You think that way because you’re a poet

The frame maker’s wife

My wife is avidly into jigsaw puzzle and painting by numbers.

Several weeks ago, she glued several of her completed puzzles unto backing boards; and I brought them to the local frame maker’s shop. Then, last week, it came time for me to pick them up. The frame maker cupped some cardboard around the wire on one of the frames, wrapped them together for me, and advised me to carry them by the wire. I was nearly at the bus stop when the wire broke.

I carried the three frames back to the shop with both hands (which is what I had intended to do originally), and the frame maker replaced the wire. I watched him working with great curiosity. “This is really interesting,” I said, “Most of the time we purchase things when they’re complete, and we have absolutely no idea what went into making them.”

“You think that way because you’re a poet,” responded the frame maker’s wife and requested a link to my website.

Living in poem

I constantly walk around mumbling words under my breath nowadays, attempting to articulate that which I am experiencing. This is something that I have been increasingly becoming aware over the course of the last year, ever since I started writing poetry.

I’ve also started looking more closely at the Jerusalem skies and at local flora. These are things that I never did before; I was usually in such a rush to get somewhere. Just yesterday, I noticed some fuzzy deep red flowers that had fallen from a tree and pointed them out to my six-year-old daughter. As soon as I drew her attention to them, I thought to myself, “Wow; what has happened to me?”

As writing poetry has become a passion, I haven’t only been noticing differences in how I think – I’ve been noticing that my more recent poems feel different to me. It’s difficult to explain, but when I write a poem, I feel that it expresses more than the words within it. It even expresses something more than my intended meaning. My poems are expressing – me. Poems are comprised of words, of course, but what they mean and how they are experienced go far beyond that.

When I a poem feels complete, I often experience a rush of relief – a sense of… it feels so lovely to have expressed myself!

Politics, religion, and…

I follow U.S. and Israeli politics very closely, and I enjoy political conversations with other well-informed people. Also, while I am no expert on religion, let alone Judaism, I enjoy theological discussions with others who are open to considering religious ideas critically from different angles. To a large extent, there is often a great deal of overlap between religion and politics, especially so in Israel, where the Chief Rabbinate is an official organ of the State. Of course, plenty of intelligent people are interested in neither politics, nor religion, but I often find that my conversations with such people on other subjects are relatively short-lived.

Now, this is not to say that I only think about religion and politics. In fact, that’s very much not the case, but at any given moment, I don’t necessarily know what it is that I am thinking about because many of my thoughts seem to defy my comprehension. Such thoughts are more like… impressions, perhaps. More like… sensations. And it’s precisely these sorts of thoughts that I am able to express in my poetry. Sometimes I find that crafting a poem helps me better understand that which is on my mind. Sometimes my poetry doesn’t directly relate to these hazy thoughts, but I am nonetheless left feeling that they had a hand in shaping my verses.

So when my conversations with others inevitably taper off, I often find myself reflecting inwards and mumbling words under my breath. I often find myself longing for my computer keyboard or, at the very least, a pad of paper and writing implement.

I was reminded of this at a recent family gathering for Israel Independence Day. It was terrific to see my cousins, all of whom I love and think of highly, but it didn’t take long for our conversations to die out. It wasn’t for lack of affection or curiosity, but we simply did not have very much to say to one another after hugging and catching up… and, as usual, I quickly found my mind brimming over with words that sought release.

Blogging & identity

Often, I reflect upon how well my blog represents me as a person.

There are many things that I don’t write [about] here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish, where I have full control over the subjects I raise and the comments I respond to. This leads me to feel that there is something inherently artificial about blogging… something… as though… it’s as though I’m fooling myself in a way. After all, this isn’t real life – it’s merely an imaginary realm that I’ve thrown myself into.

On the other hand, I very strongly feel that there is something more true about my poems and reflections here on the Skeptic’s Kaddish than I often have the opportunity to express to others in person. I may be presenting an idealized version of myself online, but it’s also a version that reflects deep feelings and notions of mine, of which I am often unaware or confused by until I run the tips of my fingers across my keyboard…

78 thoughts on “You think that way because you’re a poet”

  1. Your creative thought process reminds me of the Mass Media Principle of Context. We all approach any piece of Mass Media, be it book, photograph, tweet, or blog, carrying our own context. The piece also contains a context. These 2 interact in our interpretation of the piece. When we compose a media piece, for example a photograph or poem, we are shaping it according to our internal context (view of the experience) using specific codes & conventions. I often catch myself looking around at things framing the shot: thinking about whether it will look better as a colour or monochrome composition. Like you, words keep playing in my head, making associations & analogies. As a retired teacher, I still look at events in the news, recent changes in society and Mass Media, and think about how I would incorporate it into a lesson. 😀 The personal context of being a teacher is so ingrained, I will have it with me for the rest of my life. 🙂

  2. Hmm, seems you’re an honest introspector.

    To me, the bible at the least hints that God authors all thought, based on the person’s intents and motives whether good or evil (Jeremiah 17:9+10).

    I like your natural (“skies and local flora”), examples of inspiration. Jesus did that: “Consider the lilies of the field.”

    Also, to me you express the Psalmist’s, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Nice essay.

  3. Wow this is amazing view! I never realised how different I am now after I started consistently writing poems.
    I agree about the poem expressing me part. Earlier I used to receive gratification by publishing my poems and receiving praise but now I feel I am Not able to freely do it because my poems reflect my real deep side which I am scared to expose to the world! Thanks for this amazing realization!

  4. This is such a lovely reflection. I think taking in, with all our senses, serves to deepen awareness and ultimately experience. It seems you are very good at this. It is clearly demonstrated in your writing.

  5. I think all art is a discovery of something we didn’t know before. And observation is part of it. But, at least to me, what I create is always a surprise. (K)

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