“Forged in the Fire”

I look for and fail to find a single living poet. Because of this, when I read poetry, I read those poems left by the dead, left by those few who were truly alive, who were forced by overwhelming longings to divorce themselves from the coolly detached and burn themselves in their own fire. I do not seek to express a cool and detached position on reality. I have no icy illusions of chilling mastery. What feels real to me is the fire seething in my breast that I cannot escape. A poem is a prayer, a fleeting moment of wordless weeping, with no identifiable cause, shared between reader and writer. Are there no more poems that will shed light on the darkness that cowers in the cold and cramped corridors of my soul? Very well, I will have to create them myself. When the world has gone cold, it is time for me to bring it fire. I cannot become as cold as the world is becoming; if I do so I am lost. When no living poet can inspire me, it is time to seek inspiration within. What burns in me burns in silence, and yet I begin again, seeking to give sound to what would burn me to the ground without the words to give it meaning. I do not know in advance what I will say, and I will not let my ignorance deter me. I will not get a Ph.D. in poetry. I will not be schooled by the too-cool, pressed into submission by the passionless, or possessed by the indifferent. Indifference is one demon in me, but intensity is a stronger demon. I cannot write poems of hungers being satisfied, or of not being hungry at all; I cannot write poems of lukewarm fulfillment, of ease and unearned Sunday afternoon contentment; I cannot write poems of skating on the surface of frozen lakes, of letting myself be frozen. What is a poem that does not go through the fire? Not a poem at all, but words alone that leave me cold. The true writer, as wordsmith, forges his words under flame and hammers them onto the page, twists them until they no longer resist him, pounds them in until they drive him home, until they voice what never rests in the depths of his soul. Each word I write goes through the fire. It cannot be otherwise. Each word must be wrought like iron in a blazing furnace, then wrung like water out of a cold shirt just before it is flung aside by one who smolders with desire under the torrid desert sun.

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