Autobiographical Poetry

The one time I wrote a love poem it was to a dead man who, when he was alive, had taught me how to see behind my own words for shadows,

shadows, which, more often than not, contained stories I was ashamed to tell myself, but really wanted to hear,

since some more unconscious part of me knew embarrassments were always more deeply meaningful than philosophies.

But it wasn’t easy to read this deeply at first, and I turned my face away from the practice as cleverly as I could,

since the last thing I ever wanted to share with my reader was what I really wanted, and I thought most of my writing friends would scoff at the idea of introspection being a kind of poetry.

Though in usual fashion, I was harder on myself than they could ever be on me.

Aren’t you being a little self-centered and narrow-minded? I told myself, each time I intuited my way behind words on the page only to avoid acknowledging that,

in addition to not understanding what I’d just written, I was vigorously defending an idea of what I thought the poem was,

its arms crossed, its logic broken and closed,

like the heart of a drunk with some sound advice.

That’s when I started to really write, I think, since without a way to hide from myself anymore, which, to be honest, is why I initially started writing, I felt obliged to depend on the nesting doll-like darkness of memory and whatever ordinary half-buried likeness of character I revealed there, as a way to be as explicit and forthcoming with myself as I could, telling myself the story of my trying to find a story, and how I didn’t know how to do that just yet.

So, yeah, I think it’s this story behind the story and enactment thing that I’m reminded of whenever I think about what a poem means to me now,

it’s like it’s not the flower that I give to myself or anybody else when I’ve made sure not even I can read that, but the power and freedom in unspooling, plainly, almost defeatedly, how I secretly want to be like the stupid flower.

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