As a special treat on this first Friday post of the year, Sanaa Rizvi who blogs at A Dash of Sunny is my guest, with a wonderful poem to share with us and some very thought-provoking remarks about it. Sanaa, of course, is well-known to us as an extraordinary poet herself, a regular participant at Poets United and a Contributor of prompts at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. Here is her gift for us today. Many thanks, Sanaa! – Rosemary
The Salt Stronger
By Fred Marchant
By Fred Marchant
I have seen the legislators
on their way,
the jacketless men
in mid-winter who will cast
their votes like stones for this war.
Men who have to cross the street
and over gutter, their cuffs
now vaguely blued with a salt
that dries in dots where it splashes,
and mingles with the finely
of the chalk-stripe suits,
the soi-disant practical men,
you can see them now tiptoeing,
now leaping, balletic, windsor-knotted,
they pass, they pass
the window of the Capitol Deli
wherein I am writing to my friend
he a “witness for peace,”
a poet who for years has wondered
what good poetry is or has been or does.
I compose today’s answer from here,
I think of poetry
as a salt dug from a foreign mine
that arrives like a miracle in Boston
as pellets to break underfoot
the dangerous plated ice
and cling to the acknowledged lawmakers,
to stay with them in their dreams,
to eat at the cloth and reach down
to the skin
and beyond the calf
into the shin. I think the soul
is equivalent to bone, and that conscience
must hide in the marrow,
float in the rich fluids
and wander the honeycomb at the center.
There, and not in the brain,
or even the heart is where
the words attach, where they land
take root after the long
passage through the body’s by-ways.
Just think, I write, of how some poetry rolls
off the tongue, then try to see the tongue
in the case
that faces me, a curious,
thick extension of cow-flesh
fresh from a butcher’s block, grainy and flush.
I think that if my tongue alone could talk
it would swear
in any court that poetry
tastes like the iodine in blood,
or the copper in spit, and makes a salt stronger than tears.
From The Looking House (Graywolf Press, 2009)
Available at Amazon along with his other books.
One word. Wow! Words aren’t enough to describe just how powerful, evocative and stunning this poem is in its portrayal of depth, emotion and sincerity towards the power of poetry.
Fred Marchant is an American Poet, and Professor of English and Literature at Suffolk University in Boston. He is also the Director of Creative Writing Program and The Poetry Center at the University.
When I first read this poem I was completely blown away, and the first words that came to mind were ‘I Wish I’d Written This.’
How many times have we been asked about the significance of Poetry? How many times have we come across those who are skeptical of its power to create a difference. As a Poet I feel that it’s necessary to speak and to voice our opinion upon this matter.
This poem was probably written during difficult and dire times and belongs to a completely different era but when you think about it, it is still as relevant when we examine it and think along the lines of government and politics.
Fred Marchant began writing poems in his second semester at Providence College in 1964. His love for Literature makes me recall my time and my days when I dived into the subject due to love and admiration of an English Professor. You can learn more about him in the following interview:
We come back to the question addressed in Marchant’s poem, “what good poetry is or has been or does,” which is what grabbed my attention and the exquisite manner in which the Poet answered.
Let us create a hypothetical situation where we are asked the same question. How would we reply? How can one possibly do justice in terms of making the other person feel and realize its worth? How do we maintain hope? How do we yield power?
Exactly how do you instill passion for poetry in someone who is or not a writer or a poet?
I strive to answer this question to this very day and wish I possessed the flair and ability which Fred Marchant has. You can feel the passion, the hope and intensity in his poem as he speaks of poetry that ‘rolls off the tongue,’ how many of us agree with that statement.
Fred Marchant's poetry collections include Said Not Said (2017), The Looking House (2009), Tipping Point (2003), and Full Moon Boat (2000). He is also the editor of Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, 1937-1947 (2008), a selection that focuses on the work done while Stafford (another fine American poet) was a conscientious objector during World War II.
I hope you guys loved his poem as much as I did and look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.