from Prism by Niema Lightseed

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When the time is right
I shall teach about writing poetry.
But when I bother to weave the words to impart this art,
it will not be through the conventions of form.
Any fool can pick up an old tome
and learn the tools that make this language roll off the tongue.
Rhythm and rhyme,
alliteration and metaphor may be dying devices,
but enough people know of their power
to keep them out of the grave.
No, when I strive to leave a legacy of fisherpeople
(not just those who have been given fish),
it will be by imploring them to see.
To see everything,
to look at the marrow of life
as a scientist studies cells.
I will charge them to feel,
to feel,
to feel everything,
to have their hearts broken
until there is only heart dust left,
like the sparkling debris of exploded stars;
and let the flour of their shattered hearts
be kneaded by the great Baker
into the bread they will use to feed their readers.

I will invite my little poetlings
to give away their most precious belongings,
travel to a place where they do not speak the language,
and listen to all the ways people convey love
in words they do not understand.

I will remind them that they are not, can never be, in charge of their gifts
they cannot demand that words come,
though they can pray.
I will warn them that if they choose the path of the poet,
if they dare to look at their own geniuses,
they may find themselves on their knees
calling for the Muse to return,
or leave them alone, in season.

Actually, I probably won't tell them that part,
the madness of passion is a cost
best discovered in one's own time.

But I will tell them
that the deepest pain of the poet is not the receiving of visions
that take one’s breath away,
nor the intensity of feelings that seem impossible for one body to bear,
the challenge of being sensitive beyond comprehension or safety.
No, the hardest part is that they will always fail.
We always fail,
because our medium is imperfect.
This is a losing battle.
Poets are oarspeople using wooden sieves to scoop water out of leaking vessels,
determined to reach a shore we cannot yet see, as our ships sink beneath us.
Attempting to capture the ineffable beauty of life
with a tool that is inherently flawed.
The true madness of the poet is knowing we can never convey all that we feel.
We can never quite get it right
in this language made for conquering and counting sheep,
for giving directions and maintaining war.

So, I will teach young poets in training
to run wildly in any direction,
as long as it takes them away from convention, pretension, and competition.
To rip the armor off their hearts and the projections off their eyes.
To follow beauty to its lair.
I will make them put on their walking shoes
(be sure they are comfortable,
next to a smooth pen
a fine pair of walking shoes is a poet's best friend)
and drag them out into the crisp autumn air.
Have them describe the particular qualities of the afternoon sunlight in early November
as it softly warms their red cheeks.
I will hold them still,
to watch a single golden leaf make its final swirling wind-dance
from branch to earth.
I will tell them: “writing poetry, making any true art, is like that, that leaf floating there.
You must surrender to the currents of life,
let the winds have their way with you.
You must know your task is impossible,
and that it will take your life as much as it gives you purpose.
But all you can do is work with the materials you have,
and enjoy the dance
as you freefall.”


from Prism, released November 5, 2019
Niema Lightseed ~ Poetry
Ryan Powell ~ Bouzouki
Theo Grace ~ Music & Production




Niema Lightseed Portland, Oregon

Niema Lightseed is a poet and priestess of the new paradigm dedicated to transforming oppression through art, embodiment education, linguistic analysis, and ritual.

Her poetry evokes the transformative power of art and reveals the beauty at the marrow of life.
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