I spent Friday and Saturday listening to poets reading to poets. Ken Hada from Oklahoma—the guy who runs Scissortail—soft spoken giant, a man whose hand could probably crush yours with a simple handshake if he wished but knows how to cradle firmly—reads his poems born from water and dirt, knowing just how important—water and dirt. Read his new book of poems, Bring an Extra Mule, if you need to feel the strong connection with things important, with your soul.

Ken reads softly—

When I think of Lorca’s death,
his young life erased
so soon, so unceremoniously

I wonder what is the hope
of poetry, the purpose of words,
why we sing only to die.

Somewhere in Saturday, I found myself returning to my own poems, my first book, the one I wrote before Melinda died, her death be a shift in the world—a seismic break. I had forgotten them, as I seem to have forgotten almost everything before.

He looks for you
in the aisles of Central Market,
the crashing of smells
and colors, how you once
picked an avocado perfectly ripe
from a bin in produce—

This one is sweeter,
his daughter tells him,
bringing him to the moment,
handing him two orange wedges,
one for the toddler
strapped in the cart. Orange,
the young girl says, reaching.
Orange, he replies.

His third daughter, Lou, hands him an orange wedge. The old poems better than he remembered. Better in the sense that they have become, without his realizing, a kind of bridge between then and what follows, which is only another kind of then. Better for him at least, offering the whole of him back, if that is possible.

Do we sing only to die.  Perhaps, if we are good enough. That America does not read poetry may be an indictment that we don’t write them good enough, or well enough—or it may mean something more empty and lonely. We glue ourselves to the earth with our songs, the earth being part of the creation, thus part of God. Dirt and water.

Toward the end of the evening, I unexpectedly grew weary, my neck stiffened, and I left to go home to my wife. Toward the end of the evening, I longed for my bed.