(or “¦ How to Read a Poem)
by P. G. Karamesines
First, kiddo, disperse that obvious shadow:
To read is not to know. To read
Is to listen from your quiet place
To the teasing laughter of some new voice.
Listening requires aptitude for not knowing.
If you read a poem, yourself, alone,
Watch for those sudden synchronizations of,
You know, pulses, which, happening, don’t prove
Knowing, only meeting: two languaged souls
Adrift on unfolding sea, converging at crosscurrent
Symbols, flowing together then pulling past.
Isn’t that romantic, toots?
When you read a poem, imagine words
Anticipating arrival, turned voice-
Toward you already. Step up to what song’s
Piping hot to be heard. But don’t try to know.
Meaninglessness is that blue butterfly
On the diamond-stud pin. Such a waste!
Something in person-reading-poem-
Reading-person ever escapes, like light,
Into the wink of the abyss. If in reading
A poem you don’t turn at the crack
Of a wall yielding, that creaking noise
As the universe — all them stars — buckles,
You ain’t listening, dearie, only knowing.
Even when, after chasing flights of laughter,
You find in the boonies some poem in its skin,
Remember: to see is not to know,
But rather to come upon as if in a forest
Meaning playing naked in a stream.
That’s where it lives, love.
Get grabby, you break its green embrace
With the current’s deepening hold.
To read a poem is to stand with it
And to move, to change
In ardor of exchange, to wind with words
Into a nerve bundle of world’s desire.
It isn’t to know, sweetie, it’s never to know,
But only ever to follow what calls.