I want to say something about poetic truth and reality. As I get older I tend to experience the world as increasingly soulful. But I am coming around to believing that that has less to do with my age than with how the world is, day by day, hour by hour, baring more of its soul.
When my brother, founder of the leftist news collective, ThisCantBeHappening.net, asked me to write a poem about the sparrow showing up at Bernie’s Portland rally, I replied that I would have a hard time doing that, because it was already a powerfully poetic event. Why mess with it? Since assuming the position of this site’s resident poet several years ago, I have discovered that there is poetry in almost everything that is happening in the world. My gift (and my cross) is that my heart and soul are connected to world events through language. I have written about crisis after crisis, finding that poetry can transform facts into digestible myth. If journalists cover the “story”, poets treat the mythic elements in the story.
As I reflected on the sparrow at the rally I realized that it can be taken on two levels: On the macro level, everyone is experiencing the same thing, what the video showed. On the personal level it carries the power of a dream and each person can interpret what the bird signifies for themselves. On the poetic level the possibilities were wide open. As I wrote, I started to address the poem to a fictional someone who was there, someone who experienced it directly, but around that dialog with this fictional person I embellished the larger, collective event that gripped everyone’s imagination who saw the video.
As a poet, for my soul’s sake, I had to ask myself, what’s really going on? Indeed, something mythic was playing out. Plus, one would have to be blind not to notice that Bernie revealed a little of his own soul in the way he responded to the bird’s appearance, or shall we say, its endorsement? And, hey!, isn’t it about time a candidate with soul stepped forward? I’m not dissing Obama. He too has soul or he wouldn’t have survived what the conservative hard-liners, not to mention his own party, put him through for 8 long years. But Bernie is like a breath of mountain- or ocean- or Spring-time air. If he’s good enough for a sparrow (finch) he’s good enough for me.
One day, in the asylum
We were having a bad day in the asylum,
A bad 8 years, a bad sixteen years,
Oh, heck, a bad era,
Well, let’s face it, a bad history.
But we had a good leader for a change,
A guy from Vermont
With wild white hair,
An honest man
Who most people liked and trusted
Who openly talked about revolution.