The themes of thanks
“Poet, be like God.”
~ Jack Spicer, Part III of “Imaginary Elegies” (1955)
People are hard to understand.
Incomprehensible, even for themselves.
Why should form readily count more than substance?
Why should mediocre products, incompetent workers, hypocritical clergy, corrupt judges,
greed, fraud, and self-centeredness be commonly accepted as the status quo?
Why should talk of liberty, democracy, piety, affluence, passion, and love
substitute for the real things?
Why should apparently gregarious people spend more time with animal companions
than with other humans?
Why should any child develop from “get it out!” to “little monster”
to prodigal “rebel” as if on cue?
Why should dateability and sexuality hinge on surface style
rather than on creativity, character, respect, and the depth of the heart?
Why should anyone come across as cruel, aloof, and condescending —
especially attractive women?
Why should standards apply to who or what is attractive?
Why should creative thinkers, visionaries, and intellectuals often find themselves barred
from warm relations with those of less cerebral persuasion —
or with anyone, really?
Why should anyone feel marginalized — especially the nerds who develop the technology
everyone allegedly wants?
Why should good news stories of improving health, wealth, and fulfillment
go on denying the hard truth that the modern world is deadly cold?
Why should decent folks everywhere sink into loneliness, burnout, and depression?
Why should business, academia, politics, technology, religion, science, medicine, and philosophy
leave the discussion of these matters, overall, to poets?
In the poetry of thanks
grateful acceptance is the first and most crucial stage of healing.
These are stories of a misfit of the most alienated sort
— a born nerdy romantic poet in modern America —
who grows up cultivating relationships with his invisible friends of childhood
rather than face abject isolation.
Goaded by a companion demon whose judgmental attitude
is reminiscent of domineering parents, jeering peers, and overbearing authorities,
he revisits a bleak past,
starting from early pressures to come of age emotionally
to fully do so only in midlife,
and examining the conditions of modern American culture
that have brought about his frustrations:
the focus on money under a veneer of propriety;
the standardization of attitudes;
the accepted classification of individuals into recognized buckets
all of which impose feelings of worthlessness;
the unquestioned reversal of gender roles
systematically converting women to objects for the sake of profit;
the lure of credit lines and conveniences locking the agreed-to-be-attractive woman
into the role of the sex worker who never delivers,
while any other woman becomes programmed to rely on attitude or farce,
leaving all of them with the choices of either allying with men who are jerks,
throwing in their lot with those who get trampled,
or living bereft of intimate male companionship in the name of liberty,
though the end is all the same —
the resulting loss
from burdensome children and offensive youth to disrespected teachers and deprecated elders
of the sense of home,
so that the poet, like anyone, can take only a painful and harrowing path
to a personal homecoming.
Along the way, a collection of muses
with whom he fails to form relationships
into leaving a love in the street out of the fear that she can do no more than take advantage of him,
into giving up on finding the girl of his dreams
so when he does find her, he mistakes her marriage proposal for an abrupt dumping,
into getting dragged to court by a respondent to his personal ad,
into marrying, out of desperation, a frail foreigner with whom he lacks chemistry,
and through becoming best friends with her,
over the years exploring their cultural differences and experiential commonality
as both gain insight into the collective failings
of modernity, technology, organized religion, medicine,
science, academia, the government, experts, and the counterculture.
Other thoughts thrown in involve folk remedies,
meditation techniques, addictions,
a unique grand unified theory, the relationship between software and life, the nature of faith, and more.
While no pat solutions to the world’s problems are to be found here,
the promise of thanks always returns is that grace remains
in the face of all mindlessness and disillusionment,
and that coming to trust intuition can leave us at once open to anything life offers,
vulnerable and flexible enough to show our love,
daring and non-judgmental enough to realize our fantasies,
humble enough to hesitantly recognize our divinity,
self-directed enough to take on creative roles of stewardship,
selfless enough to build non-jealous community,
and light enough of heart to pursue life as art.
Thanks always returns
Copyright © 2014, 2015 Thanks always returns