My relationship with poetry has always been somewhat obscure. Since I can remember, I have loved song lyrics, but never really taken an interest in poetry in its raw form. Other than various renditions of “Roses are red, violets are blue,” the first poem I ever wrote was after I discovered my two friends had been shot dead in Las Vegas. I think it was called “Evil is alive and he’s living in Vegas!” I was so angry and confused, I had never experienced such deep or intense feelings. I remember I began to hear words in my head and I began to put them together, giving them form. Somehow, organizing my thoughts in a pattern and rhythm was soothing to me – a type of self-nurturing. And so my poems have become my friends, and in times when I experience intense emotions, as any good friend would, they alert me to my feelings and help me work them through. And while I know my poems come from me, I don’t always experience it as such. The following poem for example, came to me in the summer of 1999 when I was living in the Turks & Caicos Islands, and writing it was sort of like an exorcism. One morning, a day off, I awoke at 6:00 a.m with a burning urge to espouse the words ringing inside my head. It was as if someone else dictated the words to me, I barely even remember writing them. Yet, the words were mine. Clearly I was moved by what I had seen, but I had been far too disconnected from myself to notice. I had lost my “Lady” for several years, and when I recently found her I realized I have cared about things, human things, for a long time. Poetry has been a gift to help me feel, experience and express the things that move me. I hope everyone finds in his or her life at least one such gift.
LADY IN THE BACK OF A TRUCK (1999)
She was sitting in the back of a truck when I saw her.
Her robes were blue, the colour of the sky and green, like the shrubs bouncing by.
She wore rings on her fingers, yet I could not see her toes
As out of the clutter she sank and rose,
A lady – in the back of a truck.
On her face she wore dignity, her head she held high
For no bouncing could dishevel the beauty inside
The lady – in the back of the truck.
As I peered beyond her, with scrutinous eyes
I stared in wonder at the slender youth driving.
Honking and waving and carrying on,
Disregarding the lady, bouncing along
With the clutter, in the back of the truck.
“Did no-one ever teach you respect?”
(I said in my mind)
“For she who bares the fruit of mankind?
She cares for and nurtures you, helps you survive
Yet she sits in the back of your truck
With the clutter – bouncing along?”
And just as my anger began to rise, to a heat at which blood boils,
I looked back at the lady and she was looking at me,
With eyes that seemed to be talking.
She had heard my thoughts, and to them replied:
“Child, it’s better than walking.”