Shamanism

Poetry is shamanism
for people who have lost the hang of it
whose bond has been severed
by the glass-shard-sharp
edge of brutality
or lost in
the muddle of
forgetting
abandoned in a frenzy of updating
running as horses do beside a train
never able to keep up, always exhausted
while the metal caterpillar
never gets out of breath.

Poetry is a shamanism
that requires no psychotropic
but curiosity
no bloody sacrifice
but your lacerated heart
no ritual but the rhythmic
scratching of pen or
tap-tapping of keys;
bodypaint is optional.

Poetry could be shamanism
for everyone ashamed of shamans
afraid of soothsayers and dreamings
unnerved by foreign words with
untranslatable meanings
whose minds fight feelings
discard them as they do
vegetable peelings
people for whom the unseen is a
room with a bust lightbulb
who fumble around in it
aching for a light.

But a poem – a poem
gives you ten more hands
a billion more nerve endings
feline eyes that see in the dark
the sure-pawed tread of a lion
certainty that although you do not know the way
it will become clear as you go
and you’ll see glimmering blue eyes
the nightmare scars of horrors
those lived and those handed down
and the poem will name them
give them the recognition they seek
and let them slip away into the
soft, enfolding gloom
that no longer seems a pincushion
of fearful unknowns
but the solace of a mother’s arms:
here, baby, let me take your pain
and absorb it ’til your pen runs dry.

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5 thoughts on “Shamanism

  1. I wish I was a shaman
    So that I could get away with
    A flight of dance
    My expression aghast
    Cursing mediocrity
    Highlighting heaven
    Sweating out the beat as an invocation
    An invitation –
    My brothers, my sisters! –
    Please make some headway
    Move into the heartway
    Must find a gateway
    Some kind of getaway
    Into the centre of that stinking beat!

    (my poem from 1995)

    • I like it! And that you still have archives from 1995, they must be fascinating to dig through. I’ve been going through old notebooks and getting rid of almost everything (moving house soon…)

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