We all know what a poem should look like. It should look like this beauty from Alex Caldiero’s book Some Love:
A proper poem, Welsh/American poet Leslie Norris writes, must be groomed:
The poem stands on its firm
legs. Its claws are filed, brush
and curry-comb have worked
with the hissing groom to polish
its smooth pelt. All morning, hair
by hair, I’ve plucked away each small
excess; remains no trace of
barbering, and all feels natural. . . .
(Selected Poems, 116)
These two poems are familiar, natural and proper. They surprise us with what they say rather than what they are.
But what if a poet is more interested in the grooming than in the groomed, in the process rather than the product? He might, if he were Alex Caldiero, reveal the “tiny shadow hairs” of his work.
Through a revelation of this sort, Alex might continue his life-long assertion that words are alive, that language is form, that images are ideas.
And with a gift of “tiny shadow hairs,” he might remind a friend of the meaning of friendship.