This is where I post the text, and home-made audio recordings, of poems that inspire me.
Appointed Rounds, by Louis Jenkins
I was introduced to this poem, and others by Louis Jenkins, by Robert Bly on a Men's retreat many years ago. It was the first time I had felt drunk on poetry and by the time Bly came to read this, we were ready for anything. The laughter and joy filled the room. My reading of it, alone and without an audience, is far too sober for such a joyous poem, but there we go. Louis Jenkins is also admired by the actor Mark Rylance; the first two times he won a Tony award in New York, Rylance devoted his entire speech to reciting a Jenkins prose poem (see video links below), to the bafflement of the showbiz audience. I wrote to Jenkins, via his website, to say how joyful I was that Mark had given his poems this space, and he responded quickly and kindly, wondering whether for some of the viewers, it might have been the first poem they ever heard, and how extraordinary that would be.
At first he refused to deliver junk mail because it was stupid, all those deodorant ads, money-making ideas and contests. Then he began to doubt the importance of the other mail he carried. He began to select first class mail randomly for nondelivery. After he had finished his mail route each day he would return home with his handful of letters and put them in the attic. He didn’t open them and never even looked at them again. It was as if he were an agent of Fate, capricious and blind. In the several years before he was caught, friends vanished, marriages failed, business deals fell through. Toward the end he became more and more bold, deleting houses, then whole blocks from his route. He began to feel he’d been born in the wrong era. If only he could have been a Pony Express rider galloping into some prairie town with an empty bag, or the runner from Marathon collapsing in the streets of Athens, gasping, “No news.”