alexandre arnau

(9.26.72 -? / new york city)

an open letter (to anyone who gives a damn)


throw those books away
they don't matter
what you need can't be held
in the hands that steadied you
on your mother's couch when
you were a baby
discovering the beauty
and terror of feet
nothing you can grasp
is of any value
only what you know

if you don't know anything
put your back into it
push
dig your heels in
and get busy
otherwise
you won't be worth nothing
and your words will be less

i've never read what most
consider to be poetry
only what i was told to
or given as a gift
i used to think i was deprived
of the beauty of words
composed on the page
by writers of past ages
that i was ignorant
a fool
and believed that understanding
and appreciation of the art
was to be beyond me
and i would never fully grasp
what it meant
to lose myself in the images
and the painsjoyspassionssufferingshighslows
and verity
of the human condition
and to give my hands as offerings
to the altar of wordplay

'poetry is an art
only achieved through
sublimation of the self/
finding your pain and
letting it guide your hand/
by being able to touch the
souls of butterflies
and letting them pollinate
your heart/
giving away what is most
precious to you
leaving you nothing
but your words/
studying the classics
and perfecting the form/
burning the classics
and creating a new form/
putting your id
before your ego/
let the narcotics
do their work....
etc etc etc'

what a load
of bullshit

stupid ideas
told by wise men
and women
to those who hunger to
create something from nothing
who want to be
'the next big thing'
like prometheus
stealing fire
for the world

in reality
the only part that applies
are the vultures

i've met junkies
and crackheads
and stoners
who swore up and down
left and right
that the words came easier
and purer
through the haze of the brain
i've talked to
disgruntled telemarketers
who rely on the illusions
of a what an artist should be
there are those
men of leisure
the ones born into money
and have kept women
with foreign accents
who have the time
to observe the nuances
of all the events
that take place outside their window
i've talked to hateful waiters
serving overweight patrons
in suburban towns
who say that only the oppressed
understand anything
and that poetry is for the people
and those who make money from it
aren't true poets
university professors
who claim
the last true poetry
came from the eighteenth century
and discard everything else
as inane drivel

thank g*d
i am a poor student

the only thing
that i've discovered
in my years of useless scribbling
derivative stylings
approval seeking
lackluster results
and all the other things
that wannabe poets go through
is this

i figured out
that reading great works
and studying composition
practicing spoken word
hanging out with
trendy coffehouse folks
in their black turtlenecks
and berkenstocks
smoking foreign cigarettes
and searching for meaning
really doesn't amount to
much of anything

what matters
isn't vocabulary
or grammar
how well you punctuate
or not
how many poets you've read
or haven't
or who reads your work
or not

what matters is
what you know
even if it's a lie

and words are work
not the kind that
is fawned over
by sycophants
put in collections
to be looked at through
dusty glass cases
revered as supreme insights
into the dark hearts of men
shot into space
on the next deep space probe
to greet our neighbors with

no

i mean work
burning eyes
calloused hands
broken backs
bleeding ulcer
trash collecting
coal mining
dumpster diving
burger flipping
cab driving
oil pipe laying
day in day out
mind eroding soul eating faith testing
work
not for the leisurely
the hateful
the dogmatic
the deluded
the arty
the armchair philosophers
or the elitist snobs

no

it's for you
and for me
who don't do this for money
and who do
who knows somebody
that kicks their ass
to to do it
or thinks you're a weirdo
and discourages you from
putting it all down
but mostly
for you
who just likes to do it
despite the fact
you know you'll never
be the next big thing

it's all what you know
and the work you put into it
and if you don't know anything
at least you know that much
but i suggest
to start
get the hell out of your house
and learn something
then dig in
and get to work

but i'm no poet
so what the hell
do i know?

Submitted: Friday, June 24, 2005

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