My Purpose Now

by Mark Chmiel

My purpose now is to honor the written word
It’s what I’m drawn to
Example:
Invited Maggie to come Sunday night
Do a spoken-word for us
in her own emotional tone

Example: Told Katie Murphy to collect her stirring and sparkling break-up poems
Send to me by Mardi Gras
She did
As a book in PDF
It must be published!!!!
I’ve shared it with three people already this week

I’ll be Allen Ginsberg agent for all these wannabe and reallyare writers

Example: Told Lindsay for the umpteenth time
She’s got a book in her on the Philosophy of Slow

Example: Asked Ale to tell me
The most beautiful name for a girl
She knew of in the Spanish language
She didn’t mention it to me
She write a poem about it
Read it aloud to me after last week’s class
Posted it on Facebook two days ago
I asked her an hour after meeting her in January
“Why are you in Public Health
when you can write something like that?”
(pointing to her watercolored bi-lingual haiku/photo Salvadoran book of gratitude)

Example: I spent Wednesday afternoon for several weeks in 2008
At 6 North Coffee assisting Magan Wiles
With her play which was soon performed as Beautiful Resistance

I notice people’s words

I may blank on the color of their eyes
Zodiac sign
Or what they really think about Barack Obama
But I tune in to their phrasing
Like three weeks ago
When Penny read her funny, heartbreaking, staggering piece
(she had no idea how hilarious she is)

But darn! I forgot to remind Matt Miller
To do short blog posts
So we can get little tastes of his mind
So immersed in medieval Persian poetry

Maybe I’ve got a problem
A complex
An obsession
Should I peruse the DSM-5?
Would I find scriptomania?
Would I recognize myself in the updated symptoms?
Should I seek psychiatric aid
From Doctors Neeta Shenai and Nima Sheth
(But then I’ve long begged them
To generate and share their poems!
Move over Dr. William Carlos Williams!)

Someone asked me
“Is writing enough?”
Maybe not for that person
But it is for me
Much of the time

I’ll keeping acting out of this purpose
Inspired by Chris Wallach who told me
After she finished The Book of Mev
“I cried and cried and cried”

Goaded by Magan Wiles who said about
Dear Layla, Welcome to Palestine:
“Goddamn you and your blasted book!”

Sparked by almost anyone with whom I find myself in a café
The free-wheeling writing sangha that grows each month
People reaching out to me
I to my students, friends of friends

I start reading groups
The Karamazov Group is done—
Don Quixote next?

I put poems in the mail, scribble comments on the other side
I spend a little fortune on books for friends
(Me, give someone jewelry or tools
Or a yoga gift certificate or “How to Cook Italian” DVD???)

I’ll keep on
Being true to myself
Even as I will remain grateful for others’ non-logocentric purposes
That are vast, vital, countless, bodhisattvic
But I’ll do this honoring the word
Till I die
Whether that’s tonight
Or when I’m 64

–composed in Spring Writing Improv Wisdom Class on Demun in Clayton

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