Over coffee, we discussed local politics, life in cheeseland, parenthood and just enjoyed the each other's company. When I mentioned my writing goals and my odd crusade to publish one poem a day, Mike correctly observed that Dailykos is probably not the best place online to develop an audience for one's poetry. Between the serious political discourse and the Pootie & Woozle diaries, It's hard to find a niche for thoughtful poetry that appeals to your average Kossack.
Nevertheless, J Town, Indigo Kalliope and Rebel Songwriters actively court and promote poets on this site. With the help of those groups, I've developed a small but enthusiastic audience. JayRaye and belinda ridgewood have given me a lot of encouragement, advice and republishes. The audience is small but growing. but why work so hard to promote poetry on a political site? What am I adding to the conversation at DailyKos?
I'm a left-wing, socialist, ex-Catholic Lutheran Atheist. By compulsion, I'm an artist, actor, director, scene designer and of late, a poet. I aim to stimulate the emotional, imaginative and moral senses of the liberals here at Dkos. My Catholic education left me with a moral foundation that dovetails nicely with my liberal politics. Jesus said that whatever you do for the hungry, the naked, the prisoner, and the sick, you do for him. If you're a believer, that is the only sure-fire way to directly and literally experience the love of God.
Being an atheist, I maintain that there is no evidence to support the existence of any sort of "Supreme Being". By stepping away from belief in that Being, we take on the responsibilities that humans generally leave to God. If there is no god to bless and keep us, then we have to take matters into our own hands. To experience a god-like love, we have to look to each other.
You and I are as close to divinity as we will ever get. We are gods, with a small g.
Unlike the biblical sky-god, we really do influence human affairs, bestow blessing and, tragically, smite our enemies with fire and wrath. We do all this without prayers, anointings or sacrifices. We can change this world for the better. If we wait for our big buddy in the sky to do it for us, it won't get done. If we leave it to "the invisible hand of the free market", we give it all away to the greedheads.
Atheists are routinely painted by some believers as bitter, hateful and angry with God.
I am none of those things. Like most of the free thinkers I know, I'm indifferent to religion. I recognize that some religions exert some good influence over some of their adherents. For other believers, their God is a coat tree to dress up in their own garments of hate and fear. Although my poetry is grounded in unbelief, I welcome believers to share it, comment on it accept or reject it. I freely acknowledge that the teachings of Jesus have permanently influenced my political and moral beliefs. When I mention him in verse, it is always done with respect if not reverence. In addition to fellow freethinkers, my writing has attracted some modest attention and commentary from Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Unitarians and Wiccans. Our common values seem to be much stronger than our differences.
In my poems, I am offering some simple, clear ideas about humankind, the universe we live in and our place in the fabric of that universe. The world view I propose is wide open to discussion and debate. Small-g gods are never infallible. I'm putting forward a morality that is rooted in respect, love and care for all humanity. Our shared emotional and intellectual experience is our common ground.
The mechanics of my writing
I try to ground the statements, action and characters I create in the four classical elements; earth, air, fire and water. The Universe I write in and about is a physical reality where all creatures are born of the elements, die and return to the elements in an unbreakable cycle of birth & life fueled by death & decay.
I don't claim to be a scientist, but I try to write without relying on boojum, whether it be new age or old school. We are gods and we perform 'miracles' every day. Human beings have eradicated smallpox, walked on the Moon and explored other planets. We have mapped our genome and travel faster than sound. These wonders spring from the power of our rational intellect. Our brothers and sisters can be fed, clothed and housed. We can create productive labor, establish justice and secure peace for our descendants.
This is why I write.
I leave you with today's poem:
Follow the coyote home
If you follow the coyote, do not ask where he will take you.
His ear may not follow his nose.
His tail is not a weather vane.
His path hardens the feet of those who follow.
Count his steps, mark his turns, eat what he leaves you.
Run like a rabbit and rest tomorrow.
I see the light of divinity in your eyes.
I feel the hand of god when you dab the tears from my cheek.
Eternity beckons from every child-bed and graveyard.
We die, but the kindness and respect we preach and practice lives on.
Our bodies decay, but flowers and food spring up from our dust and ashes.
Run like a rabbit and rest tomorrow.