Poetry workshop: Athens scene. It’s all Greek to me.
You can’t, she said, you must not!
Add on to what is real. To write is to depict reality,
naked unadorned. Use words for what’s there.
That’s what I do, I put into words what I see.
Not possible, she insists.
Maybe what’s possible differs, I venture
(she’s the creative-writing teacher).
To see a Byzantine Saint’s face
on an ordinary man in the metro! Just doesn’t cut it.
But that’s what happened!
You made it so.
You have a point. My eyes, filled with those paintings’
beauty, spilled over as I looked.
Still: I saw.
Imagination projected. Writing’s role is to be
true to reality!
Whose? Yours? Mine?
You see a worn-out laborer on his way home;
I see a saint exhausted from one more ascetic day.
Who is not the one in front of you!
But look-alike: similar physique, bone structure, skin tone,
same culture, country, faith,
maybe same genes.
You don’t see genes.
But you intuit many things;
you sense spirit.
Now we’re on to a different kettle of fish,
I’m a teacher of poetry!
And I a student in love
with the power of words.
OK then, describe a painting, museum, metro.
But do it the way readers would want to read,
and cut out the rest!
The discovery? The magic? The emotions?
The moment of delight underground?
You must not overlay what you believe on what is!
But life does precisely that! As I see it, so it is!
Everything lives its own image.
Rock resists, rainbow vanishes,
water falls, flame rises
crow caws, blackbird sings at dawn—
A poem evokes its own world.