Bardic Genetics

This poem is essentially about life and death.
What is clear about this particular poem, compared to most poetry,
is that through the voice of the speaker the reader can feel the
      emotions and thoughts of the author
flattening down into points
that come across as very personal
to delight and sadden the younger readers of today.
In almost all other poetry there is a “speaker”
who goes upward and upward,
a machine that absorbs vibration from bigger machines
but if it happens here now, in this poem
will there be anyone nearby who wants to see?

Maybe the dead know how to live more fully,
torches turned down but still fuming
like rinds around hot marshmallows do,
their divided subject matter focused primarily
on dark imagery with symbols of light inside—

I never understood the big whoop about Demeter:
reading is already a giant supplanting.
A new reader discovers this work
while he is leaving flowers where his dead bride used to be.
But it enables him to be reborn again each time—
Persephone is not the unhappy one
    moving up the dark stairs
she considers in her consciousness as light
while the poem commences and commences
like the days dividing summer from its students,
sponges that sway in an undersea film

Until the poem spreads, and reaches its conclusion
that students are each taught to believe in things differently:
that Persephone was a goddess
who was abducted by Pluto,
the author himself a blue web that exists
years and years after his death
stuck inside the tired envelope of poetry

Who feels he finally is reading himself,
the spring flowers intense and papery
like they used to be, enabling the reader
again to feel the darkness
with a rhythm that enables the reader to almost see.
Was his conclusion merely a mistake, or did he intentionally
use elements of different poems until he finally made
his destination, from blue to smoking to flatten,
September confused with its light?

Rodney Koeneke, “Bardic Genetics” from Etruria. Copyright © 2014 by Rodney Koeneke. Reprinted by permission of Wave Books.
Source: Etruria (Wave Books, 2014)
More Poems by Rodney Koeneke