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Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006 12:43 am

Good poet! Bad poet!

Made irrelevant by the Net, Tullius finds refuge as a poet

Before the Internet, before the search engines, Tullius Menard was a person of substantial worth, for he’d memorized most all the facts. When he was young, Tullius decided to earn his way in life by knowing all the data — a considerable task indeed. So he wasted no time with reasoning or understanding or appreciating or wondering. He’d build nothing, design nothing, fashion nothing, imagine nothing, analyze nothing — he’d only know the facts.
He’d never swim the river, he’d always stay on shore. He’d memorize near all the facts, he’d know most stuff — and more.
     Who wrote this? Who said that? Definition of this? Definition of that? When? The formula? Eventually it happened.
Tullius knew it all and sold it, he spewed out facts for fee. Before the engines came, and spit out facts for free.
     They asked him distance, “here” to “there.” He knew it in a minute, he knew it to the mile — but, they noted, when he said it, he said it sans a smile.      And then search engines came to be — and spewed forth facts for free.
The time was bleak for Tullius, his shine went dull inside. Where once he was the kingpin, now he’s mostly “died.” 

     I crossed paths with Tullius Menard only twice, so my recall of him was vague, undefined — he had no outline.
I could not see him short, I could not see him tall. I could not picture Tullius, I knew him not at all.

     To me, he was shadow — writing no plus or minus into the equation — and so it surprised me when he called and asked for help. Why me?     Because, he explained, I was the only person he knew who never trucked with “fact,” who always shunned reality — who lived outside the pack.
     He was hoping to be useful again — useful, independent of data.
To earn his way fact-free —
and so he queried me. It took awhile to think it through, but in a week, I thought I knew.

    “It seems to me,” I told him, “that poetry is where you ought to be. Both the poet and the poem can be of use — fact-free.”

But I did not tell Menard, that poetry is hard. I’d tried it all my life; it caused me only strife. Today Menard is poet, a laureate, I’m told. And I am not a poet;
my words do not take hold. Now I read his poems — to learn, to someday do poems well. But I’ll never be a poet, my words will never sell.
I want to be a poet; it leaks in when I write. But I have no poet talent; it’s hardly worth the fight. I suffer as a poet, with words that ring obtuse. So I pilfer language elsewhere; I parrot Dr. Seuss. I cannot be a poet, no matter how long the time.
I’ll never be a poet;   my thoughts all end — in rhyme.
     Unlike me, Tullius Menard blossomed as a poet. Here’s his prizewinning work titled “My Freedom Born”:
Google — this Ask — that Dot — com
Yahoo! I am fire during rain, I am unfolded
    What the hell?
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