Saturday, April 02, 2005

From There Outward by Jake Berry

(for Philip Lamantia and Robert Creeley, liberated)

There was a time
many years ago,
when I was a young child,
I did not write poetry.

In those days
my imagination lived me –
it overtook my body
and shaped it to every delightful and
mysterious purpose it could create.

I was imagination’s living form.
I had no mind, no self
I was motionless
until imagination stirred
some portion to song
(and every word was singing)
or dance
(and every movement was a dance).

Then I felt compelled
to make words.
So I wrote a poem,
then another and another
and people laughed
or made pleasant remarks.
And the girls were pleased
when I wrote for them –
those were kisses worth the poems.

But I recognized that
words failed imagination.
They were so carefully
reigned by books and teachers.
I had become imagination’s loss.

So I destroyed myself
and freed the constricted words.
I liberated them to
imagination’s tongue
and they once again
took their natural form
like a tree, or a sun, or a boy.
And people were confused.
they were afraid and turned away.

and I became serious,
a solid man.

I had to destroy myself
again and again
to liberate the words.

and speech was singing
and movement was dancing.

And today,
I hear the great poet’s death
and I think how lucky he is
to be nothing but
free imagination again,
to become pure poetry,
without a world of fools
that make us work
for what we already are.

Jake Berry 3.30.05