To be a poet is to wake up every morning and file the callouses from your senses. You scrub them until they are so raw that your familiar lover smells of lust and danger, a cup of coffee is like a warm hug from an old friend, and morning sunshine still tickles with the light of unmanifested dreams.
Stephen Dunn says, “All good poems are victories over something.” The poet trades 1000 days of idle leisure for any adventure. A chance at victory. A chance that their entire life can be an epic poem that echoes in the halls of eternity.
If on this path a poet suffers a tragedy, she does not claw in panic from the depths of despair. She breathes… and digs deeper. For she knows that her only salvation is on the other side of that hole, where there are no demons left unmasked, and no poisonous tears unspilled.
To be a poet is to have one true enemy with many names. Emptiness, numbness, apathy. When a poet feels these things he throws himself into a passion, a challenge, a fight, a dance, anything to make him feel. He despises those ameliorates that dull his senses, and heralds that which fuels his fire. And if that which fuels his fire is fire itself, he cares not. For as Soren Kierkegaard says, “A poet is not an apostle; he drives out devils only by the power of the devil.”
A poet can express unimaginable joy, but he never brags. A poet can express unimaginable heartbreak, but he never complains. A poet is a tuning fork that resounds the human experience, and Fortune herself, the striker.
The difference between a poet and a soldier, is that the soldier’s heart is full of scars armored in Spartan red. Whatever pain he might feel, whatever innocence he may carry is guarded by his impenetrable ethos. A poet goes to life without armor because he knows only when you are vulnerable to injury are you susceptible to bliss.
Walt Whitman wrote the prayer for the soul of a poet. “Sail Forth- Steer for the deep waters only. Reckless O soul, exploring. I with thee and thou with me. For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared go. And we will risk the ship, ourselves, and all.”
What is life then, but one grand adventure, one epic poem? To be a poet is to embrace the story of your life as it unfolds. To play the hero, to fall in love, to have your heart broken, to fall in love again, again, again, to fail, to despair, to inspire… To be a poet is to live.