This week, while my nightstand featured "American Sideshow," an incredibly fascinating book about the myriad assortment of carnival freaks of the late 1800's- my car stereo featured Wu-Tang Clan's '93 album titled "Enter the Wu-Tang" which is - and I concur - regarded as one of the greatest hip hop/rap albums of all time. I'm not going to claim to be some sort of hip hop super fan nor do I thump down the streets of my smallish suburban town with my windows down, aching for slanted glances, for recognition of my incredibly sweet taste in tunes. No, I mostly listen to punk rock, rock and roll, alt rock, talk radio (NPR), and currently, with my kids in the car, Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (all hail Shere Khan - the ultimate in "Tiger Style!"). But every time I take a musical side road and dip into my hip hop collection, I always find myself simultaneously dipping into my poetry journal to re-work and revise poems I've written on the fly, in moments of white light-pure, blinding inspiration. These are the poems that I know have gold in them - nuggets of value scattered about my scrawl -but they need some sifting, sorting, before they can land here on my laptop in what I feel is a jewelry store display case of perfectly placed words and spacing. So thank you Wu: Ol' Dirty Bastard, GZA, RZA, Raekwon, U-God, Method Man, and Ghostface Killah. When you brothas from Brooklyn made your soon-to-be legend album in the early 90's, would you all ever have guessed that you'd be - in effect - facilitating the editing process of an aspiring middle class white female poet!? You tell me: "Can It Be All So Simple?"
Poetic Voice by Jennifer Jones
If you read enough poetry,
your voice takes on a musicality
of speaking in beat, pacing,
then up and down
your sound begins
You’re a singer of words,
think in rhyme,
of letters that settle in gutters
and funnel like drops of lettered rain
Funnel your rage
push passion through pen
a dragon’s exhalation, a snake’s shed skin.
Hands hover over a vacant keyboard
ready to be a better builder.
To mother a novel -
not borrow from another’s
You’re a dragon hoarding word-treasure
wagons of rhymes whipped in your listener’s ears
shiver up their spines as
little dancers that shimmy and shake.
Take those precious stones, those
well chosen words
(that tap like tiny shoes
on the cillia, the cochlea)
up the spiral cartilage
knocks at the brain’s door.
Skates its neuron-rich dance floor.
Words reach that tender pink place
strike a chord with what sounds oh so right.
No end in sight (just echoes)...
Music on strings of light
walked by, witnessed at night.
Stars strung together
as constellations of light
Want to see, want to hear
these golden lights
these golden notes
that flake into being,
into sense-making glowing
Your head threading, your hands weaving…
So read and train that tender pink brain,
that dragon that is waiting / racing.
Learn to listen, weave the strands
Owl by Jennifer Jones
Mysterious and lovely, fluffy and deep
He sweeps the misty grey meadow.
Searching for scurrying low-legged meat
He dips, dives, hides from view
swings on silent wings.
Night things cower when he sails low...
talons skimming grass and frilled weeds.
His eyes widen - frighten - pupils big as midnight.
His target is seen.,
yellow eyes like slits of moon
Head down to aim his laser sight
then plummets with a rocket’s flight.
Hooks grasp - squeeze - close tight
forming a horrible cage.
Tiny heartbeat pulses.
Mammal mouth pants.
Sucks short bursts of its last air.
Owl closes his cage.
Brings warm body
to open beak.