Takes Care of His Poets
friends and readers,
I'm starting with
this article of faith: God takes care of His poets. If I didn't believe
that, I wouldn't be writing this letter. Neither would I have lived
my life as I have lived it.
God takes care of His poets. The first time I heard this rather presumptuous
statement it came from the lips of a poet of course. He was my spiritual
and poetic mentor, Joe Lemming. We were both young and on fire with
poetry and life and music. We had an itinerant poetry band called The
Mighty Angelbull Vibrational Band. Often, like any gypsy band, we found
ourselves in pecuniary distress. It was becoming clear to me that despite
Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, poetry was no likely
road to riches and fame or even survival. I was at the time in my life
when we normally make career decisions. In short I was at a place where
I had to decide whether to be a poet or get a job.
When Joe found me one night with my head in my palms wondering how I
was going to make the band's expenses, he said to me, "Don't worry,
Lightning Rod, don't you know that God takes care of His poets?"
I thought he was just trying to inject a bit of sardonic levity into
the somber situation, so I laughed and said, "Sure, like He takes
care of fools, drunks and little children."
It doesn't matter what your conception of God looks like or if you even
have one. The statement 'God takes care of His poets' started to mean
something deeper to me that was more observational than religious. I
noticed that when people were doing what they believed they were intended
to do, the universe became more cooperative. It was a simple but important
observation that was reinforced by the evidence of my experience.
I was quite young when I realized that my life and my fate were intimately
connected to words. Language was the only discernible gift that I had
and it was my main comfort and refuge. I knew that it was my responsibility
to nurture and respond to this talent even before I began calling myself
Being a poet is much more than simply being clever with the language.
No matter how facile one is with words and devices, if truth is missing,
if the words don't tell you something important about life, then it
isn't poetry. Real poetry is serious business and not to be undertaken
frivolously or by hobbyists. To be called as a poet is a curse that
blesses because it requires much courage and persistence and endurance.
But my life has shown me that if you are faithful to your calling, God
Does take care of His poets.
I don't say this out of professional conceit. God takes care of His
plumbers and His accountants and His mechanics too. He takes care of
anyone who is lovingly devoted to anything that fulfills a purpose in
life. He rewards them with happiness and the contentment of accomplishment
But enough metaphysics, let's talk about art.
If art is what is left over after the feast of life, the vast receding
echo that resounds when we scream in the orgasmic rapture of creation,
divine debris, then we must question its necessity.
Who teaches us how to do what has never been done? The artist. Through
his fancy's telescope he lets us peer over the horizon. He gives us
pictures and music and verse to express in tangible form those things
we always suspected but were too shy to utter, lets us see, hear and
taste things that were previously the unfounded rumors of our hearts.
He even gives us a new vocabulary with which to begin further rumors.
Rumor has it that Lightning Rod is writing a new book of poetry and
other nonsense. This will be my seventh book. None of my previous six
have changed the world or bought me a house in Capris, but I will persist
regardless of potential rewards because it's what I do. It's what I'm
supposed to be doing. It's the only thing I know how to do. I do it
in hope that perhaps it will provide some small amount of entertainment,
some slight glimmer of hope, some useful way to look at life, some modicum
of humor and relief to my fellow travelers. Or perhaps I do it in hope
that it will get me laid, I don't know. Even so, we must question its
"My heart rouses
thinking to bring you news
that concerns you
and concerns many men. Look at
what passes for the new.
You will not find it there but in
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
of what is found there."
---William Carlos Williams
So, I am writing another book. There is one small problem. Circumstances
of health and fortune have arranged for me to find myself at the door
of poverty. Sadly, I must eat in order to write. Poetry is very time
consuming. I spend hours a day writing and editing, but that doesn't
touch how long it takes to discover the truth that is expressed in poetry.
So, it's good that poets don't work by the hour. But the hours go by.
In this case I'm talking about kilowatt hours. Poetry is lost on the
electric company. It's not essential like power for our lights, we must
question its necessity.
But for me it IS a necessity. It's what I must do so that I can be assured
that God will take care of his poet. So I will continue to write the
book, the poem. But I could sure use some help. My health is not as
hearty as I would prefer. The liver is quivering and I'm nearly blind
because of these inconvenient cataracts so I work with great effort.
So, I am asking you, dear friends and readers, to give me a helping
hand. Luckily my needs are not great. All I require is a place to lay
my head, food in my stomach and a connection for my computer so I can
I know that you can't wait to ask me what you can do to help. A job
with full benefits would be nice, but I might have trouble with the
criminal background check especially if the investigators have read
any of my previous books, but I will do any meaningful work of which
I am capable. You could buy
my books.That would help. What would really help is a sponsor to
underwrite the production of my work. If you know of anyone, a company
or corporation, a foundation or institution or a person who sees the
value of having art and poetry as part of our lives, and is willing
to sponsor my work, please connect me with them.
In lieu of any of that, you can send cash. My needs are immediate.
I could tell you that for less than the price of a Starbucks a day you
can save a poet from starvation if not obscurity. I could play a Sarah
McLachlan tune in the background and show you close-ups of my puppy
eyes fogged by cataracts and moist with poetic hunger and need and say
that for only $19.95 per month you can prevent this poor poet from suffering
a life in the homeless shelter and almost certain euthanasia. I could
double the offer if you buy today. But I will simply say that if you
are generous above a hundred bucks, you will get a signed advance copy
of the book. Please help me out.
I have installed a Paypal 'Donate' button on my web site. With this
device you can easily and quickly and discreetly send fundage.
Help God take care of His poets.