My mind returns always to poetry
Not as a task but as a blessed relief
It is the spontaneous, generous gift, “grace,”
“Free, and totally unexpected, and
Undeserved.” Someone remarked
About Flannery O’Connor’s characters
That they were all seeking grace
But grace, like poetry, cannot be sought
My mind returns to poetry
Not as a task and certainly not as a job
But as a sudden, spontaneous, often surprising
Lifting of consciousness, a blessing surely,
Like the moment when your sins are entirely forgiven
Or the moment when you understand
That the person looking at you
Loves you entirely and without reserve
And would, if it were possible, take on your death.
“Poetry,” wrote W.H. Auden, famously,
“Makes nothing happen,” but I think this is wrong.
Poetry IS the happening, the chance encounter with the angel,
The sudden blessedness.
It announces itself as a “feeling,”
A piece of “music” in the mind
That tells you, “Now is the time.”
It does not transform the world like a program to end unemployment
Or a vaccine that will cure coronavirus,
It transforms YOU–you become a beacon, a light,
The sudden, submissive vehicle of a consciousness
That holds you and forces you, often reluctantly,
To stand unalterably in its shining.
Today is the birthday of KPFA-FM.
It is 71, nine years younger than I,
Though I have been broadcasting on it since 1988.
For more years than most people have been alive
KPFA has honored not only the political,
The transformation of the world,
But the transformation that occurs within the listener,
The transformation that comes with the infusion of words and ideas.
Echoing Cocteau, Jack Spicer said the poet
Was a radio.
The device becomes the person
When your ears are tuned to a channel of endless, eloquent hope.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO A COMMUNITY RADIO STATION OF VERY LONG STANDING