by Charles Bane, Jr.
Rockets fire between Gaza and Israel, bringing grief in their wake. They detonate in a curse of flash and smoke. It is like when there were hurricanes when I was a boy and I wrote in the dark, by battery lamp. I burrowed deep into my private soul, and made art that defied the rage upon our shaking home.
And as I wrote and wrote and walked more each time in the creative unconscious, I grieved that not everyone is possessed of poetry, that it streams only from a few. We are poor ambassadors; our work is only read after tragedy and not before the command to fire.
We are blasphemers, every one. Moses took off his shoes before a mosque of sand; his Torah is unfinished poetry; it flows unchecked to the Qur’an. We poets know that the words considered sacred were touched by the spark we use to make a magic that curls onto a page and read as verse.
God is not ours, or yours. The truth is, he is a poet first, and the proof is His stamp of genius on John of the Cross and Mahmoud Darwish. His writing is in the Upanishads, the “Himalayas of the soul.” If we war wherever poets write, a manuscript uncompleted will be destroyed. At thirty eight, Federico Garcia Lorca was put against a wall and shot, during the Spanish Civil War. In his notes were: “the night copies me in all its stars.”
Long before my deeply happy marriage, I loved a young woman profoundly deaf. I learned to speak in sign. And that is what I propose now, to Muslim and Jew: not a negotiation but intimacy in the language of art, made together on the social media that makes revolutions, and away from the notice of major media that only portrays stereotypes. I want books and galleries to share when we inhabit eternity. I want my poem added to the Palestinian’s who dreams his olive farm is returned. “God counts the tears of women” is written in the Talmud, and I want to read Muslim women whose spirit He took pains to note.
Sir Kenneth Clark wrote that the best judge of a civilization was not in an empires’ acts, but in its art, but I want more of us: we can share our creations at lightning speed, and outrace the rockets.
Charles Bane, Jr. is the American author of The Chapbook ( Curbside Splendor, 2011) and Love Poems ( Kelsay Books, 2014). His work was described by the Huffington Post as “not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them.” Creator of the Meaning of Poetry series for The Gutenberg Project, he is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida and working on a new collection, The Ends Of The Earth. www.charlesbanejr.com