J. K. Durick, who lives in South Burlington, VT, is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Pyrokinection, Record, Yellow Chair Review, Eye on life Magazine, and Haikuniverse.
They can show it in color now, divide it
thematically, begin with parades, the heroic
vanity of it all, saluting and banners, lines of
perfectly timed marching, cheering crowds,
speeches, we see in pantomime mostly, lips
moving, gestures, pauses, well-orchestrated
masses saluting, cheering, bringing it on to
themselves; then invasions and troops moving
into place, into places cheering crowds wanted,
air power, navies and tanks, explosions, bullets
then bodies, piles of bodies, prisoners lined up
marching off; this was the part all the cheering
crowds, from episode one, didn’t know came
after, this black and white of war, the bomb
craters, the smashed and smoldering building,
gaping holes in so many lives, so many lost;
we see them, their faces at war, some smile, even
wave to the camera, some cry, some just stare
seeing things very much in the color of their lives
what they came to; and now the lesson is there for
us, no longer just in black and white, but in color,
the color people can make of our pallid world.
Someone once asked me what a poem is.
I said that a poem is what a poet writes.
So he wisely asked what a poet is, but
the answer is simple: a poet is a person
who writes poems. It’s like the chicken
and the egg, the dancer and the dance,
the dinner and the dining, the wallet and
the walrus, the large order and the small.
It’s one of those wonderful balances we
have all around us: the quaint and the odd,
the limber and the lame, the war and the
warrior. It all matches up somehow, but
there could be a poet sitting in front of
a blank page, his poem of the moment,
and there are poems, I’m sure, out looking
for a poet, the right size, the perfect fit.
We all know there are wars out looking
for warriors; we know the warriors out
there looking for wars to cook up, like
a dinner, a large order of wallet, a small
walrus. We’ve met the lame dancer,
the quaint dance, and the limber oddity.
Can anyone tell the poet from the poem?
Well, let’s hope so.
I put a word down
There it was
But it was alone
So I started to fill
Piled words on
Stack ‘em, stored ‘em
Became a planner
Wrote full lines stretching out across the page like this and then
One liners or
They began to
Fill space and time
Some linked up
Some fell apart
Some seemed smart
And others, clumsy
Emptiness in me
And around me
Made use of
All the silence
Did the things
Did the things
Became an end
One word to words
To an end