Poetry is not an answer

            Poetry is a calling

                        a vision that does not vanish

                        just because nothing

                        concrete comes along, or

                        because the kingdom of heaven

                        is under some tyrant's foot


            Poetry is not a right

            Poetry is a demand

                        to be left alone

                        or joined together or whatever

                        we need to live


            Poetry is not an ideology

                        poets choose life

                        over ideas, love people

                        more than theories, and really would

                        prefer a kiss to a lecture




            Poetry is not a government

            Poetry is a revolution

                        guerrillas -- si!

                        politicians -- no!


            Poetry is always hungry

                        for all that is


                        poetry never stops drinking

                        not even after the last drop, if we

                        run out of wine poets will

                        figure a way to ferment rain


            Poetry wears taboos

                        like perfume with a red shirt

                        and a feather in the cap,

                        sandals or bare feet, and

                        sleeps nude with the door unlocked


            Poetry cuts up propriety into campfire logs and sits

                        around proclaiming life's glories far into

                        each starry night, poetry burns prudence

                        like it was a stick of aromatic incense or

                        the even more fragrant odor of the heretic

                        aflame at the stake, eternally unwilling

                        to swear allegiance

                        to foul breathed censors

                        with torches in their hands


            Poetry smells like a fart

                        in every single court of law and smells

                        like fresh mountain air

                        in every dank jail cell


            Poetry is unreliable

            Poetry will always jump the fence

                        just when you think poets are behind you

                        they show up somewhere off the beaten path

                        absent without leave, beckoning for you

                        to take your boots off and listen to the birds


            Poetry is myopic and refuses to wear glasses

                        never sees no trespassing signs and always

                        prefers to be up touching close to everything

                        skin to skin, skin to sky, skin to light

                        poetry loves skin, loathes coverings


            Poetry is not mature

                        it will act like a child

                        to the point of social embarrassment

                        if you try to pin poetry down

                        it will throw a fit

                        yet it can sit quietly for hours

                        playing with a flower


            Poetry has no manners

                        it will undress in public everyday of the week

                        go shamelessly naked at high noon on holidays

                        and play with itself, smiling


            Poetry is not just sexual

                        not just monosexual

                        nor just homosexual

                        nor just heterosexual

                        nor bisexual

                        or asexual

                        poetry is erotic and is willing

                        any way you want to try it




            Poetry has no god

                        there is no church of poetry

                        no ministers and certainly no priests

                        no catechisms nor sacred texts

                        and no devils either

                        or sin, for that matter, original

                        synthetic, cloned or otherwise, no sin




                        In the beginning was the word

                        and from then until the end

                        let there always be




—kalamu ya salaam