“A Poem is Not Just” by Aidan Kelly

A poem is not just
Prose broken into short lines
unless they jostle like puppies
Struggling reach the tit
Or sperm competing to be first
to penetrate the veil around the egg,
Knowing from their genes
They must catalyze the Big Bang
That begins all life—or die.
A poem is not just
Feelings anyone could feel
Unless they explode with knowing
How her aura feels when rubbed by mine
Or how the sensuous grace of the spirit
Justifies my faith that all is worth persisting.
A poem is not just
Assuming the world is what others
Think, but must question assumptions
For the shock of the instant when
You see that what you had never thought
To question cannot be true and opens
Up possibilities of joy you never hoped for.
A poem is not just
Words to use up at your leisure,
The synesthesia of metaphor,
Where numbers have colors
And sounds have textures.
You can’t predict when She will
Flood you with Her words.
They must be caught as gently as a butterfly
Without breaking its wings
And crafted now, even if
The garbage needs taking out,
Ignoring the persons from Porlock,
Else She will take them back, like dreams.
A poem is not just
Random noise like a tin can clattering
Chaotically down concrete steps,
But must be music for the solo voice,
The words’ multiple meanings generating
Harmonies and counterpoints
Like the linked strings of a harpsichord,
As the Greeks and Judeans danced one-two,
one-two, one-two-three with drums
And pipes and harps and joy and torches
Toward the hieros gamos of the holiest
In the navel of the universe.
A poem is not just
Solemnity or prayers or lectures
On how serious your life should be,
But is playing as the Gods play, since,
Having nothing they must do,
All that they do is play, enticing you
To play with them in the riotous ecstasy
Of their presence within us.
A poem is not just
Optional, as if life were adequate
When living on cold porridge,
But instead gives us the daily
Vitamins and minerals that
Almost invisibly empower us
To live with joy in every moment,
Not just survive. So when you see
A poem, take two. They’re small.
Es, fress, Papa schickt gelt
As we summer in the Poconos.
Mangia. You’re entitled.
Aidan Kelly has been writing poetry for 60 years. He has a BA and MA in Poetry Writing from San Francisco State.  He has had about 3 dozen poems published in journals over the decades and had his collected poems up on Amazon, with some slim volumes of selected poems. He has been teaching at college level since 1979. Kelly has been an editor for Stanford University Press and Scientific American Books, among others.
He has a wife, sister-in-law, and 3 kids at home.