Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Feature: John Burroughs Day 3

Mark This

Doesn't matter if you laminate me
Punch a hole in the end of me
Create a neck on me
You can tie a pretty rope around

I don't care if you stick me
In Shakespeare
In Salinger or Dr. Seuss
Leave me in some tedious tome
You intend to finish at some point
But never do
Or pick your teeth with me
Drop me thoughtlessly on the floor
For your puppy to chew

I'm the son
And heir
Of tall trees who
Though often abused and misused
Have gladly given their hearts and bark
For the sake of warm homes and art

I'm much more
Than a bookmark

© John "Jesus Crisis" Burroughs (1st published as part of Le Pink-Elephant Press' 2nd annual bookmark series)

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Do you write "love" poetry? and if so, why don't we see more of it?

I'm inclined to argue that every poem I write is a love poem. It just depends upon the broadness of your definition. I've thought that for a while, actually -- but at the last Lix and Kix poetry event I was interested to hear David Smith (author of the Genocide Sutra) mention that he'd begun to consider a similar viewpoint after a conversation with John Dorsey. The three of us are in ways remarkably different poets, none of whom others would be inclined to label "love poets" -- and yet there we were, sharing this odd consensus about every poem we write.

Is there a particular form of poetry you particularly are drawn to? Such as Haiku or sonnets, etc..?

I'm drawn to freedom in writing. I have nothing against the traditional forms, and I have great respect for poets who can handle them deftly. But my inspiration (for lack of a better word) doesn't always come in 14 lines or a certain number of measured feet. I suppose I could take my free verse and craft it into those forms more often than I do, if I didn't lack the time and inclination. As far as I'm concerned, crab legs are as good to eat lying on the plate naturally as they are if you tie them into pretty bows or funny shapes before you serve them (and it might require overcooking to get them into those shapes anyway). So why bother? That said, I do write a lot of I Ku -- 3 line, 17 syllable poems about me - largely because they take less time to "perfect" than most other forms.


  1. when a poet writes
    something from his heart
    the bark of trees
    sit still
    and notice all his art Qoote CharlaX

  2. Well .. I will harass you about the love poems just to be a devil's advocate.

    Because I feel it is a bit of a cope out to say or identify every poem you write as a 'love' poem. And I aim that at you as swiftly as I do at David Smith or John Dorsey. I understand that you could honestly say that since you craft them with love they are 'love' poems but by stricter definition they are not.

    I think many guys are chicken when it comes to writing love poems.. though I have heard a few at a few recent slam event I went to. And I was very pleasantly surprised. . But I think guys are afraid they will be thought to be soft or mushy.

    If you noticed, I believe David read a love poem at L & K last time.... or I read one in his White Time poetry book. Trying to remember which... but he does know how to write one.. As do you... because you have at least one short one that was published in the spring.

    Anyway.. I challenge you to write a longer one.. :-)

  3. I also recall you sharing one at the reading in Sandusky... but can't remember the name of it.

  4. Oh.. also wanted to say.. I like your thoughts on how you like to write and why.. form or formless. I have my own reasons. But won't share them here but will at least agree with the part about not fitting it into a form if it isn't meant to be one.
    Sometimes things lend themselves naturally to one... but for me rarely do. You tend to be very innovative with your writing so I can imagine forms might be a bit constraining.

  5. I could be wrong, because my mind wanders into odd places occasionally. But I think I detect a metaphor at work here. Poet (writer) as a tenuous divider of time's leaves...marking personal experiences that the reader is also able to make use of ritually.

  6. Thanks for your comments!

    I don't just mean they're love poems because I love writing them. ;) Take "Mark This" for example. It's definitely a love poem. It's about loving myself. But also, on another level that's most obvious in the last lines (I'm much more / Than a bookmark), it's about feeling a need to be loved. Because if it didn't really "matter" (as the speaker asserts in line one), he wouldn't be trying to convince the potential reader that he does.