“Can I take you order?”

“Yeah, can I just have a coffee, please?”

“Sure thing, hon. One sec.”

Wonder if her voice has always been that husky. Probably not. It was probably always deep, but I doubt she had that rasp when she was younger. Gotta be in her late fourties, early fifties; could have started any time. Maybe she smokes. Wonder when she started. I can see it now. Smoked when she was a teenager because her daddy used to. Daddy’s dead now, though, that’s for sure. Probably never quit. Daddy lived to be sixty-eight, smoked since he was twelve, no reason to quit now.

I came here to read. I should probably do that. I will.

How long have I been reading Ulysses now? Two, three years? Still haven’t finished it. Probably never will. I’ve read the end though. A couple of times actually. I love Molly. I love the way she thinks in long, run on sentences. I think like that sometimes. She remembers such long stretches of time all at once, as though everything that happens happens all at once. I guess that’s just how it works. Every moment just sort of builds up on top of all the other moments until you have a life. I wonder when I’ll have a life.

I wonder if that guy has a life. Better yet, I wonder if he thinks he has a life. I’ll bet he does. Looks like a worker. Got the shirt for it. Plain, white, sweat stains deep. Probably a mechanic. No, doesn’t have the motor oil hands. Mechanics have motor oil hands. It’s what sets them apart. That and the self-determination to set their own prices for their work. One has to believe one’s time is worthwhile and charge accordingly; otherwise you’re just wasting it.

I’ll bet he works in a mill or maybe a warehouse. Definitely lifts things for a living. He has the bearing of a man who would move you out of the way if you got into his. I’m glad I’m out of his way. Wouldn’t want to impede his progress.

Probably a church goer. Has the hair for it. Not too long, but short. Not wearing a hat, but I can see him clutching one over his chest as he sings hymns. Nah, he’s not that old school. Not a Catholic; probably a Lutheran or maybe Presbyterian. Holy rollers, rolling down the sixty-year-old new wave.

What am I doing here? I came to read.

“Here’s your coffee, hon. Sugar and cream are on the table.”


Definitely a smoker. I would be too if I was a fifty-year-old waitress. I’m a smoker even though I’m not a fifty-year-old waitress. Wonder if she ever smoked anything other than tobacco. Bet not. I can see her turning down a joint in her late twenties. Thought it was a slippery slope. Didn’t want to get mixed up in something she wasn’t ready for. But that was always her problem; thought she needed to be ready for the next step, but she never knew what that was. Should have run away with Billy Bob when he begged her to. Could have made a life together, somewhere. But no, that would have been crazy. She’s happy now. Isn’t she?

Of course she isn’t. But then, who is? I guess there are some people who are. Have to be. How would we know what happiness is if there weren’t any happy people anywhere. It can’t just be some kind of urban legend. Can it?

I bet that girl is happy. She hasn’t lived long enough not to be. Can’t be older than eighteen. Somewhere in the ball park: sixteen, seventeen, twenty. Who can tell anymore? We grow up so fast when the whole world is right in front of us all the time. I bet she knows her way around the internet. Almost has to these days. More likely to be a Mormon sister wife than have no knowledge of the internet these days. But which one’s whackier?

I think I might be.

Yeah, she knows the internet, but it’s not her fault. She just got acquainted with it when she was searching song lyrics on the googles. Wanted to be a guitar singer. Worldwide sensation, instant star. Bet she’s got some good stuff. Pure poetry, set to a progression in G. Been learning since she was nine. Hasn’t really gotten better, but that’s fine with her. She still thinks she’s different.

Goddamn, coffee is so necessary. Diner coffee is always better than homemade. It’s probably just the atmosphere though. It’s like the hunger and thirst just build up in the corners and fall down on you when walk inside. Comes out of nowhere. Think I might need to call the waitress, and get something to eat. Nah, but I don’t want to bother her. She has enough on her mind.

Been working here for fifteen years if she’s been here a day. Almost sad, but not really. A body’s got to work. Keep food on the tables. And tips. Tips especially. I bet she hates getting paid in tips. She was strong once. Not that she isn’t now, but she used to be going somewhere, and she knew it. She saw the next step, wanted to take it. Now she just ambles back and forth all day waiting for other people to tell her where to go. She resents it; I can see it in the corners of her tired eyes. Been here too long. Not long enough. At least not yet. Someday she will have been here exactly as long as she needed to be, but then they’ll be remembering her in the obits. Bet she reads them. Secretly wonders if she might see her own name someday, so she won’t have to show up for work. One last holiday. Just pack up and leave; go see the world or at least somewhere other than this goddamn diner.

I love this diner. Such a good place to read. I remember back in the undergrad days when a diner was the best place to hang out. Diners and bars: more home than home. I remember trying to read in Diners and winding up talking for three hours with Matt, Bill, and Carter instead. So much more worth it. Matt was in a musical, in the pit. Played the saxophone. He loved it. Bill, Carter, and I never had half the talent but we loved talking about it with him. He was so enthusiastic even though it made no sense. Kid listened to speed metal in his off time, but put on The Music Man and he knew every line.

And I brought a book a long, but I never read it. I think I can almost remember which one. Probably Homer; I was into the classics back then, but I only read every other Book. Books, chapters, stanzas, lines. All blurs together.

I remember my favorite character in the Iliad was Diomedes. Probably because nobody ever remembers Diomedes. Nobody who hasn’t read the Iliad, that is. Always liked being in exclusives groups. I guess we all sort of do. Diomedes killed Ares in battle. Spear to the gut. Worst way to go. I thought it was badass.

I can’t really stand violence, but I’m a sucker for it in a good book. In a bad book it always seems so unnecessary. Just like in real life. I think that might be the difference between a good book and a bad book. The less believable it is the closer it is to being enjoyable. No, that can’t be right. Ulysses is about the most believable thing I’ve ever read, and I enjoy the shit out of it. Then again, I still haven’t finished it. I guess that does say something.

I would bet my life’s savings that I’ve read more of it than anyone else in this building has, though. Not that I would. For one, I don’t gamble, unless the bet is hilarious, and also that would most likely be the most pretentious bet ever. Nobody’d take it.

Although, who knows. Maybe the waitress studied literature for a while. She looks like she’s read something before. I wonder what. I hope it wasn’t just Cosmo or People. But then again, what makes my literature better than hers. She makes her own decisions; she raised two kids ten years apart in different states without any help from either of the fathers… maybe. Seems possible.

I wonder what she would think if she read Ulysses. I bet she would like Molly too. She’d definitely be her favorite character. Just trying to fall asleep while a whole lifetime of love and disappointment slips through her head and over the pillow. Sounds like her life. Sounds like life.

“Everything alright, hon?”

“Fine… thanks. Could I get the check, please?”

“Sure thing, hon.”

That’s life. One check after another.

It’s Only a Dream

Slumber on. Sleep peacefully, child of simple wonders. Your work is important, and you need your rest.

Arthur opened his eyes. He started at the voice booming over him, not sure where it came from. He listened. Nothing. No sounds. No sights. No anything. He was back in Neverland.

Must be asleep. Somehow this isn’t right. Arthur felt; there was a bed under him, and sheets on top of him, and something warm directly to his left side.

Heat welled up in his chest and blossomed throughout the rest of his existence, until summer prevailed over the whole landscape. It had to be her. Jerking motions pave the way as sight follows thought. The brain is the master of the optic senses, but the master of brain is subject to their whims. Arthur saw her. She was really there.

He reached over to feel her. There was really no way to be sure, but touch is so much more solid than sight. He laid his hand on her arm, Reveille. Music and sound erupt from nowhere as his hand begins to glow. She begins to glow. Now there is light.

Arthur sat up in the bed. Breath came short and fast, like it was trying to get away. It was trying to get away. Arthur gasped for air as the atmosphere closed in around him. Life giving oxygen danced a jig in front of his nose, but he could not pull it into him. It laughed and jumped and pranced and then it pointed a finger at him. You’ll never win.

Surprisingly audible for an element with so little substance. Arthur whipped his head back to the bed ignoring his suffocation. Gone. And then so was the rest.

Reality bent and bucked as the bed melted away and slid out of sight. A wide open plain held his body up, but didn’t explain just how. Clarity presides. Everything is see-through as far as the eye can see. Even the ground.

Arthur looked down. He saw away into an empty expanse deeper than any on earth. It reached from as high as high goes all the way to the bottom of forever. And from somewhere down there, the fire rose. He looked for his Reveille, his release from turmoil, his soft place in the hard night, but she was not there. She was elsewhere, and every second he spent looking for her, the fire got closer and closer. It got closer and closer. It burned his feet.

And then cinders. The fire broke loose and the oxygen burned away, still dancing. Breath was useless, and Arthur didn’t feel like breathing fire. Dropped to knees and stayed there, the onslaught forced him to supplicate. He was broken, and he admitted it.

The fire saw his humility and sighed. So much kindling, it blazed brighter and hotter, and it tore Arthur’s flesh. He felt large portions of his body sizzle and crackle and eventually fall away. Blinded by searing pain, he clenched his eyes closed, waiting for it to end. Waiting for it to end. Feeling years zip by as he waited for it to end. Just end it.

It ended, like a gas burner turned down gradually until it whumpfs out. Arthur felt the heat still in his body, but he touched his skin and felt his flesh clinging to his bones just as it had before. The holy flames burn away an outer shell so the inner man can stand firm. So he stood. The smell of burnt Arthur wafted in the area. In absence of flame, the light became dark, and the world lost substance. Space surrounds all, but there’s nothing within the space. Empty and desolate, the universe rotates slowly as Arthur stands at its exact center. Too lonely.

Arthur searched frantically for something to go towards, something to strive for. He knew what he was looking for, but he didn’t know why he was looking for her. He knew she was gone. He just wanted to bring her back. Then he saw her back. Arthur rushed forwards, toward the only recognizable image for a thousand miles. He lunged ahead throwing everything he had into each step. She was right there. All he had to do was reach out and grab her.

His hand came down on her right shoulder. She spun on him, and black was painted red. He felt the blood roll out of the wound in his stomach. It was warm against his skin, but the world felt jagged around him, and the knife protruded into his sanctuary. Into him. He was no longer separate from the madness. And madness came quickly.

He looked up into her face to ask why, but he did not see what he expected. A face more hateful than hers, more angry, more manic, more panicked, more wretched, stood on the shoulders that were no longer the same. She was still gone, but now there were two of him.

Arthur looked at himself, and he looked back. Like a mirror without the glass and holding a knife. He twisted the knife, and life became much harder. The cold steel could have been hotter than two suns for how it burned, and the blood continued to flow. It was up to his ankles now.

Arthur looked down and nearly fainted at the sight of the ocean. Like Moses combined with Jesus, they stood on a red sea. Clouds billowed overhead, and thunder rent the distance, providing light by which to blind oneself. Arthur thought for a moment of Moby Dick but pushed it away before he could be swallowed by any giant white whales. The other him smiled and nodded, and then he twisted the blade again.

The image cracked, and static covered it up, but the winds were too fierce and blew the static away. Arthur had left himself alone, and now he was standing in knee deep red water with no one around him but himself. A dozen of him. He stood around himself in a perfect circle, one face at each station on the face of a clock. Each was dressed the same, and all of them carried the same long, curved knife. Arthur looked at each of himself in turn, searching for any dissimilarity, any clue as to what was real and what was insanity. Uniformity is a minion of insanity. He realized that he must be insane.

One at a time they charged him, Twelve o’clock, One o’clock, Two o’clock, all the way around to Eleven. They ran a long way, because they were farther away than they looked, and then they fell on him. One after another they set about him with their knives, slashing, slicing, stabbing, hacking, sawing and bashing. He tried to fight, but he knew himself too well. For every move he would make, another copy would be there waiting with a new laceration. Blood continued to flow, and the tide waters rose.

The pain filled him, and he could take no more. Summoning up what little sense he could garner through all the carnage, he threw himself bodily away from them. He collided with himself and fell to the floor, sinking beneath the putrid flood.

He held his breath. He did not breathe. He did not try to escape. He could not fight, he could not run, he might as well just drown and die peacefully. He felt the arm shoot through the water before it even reached him, but he was not fast enough to push it away or move himself. Angry fingers tightened about his throat, and he felt himself lifted clear of the wetness. His head emerged, and red liquid dribbled down his hair and face, but still the air would not return to him. He looked in the face of his murderer, he looked into his own face, and he spat.

Arthur smiled, and he plunged his knife into himself as he shoved himself back under water. Lightning struck, and heat, blood loss, and asphyxiation took their tolls. Beneath the waves he expired.

And on the hard, dry ground he came back. The storm had abated, and the flood had receded. He was still all alone, by himself without himself. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt so happy. That was when he saw them. There were four of them, one in each cardinal direction, the four winds preparing to swoop down on him. From a distance he could barely make out his own face, but he could still see the fury raging through himself as each of them turned the key in the ignition. The cars started up, four of them for each of the four of him, and he the fifth and first standing at the center.

Pedals depressed and speed exploded outward like a racehorse from the gate. Without waiting for one another, they barreled down on him in perfect synchronization. Furious death sped toward him as he stood still, simply waiting for the inevitable. It’s kind of boring if you see it coming.

Crash. Brokenness Elected President, Rules with an Iron Fist. The sky shook and fell in on itself, as reality began to cry. Long cracks raced through the edges of perception as Arthur’s world destroyed itself. As Arthur destroyed himself. Arthur looked at it and said: it is good.
Sleep, fair prince. Your kingdom awaits your awakening.

Arthur opened his eyes. There was that damn voice again. He was in a bed again. It was the same bed again. There was someone in it again, too.

Arthur’s hands became clammy as he began to hope that it might be her like it had been last time. He closed his eyes for a long time, fearing the things that they showed him, and prepared himself. Opening his eyes one more time, he turned and grabbed the arm lying lazily on top of the covers. The body sat bolt upright and turned its head so that his face was facing him again.



“I hate you.”

“I hate you.”

The face roiled with hatred and almost seemed to snap against reality for the chance to snuff out Arthur’s life. How could there be so much hatred in one being? So much hatred. Turn it all off.

“I don’t need you.”

His face went blank. The hatred filled his eyes and still snapped at him occasionally, but it did so motionlessly.

“I don’t need to feel this way.”

The eyes clouded over and became dark. Darker and darker they grew, until they were blacker than Satan’s heart. The face remained impassive, as though some foreign language was being spoken.

“Why don’t you be quiet, and let me do the talking from now on, alright?”

The eyes. Black as black or blacker. And the scream rose high. It rent the air about them as it tore from black-eyed Arthur’s lips. Arthur could feel the static closing back in. He could feel himself being shut down from the inside out. Somehow he was dying.

“Go away!”

Silence. The other was gone. One Arthur lay in one bed, by himself. Clouds filled the sky, and rolled by quickly, but no rain fell, and no lightning appeared anywhere. He was gone, and now he could be by himself. Arthur smiled. He chuckled. He began to laugh. His laughter stretched out as far as the boundary of existence and filled every corner therein. Freedom is a fine thing, especially freedom from insanity. He laughed, and he laughed, and he only stopped when he saw the knife.

His right hand seized tightly at the hilt, holding on so hard the sweat poured down the wrist. He could feel the leather handle against his palm and the metal crosstree against his thumb and forefinger. The tip had reached his throat before he could even realize who was in control of the arm. It was still him. He was always in control. He was never in control.


Time is frozen. There is no movement: no future, no past, only present. What was then is no more, and it no longer matters. What is now is all that can matter; nothing but the everlasting Now.

She stands in front of me. Facing me. Staring at me. Our eyes are constantly connected in a sort of embrace, a metaphysical conjoining of two souls into one, four-armed, four-eyed creature that, having just been brought into existence from a dimension of utter nothingness, has no clue as to what it is or what to do with itself. The creature will survive somehow, though. It knows just one thing: it must survive. Yes, it will survive. We will feed it until it bursts with the ecstasy of gluttony.

We stare. I see in Her a being more perfect than the gods, more beautiful than the cosmos, and more wonderful than life itself. My heart is Hers, and She knows it. Likewise I know that somehow She is mine. We are one. In this holy moment nothing exists but we two. The world fades away. Our surroundings disappear. We are alone in a universe of our creation, and nothing from heaven or hell can separate us or destroy the bond that ties our collective consciousness together. This is what perfection is: total surrender to a creature so wondrous that literally nothing in all the worlds, in all the galaxies, in all the universes, in all of existence could ever hope to hold a candle to, because She is perfection.

Carefully, respectfully I let my eyes play across Her sumptuous form. The white flesh is as marble, and Her lips are of scarlet. Her ebony hair flows like the night sky, and I can almost see the stars in all their splendor, as I marvel in that deep expanse of unimaginable succulence. Her body curves and sways as though it is dancing even when it is perfectly motionless. There is life in Her body; more of it than one could comprehend. There is life that veritably exudes from Her every line and infuses the area surrounding Her with such a beauty that it is as though She is constantly sculpting the universe as She stands there, and yet She is somehow completely unaware of it.

I return my gaze to Her face and am taken aback yet again. The gentle slope of Her jawline as it slowly slips down from Her tall neck to meet with Her ever so slightly pointed chin invokes in me a feeling of joyous gravity as though I am witnessing the birth of reality. Her eyes are two dark and glorious stars that shine with a poignancy that stabs through the soul into the void on the edge of nothingness and carry you with them as they peruse the darkness beyond. There are no words to describe a being as incredible as this. She is perfection.

She is the Aphrodite to my Hephaestus, and I feel fear inside me that She will leave me alone someday. I look down at myself and see brokenness and sorrow. I am but a man in the presence of a deity. I feel shame. I feel sinful; sinful for even showing myself before this astral creature. I begin to feel my heart tense up in my chest and I wonder if maybe it will rupture and bring me peace and silence to replace my horror and disquieted uncertainty. It will not.

I look back at Her, and our eyes meet again, but now our souls are not in perfect synchronous as before. Now there is a separation between us slight as it may be, and things are not the way they were. I see in Her eyes a faint sadness. She perceives me as a child who has had its first introductions with death. She has pity in Her eyes, those eyes which own me, body and spirit.

Suddenly, but not quickly—slowly in fact—She takes a step toward me. I flinch, and She smiles at me as one who smiles at he who knows nothing. I watch as She moves the perfect body, the very essence of goodness, gently toward me in a sultry dance of inadvertent expertise. The gap between us is closed in a period of time that cannot be described. It is at once the longest and shortest moment of my life, and somehow it feels as though it never truly ends.

And then She is upon me. I am blinded by Her radiance and baffled by Her smile. I have never learned more and known so little in one moment. She reaches Her hand up and as it touches my cheek I can feel Saint Elmo’s fire explode from every inch of my body. Our eyes are constantly locked. I cannot look away; although I cannot imagine ever doing something so ridiculous intentionally.

I have lost all track of self and reality as I stare into those orbs of transcendence. There can be no words, for words are faulty and communication is not impossible without them. We stay there a long time or perhaps a short time; I know not, and I revel in my ascent into what could only be heaven. What could be higher than heaven? Only Her.

As suddenly as before She brings Her lips up to mine in a gentle movement that has grace enough in it to shame the angels of Jehovah to tearing their robes and weeping. It is not possible to describe the feeling of distilled immortality that washes over me at this moment. It is as though my soul has escaped from this mortal coil and has found for itself a niche in the dimension that exists beyond this one from which all that is good was conceived. I am beyond ecstasy. No more will there be any separation between things. No more will there be any doubts. We are one and will always be one. I can see the face of God and it is beautiful. It is perfection.

Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour

She stands still as the night around her, a marble tower of unwavering assuredness in a sea of despondency and unrest. The moon is full, but its cold glow seems to siphon away portions of one’s humanity, bringing an unnatural clarity to one’s stream of thoughts. It’s a dark and hostile place that breeds confusion and despair. Its cursed glow is a veritable entity that destroys all life and love in the heart. Yet despite the darkness of this place, still she stands unmoved and resolute in the hour of blackest night.

The knife is cold to the touch. Its sinister gleam carries with it the promise of death, and with death comes peace. Death and peace coincide in everything here. The hollow calls to those who seek the silence of the grave. There is resolution in disappearance. There is solace in nonexistence. She knows this and now seeks comfort.

There is peace in this place. She can sense it. She feels it caress her skin as if it were standing next to her comforting her in her time of greatest need. She loves it, and it loves her. There is an exchange of sorts between them, as if they are capable of communication, but in fact they are not. She feels the Peace gently indicate the knife. It points as though with a finger, though it has none. She takes the knife with the intention to obey, but she cannot continue.

Her inner self has begun to fight back. She senses her first pangs of regret, her first yearnings for life. It is a strange emotion that overtakes her. She feels the Peace of death at her right and the uncomfortable Desire for life at her left. The Desire to live is flailing and frantically gesturing, having realized that the light is dimmer now than it has ever been before, but it is too late for dissuasion. She’s come too far and has dealt with too much to turn back now.

She can see both sides now: the bright and the dark. There is difference, and there is indecision, but in the end all there can be is cohesion. Chaos and control come together to form humanity. Neither side can exist without the other. She hears the silent voices of her two halves as they constantly war against one another for dominion over her actions. The harsh brightness of her Desire for self-preservation cries out with all its might, not willing to allow its grasp on life to loosen. The soft and cool darkness of her longing for the Peace of the grave speaks calmly with a determination that drowns out the light in her heart. Ever so gingerly, the peaceful tug in her heart places its hands around her neck. She feels them there. The smooth sensation of love rolls over her, as she realizes that Peace is more valuable than life.

Her hands tremble, knowing that the time has come. She looks at the flat of the knife and sees her face therein. The reflection shows her a person whom she no longer knows. She sees fear and disgust in the eyes, eyes that have known too much in too little time. She sees tears rolling down the milky white cheeks, and as she notices them, they begin to flow more freely. She knows that the person trapped in the knife is already dead, and the person who now lives within her is ready to follow. She doesn’t want this to happen, but she knows that she needs it to. There is nothing left for her here in this world.

She takes one last glance at her surroundings and allows the tears to fall from her face. She makes no attempt to wipe them away. The quiet loveliness of the glen causes an outstanding self-assurance to well up within her once again. She sees the stillness, and she feels as if time itself has died. She touches the knife with the tip of her finger. It is ready, and so is she….

A Summation of the Poetry Class I Took Last Semester

I find that when many people try to study poetry, they tend to shoehorn definite meaning into it, but I do not believe that is a useful or beneficial line of thought. I believe that poetry has meaning; it would not be worth studying if it did not, but I also believe that meaning can be duplicitous or manifold. With something as artistic and ephemeral as poetry, how could there ever be only one meaning? I have decided that for me the beauty of poetry is not that it carries meaning, but that it carries meaning for everyone.

Meaning is a tricky thing. Many people confuse it with definition, but I think definition is only an example of meaning. Granted, definition is very important to meaning, because it helps us to assign usage to words and limits confusion, but the definitive cannot explain philosophy. Cognition goes so far outside the realm of definition that we are still making up words. A definition is not a concept; it is the name of a concept. That is why metaphor is so important, both in poetry and in life. Metaphor is what allows us to expand on the definitional and create connections. Allusions and connections are what allow us to advance into new areas of understanding. We study what we know, and it opens up new avenues to go down.

Poetry plays on those connections. It should be understood that people all think differently. Synapses fire, and conclusions are drawn from the information received. The process is the same, but the sum total of the information used differs from person to person. For that reason, meaning is different to everyone. It is not because ultimate meaning does not exist, although sometimes I believe that it does not, but because people all experience meaning differently. Poetry is a universal language, and I believe that my coming into that knowledge has led to a breadth in my personal poetry that was not there before.

At the beginning of the semester we were asked to write a “meaningless” poem. I did not realize how difficult that would be until I wrote my first draft, which I subsequently titled “Solace of the Sky,” and saw how poorly I had followed those directions. In fact, I failed horrendously. In my second draft, I began to open my mind to the thought that, when dealing in the medium of words, meaning is always somewhere around the corner; there will always be a way to interpret words, no matter how carelessly you couple them. “Purple custard does not burn purple,” is an exemplification of the futility of intentional arbitrariness; I just did not know that when I wrote it.

When I was younger, I had no idea that poetry was mainly about concepts. I thought that it was just a highly structured and limited form of writing in which rhyme scheme and rhythm came before image and thought. I did not like to write poetry, because I could not escape my dislike of rhyme. It was not until a few years ago, just before I became an English major, that I began to understand that rhyming does not equal poetry. Throughout the course of this class, I have paid no mind whatsoever to rhyme, and it has been incredibly freeing. As I explored my ability to express thoughts abstractly through fewer words, I learned that one word can be used to tell a story.

One particular assignment allowed me to explore this personal discovery. The goal was to use no more than seven adjectives or adverbs. I wrote about a statue that I saw in a painting shown during class, and I found a higher level of specificity in the words that I was choosing. As Mary Oliver said, I tried to “look for verbs of muscle, adjectives of exactitude,” but I found that even in doing that I created a poem with a number of different interpretations. After having written that poem, even though I am not particularly fond of it, I will never consider poetry to be a limiting medium again.

A poem is what you make of it, whether you are the writer or the reader. One concept that has stuck with me throughout the semester is the idea that beginnings and endings are a construct of the human psyche. Some things we can only understand in reference to chronology, because our lives have beginnings and endings and so too does our ability to perceive events. We cannot be present for everything that ever happens; eventually we have to look away or move on, but that does not mean that whatever we were observing has ended. I applied this idea to my poetry when I wrote the poem “The World’s World.” In that poem the main conceit is mankind’s perception and understanding of the universe around us. We can only comprehend some parts of the universe, because it is so immense and so complicated that our minds are not capable of understanding it, disregarding the level of advancement of our technology. One way I showcased the flexibility of structure is in the way I broke up the lines of the poem. Structure can either be organic or inorganic, which is also true of man; in the poem I paid no attention to length of lines or of syllables, and allowed the breaks to fall where they felt right. I allowed the poem to decide for itself. It is hard to describe how something can just feel right, but the closest I can come is to say that I put no thought into the way I ordered those line breaks, and yet I am entirely satisfied with them.

This laissez-faire approach to poetry reminds me of a word that I heard in class and that left an impression on me. I had never heard the word sprezzatura before, but I believe that it sums up how I prefer my poetry. I do not want to slave over my concepts and my diction before I have even let them out. I much prefer tinkering with things after I have drafted a poem out once or twice, which is the opposite of the way I used to write. I developed the bad habit of wanting things to work the first time, which is absurd and foolish, but I believe that this class has helped me break that habit to an extent. It has at least done so for my poetry. A good example could be my poem, “My Special Tshirt.” In that poem I made numerous revisions, but I do not remember any of them. They just flowed organically and easily, because I was not forcing them to come. When something felt out of place I moved it or removed it, and if something felt lacking I added another line. It was easy and simple, and yet I was thinking the whole time. I was in commune with the words I was writing, and I enjoyed that feeling of studied nonchalance. I am grateful for the way this class forced me to practice my technique, because by better coming to terms with my own voice as a poet, it has become easier for me to access my inner “sprezzatura.”

In the last few years, I have been debating within myself over a concept that has been very important to me throughout my whole life, and of course, this class has figured into the debate in a significant way. Essentially, I have been trying to come to terms with my own personal definition of God. I do not begin to claim to have any insight into the true nature of God or the true meaning of life, but thinking about what God is has been extremely therapeutic and has led me to many personal discoveries, so I do not regret my attempts at philosophy.

My current definition of God is this: God is mankind’s ability to reach out for things that are more than human. For example, everyone has a conception of love and everyone knows what beauty is, but to define either of those things is virtually impossible. God is our tendency and capability to find and grapple with these ideas that cannot be defined by logic and words. Over the course of this semester, I have come to the realization that poetry is another example of this phenomenon. Poetry has structure, but it does not have stricture. Any rules that we place on it are self-imposed. It has a qualitative side, in that poetry can be said to be good or bad, but that quality is open to interpretation, and the person criticizing the poetry is as capable of fault as the author.

In the final poem that I have written for this class which is titled “Breathing under Water,” I explore the conceit of drowning. The imagery deals with water and drifting, but it almost revels in the idea of being lost at sea. Instead of thrashing and struggling against the sea, the narrator of the poem accepts his fate and becomes one with the waves. I think that this poem is an ample example of the indecisive dilemma of mankind. We try so hard to nail everything down with definitions and certainty that we lose sight of the beauty of the nondescript and the uncertain. In the end, poetry is somewhere in that twilight of human understanding, along with aestheticism and God, and the only thing that I can do to express my understanding of it is to quote the psalmist by saying, “Selah.”