I collect poems. This has become a habit, it comes and fades depending on the moods and the interactions I have. Generally, there’s a poem each day in my inbox that I can choose to read, or not, to keep, or not. Most I read and let go. Some, though, get copied and pasted into a virtual notebook. They’re poems about dogs or gods, bicycles or music. Sometimes love. No, always love, or death, or both.
Even as I write about poems I feel a need for my own words to be more verse-ful. And yet they’re just sentences (and fragments) with an urge to be something else. Fuck. I should have said a “longing” instead of an “urge.” That would have sounded better, more poetic. Or just better. Also, I shouldn’t have interjected profanity.
I used to collect the poems simply because I thought I’d use them later. I like to put them at the head of an exam or a major assignment, a feature I learned from a calculus professor in 1990. I suppose that he collected his poems from those things known as books.
Anyway, the poems continued to collect, and I no longer think of simply how to use them, but my own anthology that I could come back to. I don’t know what the anthology means. Maybe it’s a mirror or a scrapbook. Maybe it’s not finished. Maybe it’s just a collection of the things that strike me on a particular morning when it’s raining; or maybe I just happened to have more time to appreciate an idea that day; or I wanted more time later. Or maybe it was just simple enough that it spoke to me.
More and more I think that I’m clipping and pasting poems as an act of desperation. As I go back to the pages I recognize that I barely remember that author and that title and it’s as though I’m reading it for the first time — even though I know I’d read it before and saved it because I’d thought it was in some way particularly meaningful, particularly memorable. So maybe the anthology is an anthology of memory, not unlike a photo album with snapshots of you standing in front of your cake on your eighth birthday (there I go trying to write a poem again); or maybe more like a journal entry.