In the works of the better poets you get the sensation that they're not talking to people any more, or to some seraphical creature. What they're doing is simply talking back to the language itself—as beauty, sensuality, wisdom, irony—those aspects of language of which the poet is a clear mirror. Poetry is not an art or a branch of art, it's something more. If what distinguishes us from other species is speech, then poetry, which is the supreme linguistic operation, is our anthropological, indeed genetic, goal. Anyone who regards poetry as an entertainment, as a "read," commits an anthropological crime, in the first place, against himself.
There was the true story about the two guys who called 9-11 and reported they had barricaded themselves into their kitchen. It seems that a gang of men in a boat had broken into their apartment and began looting it. The Atlanta police were more than a little suspicious of this call because the men were in the second floor of a building and it hadn’t rained in a while. After the men allowed the police in, ostensibly to rescue them from the midtown pirates, the police discovered yes indeed this was a meth related incident and a good laugh was had by all of those who did not wind up in jail.
Before you write this off as yet another meth induced downward spiral as so many of them turn out to be, please consider this’ both men claimed to have seen the Pirates of The Chattahoochee swarming through a window. Okay, that wasn’t exactly their story but you get the idea. Both men shared a hallucination. Both of them told the same story even though to most of us out here in not- ever- going- to- think- about- doing- meth-because- of-such-as- this- and- bad- teeth- land can’t see past the meth part of the story. But what does it say that too very stoned men can share a thought at all, much less the same thought?
Okay, I’ll buy into Methhead Number One talking Methhead Number Two into believing there are Apartment Pirates boarding the second story window, avast ye, but what does even this explanation suggest, if you take the meth out of the equation? Can one person, in a heightened emotional state, carry someone else into that state, border crossings ignored, if they have reached some sort of mutual bond, and this part is important, regardless of how they reached this state?
Regardless of how they reached that state, I suggest to you, that meth isn’t the defining condition here. Do not misunderstand me, please, if you are calling the cops because the Buccaneers of Buckhead are overrunning your balcony at Little Five Points, most certainly you have some issues and so does anyone seeing this with you. Yet I cannot help but wonder how two men on a drug made of poison and nasal decongestive happened upon each other’s minds somewhere between the Black Pearl and Jimi Hendrix. Here, in a Drano induced hallucination, two men barricaded themselves into a kitchen, together against a mad, mad, mad, world, and they issued a plea for help.
I’m not defending what they did, or trying to give them some reason to ingest what might be the single most dangerous illicit drug made in a bathroom, but they, and many other drug users out there as well, may have been looking for something in Sudafed they could not find in the real world. Lacking the ways, the means, or perhaps the opportunity for some real connection, they rearranged their brain chemistry to connect to another human being, regardless of how dangerous it might be. It’s why both night clubs and churches are so popular. The chance to reach into a group of people, or reach out to one person, is enough to lead people to risk their health or even get up early on Sunday morning and be bored out of their skulls for an hour when they could be home drinking coffee and writing.
The connectivity of drugs and alcohol is what makes both appealing to the lonely and the isolated. A human being may not be able to find love but that person will not have a problem finding someone to drink with late at night, and who knows where that will lead? Alcohol lowers inhibition and both good judgment and denim jeans hit the floor soon afterwards. Sometimes this works, sometimes it’s a disaster, and sometimes it is just what it is, and that is good enough sometimes. But I submit to you the search is the same within regardless of the medium used to get there.
Love is more addictive than any drug, more habit forming than any opiate, more dangerous to the perception of reality than any hallucinogen, and a more clear and present danger to sanity than every drug combination known to humankind. Two people can fall in love and believe, truly believe, they can beat the odds of divorce and break-up by simple virtue of that feeling they have when they are together, and nothing else. They will believe it will last when it has never lasted before. They will believe there is hope when there has never been hope before. They will believe in a future that will bind them closer together, in a connection so strong that even Death Himself might not break that bond and this, you tell me, this is a delusion not much far removed from the Jolly Roger from the second story apartment window, is it not?
Yet I do believe. Cold and sober in the lonely early morning dawn, I do believe. A half a century of evidence that is my life stands before me as proof against the illusion of love, but I believe. I do not think there is anything else to believe when it gets down to it. The wreck and ruin I have witnessed and lived and relived and seen again, should be ample and then again against my belief but it is not, and it will never be. I believe. My life would be easier if I did not, it would be much more simple to shut the window and turn away from the plunder that will occur to my heart but I instead stand on the prow of the sofa, and dare the pirating of my soul. There is no 9-11 to call for a broken heart. There is no rehab for love. There is no recourse, no treatment, no twelve step program, no turning back, no cure for this illness and were any of it available, I would not bother with it. Life isn’t reality at all but the common illusion of love makes it real. Nothing else is worth living for but love.