The Dangers Of Poetry

On July 17, I wrote you a poem.

I hadn’t written poetry since, oh, since Junior High. It wasn’t very good poetry, but the words rhymed, so I’m not sure why you expected anything better out of me. The words rhymed. It was a poem.

On July 17, I wrote you a poem and six hours later I was sick.

Sick, for real, with a 101 fever and chills and visions of this finally being the end and well, I had a good run. (I occasionally overreact in cases of high fever. High fever panic commences for me at about 98.9.)

The New York Times, 4/6/1925

On April 5, 1925, Babe Ruth collapsed with a fever, infection, and an abscess in his gut. But, not before hitting two home runs in a spring training game. He’d been running a temp through spring training and didn’t rejoin the Yankees for eight weeks.

I am here today, recovered after 16 days with an obnoxious summer virus, to tell you five truths about illness.

One. Babe Ruth clearly was much tougher than me.

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Welcome To The Club

The Baltimore Orioles were “Sweep … Swept … Swupt” by the Cubs this weekend. They were clobbered. Drubbed. Smooshed. Crushed. Laid to waste.

This morning, the O’s are nine games back in the AL East and tied for last (Good morning, last-mate Blue Jays!). They are seven games under .500.

The Orioles’ starting rotation’s ERA is 6.02 which is nearly the worst in baseball (thank you, Reds starters, whose 6.04 ERA has kept the O’s pitchers out of last place. At least for now).

How will I know it’s over? I’ll know it’s over when the beat writers headline their morning wrap-up “Available Orioles” … when fans hashtag their O’s tweets with #DumpsterFire and #Sell … and when in-the-knowsters like Ken Rosenthal name the teams that, like hungry dogs, are circling the Orioles looking for players.

(Uh-oh.)

I wrote a poem for you.

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Sit Back. Watch Poetry.

Tennis, World Cup, Baseball, Poetry. And, I buried the lead. Again.

Poetry is said to be emotion set to words.

Which, if the poetry is good, is deep and satisfying and stays with you like the memory of those crazy-good chocolate-chipotle and salted caramel gelatos from Splendora’s that I just started thinking about … and now I can’t shake.

gelato paradise

Gelato Poetry.

Not all poetry is good.

But, good poetry doesn’t need to be long or deep or hard to cut through.

This is good poetry. It’s one of my favorite poems that I recite to myself nearly every day.

Righty-tighty.

Lefty-loosey.

See, poetry can be beautiful and useful, too.

(I might argue that “Suckity, suck, suck” which sometimes slips out of me when the Orioles go bad at about the sixth inning is poetry, too. Not beautiful, but there’s a certain rhythmic honesty to it, don’t you think?)

Most important, poetry must be just-so. Just the right amount of words and rhythm and voice to convey an emotion or a thought.  And, nothing more.

One of my clients was at the French Open and when I asked him how it was he said simply, “Roger Federer is poetry.”

Federer is nearing the end of his career and was defeated early on in the Open, but, I knew what he meant.

Poetry in writing and in athletics and in Yoga … is when you don’t do too much, but you do just enough.

It appears effortless, even when you know that it isn’t.

You can see here, that my client is right about Federer.

 

And, here’s World Cup poetry. Guillermo Ochoa is the goalkeeper for Mexico. During this week’s game against heavily favored Brazil, they played to a tie, and Ochoa did this.

ochoa3

But, a tie, strangely enough, leaves the story untied, untidy, and unfinished.

A good poem, like a good baseball game, will always end. On Tuesday, it took the University of Virginia Cavaliers 15 innings, and nearly five hours, to defeat Texas Christian University in the College World Series.

UVa Shortstop Daniel Pinero had two errors in the game, including one that led to an unearned run for TCU.

But, poetry has a habit sometimes of wrapping things up neatly, forgiving the sins of the past, and making things just-so. Like this.

pinero 15

Pinero Poetry.

A good poem will hold you. It’s too beautiful to turn away.

Watching LA Dodger Clayton Kershaw pitch is always poetry. Seemingly effortless and beautiful to watch.

Listening to longtime broadcaster Vin Scully call a Dodger’s game, something he’s been doing for 65 years, is poetry, too. The rhythm, the words, and the beautiful silence that stretches between. Just right.

To see Kershaw pitch a no-hitter this week, with Scully sitting beside you … forget the rest of this post. THIS is poetry.

“And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to sit back and watch it with you.”

kershaw

_________

_________

And, here’s Part 2 … Fauxetry In Motion.