Poetry’s wonderful world of magic and realism

Poetry’s wonderful world of magic — that’s almost redundant. Isn’t the elevated world of a poem necessarily a magical one? The magic comes from close attention –the writer’s and the reader’s — to people, beings, relationships, and things. But every poem needs specifics to ground the reader, to help a reader  enter the world of the poem.

A poem about water rushing down a small creek, bending bushes and grasses, can make me feel like the bent and twisted weed, crushed by life’s  flowing forces. A poem of lament can raise my own sorrows  and pull me into their gravity. Good, imagistic writing invites us

Poetry is by definition magical realism: writing rooted in realism but splashing wonder in all directions.  Here’s my poem that began with paying attention through a restaurant window to a small creek outside. Gradually my observation became a journey and then a foretelling, and then I was carrying love on my back.

The River

Cookies crumble in the pockets of my jeans.
I save them in case I need extra good fortune.
The one today told me to relax, and I remember
my mother always said, What are you waiting for?
But then she also said, Why are you so impatient?
She couldn’t have been right both times.

I just grabbed the nearest one
and as I chew and swallow the pieces,
they melt into the same thing: loss, anger, joy,
and swirl down the stream beyond
the restaurant. I left it winking
at the statue of Lao-Tzu on his ox.

Take some more, they said,
I took a hunk of architecture,
some random windows—open, close.
I took the cheapest ticket, the desperate caress,
the stolen insight. Moments flowed

through my ears, whispering
that nothing is ever lost, just changed
into memory. I should have done more
with my life. I should do less and relax.

All time exists at once.
I think Einstein said that, or Lao-Tzu, breathing
down my neck, wanting his river back.
I cross carefully, my shoulders
wearing wings of fog.
I step on small islands, all the gone souls
I have ever known blooming and scented
as they hang around my neck.