POEM: My Indian Name

After my vision quest
My shaman told me
From now on
My Indian name would be
“Rhymes with orange”
Only having never
Seen an orange

This short poem can be viewed as one of my more whimsical poems, or perhaps not.  The poem begins with an epic undertaking, that of a vision quest.  A vision quest is an anthropological term used to denote “(especially among some North American Indians) the ritual seeking of personal communication with the spirit world through visions that are induced by fasting, prayer, and other measures during a time of isolation: typically undertaken by an adolescent male.”  Whether the poem descends into the depth of absurdity or ascends into the mysterious heights of the spirit world depends on your perspective.  My perspective positions itself on the thin line between the seemingly absurd and meaning itself.  While my poems dance about this magnificently thin line, I quite consistently fall on the side of meaning.  The venture of poetry itself may be aptly characterized as trying to use words to bring about an experience of reality that is beyond words.  The secret twist is in the Indian name chosen by the wise shaman, “Rhymes with orange.”  This moniker would be recognized by most poets and most anyone schooled in rhyme.  The commonplace meaning of this moniker is that there is no appropriate word to fill the shoes of such an attempted rhyme.  Exactly!  To drive the point home is the juxtaposition of the reality of “Only having never/Seen an orange.  The point of whether this reality is that of the shaman or the vision quester is intentional left vague, because the answer is “yes.”  Not only is there the elusive task of trying to find a rhyme for orange, but the poet, even using any existing universe of words (including “orange”), must select words that can never fully capture or exhaust the depth of the underlying reality one is expounding upon!  To risk getting impossibly lost in the paradox, the poet expounds on that which either has not been fully seen or cannot be fully seen (or at least communicated).  The poet’s job can never be finished.  This results in some not bothering with such a Sisyphean task, confronting newly discovered absurdities endlessly.  Others recognize the wide open field available for willing workers, mining the never-exhausted world of meaning.  Your choice is your.  My choice is mine.

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