Friday, April 11, 2008

It's 11 days into April, and I have yet to acknowledge National Poetry Month. Time to remedy that! Over the rest of the month, I'll try to post a few poems that have been important in my life. Here is one by James Tate from the Oblivion Ha-Ha which rocked my world my freshman year of college (a world-rocking poetry year in general for me):


Why should you believe in magic,
pretend an interest in astrology
or the tarot? Truth is, you are

free, and what might happen to you
today, nobody knows. And your
personality may undergo a radical

transformation in the next half
hour. So it goes. You are consumed
by your faith in justice, your

hope for a better day, the rightness
of fate, the dreams, the lies
the taunts--Nobody gets what he

wants. A dark star passes through
you on your way home from
the grocery: never again are you

the same--an experience which is
impossible to forget, impossible
to share. The longing to be pure

is over. You are the stranger
who gets stranger by the hour.

At first this may seem like a very negative poem, but as an 18 year old, I found it exhilarating. I still do. I continue to be consumed by my faith in justice, to have hope for a better day--the poem hasn't taken that away from me--but it also reminds me not to take myself too seriously; it reminds me that sudden, radical change is a possibility, that life is all about change, that we can never truly know ourselves, that nothing is written in stone. And there is something both scary and freeing in that.

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