A Distinction by Gerson M. Mallilin (Poem) - Notes, Critique, Analysis, Meaning

When only the brain has poetry
nothing else has;
the heart is numb with emptiness,
the eyes might as well be shrouded,
the lips yawn with the ghost of words
buried before they can become speech,
the hands are active crosses.

But when the heart has poetry everything else has;
the brain is renewed
and stirred to surpass itself,
the blood becomes a flood
of meanings and images
eyes, lips, and hands
can never
perfectly tell.

To understand this poem by Gerson M. Mallilin, one has to sit for a while and mull over the title and why the poet used such. The title is directly derived from the body of the poem. In the body of the poem, Mallilin offers his own distinction between a brain that has poetry and a heart that has poetry. The poem has two stanzas which is good and convenient for this particular poem because each stanza is devoted to a definition of "brain has poetry" and "heart has poetry".

In the poem, is Mallilin using the word "poetry" in the literal sense? Or is it used as a metaphor for something? Did Mallilin use "poetry" as a placeholder for something or some things? It's difficult to decide whether the word "poetry" is literal or metaphorical here. If you take the word literally, the poems makes sense. The word fits. If you also take it metaphorically, it also makes sense. It also fits. Maybe, this was what's intentioned by the poet. Maybe he wanted the reader to have the choice to either take the word literally or metaphorically.

According to the poem, if only your brain has poetry, you don't have much going on. You are empty, you can't see, you are lost, and you can't speak articulately. You have nothing.

Now, if your heart has poetry, you have everything. Your brain works perfectly, there's meaning around you, and your eyes, lips, and hands work according to their purpose.

I think what Mallilin is trying to communicate here is that a heart that has poetry trumps a brain that has poetry. Listen more to what your heart tells you. You will live a more meaningful and more fulfilling life if you listen to the dictates of your heart.

This is my own interpretation of the poem. That means I could be wrong. There are a couple of lines in the poem that I didn't quite grasp. I don't fully understand what the poet meant by "the hands are active crosses". I also didn't make full sense of the line "eyes, lips, and hands can never perfectly tell".