The Point: An Interactive Poem

So here’s the point:


            That was the point. I have another point to make:


            A pattern emerges.

The way you look at the point depends on where you’re looking from. In part.
So try looking at the following point from exactly where you are—WAIT DON’T
            MOVE. Stop moving. You moved.
OK. Now get ready, as if you’re about to say cheese and LOOK:


            Good. Now go take the point with you and go into, say, the bathroom. If
            you’re not home, then the nearest public restroom.
The reason I suggest a bathroom is because you usually think entirely differently
            there. And that’s part of the point. (A kitchen will do, I suppose, if it’s an eat-
            in one with chairs.)
Did you find one? Good. If you’re faking this and you haven’t really moved
            anywhere…then you’ll just have to use your imagination.
Now sit down (in the bathroom or kitchen) and consider this point:


            and compare your thoughts with what you thought of when you considered the
            first point. Did you forget the first point? It was this:


            No you can’t look at it from where you are now you have to go back to where
            you were when—

OK let’s try it a little differently.
Write down what you’re thinking right now about this point—stay in the bathroom
            if you have a pen-or-pencil with you, otherwise, go find one then come back.
            Are you back? Good.
Now, consider this point:


            and write down your thoughts.
Not on a separate piece of paper, right here; you write right on this poem. Record
            your impression—by making an impression!
What do I mean? Fair enough. Let’s say: jot down the first five words that come to
            your mind (here’s a space for them)—though if any one of the five words is
            really two or three words, that’s allowed:

     Word 1: ________________________________________

     Word 2: ________________________________________

     Word 3: ________________________________________

     Word 4: ________________________________________

     Word 5: ________________________________________

            Great. As you may have guessed, there are no right answers. (Like life.)

Now in a second I’m going to ask you to close this book or fold this piece of paper,
            but before I do, listen to what you’re supposed to do first, before you open it
            up again.
You are to go out into the woods. What do I mean by woods? It means where there
            are trees taller than you, and no concrete—a paved trail is allowed, in a pinch.
If you live in a city, a park may suffice, especially if it has natural water (like a stream
            or a pond, NOT a fountain!); but better to visit relatives in the country. Or a
            big back yard down the street, if there are plenty of trees, and you really can’t
            wait. Use your judgment.

OK, so you’re going to take this poem and a pen-or-pencil and a separate piece of
            paper and just have it ready. No, don’t close the poem yet. First, put opaque
            lift-off tape over the words you wrote above so you can’t see them when you
            get to the woods-or-woodsy-place, or clip a piece of construction paper or
            cardstock to the entire section of the page you wrote on so you can remove the
            clips and see the words later.


Now go out to the woods, and when you get there with all of these things, start
            reading this poem again from:


OK welcome back. I take it you’re in the woods now? OK. Then consider the
            following point:


            Now write down the first 5 words that come to your mind about that point,
            either on the separate piece of paper, or right here, or both (>1 word per word
            allowed, remember):

     Word 1: ________________________________________

     Word 2: ________________________________________

     Word 3: ________________________________________

     Word 4: ________________________________________

     Word 5: ________________________________________

The above five lines were a “refrain,” by the way. Until you came along.

Now compare the list with your first list. Yeah, remove the lift-off-tape or clipped
See?! That’s what poetry does:
Not only gets you to add your own thoughts, but to do it differently each time you
            read it, depending on where you are. And on when you’re considering the
            point. And of course on who you are, too.
(The secret’s out: that’s the secret of poetry!)

So: put lift-off correction tape or clip paper over your words in both places above, and
            photocopy this poem for a friend.
If you’re that friend, then show the first person (who’s been waiting for you to get
            back from the woods) your poem with your words filled in.
Both of you now compare.
See—you now have twenty different words in reaction to this point:


            and the two of you now have two different poems each. That’s part of the
            point of poetry, too: you always do!
If you are the friend, you know your job: photocopy this poem for another friend,
            with your own words blocked out.
Yes, poetry is like a chain letter. Sometimes.
“Hey, I just read this great poem by So-and-so,” a friend says, and then he recites it to
            you, or you go find it.
It’s like free gifts. That’s why poets are poor, at least from poetry.
But also generous. And generosity may be more important than money smarts.

By the way, if you couldn’t come up with any words of your own to think of, then
            you show great stamina in having kept reading the poem this far! So that’s
If both you AND your friend couldn’t come up with any thoughts of your own, then
            you might just be the smartest people on the face of the planet, and destined to
            become Presidents of the United States one day, or lawyers. But it’s still OK.
            At least you read a poem.

I hope you have enjoyed this poem.
And remember to pass it on.

And whenever you read poetry or anything, remember that the point is to consider the


            Pass it on.


Cosmetics paint the face
And shade the person.

Conditioner fluffs hair
And hides the head.

Is it a case of cases, though,
Or contents?

If beauty’s in the breeding
And the eye

Then what’s worthwhile or truly

When is daily life
Not mere survival?

Let’s turn the lights off now and look.
And see.

Crime of Nature

It wasn’t quite Film Noir, more a Crime Drama,
the dream where victim took out his histo-
rical abuse on his abuser’s daughter.

Mid-thrust, the daughter learned her father’s name;
the man, that she had never known her father
who had run off soon after she was born.

He paused and seemed to think a second (though
thought wasn’t really in his nature), so
the pinned-down daughter cried out,

think of my children, ugh
of your mother, ugh ugh
of your sisters, ugh ugh

of what you’re doing to them! ugh OW

He paused and seemed to think another second
and realized she shared his victimhood;
that his revenge only compounded his
humiliation, and the triumph of
his nemesis. By then, though, he’d achieved
such a momentum that he kept on go-
ing through her screams. But for one split-second
he saw in her his image—long-lost sister,
or mother, or both. I woke with a start

and knew who they were: the abandoning Father,
Man, and Daughter-Mother, known as Nature.


I started in a sting of tears
     when I shuddered awake from a dream
of four big mean tough boys I knew
     about to pounce on littler ones
who languished with some taller girls
     in something like a schoolyard, all
unwatched by the Authority.

From wherever it was I lay
     I hollered, doubting the efficacy
of sleep. But the inveighing seemed
     to make the bullies look up, though
they couldn’t hear more than some mumbled
     Do unto’s and the like. And in their pause
of wondering if they’d just heard anything,
     I enjoined the frail to go up to the mean,
one by one, say hi, intersperse
     and individuate their pack,
ask the big boys to imagine bigger boys,
     the taller girls to join in too,
half flirt, to short the critical surge
     of moment making monsters out of boys.

That said, unsure who might have heard
     I jumped in dilatory dream
to some time later, when I found
     them all playing with each other.
Delirious. I yelled, ‘Now isn’t
     that better?’ But, again, a sleep’s
unheard, so they kept capering
     and laughing over one another
innocent and ignorant and blithe.

And what Voice yells enjoining us
     that we can’t hear, the school doors shut;
what Dreamer beams for all the meek
     to rise in peace and strength, act, take
the upper hand?
                              I rise, aware
of menace, but this sting of hope
     propels and, notwithstanding that
I might get killed one of these days,
     I cannot help but prowl the yards
and shout.


for Jared, turning 20

First off, lyrics like rape the b__ch and kill
the cop—What do they have to do with culture? Or even sub-culture, if you will?

They have less than nothing to do with birthing
babes, rearing of young, caring for elderly, which give even the worst some worth.

Perhaps their point is to indict the crimes
of culture, as we might inveigh against the sacrifice of maids in olden times,

abandonment of babes unwanted, to
the elements, in ancient Greece—the “Wailing Hill” of every outskirt—or the mutilation

of girls going on today
in Africa: All “culture,” sure, but Art can should must might just have a thing to say

about such practices. But here the Howl’s
the opposite of art! And that’s why I howl back not from my head, but heart and bowels:

When sh_t is shat it should be wiped, or folded
into soil to fertilize a fruit of some nutrition. Cruelty’s just old—

and cheap, albeit lucrative. To whore
the victimization—the rape and murder—of policemen, wives and daughters, for

careers in what I call air pollution,
they call music, and you call culture, is one thing: But you don’t have to be their john

and make the over-underprivileged rich!
Children will listen, and agree with you: Tell them It’s Cultural; then me, the b__ch

whose rapist loved rap. Later you can tell
the slaughtered cops, whose killers knew it well.