what we cannot say


A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel — but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling — not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

~e.e. cummings

poetry is the way we speak when there are no words….

inquiry for today~   maybe a few expressions in your day that are a little mix-up-able? try it…….

how do you feel what you see?

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves
(though Sterling Brown said

“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I’”),
digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

~Elizabeth Alexander

2 thoughts on “what we cannot say

  1. Love this. Cummings is dead on, what mystery makes them feel so deeply, why do we cry in a forest for no apparent reason, there is an unseen tide that washes through, and makes the words as fern carpeting the forest floor … thank you for this on this day when Persephone returns …

  2. you, the poet, knows! actually- intuits and “sees”…..I so appreciate his awareness around feelings……and I see you in the forest…..thanks g.f.s…..may you enjoy the turning of the wheel and the vibrant greening…..

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