I too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.
   Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers that there is in
   it after all, a place for the genuine.
      Hands that can grasp, eyes
      that can dilate, hair that can rise
         if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are
   useful; when they become so derivative as to become unintelligible, the
   same thing may be said for all of us—that we
      do not admire what
      we cannot understand. The bat,
         holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under
   a tree, the immovable critic twinkling his skin like a horse that feels a flea, the base—
   ball fan, the statistician—case after case
      could be cited did
      one wish it; nor is it valid
         to discriminate against “business documents and

school-books”; all these phenomena are important. One must make a distinction
   however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry,
   nor till the autocrats among us can be
     “literalists of
      the imagination”—above
         insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have
   it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand, in defiance of their opinion—
   the raw material of poetry in
      all its rawness, and
      that which is on the other hand,
         genuine, then you are interested in poetry.

From Others for 1919: An Anthology of the New Verse (Nicholas L. Brown, 1920), edited by Alfred Kreymborg. This poem is in the public domain.

It must have been hard for him on days 
when the sun hit the muddy delta, 
sending up what smelled like failure, 
rotten and man-made. Still, he drove 
his old, rusty car down Pacific to 
the college, where he sat by those 
half his age who knew little of how 
they would begin, how easily beginnings 
turn into a thousand dark miles of water.
But they knew school, much more about it
than he did-which words to use when, 
how to give nothing but the requirement, 
to hide between clauses and commas.
This was his mistake of the essay 
called “What Life Means to Me”:

         My shadow on the ocean’s face, the frayed 
         water behind a boat. Rainbows and valleys 
         and leis for my daughters, that they forgive 
         me for leaving and all that I couldn’t give.

Some nameless face read through it, asking 
for predicates, circling fragments, then went on, 
knowing our father’s tears, yet deeming them
unremarkable. I can see his hands thumbing 
the red-marked page, searching for a glimpse 
of understanding and finding none, his face 
burning with shame for not knowing how much 
it would take to begin again, to go back across 
the water. He must have left that day thinking 
he had to work even harder for our love, to be 
a real father, responsible and clean as grammar.

Copyright © 2008 by Brandy Nālani McDougall. This poem appeared in The Salt-Wind: Ka Makani Pa'Akai (Kuleana Oiwi Press, 2008)Used with permission of the author.