• Jane Engleman

The Glory Out From Under a Hat

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

I was a piano major in college before things happened and I took up poetry instead. Which is actually just as cool; the instrument is portable and extremely cheap. It has all the elements of jazz. Every syllable is a beat, every consonant is a point of percussion and every vowel sound is a string, a horn or a woodwind. Well, I would not have been able to play my music if I had not had rooms in which to practice. Closets of loneliness, the far back platform bed in a Suburban packed with a Navajo choir, juniper trees, the back porch of a board and care, buses and mental hospitals, trains and, finally, a bedroom of my very own with a nice strong lock on the door. And later, the support groups, the classrooms, and the All Saints Writers Group, Poets Onsite, the Emerging Urban Poets. I have seen the music build in space. The harmonies and the melodies have been swelling continually until sometimes the beauty is unbearable. There is now no time when I sit in a circle of swirling sage or interesting faces when I am not moved to be more and more fully alive. I used to think that publishing was a special privilege of an educated in crowd. But, no, it is simply a cry or a laugh that someone hears. I am coming to hear ever more clearly that when we discount our voices, we discount our gratitude for our own simple gifts. These do not begin as big gifts. One small voice of hope in a tunnel can sometimes bring more friends through an inundation than fifty sirens in the distance. The point is, we have not been given our lives to waste. If we are not in a dark cell in solitary confinement, we have at least some ability to yell a word of encouragement or send a telegram of intelligence. When I say "publish," I mean calling, gently, in a meme or a birthday card, a blog, or a newspaper article, a museum installation, a book, a performance or a political rally. By publication, I am talking about not withholding back our smallest talent to get our people out and on the road. I am talking about broadcasting our muffle from out under the bushels. The word is the energy flaming out from the temple of the Sacred. Not all of our writing is imaginative or creative. We write “POW, BLAM, CRACKERS, OOF,” and we write narratives that crescendo and magnify the situation so that it cannot be ignored. Some of it is a slog of structure and instruction to enable people to live in houses and get medical care. We write oatmeal and filet mignon. We feed our extended families. Our tasks today seem overwhelming. If we do not speak up now, I believe war is coming, that this planet may be lost. Our people are lying down in front of the train. Can we call them up off the track? We hold nuggets and gems that could be brilliantly faceted together in a printed concert of collaboration. Not all of us can march in rallies. Not every person can doctor or mother or leader. But we can become creative enough to communicate a whisper and a gesture into another dimension, a ballroom of invention. #poetry #art #peer support

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