it just a coincidence that I had my 61st birthday last week, came back last week from a trip to the north woods in which I did not get any writing done and sat down to read a poem that speaks to me like few poems have ever spoken. Why, indeed? Here is the poem. You tell me what this is all supposed to mean -- if anything.
is this man sitting here weeping
in this swanky restaurant
on his sixty-first birthday, because
his fear grows stronger each year,
because he's still the boy running
all out to first base, believing
getting there means everything,
because of the spiders climbing
the sycamore outside his house
this morning, the elegance of
a civilization free of delusion,
because of the boyish faces
of the five dead soldiers on TV,
the stoic curiosity in their eyes,
their belief in the righteousness
of sacrifice, because innocence
is the darkest place in the universe,
because of the Iraqis on their hands
and knees looking for a bloody button,
a bitten fingernail, evidence of
their stolen significance, because
of the primitive architecture
of his dreams, the brutal egoism
of his ignorance, because he believes
in deliverance, the purity of sorrow,
the sanctity of truth, because of
the original human faces of his wife
and two boys smiling at him across
this glittering table, because of
their passion for commemoration,
their certainty that goodness continues,
because of the spiders clinging to
the elegance of each moment, because
getting there still means everything?