I’m reading Raymond Carver and I’m thinking about my friend Michael –
not just because he recommended Carver to me, but also because,
it seems to me, Michael writes a lot like him. Call it confessional
poetry. I wrote lots of it. Until I got tired of writing “I” all the time.
Besides, it takes a lot to make your life into a poem. I’m not that guy,
but, sometimes, in your life, there’s a poet and they might make you
wonder, what would it take for me to go there? A quick aside:
I once read about a man who wrote a novel whose entire content
consisted of words that did not include the letter “I”.
I can relate. Nonetheless, there’s something in the delicacy
of Carver’s/ Michael’s ruminations, memories, crows, cars
moments of paradise, all the tangents — he really creates something
out of instants that may, or may not, have happened. It’s a game.
They keep you guessing that way. I’m reading, and I realize,
dammit, the man has just written a poem, gone to another plane,
sung his diary of existence – and I am hostage to him. I will
watch him race for his life across a bridge crumbling beneath
him. We will stare, excited, scared, transfixed, cheer for him,
certain he must fall, anticipate the carnage, be willing to pay
to see that, yet, isn’t it true we secretly pray he makes it? Then,
as the last trestle collapses into the gorge, there, he appears
on the other side, triumphant, arms raised in tribute to us—
the doubters, the small ones, the afraid, those who questioned
if they could believe, we, his readers. Is it an echo that
I think, after something like that, you would have to know,
you’d look back, reflect, and say to yourself, that felt good
it was important to get that written down. Because it means
something. No, goddammit – no, in fact – it means everything.

Michael Dennis’ latest book is now available and highly recommended