“We all matter because we live.”Those words were on my mind as I went to a local poetry reading in Woodstock this weekend. Then I heard fellow poets reminisce of days long ago and poets that are no longer with us, how the featured readers met the host and thus a community was born. It’s been one that, since the year 2000, that has been kind enough to let me, a Spectrumite finding his voice to thrive and learn in their presence. I’ve learned so much from the local poetic masters (or maybe divas perhaps?) that they made me want to be better than before.As for my approach to poetry, or the arts in general for that matter, I like to take a cue from the father of modern Philosophy, Socrates, and say that “All that I know is that I know nothing.” It’s been something that has stuck with me because of my translation.The way I interpret his words is to never close your mind on what is possible and be open to new and exciting possibilities. We all wear different hats at different times, the key is to always being open to what can happen. All artists are able to reinvent themselves constantly with the times that they find themselves, (Pro wrestlers Mick Foley, Triple H, The Rock, The Undertaker, singers Prince, Billy Joel and Sir Elton John as well as game show hosts Drew Carey and Pat Sajack are some such examples) but that also applies to everyone as well.I know a wonderful friend who does a lot for the community, Joe Defino Jr, who finds himself wearing many hats in his life but is always open to any possibilities. He has been in his life a teacher, lector, artist, coach, technician as well as a father and a mentor for me. He’s always reminding me to be open to God’s call even when it’s hard for me to do so. He’s just one example but my point is sometimes we need a reminder to be open.To highlight how different my poetry has been from when I started writing, I offer two examples of my poems. One comes from when I was just starting out writing in high school; I was writing about an one sided crush and how the wait was making me feel, appropriately named Waiting for my True Love:Waiting for my true LoveWhen I ask a girl out and she says no,I feel lower than the lowest lowWhen I get a moment, I look up at the skyAnd say, “Is this the way it’ll be till I die?” I try to be still, patient and calmThinking that I’m sitting under a tree of palmAnd I try to start a new dayIn a new way. When I see people kissing, however,I feel as gloomy as cloudy weatherBoys and girls I know flirtAnd I feel that my feelings are truly hurt.I’m waiting for you . . .I’m waiting for my true love. This relatively recent one is dedicated to a wonderful friend, whose Mom was strong, full of faith and kind as well. When I first recitied this poem for her children, they were so happy, one was crying because it was so powerful, so I leave this one here as well, to show how I’ve progressed as a poet: Gentle Pink -for the memory of Beverly Defino- Gentle pinkwind calls out;tells all that can hearthe broken hearted;discouraged atheletea sick person:Even as enemies close in,times when hope seemsdistant,promise me one thing:That through it all,to never give up.My wishhelpsall in need,battling whatever comes,knowingheroic fightwith its ardiousdifficulttrials,all too well. Faith,lovemay seeminsignificantin world deluged in dismal news.Those small thingsdone out of love;kindnessmean so muchin the long run. Lovefrom all who love youinspires;radiates itselfto others;permeatingthroughout life’speaks and pratfalls. “Gentle wind,those who get the messagesay silentlyas if in prayer“We knowwords so heartfelthow much you care,even now,you inspire humble peoplewith yourfaithfulness;courageousness;precious jemthe giftswe celebrate;guardwe will never forgetnor the memory you leave in us.” My advice to those who feel that they are passionate about something, one where the Eros won’t go away no matter what, is to go after it, keep learning, and never give up, because you can always learn from being patient and your work, each and every day, will always help you to….Shine On!!!