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Van Gogh: A Tormented Man, read the headline in the Arts section of a big city newspaper.

“Duh, gee… do you think?” Harry blurted out, “Join the damn club!”

Any conversation with Harry must begin with his contact toward you, not the other way around. Harry is a poet.

“Being a Poet ain’t easy,” he told me once, “to survive you have to understand Gravity.” I have ever since and continue to chew on that notion.

I was having breakfast at Tim & Tilly’s on Tuesday, where Harry always sits at the back, corner table; usually in deep concentration. I am sure his coffee is cold most of the time. The look is easy to decipher. He is a million light-years away somewhere and you don’t dare interrupt his voyage; no telling what harm the sudden jolt back to Earth might cause.

Today he was reading the newspaper when he made his comment. He looked over to me with that whim of child’s wonder he gets from time to time. He wanted to talk. So, I listened. That’s Harry’s idea of talking!

Though most folks in this area don’t quite know what a Poet is or does, other than write poetry. They mostly figure that as a poet he writes rhymes either about flowers and butterflies or, about anger and hate. Harry would just snort a subtle laugh if he heard someone say that. He would not even think of engaging such nonsense; there was a time when he would. Boy would he!

 Harry doesn’t much like the word Poet. He’ll explain, if he thinks you’ll understand, and expound his view that he is just some monkey who has been cursed with a hyper-perception in the doings of the world around him. To use words is his only defense, an outlet; like that wiggly thing on the top of a pressure-cooking pot that make all that noise. The stove is his view of the world, the vittles inside the pot are the thoughts in his head churning and the pressure that’s building inside and steaming out are his mere words. It’s all he has! He understands if the steam builds, if it can’t get out everything explodes-make a real mess!

He explained his view on being a poet once. I think I remember this right. I also remember that he said everybody has their own model and nobody’s model agrees with anyone else’s: He told me folks who tool Words and Ideas can play three games: Storytellers, Writers and Poets. Storytellers shop at the market for idea/word ingredients and comeback and make a meal to feast. A Writer is the profession- like a plumber or a brain surgeon (I forget where the writer fits within that mix!). Then there is the Poet.

A Poet Thinks, then translate it into Words which make other folks Think.

Sounds too simple to work, you know the old saying; …Nice Work if You Can Get It.

Harry was telling me that day about Gravity. He said Van Gogh just lost his gravity. It is an easy result for most poets. I didn’t want to interrupt him pointing out that VG was a painter-later I figured his definition of Poet was universal, applied to any discipline (Not just the Arts either!)

Balance between living in the world of consequence and flying in the void imagination. There is a difference. There must be! Gravity assures us of this fact!

How we use Gravity is something I learned from talking with Harry. He made me think that sometimes we easily get caught up in the feeling of weightlessness. You’ve got to be careful with gravity. You can use it or it can use you! When we create we go out. But we must remember to come back and let gravity hold our feet to the ground. To spin free without gravity makes us giddy for a time, but it is back on the ground, where we connect to our roots that gives us the propulsion to escape gravity again.

Most poets who destroy themselves; Mozart, Van Gogh, Jimi Hendrix…the list goes on, somewhere lost their gravity; they lost any hope of growing roots.

Some think being a poet is like the irony of the proverbial perpetual motion engine. You can’t. The process of creating will always burn more energy than you can produce. You must stop and gather more fuel. You must return back to the state of gravity.


 Usually it is all too much for anybody to handle. I know, and not too many others do, that in his younger days he found some pretty creative ways to dull the bombardment of those constant inputs, yet he survived it all. Now older, he’s not scarred of being overwhelmed…he misses the annoyance

 I only ever see Harry around breakfast time atTim & Tilly’s BBQ. Now most folks might not figure a BBQ place for breakfast but Tilly serves up a mean biscuit and gravy. Harry is the only one who has his B&G with a side of slaw. I think it is a still a little rebellion left in him from youth; doing something against the grain-to get noticed, though harmless.

Harry figure that if Van Gogh had started the day with a good helping of biscuits and gravy it might have been just enough extra weight to keep his feet on the ground so gravity could take hold!

Harry says mostly his wife keeps his feet on the ground. I the past he resented such intrusion now, he relishes it.