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…

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

  1. This makes a lot of sense to me. I am honest on my blog, but I don’t share everything either. A lie by omission? I think not.

    Blogging gives me joy. Reading blogs opens my world to new thoughts and experiences. I would have difficulty talking to many about all the ideas going on in my brain. (Which by the way, is not a poets brain, but a creative one.)

    1. Reading blogs opens my world to new thoughts and experiences. I would have difficulty talking to many about all the ideas going on in my brain.

      I deeply empathize with both of these points, Lauren ❤

      Yours,
      David

  2. It is you David. It is you when you hold the hand of your child: you when you love; you when you work; you when you express yourself via poetry. I am not making a case for multiple personalities 🙂
    On WP we meet David, the poet, the philosopher, a wonderful being that looks for more, or looks beyond in his own way. Artificiality? I understand why you feel like that sometimes. To some extent, on WP we re-construct ourselves. It’s a lot to talk about here.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Take care
    xoxo

    1. Thanks, Gabriela.

      To some extent, on WP we re-construct ourselves.

      I think this is very apt – we “re-construct” ourselves. Perhaps I the person I aspire to be is the person you experience when you read my blog.


      David

  3. Oh this is fabulously expressed. It made me tingle with agreement and fellow feeling. Writing is such a good thinking tool! Or maybe it’s that you swim around inside a thought and discover its boundaries. And the bit about blogging too… a blog is such a strangely unique platform. You can express things you might hesitate to say out loud but at the same time such a large portion of any blogger is hidden. It’s like we see people’s minds, not their realities. Oh and if you don’t mind me saying, I think your poems have changed too. When I first started following your blog, I thought of you as an academic – very smart but not expressing the personal much. Now I look forward to your posts a great deal, never knowing what to expect. I hope you don’t mind me saying that. 🙂

    1. It’s like we see people’s minds, not their realities.

      Worms, this is so true. I love the way you formulated this idea.

      if you don’t mind me saying, I think your poems have changed too.

      You just paid me a very lovely and sweet compliment, Worms – how could I possibly mind you saying that? Thank you so much! ❤

      Your friend,
      David

  4. Do you think blogging is really any more artificial than other forms of communication, though? I know for me, the stuff I blog about is mostly not the sort of thing I talk about in any other context – so I am presenting a different side of myself than I do offline, but I don’t think one is more or less real or authentic than the other.

    1. EIF – this is the perfect question:

      Do you think blogging is really any more artificial than other forms of communication, though?

      I think if I were provide a summary of my back-and-forth confusion over this issue, it would be this very question.

      Yours,
      David

  5. Ah yes!

    The inherent mumbling of words. My girlfriend is especially fond of it when she’s trying to sleep!

    I’ll be driving, walking, sitting/staring – wherever, whenever, and she’ll say; “Pardon?”
    I’ll look at her a bit confused as my mind drifts back from a land of colour and words. She’ll say;
    “You’re talking to yourself again.”…

    “Oh, you heard that, did you?”

    I can hear YOU too David, from here, muttering away.

    Politics and religion – what is there more pertinent to talk about than that which shapes are very society?

    I also find the passage on blogging relatable. When I created my blog, for example, I intended it as haven to share my deepest, darkness anxieties and past struggles. I wrote under a pseudonym. Yet, I think I spread myself too thin, incorporating my passions, getting carried away wanting to connect with other people over poetry, and the like, that I put my name against my work. I opened myself up a little too much to ever be prepared to attach my some things to my blog – the things I originally created it to. It’s a trade off. I feel like the breadth of my interests and my ability to gain enjoyment from writing, sharing, and connecting over them, is outweighed against the pigeonhole I could have found myself in by diving too deep into other things.

    I suppose, you can always make a second, more discreet, blog, at any time! Or, be brave – fuck it, write from the heart – you never know what responses you might get…

    Good post David.

    1. I love your dialogue with your girlfriend, Darius 😀

      I feel like the breadth of my interests and my ability to gain enjoyment from writing, sharing, and connecting over them, is outweighed against the pigeonhole I could have found myself in by diving too deep into other things.

      That’s a very interesting reframing! Very positive and helpful; thank you, Darius ❤

      Yours,
      David

  6. Insightful David. And so true. The little everyday human interactions…they’re precious. Writing has changed me too. What I look at, the way I see it and the space that stretches in the wondering about it.

  7. David, your year-long poetry (person) evolution is beautiful to behold. I love the sentence, “Wow; what has happened to me?” 😆 You mentioned at the end of your engaging piece, “this isn’t real life.” My first thought was, I think so much of what we (WP poets and writers) share is more authentic than some of the “real” sharing that takes place in real time. Your final paragraph supports this idea. Writing, especially poetry, can tap the deepest part of our heart and soul, helping us make sense of it all.

    1. My first thought was, I think so much of what we (WP poets and writers) share is more authentic than some of the “real” sharing that takes place in real time. Your final paragraph supports this idea.

      Maybe I simply have preconceived ideas about how “life” should be lived, which are different than how I live it…. I wonder, Michele, if it isn’t somewhat generational – do you think, maybe, that younger people grow up with the idea that their existence is primarily online, rather than in person? I’m 41.


      David

      1. There is great truth to what you write. Younger generations, say born in 1993 and after, do not know life without the internet, with exceptions of course. Having spent many years with younger people, I can say that most understand the limitations and the “fakeness” of social media, but it is such a significant part of their existence – that alone takes on a realness. Excluding those who did not engage for a variety of reasons.

        The blog forum and what we choose to share is obviously controlled, to a great extent, however, when I/we reveal part of our heart through a poem, that feels very real to me. I don’t do that in my day-to-day real interactions. Maybe I should start. 😁
        41 was fun! Enjoy.😊

  8. Poetry does have a life of its own, doesn’t it? I love the multiple layers of meaning you can discover. It’s like it has its own voice that’s longing to be heard. Much like the stifled voice in us, at times.

    Makes me think of Björn’s “muted woodwinds” and how our own voice is muted in particular environments. Leaving those places, frees the voice that’s always been longing to be heard.

    I recognize so much of what you share here. So true that our blogs only reflect a small part of us, but I also think that that confrontation you feel is what only serves to make us more genuine in our “real” lives and more authentic in our writing. At least for me, writing and reading others’ writing, is iron sharpening iron. I shed so much “junk” in the process. I have a lot of old religious mindsets I am all to glad to be shedding.

    1. Anna, your words are so beautiful:

      writing and reading others’ writing, is iron sharpening iron. I shed so much “junk” in the process.

      I hadn’t thought about “shedding” junk, but -yes- you’re right! I do too. That’s so perfectly formulated – thank you 🙂

      Sincerely,
      David

  9. ‘My poems are expressing – me.’ That’s it, isn’t it? Do you find you don’t even set out to do this, that ‘you’ just come out in the poetry? Great post! I can identify with what you said about meeting your cousins. At a recent family gathering, I wanted to tell them all about Sonnet Sunday, but I knew they wouldn’t be interested…

    1. I wanted to tell them all about Sonnet Sunday, but I knew they wouldn’t be interested…

      Yeah, that’s the thing – they don’t care about the different forms of poetry I’ve been playing with, and they don’t particularly care (not that I blame them). I would love to find somebody to have a conversation about poetry with, but I don’t.

      Tonight I’m going out on a man-date (or, if you will, a bromance) with a friend of mine, and I expect to have a good time – he’s such a lovely guy… but he’s also incredibly down-to-earth and much more of a DIY-hands-on type of person… he is impressed by my poetry but has nothing to say about it… and he’s one of my closest friends. I really have nobody to talk about many of my ideas in real life.


      David

      1. I was so surprised to learn, when I joined WordPress, that people who cared about poetry actually existed! I suppose the last time I experienced this was at university, and even then it was only the professors, as most of the students couldn’t care less!

  10. The poet and the blog – we all here blog and some are poets and others pundits and a few are both. I have met in person several of my blogging friends and have to say that it is my experience that I know them better and have a deeper connections having read their posts. It is exactly the revealing of the more tender aspects of our lives that allows for a connection. When 2 people meet there is a superficial exchange of personal information. We divulge names and occupations, marital status and possibly compare schooling. It is the sharing of that personal information that is the basis of friendship. On the blog we may not reveal everything but what we do share is often something that we wouldn’t easily share in a face to face conversation. As for the poetry it can be autobiographical or not – what is revealed is the moral compass and core values. The religion and politics discussion is often a touchy subject in person. With a blog you can agree or disagree. You can discuss or pass over it – it is entirely your choice (something it is difficult to do when cornered at a neighborhood barbecue!

    1. On the blog we may not reveal everything but what we do share is often something that we wouldn’t easily share in a face to face conversation.

      EXACTLY, Muri.

      With a blog you can agree or disagree. You can discuss or pass over it – it is entirely your choice

      yes! This is something I’ve also thought about – here, on our blogs, we can simply find people who are discussing ideas that speak to us – we don’t have to waste our time with conversations that bore us. On the one hand, that’s a bit artificial (in person life is not that way), but one the other hand – more of our true selves can surface…

      very interesting.


      David

  11. A very deep reflection and honest writing, David. I feel the same way too about my blogging and identity. I wrote things on my blog that I probably won’t tell anyone. I feel free to write what I want to write, yet also restrained, because there are some things that I still can’t and don’t put on my blog. And when you wrote about where your mind went in the middle of social gatherings, I experienced that too ever since I became more engrossed in writing poetry. Worse, my fingers start to tap on my lap…counting syllables. But I really enjoyed reading your writing here. I appreciate the honesty. It helps me to look inward and reflect too. Thank you.

    1. Worse, my fingers start to tap on my lap…counting syllables.

      Erlyn, I didn’t explicitly write this, but I do that too! 😀

      It helps me to look inward and reflect too.

      That’s what blogging does for me too – reading and responding to comments like yours, for example… the process introduces new ideas and stirs my thinking… and then, having to respond, I have to seriously consider new and different points that I otherwise might never have encountered.


      David

  12. There’s room enough for it all and no one thing needs to be the end-all. Poetry is spiritual shorthand and you may be starting to tap into it a little deeper. I rarely wrote poetry before I retired in 2018 but I couldn’t imagine my world without it nowadays. Not only poetry, but sharing it with others. A poem isn’t complete until it’s shared, I think. I also love you are starting to notice flowers in your neighborhood and sharing your noticing with your daughter.

    1. Poetry is spiritual shorthand

      Lisa – are these your words? I think you just made my head explode 🤯

      A poem isn’t complete until it’s shared

      And this idea too!
      You’re SO right. SO, SO right!

      Thank you,
      David

  13. That last point, I’ve often seen that expressed as a prompt question – how true to life is the “you” that we read in your blog? And people often answer along the lines “I am an open book”. But I do not think it is true. Here, we have the luxury of revealing good parts and hiding bad parts. I have a strong feeling that many of the people I meet in blogland are good people, but given that we all display our best sides, this is not really surprising.

    1. Pete, your comment is spot on, I think. Especially this –

      Here, we have the luxury of revealing good parts and hiding bad parts.

      That is part of what I struggle with.


      David

  14. I love to read your reflections. And I can relate to it: writing poetry is not just writing words, it’s a way of living, a way of seeing, a way of being. I am my poetry.

  15. Fabulous post, David. What you have written, and the ensuing conversations with your readers, will have me turning these thoughts over throughout the day!
    I now would like to read back over your earlier posts to see the evolution of the poet you’re becoming . . . so when you see loads of little Union Jacks in your stats, you’ll know that will probably be me. I’m not stalking you! 😀
    I agree that expressing ourselves through our creativity is a wonderful and satisfying thing, whether it’s poetry, painting, writing prose or even making those cute little patterns on top of a latte.
    How much we reveal in our blogs is something that I can relate to at the moment – I will need to see how my blog develops. I wrote a Christian one for the past two years (now deleted). I’m experiencing all kinds of emotions after turning away from the faith I once had and I’m having to hold back on a lot of those feelings, as my initial desire is to encourage people. I’ll see how it goes.
    I hope the work your wife did got back home safely. 😀

    1. I’m not stalking you! 😀

      Lesley, I would be honored to have you stalk me❣️

      I hope the work your wife did got back home safely. 😀

      Yep ~ all is well, thank you 🙂

      Yours,
      David

  16. Such a beautiful take on how it feels to write poetry.

    If I’m not quick enough to my keyboard sometimes the words in my head disappear.

    I love the line about noticing the beauty of the petals with your daughter. I think the past year has shown us all what’s right in front of us, if we can slow down enough to notice it.

    I think I reveal more of myself in my blog because I need to write to put my deepest thoughts into words. If I try to say them, they never come out right.

    My Dad says he knows me better since reading my blog and I feel a deepening sense of connection with those that do (unfortunately I can’t persuade my husband to read it!)

    1. Rae,

      I think I reveal more of myself in my blog because I need to write to put my deepest thoughts into words. If I try to say them, they never come out right.

      I also find that writing is much more helpful and productive for me than speaking – and it really allows me to drill down into my mind and figure out what it is, exactly, that I’m thinking.

      I feel a deepening sense of connection with those that do

      I so relate to this too. I send links to friends and family, but many don’t read what I write. I’m not offended – it’s a big commitment to read everything I write because there’s so much of it… but, that said, when I know that somebody is reading my poetry and reflections, I feel much closer to that person.


      David

  17. A lovely post, as always, and something I can relate to as well. I feel expressing myself through poetry, has made me a much calmer person and helped me let go of alot of unnecessary things which I used to hold on to earlier. It has been a sort of meditation for me. At this point,there is nothing else I’d rather do, than write poetry.(with my son hovering around me like a butterfly, of course!😉) ❤️🦋🌈

    1. has made me a much calmer person

      Diana, I feel this way too ❤

      At this point,there is nothing else I’d rather do, than write poetry.

      And this too! I feel the same.


      David

  18. I absolutely love the piece with the frame maker’s wife – that truly is Begegnung in Buber’s sense, is it not? also makes me want to write about where such thing happens in contacts here where I live – usually with the quirky British sense of humour squeezing out from underneath behaviourism. 🙂

    1. Barbara – that’s such an insightful comment. I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, I would say that you are spot on. It was a thou-thou, for sure!


      David

  19. I loved your post David! I agree with the frame maker’s wife, you’re a poet. 😊Perhaps, the real you lives through your blog. Here, there’s no place for judgements or stereotypes. I strongly think that politics and religion are the main subjects for almost everybody, even if thr majority doesn’t assume it. The human being is a political animal and he also needs to nourish his spirit. That’s where the two subjects come together. We vote for those you make decisions that have an impact on our lives. Some pray to a God whilst others just contemplate the universe. Religion is written in different ways. I love your blog David! ❤ You are an inspiration!

  20. An interesting read, David, as always. So honest! Keep running your fingertips across the keyboard. All the best!

  21. What a beautiful way to express your inside out in such an introspective mode! A great read I must say and a very relatable one for all the poets out there! 🙂

  22. 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)

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

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