Save A Poet

14 01 2010

God Takes Care of His Poets

I’m starting with this article of faith: God takes care of His poets. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be writing this letter. Neither would I have lived my life as I have lived it.

God takes care of His poets. The first time I heard this rather presumptuous statement it came from the lips of a poet of course. He was my spiritual and poetic mentor, Joe Lemming. We were both young and on fire with poetry and life and music. We had an itinerant poetry band called The Mighty Angelbull Vibrational Band. Often, like any gypsy band, we found ourselves in pecuniary distress. It was becoming clear to me that despite Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, poetry was no likely road to riches and fame or even survival. I was at the time in my life when we normally make career decisions. In short I was at a place where I had to decide whether to be a poet or get a job.

When Joe found me one night with my head in my palms wondering how I was going to make the band’s expenses, he said to me, “Don’t worry, Lightning Rod, don’t you know that God takes care of His poets?”

I thought he was just trying to inject a bit of sardonic levity into the somber situation, so I laughed and said, “Sure, like He takes care of fools, drunks and little children.”

It doesn’t matter what your conception of God looks like or if you even have one. The statement ‘God takes care of His poets’ started to mean something deeper to me that was more observational than religious. I noticed that when people were doing what they believed they were intended to do, the universe became more cooperative. It was a simple but important observation that was reinforced by the evidence of my experience.

I was quite young when I realized that my life and my fate were intimately connected to words. Language was the only discernible gift that I had and it was my main comfort and refuge. I knew that it was my responsibility to nurture and respond to this talent even before I began calling myself a poet.

Being a poet is much more than simply being clever with the language. No matter how facile one is with words and devices, if truth is missing, if the words don’t tell you something important about life, then it isn’t poetry. Real poetry is serious business and not to be undertaken frivolously or by hobbyists. To be called as a poet is a curse that blesses because it requires much courage and persistence and endurance. But my life has shown me that if you are faithful to your calling, God Does take care of His poets.

I don’t say this out of professional conceit. God takes care of His plumbers and His accountants and His mechanics too. He takes care of anyone who is lovingly devoted to anything that fulfills a purpose in life. He rewards them with happiness and the contentment of accomplishment and survival.

But enough metaphysics, let’s talk about art.

If art is what is left over after the feast of life, the vast receding echo that resounds when we scream in the orgasmic rapture of creation, divine debris, then we must question its necessity.

Who teaches us how to do what has never been done? The artist. Through his fancy’s telescope he lets us peer over the horizon. He gives us pictures and music and verse to express in tangible form those things we always suspected but were too shy to utter, lets us see, hear and taste things that were previously the unfounded rumors of our hearts. He even gives us a new vocabulary with which to begin further rumors.

Rumor has it that Lightning Rod is writing a new book of poetry and other nonsense. This will be my seventh book. None of my previous six have changed the world or bought me a house in Capris, but I will persist regardless of potential rewards because it’s what I do. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s the only thing I know how to do. I do it in hope that perhaps it will provide some small amount of entertainment, some slight glimmer of hope, some useful way to look at life, some modicum of humor and relief to my fellow travelers. Or in hope that it will get me laid, I don’t know. Even so, we must question its necessity.

“My heart rouses
thinking to bring you news
of something
that concerns you
and concerns many men. Look at
what passes for the new.
You will not find it there but in
despised poems.
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.” —William Carlos Williams

So, I am writing another book. There is one small problem. Circumstances of health and fortune have arranged for me to find myself at the door of poverty. Sadly, I must eat in order to write. Poetry is very time consuming. I spend hours a day writing and editing, but that doesn’t touch how long it takes to discover the truth that is expressed in poetry. So, it’s good that poets don’t work by the hour. But the hours go by. In this case I’m talking about kilowatt hours. Poetry is lost on the electric company. It’s not essential like power for our lights, we must question its necessity.

But for me it IS a necessity. It’s what I must do so that I can be assured that God can take care of his poet. So I will continue to write the book, the poem. But I could sure use some help. My health is not as hearty as I would prefer. The liver is quivering and I’m nearly blind because of these inconvenient cataracts so I work with great effort.

So, I am asking you, dear friends and readers, to give me a helping hand. Luckily my needs are not great. All I need is a place to lay my head and food for my stomach and a connection for my computer so I can work.

I know that you can’t wait to ask me what you can do to help. A job with full benefits would be nice, but I might have trouble with the criminal background check especially if the investigators have read any of my previous books, but I will do any meaningful work of which I am capable. You could buy my books. What would really help is a sponsor to underwrite the production of my work. If you know of anyone, a company or corporation, a foundation or institution or a person who sees the value of having art and poetry as part of our lives, and is willing to sponsor my work, please connect me with them.

In lieu of any of that, cash would work. My needs are immediate.

I could tell you that for less than the price of a Starbucks a day you can save a poet from starvation if not obscurity. I could play a Sarah McLachlan tune in the background and show you close-ups of my puppy eyes moist with poetic hunger and need and say that for only $19.95 per month you can prevent this poor poet from suffering a life in the homeless shelter and certain euthanasia. I could double the offer if you buy today. But I will simply say that if you are generous above a hundred bucks, you will get a signed advance copy of the book.

I have installed a Paypal ‘Donate’ button on my web site. With this device you can easily and quickly and discreetly send fundage. Help God take care of His poets.

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