From “After Lorca,” by Jack Spicer
When you had finished a poem what did it want you to do with it? Was it happy enough merely to exist or did it demand imperiously that you share it with somebody like the beauty of a beautiful person forces him to search the world for someone that can declare that beauty? And where did your poems find people?
Some poems are easily laid. They will give themselves to anybody and anybody physically capable can receive them. They may be beautiful (we have both written some that were) but they are meretricious. From the moment of their conception they inform us in a dulcet voice that, thank you, they can take care of themselves. I swear that if one of them were hidden beneath my carpet, it would shout out and seduce somebody. The quiet poems are what I worry about—the ones that must be seduced. They could travel about with me for years and no one would notice them. And yet, properly wed, they are more beautiful than their whorish cousins.
But I am speaking of the first night, when I leave my apartment almost breathless, searching for someone to show the poem to. Often now there is no one. My fellow poets (those I showed poetry to ten years ago) are as little interested in my poetry as I am in theirs. We both compare the poems shown (unfavorably, of course) with the poems we were writing ten years ago when we could learn from each other. We are polite but it is as if we were trading snapshots of our children—old acquaintances who disapprove of each other’s wives. Or were you more generous, Garcia Lorca?
There are the young, of course. I have been reduced to them (or my poems have) lately. The advantage in them is that they haven’t yet decided what kind of poetry they are going to write tomorrow and are always looking for some device of yours to use. Yours, that’s the trouble. Yours and not the poem’s. They read the poem once to catch the marks of your style and then again, if they are at all pretty, to see if there is any reference to them in the poem. That’s all. I know. I used to do it myself.
When you are in love there is no real problem. The person you love is always interested because he knows that the poems are always about him. If only because each poem will someday be said to belong to the Miss X or Mr. Y period of the poet’s life. I may not be a better poet when I am in love, but I am a far less frustrated one. My poems have an audience.
Finally there are friends. There have only been two of them in my life who could read my poems and one of that two really prefers to put them in print so he can see them better. The other is far away.
All this is to explain why I dedicate each of our poems to someone.