WHAT IF MODERN POETRY IS JUST DR. SEUSS WITHOUT THE RHYME?

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
Because I really like myself! 
And what I assume you shall assume,
Out-of-doors, or in this room! 
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
You are good as I am good—and true as I am true!

I loafe and invite my soul,
Would youl like to share a bowl? 
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
A little tiny spear, alas! 

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same, what do you think of that?
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin—thirty-seven? oh, drat!
Hoping to cease not till death.
When I’m forty, will I have sweet breath?

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Fruits and vegetables, get thee hence!
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
Oh, this paraticular fruit is rotten!
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Whether it be lark or buzzard,
Nature without check with original energy.
(And I’m not just talkng about having to pee!)

*

So much depends,
I told my friends,
On a wheel barrow that’s red
Or white chickens, instead!

*

Petals on a wet black bough
Seem to be faces in the Metro, now.

*

As I sd
to my friend, Fred,
because I am
always talking—Sam,

I sd, which was not
his name (he gets that a lot)—
the darkness sur-
rounds us, what for?

shall we buy
a goddamn big car
hey, or shall I—
or can we drive far?

drive, he sd, for
Christ’s sake look at yr
speedometer!
what u drivin that way for?

*

By the road to
the contagious hospital under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the northeast
—a cold wind.  Beyond, the waste
Of broad, muddy fields brown
with dried weeds, standing and fallen down

patches of standing water
the scatter—

ing of tall trees
All along the road the reddish purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves

I’m really bored,
Oh here’s a brown puddle we can ford—

under them leafless vines—Lifeless
in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world
naked,cold,
uncertain of all
save that they enter. 
All about them the cold, familiar

wind—Now the grass, tomor—
row the stiff curl
of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined—It quickens:  clar-
ity, outline of leaf

But now the stark
dignity of entrance–oh, now it’s dark!
Still, the profound change
has come upon them:  rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken—hurray!

*

I saw the best minds—OK, maybe not the best,
a pretty smart guy from Jersey, stoned, who moved out west,
was naked and hysterical, he had failed his driver’s test,
walking down a negro street at dawn
looking for a fix!  he was crazy, man, he was gone!
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry
dynamo
in a coffee shop in Soho
in the machinery of night
Poverty! And jazz! but their skin was mostly white!
I was crazy when I wrote that obscene ode,
but I dig William Blake and I know the guy who wrote On The Road!

25 Comments

  1. David said,

    February 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Tom,

    I think that you’re onto something here.

    The room I entered was a dream of this room.
    See the feet on the sofa, zoom, zoom, zoom!
    Surely those feet on the sofa were mine,
    There were mine, surely mine, oh yes they were mine!
    See that dog, the dog in the frame, the oval frame,
    That was me, yes me, we’re just the same!
    Something shimmers, something is hushed up.
    O why don’t you, why don’t you, please just shut up!

    We had macaroni for lunch every day
    except Sunday, when a small quail came to stay.
    I served us his wings!. Why do I tell you these things?
    It is so queer, you are not even here.

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182860

    David

  2. David said,

    February 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    He even looks a bit like a Dr. Seuss character:

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/uploads/authors/john-ashbery/448x/john-ashbery.jpg

  3. David said,

    February 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I don’t have time to complete this next one by myself, but maybe we can tag-team it with other visitors to the blog …

    She sang beyond the so-smart sea.
    The water was bored, as anyone can see,
    Like a body, a holly-golly body, fluttering
    Its empty sleeves; it’s busy busy mimicking
    Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
    That was not ours but you and I know why,
    the ocean blue is true and almost human too.

  4. R said,

    February 25, 2012 at 1:20 am

    The sea is pretty much a mask. And she, a bippity bird.
    The singy-song and woopy-water have that big bang band sound
    Even if what she said was never what she heard,
    Since what she sang was clippy-copied word by word.
    It may be that in all her coffees stirred
    The grinding beans and the bunny-bladed wind;
    But it was cindery-Che, and not the banging bird we heard.

  5. thomasbrady said,

    February 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Yes, Ashbery does look like a Dr. Seuss character! LOL

    Let me try a Seuss mash-up on that same Ashbery poem.

    Here’s the Ashbery poem:

    The room I entered was a dream of this room.
    Surely all those feet on the sofa were mine.
    The oval portrait
    of a dog was me at an early age.
    Something shimmers, something is hushed up.

    We had macaroni for lunch every day
    except Sunday, when a small quail was induced
    to be served to us. Why do I tell you these things?
    You are not even here.

    Here’s the Dr. Seuss version:

    The room I entered was a dream of this room
    And writing this poem will be my doom
    Because the dog in that portrait is me
    When I was about three.
    Something shimmers, something is hushed up.
    Wasn’t I a handsome pup?

    We had macaroni for lunch every day
    Except for quail on Sunday.
    I tell you these things with a distracted air…
    You know why? Because I suspect you’re not even there.

    • noochinator said,

      February 25, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      Seussian non-sequiturs
      May not be sublime,
      But I find them amusing
      When I’m praying in rhyme.

  6. David said,

    February 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Nicely done!

    Here’s one that almost stands on its own as a Dr. Seuss poem:

    Call the roller of big cigars,
    The muscular one, and bid him whip
    In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
    Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
    As they are used to wear, and let the boys
    Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
    Let be be finale of seem.
    The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

    Take from the dresser of deal,
    Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
    On which she embroidered fantails once
    And spread it so as to cover her face.
    If her horny feet protrude, they come
    To show how cold she is, and dumb.
    Let the lamp affix its beam.
    The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

    Wouldn’t take much effort to Seussle it.

    I’m imagining an anthology: Modernists in Who-ville

  7. David said,

    February 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    You couldn’t do this with Shakespeare or the Romantics without ruining their poems. Modernist poems survive the translation quite nicely.

  8. R said,

    February 26, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Guess what, guise? Your messiah has already come, and his name is Tao Lin.

  9. R said,

    February 26, 2012 at 12:08 am

    The Need

    Rod McKuen

    It’s nice sometimes
    to open up the heart a little
    and let some hurt come in.
    It proves you’re still alive.

    If nothing else
    it says to you–
    clear as a high hill air,
    uncomfortable
    as diving through cold water–

    I’m here.
    However wretchedly I feel,
    I feel.

    I’m not sure
    why we cannot shake
    the old loves
    from our minds.
    It must be that
    we build on memory
    and make them more
    than what they were.
    And is the manufacture
    just a safe device
    for closing up the wall?

    I do remember.
    the only fuzzy circumstance
    is sometimes where and how.
    Why, I know.

    It happens
    just because we need
    to want and to be
    wanted, too,
    when love is here or gone
    to lie down in the darkness
    and listen to the warm.

  10. thomasbrady said,

    February 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Wallace Stevens is often half way to Dr. Seuss, it’s true. Take his most anthologized poem, Peter Quince at the Clavier. This poem rhymes more as it goes on. The first stanza does not rhyme at all:

    Just as my fingers on these keys
    Make music, so the self-same sounds
    On my spirit make a music too.

    But this is easily corrected

    Just as my fingers on these keys
    Make music, so these reveries
    On my spirit sound the same melodies.

    and here’s the rest of ‘Peter Quince’ in Seuss-style:

    Music is feeling then, not sound,
    I said, trying to sound profound,
    Her blue-shadowed silk around me wound.

    Music and desire are both pain
    In the mind. It is like the strain
    Waked in the elders by young Spain

    Who took off her satin dress,
    The red-eyed elders to impress,
    Why, is anybody’s guess.

    II

    Susanna lay,
    She searched the touch of springs
    And found concealed imaginings,
    She sighed for so much melody.

    Upon the bank she stood in the cool of spent emotions.
    She felt, among the leaves, the dew of old devotional emotions.

    She walked upon the grass, still quavering
    Fetching her woven scarves, yet wavering.

    III

    Soon, with a noise like tambourines,
    Came her attendant Byzantines.

    They wondered why Susanna cried
    Against the elders by her side:

    And as they whispered, the refrain
    Was like a willow swept by rain.

    Anon their lamps’ uplifted flame
    Revealed Susanna and her shame.

    And then the simpering Byzantines
    Fled, with a noise like tambourines.

    IV

    Beauty is momentary in the mind,
    When the beauty is momentary and blind—
    The fitful tracing of a portal;
    But in the flesh it is immortal.

    Dr. Seuss dies, but the rhyme of Seuss lives

  11. thomasbrady said,

    February 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    cont.

    So evenings die, even as daylight gives
    Light to its green going,
    A wave, interminably flowing.

    So gardens die, their meek breaths scenting
    The cowl of Winter, done repenting.
    So maidens die to the auroral
    Celebration of a maiden’s choral.

    Susanna’s music touched the bawdy strings
    Of those white elders; but, escaping,
    Left only Death’s ironic scraping.
    Now in its immortality, it plays
    On the clear viol of her memory,
    And makes a constant Dr. Seuss of praise.

  12. David said,

    February 26, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    It’s a hoot to indulge a modern vein,
    Spoofing silly aspects of high ironic mien,
    Yet this comic elongation of the shadow of a curse
    Is the clown that announces the tragic death of verse.

    Please, more Shelley!

    • marcusbales said,

      February 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      From: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – an unwritten opera in two acts

      Act Two
      Scene Two
      Bill Collectors
      Lodgings in London
      December 8, 1816

      [Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Godwin, pursued by bill collectors, have escaped for the moment to the privacy of a room in an inn, breathless at a close escape.]

      Percy: The crawling worms that seek me with their bills
      For food and shelter bind me with bright chains
      That eat with burning cold into my bones!

      Mary: Oh, Percy, don’t just froth and frown
      And rant and rave – go write it down!

      Percy: These wingèd hounds pollute our very wills –
      They tear my heart, and from each beak down rains
      The ghastly words “I’m calling in your loans”!

      Mary: Oh, Percy, love, your words will drive me wild -
      Come over here and let’s conceive a child!

      Percy: Shapeless shadows wandering past the sills
      Like horrors from the realms of dreams and pains
      Still mock me with the echoes of my groans.

      Mary: Oh, Percy – climb down off your musing steed -
      Come over here – I’ll make you groan indeed!

      Percy: The Earthquake-fiends are charged to wrench their fills
      From these my quivering wounds while my blood stains
      This unforgiving rock, these barren stones!

      Mary: Oh, Percy – nothing’s barren but my bed
      Stop poetizing – let’s make love instead!

      Percy: What ruin hunts me … Mary! What new thrills
      Your mouth invents! Oh, woman blessed with brains
      And beauty, too – Oh! Oh! Let’s share our moans!

      • thomasbrady said,

        February 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm

        This does not feel like a satire on a poetic style but rather a tasteless attack on people: in this case, Percy and Mary, Shelley.

        You’ve missed the point, Bales.

  13. R said,

    February 27, 2012 at 12:09 am

    There are no schools. There are only precocious child poets, rebellious teenager poets, and “adult” poets. I like the the adult precocious child poet overlap the best. The teenagers don’t overlap much, and are usually the “popular” poets. Makes sense?

    • thomasbrady said,

      February 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      R,

      Nah. There’s Shelley and Poe and then all the rest.

      But seriously, who are the ‘precocious child poets,’ the ‘rebellious teenager poets’ and the ‘adult’ poets, first of all?

      The poet who writes well in youth is the genius: Shelley, Keats, Poe, and hopefully they live to adulthood and society treats them just kindly enough that they produce.

      Who would you consider the ‘rebellious teenager poets?’

      And who is an ‘adult precocious child poet?’

      Interesting thesis, but I’d like to see it filled out.

      T.

  14. R said,

    February 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Off the top of my head…

    Adult precocious child poets:

    Yeats
    Poe
    Celan
    Ashbery
    Jacques Roubaud
    Notley
    Scalapino
    Eliot
    Shakespeare
    Blake

    Adult poets:

    Mary Oliver et al
    Lyn Hejinian
    Dante
    Geoffrey Hill
    most of the Conceptualists
    Verlaine
    Jennifer Moxley
    Keats
    Anne Carson

    Rebellious teenager poets:

    Most of The Beats
    The Flarfs
    Rimbaud
    Shelley
    Rod McKuen
    Whitman
    Plath
    Billy Collins

    Precocious Child Poets:

    Most of the Language poets
    Gerard Manley Hopkins
    Aaron Kunin
    Anne Sexton
    Louis Z
    H.D.
    numerous post-avant
    Rilke
    Spicer
    Most of the surrealists
    Duncan
    Ben Lerner
    Lara Glenum
    Michael Palmer
    Sappho

    Briefly, I’d say the “precocious child poets” are more interested in language play, myth, (covert) perversity, and imagination, the “rebellious teenager poets” in sex and the self, shocking humor and appalling society (overtly), the “adult poets”, in universal themes in everyday life – love, responsibility, ethics – and the “adult precocious child poets” have bound all of these things together elegantly with the purity of the precocious child’s (over)imagination.

  15. thomasbrady said,

    February 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Odd categories, R.

    Not sure what to make of them.

  16. R said,

    February 28, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Yeah, it would be weird to think of poets grouped as portraying different stages of human development in language and sexuality, rather than in their historic social categories. Just a thought. Forget it.

  17. David said,

    February 28, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Let’s not forget the sublime scatology of the precocious infant school.

  18. R said,

    February 29, 2012 at 5:00 am

    Let’s not forget the reptiles.

  19. July 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Not-So-Nice Kitty

    Why oh why did they make it like that,
    oh why did they ruin The Cat in the Hat ?

    A sweet silly story with a girl and a boy,
    the book was created for wordplay and joy.
    The artist behind it was a Geisel called Seuss,
    a genius cartoonist and baby-boom Mother Goose.
    The movie takes place in a bright-colored town,
    a twee little burg unblighted by frowns.
    The girl and the boy are quiet as slugs,
    when along comes a Cat dressed up in a rug.
    The Cat is played by the comic Mike Myers,
    a zany Canuck whom I tend to admire.
    Myers shambles in like the Cowardly Lion,
    but Bert Lahr never stooped to a studio tie-in.
    Soon a tale of daydreaming tots,
    becomes a fiasco riddled with rot.
    No one in Hollywood likes humor that’s clean,
    so the jokes in this film are lowdown and mean.
    When the Cat sees a mom who’s hotter than Hades,
    his hat swells up to the size of a Mercedes.
    A joke about poop is ever so limp,
    and the gag with the hoe is fit for a pimp.
    It is fun to have fun with the MPAA,
    but dirty is dirty and that’s all that I’ll say.
    Thing One and Thing Two are creepy and crude,
    they look like the critters from Cronenberg’s brood.
    When these Things run amok like a couple of ids,
    there’s simply no saving these home-alone kids.
    As their bodacious mom who’s too hot for the room,
    Kelly Preston radiates va-va-va-voom.
    Unlucky for her there’s a guy named Quinn,
    a bachelor type who really wants in.
    Quinn is played by the Baldwin called Alec,
    an actor whose presence is decidedly phallic.
    Quinn eyeballs the mom with a notion to bed,
    without him onboard the film would be dead.
    If directing bad movies were a sin to confess,
    Bo Welch would say oops for making this mess.
    Critics are paid to suffer bad art,
    no matter how icky it is from the start.
    “So all we could do was to
    Sit!
    Sit!
    Sit!
    Sit!
    And we did not like it.
    Not one little bit.”

    (With apologies to Theodor Geisel.)

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      No thanks to the Cat
      With a review like that!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 118 other followers

%d bloggers like this: