Have you ever heard of a murder of crows? I strongly believe that the mass noun term for poets should be bureaucracy. Singly, poets have this reputation for being sensitive, articulate, deeply strange and haunted — not to say enlightened — creatures who drift through life with the veils lifted and the doors of perception open.
Don’t be fooled.
Their dangling earrings and hand knit scarves and I-can’t-afford-a-haircut hairstyles are only so many false eyes on the wings of a butterfly.
(Maybe this isn’t a good metaphor. Am I the only one who finds butterflies damn creepy? With their spindly limbs and their needlely mouths, their unblinking eyes always following you as they go drunkenly careening through space… But I digress.)
The point is, writers are some of the most anal retentive, obnoxious, unpleasant know-it-alls around. This is doubly true of poets. When a writer is alone, all her bratty compulsive perfectionism is turned inward on herself. But put her in a room with even one other writer, and you’ve created a machine that can feed itself indefinitely on niggling debates over word choice, punctuation and obscure meta-narratives.
But then, a bureaucracy of one is a sad thing indeed. If a writer is left to her own devices for too long, the caterpillars of her self-doubt might very well shred all her lush green foliage into lace. Sure, it looks pretty. But it’s no way to live.
Photo Credit: “Butterfly,” (CC) Tim Bocek (source)