I took my car to the dealer for service yesterday. My dealer, like many, hires seniors to drive customers to and fro in company shuttles. (No, I’m not in that senior group yet. Maybe we should have Sr. Seniors and Jr. Seniors).
My shuttle driver was an elderly man with gray hair in need of a cut. After the initial silence (of about 45 seconds), we began to talk at the same time. He won that battle.
He told me his story the whole way home. At one point, I inserted a comment, but he glanced at me as if he’d seen a tree speak, so I shut up.
He told me the story of how he, an ambitionless twenty-something, had become a successful Flying Tiger and commercial airline pilot. He’d had no college, was deaf in one ear, and was approaching 30 years old when he started learning to fly.
Pretty interesting story. Then he explained that although he didn’t have any college (a requirement for being a commercial pilot), he had learned on his own by way of his family’s encyclopedia.
By the time I was 20 I’d read all the books of the encyclopedia, only skipping medicine, music, and poetry. I hate the pus and blood of medicine, I’m lousy at music, and poetry–well, I think poetry is for dreamers, not doers.
Oh man. In my mind, I was envisioning Doll God
floating off into the clouds.
Where do people get the idea that poetry is from Dreamland? It’s grounded in absolute reality. In fact, it has more reality to it than real life. By that I mean that in real life we ignore a lot around us as we struggle just to live our lives day by day. But poetry can’t ignore that stuff. It has to dig right in.
Back to Joe. As I was unfolding myself from the van, he told me about his book on Amazon and that I ought to look it up.
I almost said, “My poetry book is on Amazon, too.”
But I didn’t. Either it was because I’m too kind and didn’t want to embarrass him or it was because I’m a coward and didn’t want to get the trees-have-voices! stare again. Maybe it was a little of both.
Do you agree with me about poetry or do you like to think of it as a dreamer’s refuge?
P.S. I did look up his book and it looks good. If you’re interested in a true adventure (and to find out how he was accepted with all those negatives against him), email me for the book title. I’d like this post to remain a bit anonymous ;).