The Wisdom of the Ground

Sometimes when overwhelmed
With high-mindedness
And raised eyebrows,
With swirling smog
That fills the sky,
That spews from smokestacks,
Billows high–
Freakshow philosophies,
Unhinged from their original ideas:
Kant incantations,
Kierkegaard creations,
Platonic placations,
Camus/Voltaire vacillations–
Learn from the ground;
Look down.

Directly inspired by


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. A Voice
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 22:01:04

    The wordplay is interesting and will be best appreciated by those unfamiliar with the above named. But as someone familiar with Kant, Kierkegaard, Plato and Camus…it seems to me to be mere wordplay and distracting from the purpose of the poem. With the exception of perhaps Camus, I’m fairly certain that those named would take issue with the term that comes after their name.


    • wordcoaster
      Jul 15, 2013 @ 22:16:52

      I sure hope they would take offense–the inappropriate pairings of the terms is supposed to demonstrate the muddled thinking that’s going on when things become ungrounded. I added in a line to help clarify–thanks so much for pointing that out! I’m glad you found it interesting and I hope it will be accessible even to those unfamiliar with the philosophers mentioned πŸ™‚


      • A Voice
        Jul 15, 2013 @ 23:43:14

        I would contend that the above mentioned thinkers were grounded and that it would be the misappropriation or misunderstanding of their work by others that removes the work from the ground. This leaves the message garbled at best and something that I think you should rethink.

        I would also like to caution you on something not altogether unrelated: be less prolific or at least be more cautious with what you post. The poet approaches their art with care, they don’t write because they need to write but because they have something to say. What should be shown to the world is what you consider your best work, poetry worthy of publication and it should have your name proudly attached to it. Don’t post your experiments or what not unless it’s clear that they are just that and are not meant to be considered next to your poetry, otherwise the distinction between the two becomes muddy and the serious-minded reader and other artists will not be sure what it is you are aiming to do.

        With that said, this poem reminds me of the spirit in which I wrote ‘Academia’ ( I became very disillusioned with secondary and post-secondary education toward the end of completing my undergraduate degree and it was something the grew with the more I experienced, especially in graduate school. It became clear to me that education was merely a commodity and that, especially in the Humanities, it was more about publishing to make the school look good and preen amongst your peers than to actually educate. I have yet to see anything to convince me otherwise and I think it’s a damn shame.


        • wordcoaster
          Jul 16, 2013 @ 01:50:38

          Again, I suppose I was not crystal clear with my intent (which was the misappropriation you mentioned)–is the revision satisfactory or does it need to be more spelled out?

          As to the frequency of posts, I find that having a poetry blog is a wonderful way to practice the discipline of writing poetry. I often have something to say; I just don’t know until I start writing. I try to post a poem a day because that forces me to sit down, contemplate, and write poetry. If I wait for the muse to strike it can take years. I’d love to post only good poems, poems worthy of publication. However, I know that if I limit myself to that I won’t post anything–I’m too much of a perfectionist–nothing would ever meet that standard. Instead, I post a variety of poems, good and bad, silly and serious, short and long. I trust my intelligent and artistic readers will know the difference, and I hope they’ll forgive me this vice. If they cannot, I’m sure there are plenty of blogs they’d prefer to mine. This is my intent, though:

          I like to think that not making the distinction of good and bad, experimental and polished is also an open invitation to the reader to comment and critique. This might be a terrible assumption, but it’s based on the premise that if I only post my best I’m bound to be more defensive of my posts.

          I must say, I gave a groan-inducing, “Oh the Humanities!” when I thought about going to grad school in that field. Grad school in general remains, at the moment, unappealing. Yes, your poem on Academia is too often accurate in its description. I’ve seen the downsides, the underbelly of higher education. Still, I don’t regret my education one bit.


          • A Voice
            Jul 16, 2013 @ 12:10:44

            There is much that I can say to this and it would be to clear up several misconceptions that you seem to me to have in respect to writing poetry. Instead, I will be pithy.

            1. The burden of clarity is first and foremost on the speaker, or in this case the poet. It is an unfair to ask the reader to parse out what is what when the poet is able to do that ahead of time.

            2. A person who is so critical of their work that, through the vice of perfectionism, finds themselves unable to offer something they believe to be good enough is no artist. There is something deeper preventing that person from crossing the threshold of amateur to artist and it isn’t the desire to offer up only the best of the best.

            3. Artists truly open themselves to the world and, I think, poets open themselves the most. People are going to not like, misunderstand and potentially bash our work. But if we offer our strongest work we can stand there with confidence because our work is good and we know why. We can explain it to them, even if they choose to not listen.

            I will leave it at that, save for one more salient point. I don’t write as often as I would like to, however I not a day goes by where I don’t think of writing and go over ideas for poems in my head. Soemtimes it takes a long time for those ideas to get out (look at the poem ‘Empty Forms’ in the collection of the same name) and sometimes it happens in less than a hour. Art cannot be practised like soccer, target shooting or video games, and this is because it cannot be force. Sure, we can work on formal matters but what we have at the end of the day is something with no heart and practising like that just seems to me…well, it doesn’t seem to me to befit art.


            • wordcoaster
              Jul 16, 2013 @ 21:31:37

              These misconceptions about writing poetry, as you define them, I would consider merely an opposite philosophy.

              1) I wouldn’t post a poem if I thought it was devoid of merit. I simply find it worthwhile to post less-dignified poems in addition to the rare few that I am exceedingly proud of (though sometimes the less-dignified poems are indeed the ones that I am most proud of). Poetry is not just for the scholar, though it is certainly for him as well. My intent is to alienate neither the prince nor the pauper.

              2) Really I never claimed to be an artist. I embrace the label “amateur” and understand that I’ve got a long way to go before I could ever dream of “going pro”–this isn’t my career, it isn’t what I majored in. It is a hobby that I find great delight in. And yes, there is something deeper.

              3) Have you guessed what that is? Low self-esteem. Whereas the person with high self-esteem stands confidently in the face of criticism declaring, “I AM RIGHT!”, the one with low self-esteem thinks, “Perhaps I’m wrong?” This is why when I read your second comment I near-well did change my whole posting schedule and considered revamping my entire blog, searching out all the posts that must not have met your standards and deleting them. Why didn’t I? Because I knew that would be a witch-hunt. Great poems would be scrapped along with the bad. I would turn into the cliched writer with the blank page in the typewriter, surrounded by crumpled attempts. I know my vice.

              Lastly, this is where we most obviously diverge. I believe that Art can, in fact, be practiced–not the final product, not the inspiration, but the tools that fashion it forth. If Art were merely inspiration, then fridges would be decorated with Monets and Van Goghs–for are not children so often inspired? Without practice, even the naturally gifted can only get so far. I don’t pretend to post inspired poems every day. Indeed, there are empty forms aplenty on this blog. But unlike musician’s scales which grow grating on the ears with each repetition, I do not post the same post repeatedly. Like the jazz musician, each one is an improv with strengths and weaknesses. But by recording these raw sessions, I can hear what has worked and what needs work. Opening these up to an outside audience is like having jam sessions, where each musician brings his or her own perspective to the table, and they can give feedback. And by keeping the tools sharp I can be truly ready when inspiration strikes.

              I admire your poems–you are very talented, and they showcase your talents well. I hope you don’t find me too much of a Post-modern poet when I say that I don’t think what works for you would be best for me, but I’m so glad it works for you.

            • A Voice
              Jul 16, 2013 @ 22:05:26

              Some of your responses seem to me to be responding to things that I didn’t say, likely due to the way people tend to use language these days. I’m very particular with how I use language and I mean what I say. It doesn’t seem necessary to continue this line of commentary further.

              I am glad that you are aware of what you are doing. Most people that aim at writing poetry are woefully unaware and this is something that helps to entrench the notion that poetry is ‘mere expression’. There is a good bit of what you present that I don’t find particular useful or good, but I see what you are aiming at and there are times that you hit the target with great force and accuracy: Civil Lefts is a prime example. Continue to do what works for you; I’d just ask that you consider the reader a bit more.

              Here’s some more food for thought. You don’t have to be published in books and magazines to be a professional, whatever other people are likely to tell you. For my part, I highly doubt that I will ever have my work published commercially but, like I said in the introduction to Empty Forms, that isn’t stopping me from finding alternative methods of publication. Art is taken and treated seriously, even when we have fun with it, because we know we are making something more. Keep at it.

            • wordcoaster
              Jul 16, 2013 @ 23:17:39

              Sure, we can definitely wrap up this dialogue. I really appreciate your feedback and hope that you will continue to occasionally frequent my blog. I wish you the best! πŸ™‚

            • A Voice
              Jul 16, 2013 @ 23:29:16

              How the fuck can I not frequent the blog of a person that wrote ‘Civil Lefts’?

              Who knows, perhaps I can help you with that confidence. I will make an effort to write a bit more about my poetry and poetic process. It may be of help to not just you but others who have a real poetic gift but have yet to truly tap it and find their voice. ^^

              If you ever have any questions, comments or feedback, whether it’s about my poetry, your poetry or simply poetry in general, please feel free to speak your mind.

            • wordcoaster
              Jul 17, 2013 @ 10:31:23

              Thank you for the confidence boost, and I would love to hear more about your poetry and the poetic process it stems from. I would ask that you feel free to speak your mind, but choose carefully the words. I like to keep my blog family-friendly. It’s again part of my philosophy that I want to write poems for the youth and the grandmas–though if I have to choose one or the other, I choose the grandmas: the youth I can wait on. πŸ™‚

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