Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Greatest Poet Ever

The greatest poet I ever met cannot speak English, though he writes his songs in that tongue. And he refuses to work on his English. He writes in his own version of expression, he invented his own lexicon. “Today is delicious,” “I feel hungry,” he has said when real happy, or, joking, feeling horny. And his readers follow these sideways journeys towards meaning and see from new viewpoints—their lives are refreshed. “But friend,” I asked him once, “What about groceries, bills, or street signs? What about living your life?”

“I speak and they know,” he said. (Roughly translated, it’s, “I am able to express myself.”)

“But friend,” I said, “What about being a member in a community? How do you know who to vote for?”

He shook his pen at me, as if I couldn’t get it, sighed deeply, and wrote a great poem, I’m sure. I looked at his pants, his shirt, his socks, all a bit wrong, and I promised myself I’d tell my grandchildren about this prophet.