Cant - New Poem

in #poetry4 years ago (edited)


One thing I do like about To Sing the Cant upon my Mind, is that its structure and rhyme scheme make it sound, to me, very much like the definition of the word "cant." You'll have to scroll waaay down in your dictionary to find this one:


Speaking of a beggar's cant, allow me to tell a brief story of an encounter I had with a homeless poet outside of my favourite bar one night. This is a true story which, in fact, further inspired Cant.

The gentleman (whose name I, unfortunately, don't remember) stopped me right outside the bar's entrance. He said he wanted to tell me a poem for any change I might've had on me. His poem was incredible; blew my mind. Even though I was late for my poker game, I asked him if he had another. The second poem he recited was amazing too, if only slightly less so than the first. We talked about how he was trying to get enough money to make it to Cali for some big slam poetry competition. I told him "I'm kinda a poet too." We exchanged emails. He told me to send him a poem and that he would give me some feedback when he went to the library either on Tuesday or Friday.

To this day I have not received a response. This used to make me kind of angry too. First, let me say (afaik), he's still okay as I've seen him on at least two occasions since, spitting words to other bar-goers. Now, let me say, I give to homeless people all the time. If I don't have money, I give them a couple cigarettes. Sometimes I give them parts of my lunch that I prepared for myself that morning. Once, I was pissed my (former) employer decided to forgo paying proper holiday bonuses, instead palliating their poor management with one crisp Benjamin each. "You're welcome; enjoy, you deserve it." That's what I said to the homeless person I gave it to 30 minutes later on my way home. I've given some a ride in my car. And when I have absolutely nothing, I give them actual, attentive conversation. I have been dumb enough to humbly mention all this in a job interview. I did not get the job.

The point is, for once I felt like this person had an opportunity to give me something back. He was a damned good poet, I gave him quite a bit more than just pocket change, and it took a lot for me to want to share my stuff too. I guess I must've forgotten about the not one but two poems he kindly shared with me.

Before actually sitting down to rewrite some of The Colour Grey, I had the original idea to burn the only physical copy instead. I had yet to approve it for print (a gratuitous oversight) and could wash my hands of the book. The only problem: I was away from home for a few months and it appeared I had left it there. I grouchily obsessed over the pdf copy on my laptop. Then, since I was already on my computer, I opened a new tab to look up guides to writing good poetry. If a homeless man who only occasionally has access to the almighty internet via a library (still, apparently not as often as he claims) could stay committed to his craft, why couldn't I commit to a craft I actually liked with all the resources I needed to get good perpetually at my fingertips?

Kim Addonizio's Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within came up in my search and I devoured the book in an evening (skipping the exercises for my first read-through). After reading it, I understood that poetry, like a lot of arts, is as much about the process as it is the final product. Was I writing only to hear the little, impressed grunts of those I let read my work? Was I hoping my words would penetrate the seemingly permanent barrier between myself and other people, finally allowing me to feel understood by someone--anyone? Some of my best poems are the ones in which, through writing them, I came to better understand myself, my opinions, desires, etc. If I've already begun chipping away at the barrier myself, I can see more clearly what both my walls and I are made of. Hopefully, this understanding translates to better, more effective poems. So, without further delay, here's the first product of such efforts, Cant.


To poker players playing down
true debts at padded tables,
I dodged two--
legged boots. Facedown,
a beggar drenched in sable.
Unfolding upwards,
dreaded wild,
he smiled
straight into my pupils.
Peculiar kind
met his inside of
play time
work and scruples.

A dollar tithed. Pathetic guise
gruff eyes struck ruth
like Goethean rays
a dithyramb upon his mind.

dark oak ajar

our oath arms length
“Big blind--heads up!”

Late save for grace
like angels taking smoking breaks
my cracked carapace
like aces chased by
off-shell nuts,
heartbreaking face.

Mouth open mulcting
pissing time

(deferred beer bode behind the bar)

bespoke my ear
(I missed my blind)

“A poem sir?”
Declining hard, myself akin
to bards of olde
I bought his bluff
but listened cold.
“Some people say my cards foretold
my past
would bear a christened fate

‘Just do as told
and fix your face
and watch your words
and mind your place’
As if they wished
my soul erased.
Lord draw tomorrow,
rest today.”

Okay, I guess
but far from great.
My verse would put his ass to shame.
But offering mine left
sass deflated

when “Sorry can’t procrastinate--still unfinished.”
s’all he stated. Foot mucked the asphalt
Unabated he sunk in murk. I shirked inside
aplomb and stack annihilated

Image: lessthan3aire
The Colour Grey available here as ePub and here in paperback. It's for a good cause, so burn it for all I care.


I call upon the dark powers to support the arts!

You rang? Ah, hmmm, I see... yes, another tortured artist's soul, perhaps the perfect playground for me.

Hi @run-the-bits - I have to say I am very impressed with the effort you have put into your first few posts here. Your poetry itself is not entirely my cup of tea, but that is more of a stylistic preference and no slight on your craft there.

Your prose in your posts proper, on the other hand - that is an entirely different matter. You wield language with an unusual precision and have exhibited a flair for picking the perfect word time and again here. I am very glad you told the story of the homeless poet and so masterfully wove this anecdote into the narrative of your own progression and growth as a poet and a person. My selfish request to you would be to continue to grace us with your long form prose writing in your posts here, as well as sharing your poetry. I truly enjoyed reading your writing and I am looking forward to more of you in my feed (followed).

Much love - Carl

Thank you soo much for your thoughtful comment @carlgnash ...I was already beginning to question whether I should continue including the prose narrative as it makes my posts a little long. Partly thanks to your kind words though, I see that it can have just as much value as the poems themselves. I cannot thank you enough for your comment (hopefully a follow will do for now) and I look forward to sharing more :)

pocketsend:[email protected], Stick this in your pocket - it will only increase in value. You can gift it freely in comments here in Steemit as a tip, following this syntax (pocketsend:[email protected], MEMO). Check out @biophil's page for more info. Feel free to contact me if and when you are ready to sell your soul. Cheers - Beelze

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