THE POETIC PROCESS
Let’s talk about rhyme.
The most recent insight I have had about
rhyme came when I was playing jazz with some of
the best instrumental talents of Canada, who’d come
into the Zanzibar tavern in the afternoons
to get up on stage and play.
It’s appropriate to play jazz in a Strip Club.
I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure that the word
“jazz” derives from the word, “jizz”. Hot music
has always been associated with sex. So it was
fun playing sets between the acts of the strippers.
It all became a flow experience, the music, the many-
coloured lights playing on the bodies of the
women dancing, the smells of food cooking downstairs
and the glint of the sun coming in off the chrome
of cars passing on Yonge Street.
The sour aftertaste of beer spills, my vodka and
tonics and the bitter taste of a stimulant
as it hits my nostril… Joe, the silent but
efficient bartender working behind the long bar. The
gleaming of sun from the front window – just a narrow
slat of a sunbar making a golden stripe on the red
Listening to the notes, sometimes discordant
sometimes in sweet harmony. It all seemed like
a poem to me. The rhyme of sounds
came in a variety of unexpected rhythms.
And this is the way to use rhyme in a poem –
sometimes unexpected, a play with words,
in the flow of words, rhymes sometimes dicordant,
some words merely suggesting a rhyme with
another word that sounds a little like it.
Its a flow and a dance… It’s a sudden JOKE; it’s a
The rhythm always must come round to the starting point –
then fall away into the multi-coloured lightning
cymbal flash of night.
Darker still towards the stairs in the back.
Learning rhyme is an art. And its an
art that you never finish learning. You
can’t really talk about rhyme without
rhythm. Because rhythm determines
when the rhyme will come.
Just like in jazz, two harmonic notes
sounding together – fall away into something
else – silence, the ringing of a bell — darkness,
darkness… then slowly light emerges out
of the black hole in the poet’s mind, twisting,
circling up like a spiral, like DNA – a drumbeat
sounds, and then come the horns – bells and
horns drive away doubt.
You step forth into certainty, certainty
of the dawn rising in the mind of our artist,
circling round, a spiral out of the darkness,
up, up, up into the cool of the blues.
Most reggae songs start with the sound of the
horns… and then comes the rhythm,
I can’t differentiate between music
and painting and poetry – the structures
of all three seem strangely as one to
me – in the darkness of the mind,
I see all three spiralling together,
weaving together like the strands
of D.N.A., like the thread of the Fates,
like the involving ties of love –
all one roar of the river.
The river is within. And
my form of meditation, of dreaming
while awake I call “RIVER-WATCHING
SITTING”. You let the river of your
thoughts, emotions, memories and
feelings, pictoral visions – let the
river flow by within you – you don’t
attempt to achieve silence – you don’t
repress, you let the vision river go,
you do not grasp
Eventually the river will clear
and you will see yourself in its
It’s all one process,
as far as I am concerned:
it’s all one
undulation, tension and release.
And the clarity of watching this
river flow by, down down into the
past within you.
This way the clear-eyed
watcher learns about him-herself,
always the river within coursing past.
And there is no need to grasp,
no need to try to possess.
Because the river comes round
LET YOUR CONSCIOUS MIND REMEMBER TO FORGET,
BECAUSE YOUR UNCONSCIOUS MIND
WON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER.
Ten thousand paths to dawn at the peak of the silver mountain.
(C) 2016 by W.G.Milne