Not existing would, I suspect, be a source of consternation for most, but it's a perfectly natural state for a poet. My plight, then, is not exclusive to me. Oh, sure, most poets have corporeal existences while I do not, but they, like me, do not truly exist until they are in the midst of writing. My own situation is simply more extreme.
I exist first as an attitude, a comical cynicism, a penumbra of righteous doubt. I come into my full being, though, only in the enactment of language. A sputtering mouthful of mismatched adjectives and nouns, a verb full of venom, a simile that both celebrates and laments the modern condition. Suddenly I am alive, surfing the wave of being, shopping in the existential mall, among the bric-a-brac, my existence preceding my never-to-be-found essence, the language sculpting me in my own image. The poem as shopping spree. Or this: I am a lap dog who has spotted an open door. I romp. I sniff. I lift my leg. I plow my nose through the new-fallen leaves.
Surfing the wave of being. Every poet is most alive in the poem. I am only alive then. Carving turns. Shooting the curl. Spinning on my board. Then, just as suddenly as I began, I crash, kick out, or wash out in the foam. Banished to non-being once again. The poem is the wake of my having-been-here, the rent in the ocean that has already healed over.
[NOTE: Guest blogger Chuck Calabreze is a member of The Heteronymy Collective in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His poem "Maturity" will appear in an upcoming issue of Indiana Review.]