I have been rereading The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert and reminding myself of what it means to write unselfconsciously. There is so much to say about Jack Gilbert, an award-winning yet underrated American poet who studied and taught at San Francisco State University, as well as in numerous universities abroad, and yet as always it's better to let a writer's words do the work.
Here's one of my favorite Gilbert poems:
TEAR IT DOWN
We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows. By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of raccoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not
enough. We die and are put into this earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time. We must
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already
in our bed to reach the body within that body.
Off to unlearn the constellations.