Who is on the plum tree?
Poetry as Truth By DiAnne Ebejer
As a young girl I first fell in love with books, then poetry. I told my Dad I wanted to learn how to write poetry…he handed me “Shakespeare, Arranged for Modern Reading”. Hilarious, is what I thought too as were my first attempts at poetry using this as a guide. As you can tell, if you have read any of my poems, I threw down any notion of scholarly advise about writing poetry. For me poetry was, is and will always be about seeking to write the truth through feelings. Feelings and truth. This, then is also the kind of poetry I have always favored. Poetry that hits a nerve, strikes a chord, and connects. I have so many favorite poets and find new ones all the time. I don’t look at the name on the poetry so much as what the poetry says to me how it resonates, makes me feel. Some poetry, while I’m reading it, can actually make me stop breathing. Yes, it can take my breath away.
And I’m glad poetry is no longer reserved for the highly educated and leisured classes like it was years ago. Now verse is being written by more and more everyday poets as can be witnessed on Facebook in the many poetry groups that abound. Poetry is a way to break all constraints in life and put your courage on the page. Poetry is not mere fancy, but an attempt to tell the truth and share strife, happiness or pain in a full and authentic manner. In many ways philosophy and poetry are a lot alike. Though their creations are very different, both aim at the truth.
Here are, I believe, two fine examples of the kind of poetry I’m speaking of. I had saved these two poems in my “stuff I like” folder and picked them out for this post. I met both these gentlemen on Facebook and they were generous enough to give me permission to share their poems here. I give you Steven Curtis Lance followed by Nick Clark. (Thank you again Steven and Nick!)
“The Only Way is Up So Here I Go”
fifty-six lines at fifty-six cents overdrawn
Let me be alone to take my mistake
In stride or hide or something like heal now
Let the disappointment ache out somehow
Enough reality I need a break
If the psychotic kind out of my mind
Though even so let me take time to take
What little I have left and do my best
To be happy and to make my mistake
The past at last to learn from left behind
I would be happy if only I could
But knowing I should at least I would try
To find happiness then before I die
Now before all this is over for me
At least when this side of reality
Learning from this as from all my mistakes
Always the hard way as harder each day
Turning and earning whatever it takes
I wonder what it all means anyway
When all it takes is all I have to give
Everyone tells me I have to forgive
To forget and yet remember to live
As I should but would tell them if I could
That now I am something like tired and would
Like to try and figure out how to be
If I am supposed to how to be me
Let me take a break then with my mistake
Behind me to find such me as can be
Having taken time to be mistaken
It might take awhile now to smile again
Returning learning to smile again then
Better than ever with wrinkles to show
Someone who suffered but let it all go
Who will always wonder though never know
To know has no importance anymore
Winning the peace through having lost the war
The peace that comes from having understood
This is it for me now the only chance
To be for this being becoming Lance
Belatedly fated to join the dance
And this is it to be the best I can
This as this fifty-seven year-old man
Having had trouble and wanting no more
Having done what I should then what I would
Now wondering what all the fuss was for
Doing what I should then the best I could
Fussing behind I keep an open mind
Finding the meaning of life to be kind
Of hard to understand for those who fuss
But kind of easy for the rest of us
Having what it takes when it takes it all
Humankind is best when humans are kind
Learning from mistakes we rise when we fall
So it is then as I open my eyes
To my surprise now to see how I rise
Having understood not needing to know
The only way is up so here I go
+Steven Curtis Lance
Sometimes her memory hits me like a fire blanket being hurled over my thoughts.
We still giggle in the Surrey fields…
Or even igloos… in this case…
For that is where she had her first and only spliff…
And her laughter still echoes silently in my memory.
So bright, so beautiful,
So full of fun and enthusiasm… Always chortling like a little sausage.
There were only a handful of our age group in that cul de sac,
And I bonded with her and her sister well…
Always loving, kind and warm hearted to see me…
She honestly never hated for anyone…
Always filled with the joys of spring,
Skipping around like the good folk do.
Oh… but her sense of humour…
Did I mention that? How she always understood my jokes,
And laughed like a sister by proxy,
With eyes of adore draping kind heavens before my view?
Silliness for days, as we played in the holidays,
And called our gang ‘R.A.D.’, and explored the local mansion without permission,
On grand adventures into daring do.
Then she followed a dream,
She was nice like that.
She wanted to help the starving children of Africa,
And help the animals.
So she didn’t talk about it. She bally did it.
But that desperate sun,
Nearer the equator, where the earth is in closer proximity,
To the searing star flames…
Was too much for her fair skin…
And she contracted skin cancer, in the end…
Having devoted herself to a noble dream…
She’s now been gone a while…
But I still look after her every day…
In my memories.
Where I can see her… Right now… Clear as day…
Laughing with such happiness.
She hasn’t gone away.
She’s in heaven in my mind.
However different we may be from other people all over the world, in constructing our own world of thought, insight and artistic creation, we are very much alike. Over the past couple of years I have found this to be especially true as I have had the opportunity to participate in the world-wide poetry anthologies here at Plum Tree Books and read the poetry of folks all around the world. Even though we live in a strange and hostile universe these days, in truth, we all love, we all hurt, we all laugh, we all cry, and we pretty much all express it in the same way.
© DiAnne Ebejer