Poetry, reciprocity, feeling absolutely useless and enjoying it

I used to post poems I liked to this blog, but I stopped a while back and removed them (well, all except for Shoveling Snow with Buddha by Billy Collins, widely available online).

By the way, Shoveling Snow with Buddha is a wonderful poem to read in August when it’s over 100 degrees. Just saying.

The major reason is that poets are often impoverished and yet the best ones give us the beautiful gifts of lifting spirits and expanding worldviews, maybe shifting our  identities for the better, touching our hearts and souls.

Somehow they manage to use words, which are a left-brain tool, to convey right-brain experiences of intuition, wonder, and new associations.

Every poem available online is also available in a book, and when you buy a book of poems, the poet makes money. They don’t make money from having their poems published online.

Buying a book of poems reciprocates the poet for his or her talent, sweat, and generosity. They need to eat too. (I think Billy Collins is doing pretty well, though, and I have bought a handful of his books. Billy, if you disagree, please let me know.)

I still subscribe to Panhala, which sends me a daily email with a poem in it. Each poem includes the poet’s name and the printed source — so you can buy the book or find it in a library, if you choose.

I have a hunch that Panhala, even though it posts poems for free, probably steers more people to poetry in general, to particular poets, and to buying poetry books than anything else online. Joe Riley does it as a labor of love. No advertising, just poems, photos, and music.

Today’s Panhala poem makes me want to make an exception to my rule. It’s by David Ignatow, is titled For Yaedi, and is from New and Collected Poems, 1970-1985.

It’s a short poem, and I’m going to only quote part of it.

…When I die
I want it to be said that I wasted
hours in feeling absolutely useless
and enjoyed it, sensing my life
more strongly than when I worked at it.

Thank you, David Ignatow. Thank you for that poem. I love that sentiment. I find myself longing for some hours to waste. I’m so used to being productive, to forging ahead, to getting things done.

My shoulders tight, especially my right shoulder, which seems to be where that forging ahead energy resides in my body. 

I got my grades in massage school, and I’m doing so ridiculously well that I realized I could afford to slack off a little. I stayed home half a day, turned in an assignment a day late, and made 80 on a quiz. So there.

Thoughts have been swirling about finishing the work on the trailer, big expenses coming up (tuition, car repairs or replacement, finishing the next four months of massage school), dwindling savings, finding work, and this intensely hot drought that seems to be unending.

I am going to set aside several hours tomorrow to waste while I sense my life strongly. Maybe a little shaking medicine, sitting, breathing, yoga, toning, journaling, walking — no, wait, that’s useful. I’m going for useless.

Hmm.

I think tomorrow is the day to let my feet lead me. They’re already telling me they plan to take me to Barton Springs.

My hunch is that I will probably have more resources to draw on to solve my problems after taking a useless day than I would have if I had a useful day.

I’ll post the outcome on Monday.

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