August 11, 2016

The Death We Deserve*


Seek for poetry
in the crooked lines of cars
that harass the streets day in
day out,                       and
                        you will fail
poetry is dead.

I run over it one more time
to ensure its death, so that it will
finally stop spreading fear towards
everything that is not
everything that does not
bring us to tears.

There is no place for poetry in
a city reigned by those who
do not know how
to see
in and through their own


If announcing the death of poetry is the only way to make life possible for it again, we must, by all means, scream at the top of our lungs: “POETRY IS DEAD!” Because if we keep pretending to nurture poetry by using it as an instrument to play the music of our denials and naivety, we might as well pull the trigger.

So long as we continue to impose our vulnerability, or even our idea of vulnerability, onto poetry, we will not be able to move forward. We should not turn to poetry because we refuse to face the demons of our demons. Poetry is neither a trashcan nor a safe haven. It is not a vessel for delusions. Poetry is not, and never has been, afraid of the truth and its array of flavours. Poetry is incapable of feeling, of admiring its own reflection, of expressing itself, of interpreting itself, of understanding itself, of doubting itself, of kissing passionately, of killing.

Poetry, on its own, is nothing. But so are we. Without the truths that constantly demand for our acceptance and resistance, we are nothing.


We always speak of language as if it were the sole cure to our individual or collective confusion and ignorance. But look at how many misunderstandings continue to occur because of language—or rather, because of our limited understanding of it. It is an irony that the most complex human invention is also that one that further complicates human interaction, with only sporadic instances of clarity.

Jack Gilbert wrote, “How astonishing it is that language can almost mean, and / frightening that it does not quite,” (“The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart” 1-2). Language, like every other man-made innovation, is imperfect. It is incompatible with the boundaries of perfection. But this seemingly disappointing element is also its essence—one that reveals language’s striking similarity with poetry. Poetry, like language, also defies finality and the Absolute. Both have gaps—not “missing pieces”—that are not only built into their design, but also define their neglected purpose.

These gaps are empty spaces—spaces inhabited by nothing—that actually contribute to a possible wholeness: the possibility of true understanding. Language and poetry have the capacity to fill with gaps. 


Poetry, in complete isolation, is nothing. But the moment we stop treating it as if it came out of thin air, it will become more than lines of tired metaphors and emotional excess. It exists between and within the details of our material reality that, whether we like it or not, are not and cannot always be beautiful. Poetry emerges from the struggles of life as well as the struggles of language. The poet’s main responsibility lies in articulating those struggles despite the challenges posed by language. Poetry does not need to be fabricated, but it must be developed in a manner that leaves it unscathed by expectation, romanticization and denial.  


Searching for beauty and perfection where they do not exist only shows a desperate need to escape reality, to turn a blind eye to the reality of things in their glorious insignificance. One cannot squeeze a rock in order to get a fresh glass of juice. There is no use in poeticizing our surroundings if we must sacrifice our ability and willingness to distinguish between what we wish were true, what is true, and what is true but continues to stifle us, and therefore needs to be changed.

Until we dare to determine a realistic starting point, the only part of poetry we deserve is its death.

*The first version of this piece was published under a pen name.