LOST FOUND LOST - An essay by David P. Bates
I am absolutely lost. I thought I was lost before, even HOPED I was lost, because “lost” at least meant that maybe I wasn't doomed to the normalized “found” that surrounded me. The dull everything that screamed SHUT UP BE QUIET from every direction as if there were no direction but EVERYWHERE.
The books in class, the television at home-- my mother my father-- and my brother sister repeating mommy/daddy bullshit in both ears at the same time. I've been stomping and stomping for years now, and here I am-- lost again like I'm a teenager. Not just lost. But, finally, ABSOLUTELY lost. Whatever bearing I thought I had, is gone. Except the nagging. It pushes me to the left, and to the right, and when I struggle, it clamps down the way it always does. The nagging. Absolutely.
It comes to me softly with a low voice saying-- not why are YOU lost-- but WHY are you lost; I have this big basket of shit for you. Its bucket is made of shit and its handle is made of shit and the shit within the shit-basket is GOOD SHIT.
Here. Take it. It's full of Shakespeare and Wordsworth. Rhyme and Meter. Feet. Degrees-- Phd's and MFA's-- a few good books taught by a few good teachers in a few good schools. Have you been lucky enough? I don't think I was-- or maybe I was. Enough teachers I didn't trust making me read books I didn't like to MAKE me at least TRY to write my own work. A few good losers to inspire me to win.
BUT REALLY-- that's unfair.
or is it? Have I failed as an emotional being because I can't sit through a lecture on the virtues of a poet writing 100 years before my experience? Have I failed as a reader because I can't assimilate the nuance of a language that even my grandfather doesn't speak-- unless he's reciting “poetry”?
Why does every structured work-- the sonnet the ode-- sound like it was written 100 years ago? These structures have a STRUCTURE – rhythm, rhyme, feet, meters-- but why the archaic foulness? thee. thy. thine. reversed sentence structure? obscure references-- SURELY the modern poet can prepare the meal of language in a more edible arrangement!
Competing with the dead is a fools assignment.
If there is a god and there is no god but if there is a god--- please let me speak outside of the language I have, and damn the language that I have inherited, for its the language that I have, and I am trying to speak, i swear, but the words I have fuck me every time. I NEED MORE.
So I am lost. Finally. And absolutely. And here in these dumb places I will try to speak. The first thing I will do is stomp the voices in my head. The mommy/daddy voices. The teachers and the students trying to be teachers.
And the more I stomp the more words I'll lose-- and when I'm finally void of language, I will attempt my first poem.
It will fail.
David p Bates