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Most of these songs are popular; ideally, they would be obscure and new to you, but you probably know most of them; but here they are, a type of song, defined by…”sink into.”  The criterion is somewhat unique: the songs are too good to be “background music,” and yet, because the songs have a certain nonchalance, a certain laziness—which can be a virtue in music—they will drift and wash over you, and not demand too much of you; and yet, because these songs are so wonderful, you should find yourself wishing the rest of the world would be quiet so you can listen to them.  Maybe you would like to fall asleep to them at night—and if you do fall asleep before the song is ended, is it still then not a good song? Where has a song gone when it still plays, and you are sleeping?  Many of these songs seem like they were written for that purpose—for the sleeping, not the waking, brain or ear.  The excitement here may be that so many genres are represented—why shouldn’t one be a fan of many different types of music?  Music would want it so. Looking at the list after picking these songs, we noticed that very few of them (“How Fortunate The Man With None” the notable exception) pontificate—and this makes them so much more interesting, various and powerful. There really is nothing to say. Music knows this. Science knows this. Math knows this. Humor knows this. Love knows this. What you actually say, is not that important in these areas. The way you don’t say it, though, is extremely important. You just need to look and hear. Genius looks and hears.  Meanwhile, the rest of us fret or talk. The songs are in no particular order. They are all good. If you do see a song you don’t know, go on you tube and listen to it immediately, because we guarantee all 100 of these songs are the greatest of their kind.  —the Scarriet editors

Fade Into You —Mazzy Star (deliciously insouciant)

Year Of The Cat —Al Stewart (almost like a movie)

A Whiter Shade Of PaleProcol Harum (Rock and Bach)

Horse With No Name —America (just a couple of flattened sevenths)

America —Simon & Garfunkle (life flowing into melody)

A Day In The Life —The Beatles (the first really transcendent rock song)

Tomorrow Never Knows —The Beatles (one chord will do)

Venus In Furs —Velvet Underground (fashionable amateurism)

Video Games —Lana Del Ray (best pop song of the 21st century)

Cosmic Dancer —T. Rex (glam sweetness)

Nights In White Satin —Moody Blues (most popular song of its type, perhaps)

The Rain Song —Led Zeppelin (this band did not just rock)

Two Thousand Light Years From Home —Rolling Stones (Ruby Tuesday & Lady Jane lost in space)

Alone Again Or —Love (strangely haunting 60s California band)

Riders On The Storm —The Doors (only the Doors)

Claire de Lune —Debussy (needs no comment)

Prelude To The Afternoon of A Faun —Debussy (and modern music begins)

Piano Concero No. 17 (slow movement) —Mozart (Mozart was maybe better slow than fast)

Moonlight Sonata (first movement) —Beethoven (the template of ‘sink into’)

Piano Concerto No. 4 (movements 1 & 2) —Beethoven (maybe his greatest pure orchestral work)

Symphony No. 3 (3rd movement) —Brahms (the majestic, autumnal Brahms!)

Mazurka A minor —Chopin (such a darling sweet piece; Horowitz is on you tube)

Gymnopédies No. 1 —Satie (I could listen to this forever)

Nocturne No. 1 —Chopin (maybe the greatest pure composer of the kind of music on this list)

I Want You (She’s So Heavy) —The Beatles (the lads get heavy and roll)

Daphnis et Chloé, Suite no. 2 —Ravel (classical swoon)

Radar Love —Golden Earring (riding is sinking)

In A Gadda Da Vida —Iron Butterfly (1968. Doors influenced)

When The Music’s Over —The Doors (Persian nights, babe)

The End —The Doors (crawling along)

Season of The Witch —Donovan (must be the season of the hurdy gurdy too)

How Fortunate the Man With None –Dead Can Dance (a meditative masterpiece)

He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot —Grandaddy (this song is like flying)

Autobahn —Kraftwerk (doesn’t try to be menacing, heavy, or cool. A pleasant ride)

I Fall In Love Too Easily —Chet Baker (we all do, don’t we?)

Midnight At the Oasis —Maria Muldaur (the 70s schmaltz industry)

Blue in Green —Miles Davis (a trumpet singing from the mist)

Love To Love You Baby —Donna Summer (Song as sex. In poor taste, unless done right.)

Light My Fire —The Doors (when FM radio was supreme)

Your Woman —White Town (the trumpet sample of this 90s tune knocks me out)

Sunshine Superman —Donovan (intricate groove)

I’m Not In Love —10cc (masterpiece of layering)

Guinnivere —Crosby, Stills, and Nash (a girl’s name can be everything in a song)

Across the Universe —The Beatles (John Lennon’s ode to stretching out)

The Spy —The Doors (come go with Morrison into the house)

The Look of Love —Dusty Springield (Bacharach is very romantic)

Us and Them —Pink Floyd (adolescent self-pity given a melody)

Liebestod from Tristan und IsoldeWagner (swimming in swimming music)

Air That I Breathe —Hollies (this is what love is like)

Adagio for Strings —Samuel Barber (sad never sounded so good)

Air —Bach (The illustrious Bach—inventor of music?)

The Lark Ascending —Vaughan Williams (music that hides on the ceiling)

Surabaya Johnny —Lotte Lenya (German musical theater. Wilde. Brecht. Ja.)

A Day In The Life A Fool —Jack Jones (walking around, lost in a song)

Claire —Gilbert O’ Sullivan (lavish and sensitive)

Poetry Man —Phoebe Snow  (there’s a 1967 song called Painter Man. Almost as good)

The Way We Were —Barbara Streisand (Almost anyone can sink into Streisand)

Stranger In Paradise —Tony Bennett  (I’m there, Tony)

It Was A Very Good Year —Frank Sinatra (nostalgia lets you sink)

Humming Chorus from Madame Butterfly —Puccini (hushed charm itself)

Sea of Love —Phil Phillips (low budget production can sound luxurious, too)

The Crystal Ship —The Doors (half-slumbering poetry)

Indian Summer —The Doors (the poetry of cheap lounge music; must be Morrison and his band)

Lonely Days —Bee Gees (Melodies, voices, and a subtle heaviness)

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face —Roberta Flack (the first time ever the 70s)

Canon in D —Pachelbel (top 40 baroque classical)

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3 —Ian Dury (languish in lunacy)

All Or Nothing At All —Frank Sinatra with Harry James (Great lyrics in a minor key)

Layla –Derek & The Dominos (the formula is simple: great song and then add a great part 2)

Low Spark of High Heeled  Boys —Traffic (this song has length, reach)

Lush Life —Nat King Cole (great songs like this usually comment on a whole genre)

Third Stone From The Sun —Jimi Hendrix (a session guitarist to an icon overnight)

Is That All There Is? —Peggy Lee (a little talking can do wonders for a song)

How Soon Is Now? —The Smiths (Laughing gas melancholy)

This Guy’s In Love With You —Herb Alpert (relaxed yet passionate)

What’s Goin On —Marvin Gaye (Studio genius was everywhere during this era)

Me and Mrs. Jones —Billy Paul  (wall of sound melancholy soul music)

Space Oddity —David Bowie (One of those songs with everything: production, lyrics, hooks)

Rocket Man —Elton John (lonely outer space song his best ever, except maybe Benny & Jets)

Chasing Cars —Snow Patrol (will you lie with me?)

Transdermal Stimulation —Ween (A slightly “depressed and bored in the suburbs” vibe)

Pavane For A Dead PrincessRavel (grief shared)

It’s A Sin —Pet Shop Boys (Yup)

Kiss Kiss Kiss —Yoko Ono (Yoko matches the Beatles excitement at times)

Another Star —Stevie Wonder (This artist projects love, pure and simple, like no other)

Hey Jude —Beatles  (Paul talking to John, who was losing his mind. Hey John. It’s going to be okay.)

House of the Rising Sun —Animals (Several genre toppers happen at once in this song)

I’ll Be Around —The Spinners  (Simple hook genius)

Waterloo Sunset —Kinks  (the guitar in this)

California Dreaming —Mamas and Papas (multiplicity of voices is first rate)

Bittersweet Symphony —The Verve  (feel like walking down crowded streets while listening)

The Girl From Ipanema —Astrud Gilberto, Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz (do you sway or melt listening to this?)

Time of the Season —Zombies  (panting rhythmically to pretty melody)

Crimson and Clover —Tommy James (fin de siecle aesthetics meets trashy pop)

American Cowboy —Jada (Hint of hooker, but more important: hooks!)

The Winner Takes It All —ABBA (Romantic self-pity has never been better expressed)

Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again —Bob Dylan (Dylan kept the long ballad alive, if not entirely seriously)

Melancholia —The Who (Don’t know this one? Best Who song ever.)

White Rabbit —Jefferson Airplane (guitar and vocal sound are so good)

My Sweet Lord —George Harrison  (Sink into Beatle/Hallelujah-mania)







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Wit’s relationship with me

Is my relationship with you

In poetry; this is what poetry

Is; this defines what I do.

Poetry I do all alone,

But with it, I can play any tone.

I can be more myself with it than with you.

I heard of someone, today, who,

Worked all his life, and, at the age of seventy two,

Had no one—no one!—to leave his money to.

So I am going to write this poem to you.

We can’t live naked; Wallace Stevens doesn’t  fit

In nature; we need a roof—and wit.

Labor is necessary all the time.

The sun is hot, and into the sun we have to climb.

This tragedy of commuting we cannot share

With anyone, and if we should so much as stare

At someone else with desire, it’s called a crime.

But most desires are passing; only wit

Saves us. This poem is my gift which wraps it.








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The artist wants to own what he sees,

The poet wants to own what he hears,

Like I wanted to own you,

You, and all your fears.

But the painter and the poet find

There is too much to own—none of it will be owned.

Ownership, in creation, is the first thing that is barred.

Poetry is not war. In poetry, peace and forgetting are.

Put the painting away. Whatever is wanted is marred.

Of course I want to own all this.

But who owns the last moment’s kiss?

Do you remember when I held you and every living flight of your face was mine?

Do you remember when I loved you in the flowers, and we drank the shadowy wine?

The mind wants to own the body.

The body wants to own the mind.

Why are the more than loving always the less than kind?

I can have this, but only if it doesn’t do anything and it’s blind.

We find there is too much to lose,

So much to lose—that nothing is finally lost.

The body is immense and the mind doesn’t know what to choose.

Take my hand! It’s mine, but now it belongs to you.

I am gone. The distant mountains are blue.

Did you miss me? I’ll find something else to do.

Of course I want.

Do you remember when I held you and every living flight of your face was mine?

Do you remember when I loved you in the flowers, and we drank the shadowy wine?






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God, you must be hiding a lover somewhere.

God, tell me the truth, I’m in despair,

Tell me, tell me, what did you create?

The human? I am one. But look at this template.

I thought the human was the creation, but no;

People? Am I a person? With eyes and words? I don’t know.

You are hiding a lover. Can I say this? I think I can.

The template isn’t human. It’s woman and man.

People don’t exist. We are one of two.

And I want the other one. Tell me what to do.

They are all the same: they surrender with a sigh.

And before that and after that they coldly go by.


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Madness is caused by too much goodness.

When I was bad, I relaxed and loved.

Too much goodness is madness.

The thesis may be difficult to prove,

But it’s true: sanity is when you don’t give a fuck:

I’m still in love with her; she’s moved on.

Years later I still obsess about her, because

She doesn’t give a fuck. I was her pawn.

I was afraid to make her angry. She was always angry.

I was loving and good and never let myself be angry with her,

Until one day, I got really angry at her

Because I never let myself be angry with her,

And I did something stupid and lost her forever.

I’m the crazy one because I still love her

And she’s sane, because she doesn’t give a fuck.

She didn’t give a fuck about anything.

She wanted to be anonymous. Kissing her

Was like kissing water. I knew her

Not to want anything: kids, career,

Art, she didn’t want to make anything,

Didn’t want to leave a mark.

Smile or frown, she liked to disappear into the dark.

Not giving a fuck is why she’s sane—

She continues with her pretty life.

She’s gone, and yet I love her—my caring is my pain.

I never knew someone so sane, so beautiful.

And this was because she didn’t give a fuck,

And I was expendable, another source of her rage;

She cared, like the rest, about looks, about age,

But to care that we care is what makes us insane;

And everyone knows love is the worst madness of all.

The good care, and this defines madness.

Not caring protects one’s happiness and gladness.

The bad can fall into ruin, it’s true,

But they ruin their body, and don’t lose their mind when they do.

The self-centered are sane—the things they care about are few.

The proof is seen in religion—don’t religions seem completely mad?

Fanciful, superstitious, yet strict, sadly seeking to make people less bad?

The good find it difficult to reconcile

The bad with the religious desire for good—since the world is bad all the while;

The world, which doesn’t give a fuck,

Makes those who care too much—simply out of luck.

By all that’s sane and beautiful! If only she would kiss me again!

Exactly as before! When she seemed to give a fuck, back then.


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“I’m just a jealous guy”–John Lennon


The trouble with jealousy is that it loves,

Holds on sweetly, sweetly as it loves,

Finds grace in the small spaces where it loves,

But it holds onto pictures, and spies

On things it should not spy on; who loves

Without jealousy, or looks into just one pair of eyes?

The trouble with jealousy is that it knows

Love is not love; love constantly pretends

Love loves, love is loyal, and loyalty never ends.

Jealousy loves, even as it looks

Into homes, gardening tools, trash compactors, books.

Jealousy holds aloft the pulled weed,

Calculating necessity and speed

Of putting gardens in order; nature’s high need

Is thick in the margins of every property,

Where jealousy looks, as far as the eye can see.





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Feelings, such as jealousy and fear, are extremely common, and those who say all sorts of negative feelings don’t exist in their heart from time to time are lying.

There has been a tendency in our day to give subjective feelings a great deal more importance than they deserve. 1. We sometimes get so worked up about our feelings about feelings, we make them more important than actual crime—slander, for instance. 2. We work up such a hatred for negative feelings, which are nonetheless very common, we often mistake negative feelings for negative actions; we mistakenly believe feelings permanently mark someone’s character—they do not.

Feelings are ephemeral—they only have the potential to influence our actions; and negative feelings are common; they belong to everyone. So why do we assume feelings are more important than they are? Ironically, if you believe the falsehood that negative feelings are highly influential and corrupt, you give feelings more influence, just with your belief.

But here’s the truth.

Laws—rules which govern and punish negative actions—form the essence of a fair and just society.

And laws are based on facts, not feelings.

Hard evidence is necessary to convict.

If you hate X, this is not proof that you have harmed X.

Negative feelings—let’s take the most obvious one—hate:

Hate is not only common feeling, but it may reflect a good: as when we hate what is bad or disgusting.

Let’s look at a typical example using a negative emotion: jealousy. We are all jealous, and, depending on information, vague or otherwise, which may come our way, we all can be very jealous from time to time. Feelings of jealousy, however, like hate, or other negative feelings, are just feelings. It is not a crime to feel jealousy, and, if you have jealous feelings, this does not mean that you are a “jealous person.” Someone may be making you jealous. The only thing which feeling jealous means, is that you are having jealous feelings. It does not mean you will harm or attack or stalk or harass anyone.

And further, if anyone accuses you of harassment, simply because you express feelings of jealousy, the feelings of jealousy which you express are not proof of anything.

The accusation of harassment, however, is actually something far worse—it is a crime. Slander.

Laws—based on actions, hard evidence, investigated and proven—have nothing to do with feelings. The phrase, “cold-blooded killer” comes to mind. In a just society ruled by “laws, not men,” facts are observed, and arguments are based on facts; feelings have little importance. A jealous lover can make an accusation, and the jealousy of the accuser is not the issue; only the facts surrounding the accusation matter. And if the accused is jealous? This doesn’t matter, either. In the law, subjective feelings do not count.

Ideologies which pre-judge—feminism, for example—increase the tendency to radically over-estimate feelings as signs of truth. Men who happen to have negative feelings for a certain amount of time are tagged negatively forever, as the ideology “proves” its case, as generalized, unexamined slander expands and grows. Another example (gaslighting) would be if a man were cheating on his wife and he made her feel like a jealous person, simply because she had jealous feelings.

Feelings can be very powerful things. When people begin to believe that having a few jealous thoughts is proof that one is a permanently “jealous person,” one can easily see the potential for mass psychological harm.





Image result for sun in renaissance painting blake renoir

Can a poem be happy, and tell the truth, too?

Love, there is no truth except as it relates to you.

So this poem must find a way to make you happy

And praise is what love loves; the world, flattery.

So I’ll ask love how to praise you best

Before my eastern poem travels sadly to the west.

A poet only praises if the poet has seen, or heard,

A sensory delight, and can turn it into a word.

A poet praises—so happiness can also be true;

The sun, light, word, earth—turning in you.

A poet can only praise what love in love has done.

Love, tell me, as the horizon in the west ascends to the sun,

How does love look to you? Look! Cloudy, hungry, skies

Cover the sun. Mother! Accept what’s seen by your child’s eyes.

Praising mother cannot be done.

The origin of love and words are hers.











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I saw the folly of others—

And said what I saw.

I hated law breakers.

I loved the law.

I rebuked the folly

Of others drinking wine.

I was perfect.

But now the folly is mine.

I fly to folly, and sing with folly.

And all the times I couldn’t,

I could, with Molly.

Molly showed me folly.

Molly showed me wine.

I break laws with Molly,

And folly and Molly are mine.



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Poetry makes me unhappy.

It makes me not me.

It’s easy to imagine and say

Night lives in the beautiful day.

Like a hypnotist, poetry can tell

Me I’m sleeping, and things are not well,

And I should remain sleeping

And in my imagination end all horror and end all weeping.

I’m happy after the poem is done;

I slept beneath a sleeping sun.

I danced—and the people saw

The poem and its poet are a law

Unto themselves. I still dance.

I still love. I still laugh. In a trance.





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Honor the best.

The best saves us all.

It appalls you to experience it?

Let it hypnotize you and appall.

Let it murder your pride, individual.

The best saves us all.

I was forced to admit she was beautiful,

Breasts, hips, large; oh! waist small;

A face unparalleled; I cannot turn away,

Ashamed to know a sight wins my heart,

A truth unable to admit, and only in a poem, say.

We only live because of the best.

It kills the pride in all the rest,

Making them run to the banal,

Which has its place, like the beautiful.

The king of kings made me see

I’m not that great. And now I’m free.


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I never give out my true love’s name.

Is love my god? My god is shame.

In the dreaming garden I walked along,

Too ashamed to sing a song.

Love may be the moon, smooth and bright.

But shame rules the details of the night.

All I whisper when no one’s there

From my true heart? Shame doesn’t care.

The sad images which lie in my heart

Belong to love. But shame rules my art.

Shame rules all I see and hear.

Love hides. Never spoken. Though here.

Shame lives with millions. Do I blame

Love? Shame is not afraid of love. Shame

Is an army of poetry. Shame is not afraid.

Do not love your love, he said. And I obeyed.








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This poem needs music,

Beautiful and new,

If this poem would say

All it wants to say to you.

A melody is what it wants—

A melody that haunts,

A melody making sure

Thought is profound and pure

In presentation and intent,

Like a meadow harmonized with a tent.

There is food within,

And water and wine

And in birdsong and shadow you and I may dine.

The harmony of melody

And words, saying

“I love you,” needs a quartet playing.

The scene I paint might be

A shore with trees, to aid the melody,

As you and I speak of the beach

(Love, sweetly, just out of reach)

Where figures of betrayal stand. Do we stay?

And leave Shelley where he lay?





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I’ve changed my mind—I don’t need all the freedom I had.
I wanted fun, but why is fun always seen as bad?
I’ve changed my mind—I don’t need all the freedom I had.

I guess I don’t want to go out and see everybody there.
I made one little joke—and now everyone has to stare?
I guess I don’t want to go out and see everybody there.

I really don’t like him now; I thought he was funny at first,
But now I see humor which turns ugly is absolutely the worst.
I really don’t like him now; I thought he was funny at first.

Love will upset you if it lives in your mind, even if it goes in peace.
If I dump my boyfriend and he still loves me I will call the police.
Love will upset you if it lives in your mind, even if it goes in peace.

I want to get out of this but I love him so much.
I have trouble with words. I have trouble with touch.
I want to get out of this but I love him so much.

I think I love winter. I don’t want it to be spring.
I want this color, and I want to say this thing.
I think I love winter. I don’t want it to be spring.

I’ve been a little unsure since he removed his hat.
I wanted to take from this hour and I wanted to give to that.
I’ve been a little unsure since he removed his hat.

I need to leave. This scene is too urban and loud.
Thinking of safety in numbers, I selected this crowd.
I need to leave. This scene is too urban and loud.

I had a chance to take off my clothes. But now I want them on.
I followed him into the clouds. Now the mountain and the sun are gone.
I had a chance to take off my clothes. But now I want them on.








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I was gentle and true.

But she was not.

So pardon me that I’m not as gentle with you.

She was untruthful and unkind

So I’m not saying what’s exactly on my mind.

She was someone I cannot forget

So I’m not able to love you yet.

I was upright and true.

I don’t know if I can be so with you.

Through her love I learned

To hate. I would perish if I burned;

Feeling love again with that fire,

I would only mock my highest desire

With that which never loves as it should,

Because she was bad—and I was good.

If I love you, I will not call her,

I will only call out your name,

But it can never, never be the same,

And our love will be a little smaller.

Our love will have an understanding

And, when under the trees we kiss,

It will be a yearning for love both of us miss,

And the kiss for that will be the kiss for this.

Under those scented trees, will a great love stir,

When you kiss madly what is gone, and I think of her?

What will you feel as I lean in to kiss you?

That love is sad? And can never be new?



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You can’t defeat the patriarchy.

It takes too many forms, it lives

In too many ways, the forms

Zeus used invade you innocently enough,

Crowning your sight with objects and vistas,

Animals, scenes, sunsets, infinite,

A funeral pyre’s burning death

Closing your eyes, shortening your breath,

The empty ache of all desire never

Satisfied, except when hate and fear

Run you far away from here

Where never-ending change

Decides how far desire may range,

Which otherwise remains in bed

Curled up with flesh, sleepy and fed.






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Why did you love me once, and never again?

Love should be like the sun and send

Light interminable. First you loved me as a friend,

And friendship is so close to love, love

Thinks friendship is what love is, but if it was,

I did not know. A thief is called a thief because he steals,

But I wanted you to take from me. The lover feels

Everything is stolen, as light steals away from the sun,

The orb of all light giving out its light to only one,

Giving, giving, giving. And still it is the sun.

But add to this blind burning, one belief,

The sun becomes responsible. And you became a thief.

They told me you missed my light when you were in your bed.

In the knowledge of your window you saw the moon instead.

They said as you were walking down the avenue

You smiled. To be speaking. And the speaking wasn’t you.

The sun can be everywhere, but I was asleep.

Love can be everywhere. Lights into the libraries creep.

As friends, our next step was love—love is when friends touch

Out of their friendship—light isn’t light so much

As something slower and more solid, the mortal hit,

A palpable hit. We did this once, and then you quit.

You wanted the dark earth to be once more, the sun,

A light, only, a light, too light, shining its light on everyone.






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Reality becomes a play

As soon as you say

Anything about it. In that room

Is the consciousness of war, death, the doom

Of innocents, all in that room.

As soon as you take a picture of the ape,

You can say the human is just something on tape.

The rumor of the image

Is true, once you film the mirage.

The moment Cleopatra hated a man

Who loved her, map-making began.

Isn’t this poem true?

Now that it’s been read by you?

By the time you see the video, sorrow

Will exist, or not exist, tomorrow.

Here is the building. Now you can prove

Anything can be built. Even love.






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Why do I think of you
When I am dead to you,
Having done something terribly wrong?
Why does this fetid pond keep singing a song?
Why do I keep thinking of you,
My thoughts as numerous as drops of dew?
Your kisses were fresh water to me, but now I get nothing from you.
How is this swamp living?
My love is a spring which keeps giving,
And you, who hate,
Will love me again, just wait.
What I did wasn’t really that wrong.
You think of me, I know you do, and my song.
Away from each other, our love festers,
Or maybe it ages, like wine.
And one day, we’ll get massively drunk—
And you and I will be fine.



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The looked at never look;

For looking is a lonely thing.

If you are looked at, you have friends,

Awards come after you, and a ring.

But the eyes look on horror when you are trapped and only see.

Looking is a trapped state. It isn’t free.

The looked at are blessed, and it’s why

You take so long at the mirror and even your eye

Is looked at—even your eye doesn’t look.

Your eye is beautiful. And blind words grace this book,

Triumphant, for every reader looks this way:

Into night’s book, which posits lovers in the day.









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Now that I’ve told you everything,
I presume you will use more care.
No need to thank me. I informed you because I trust you.
You seem to understand by now the transfer of information
Is as important as the information,
And I’m happy to see you coming to that understanding.
I think we can be happy, because as important as our jobs are,
Happiness is still important, and I mean that sincerely.
We have many important things to accomplish,
But the burden need not kill us; we can occasionally have a drink,
And I promise I’ll always be as honest with you as I can.
You don’t have to share everything you’re thinking,
But I hope you’ll share what’s important,
And I pray you’ll try to understand my eccentricities;
I promise to keep it as simple as I can when I tell you what makes me happy.
I don’t have anything more to say. Do you?  Cool.


[note: this is not a “found poem,” but entirely original—the reader may find it vaguely corporate or evil—or funny]


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The Left in the U.S. today has sought to justify its increasing extremism by calling whatever it disagrees with “hate speech.”

The terrifying lack of logic (the Left drips with hate for Trump—so is it censoring itself?) is easily parried.

Hate is a right.

There is no loving without hating.

Feelings of disgust (hatred) contribute, directly, or indirectly, to all valid aesthetic responses.

This aesthetic truth—that feelings of hate and disgust are requirements for appreciating art—is self-evident.

Aesthetics is based on liking certain things—and to dislike certain things belongs to the same coin.

Truth in art (since everything we mean by the word “art” is what is practiced by human beings) easily translates into truths of other social activities—such as politics.

Art influencing politics (and science) does not happen often, these days—the general public doesn’t trust art since Modern Art’s inscrutability became the rule.

The condescending platitudes of the 20th century art professor (think of John Dewey telling us “convention” gets in the way of “experience”) don’t help.

Poets (Milton) once contributed to statecraft.

Painters (da Vinci) were once scientists, and understood the connection between astronomy, geometry, and painterly perspective.

Artists and poets these days profess freedom, and that’s it—pleasant enough, but good for neither science nor statecraft.

Aesthetics cannot exist without disgust.

Love needs hate.

Hate is never a danger in itself. Violence and specific threats, yes. Hate speech is protected (by the Constitution) and should never be seen as dangerous. The free expression of hate is healthy.

If we give in to the temptation to hate hate, then hate becomes bad, and since hatred of bad things is in everyone’s heart, hate itself should never be seen as bad.

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“Death of one eye is loving. Death of both is love.”  —Daipayan Nair

“Ashes & diamonds, foes and friends, are quite the same in the end.”  —Sushmita Gupta


First I disappeared, caring for myself less and less,

As I fell madly in love.

Oh God I loved you more and more and more

And everything certain became a guess,

As my known self was replaced by you.

You triumphed in love which really is a war

One wins: love, singular, alone,

Made one where there had been two.

Love has no opposition or borders; it is Eden all around,

Dissolving in one person. Shapeless bliss!

My whole self hung on the valley of your kiss,

Until a snake entered with a certain sound.


Then you were gone.

And loving one became none.

Then, once loving, I knew love: sad, blind, profound.

Paradise itself, in every feature,

Was now its own hell. Punishment because I needed you, and you were a creature.

How sweet and friendly and nice we were, when we were casually, two—

But now there is nothing.  No friend. No foe. No you.









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You can have your bitterness

And I will have my love.

These days lovers are criminals

And haters are victims. Well, fine.

I will let my poetry in the crevices shine.

You can have your gossip in the shade;

Whatever comforts you,

Whatever little dangers the rumor mill has made,

Hold dearly in your heart, as you go, austerely,

Less happy, hourly, yearly.

Sorry. You cannot take the love I feel away.

Every day, love is what I choose.

But you won. You’re much safer than I.

The bitterness you have none can have, or want, or protect, or lose.


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The imaginative does not produce a series of images.

Imagination builds coherently upon—what?

The only thing it can build on—the fact.

And the fact exists as fact in only one place—the past.

“The sun will appear tomorrow” is a fact. And its truth may point to the future—but it exists, as facts do, in what has happened.

So it is with revealed religion.  For believers: Christ is sacred because He is gone.  The divinity of Christ, His future glory, depends on the fact that what He did is done.

But let’s not get led down the path of religion too far.

The important scientific point here is that fact, too, exists in what has happened.

The imaginative is conservative.

If the imaginative partakes of the new, it does so by virtue of its connection to the past.

The imagination does not produce a heap of disconnected images.

Chaos is antithetical to the imagination.

Imagination transforms the factual past into the ideal future.

The present is the framed moment of the imaginative work.

The present is over-valued: it is what the unlearned see.

This populist, hyped, over-valuation of the present is why the sacred, sublime truth must stoop to be seen.

The fact, and the rule which the fact expresses, can never be a quirky exception, or a radical new thing, for the past to be the past must be the rule, the fact (what has happened), the cause.

The cause must be substantial and obey rules—and results are just that, effects, and wholly dependent on the cause, the past, the fact—and nothing can be imaginative as a mere effect—the imaginative is that which creates images, effects, feelings—and all that we associate with the imaginative work.

Imagination, therefore, the imaginative faculty itself, is always conservative. Not by choice, or morals, or whim, but existentially so; by all the laws of the universe, the artist who is imaginative is inspired by the factual past.

Every present fact which we casually see (without our imaginations) has a fact hidden in the past which explains it—the present fact we casually see.

The imagination is this fact in reverse. The imaginative work of art explains the past with the present.

Imagination is that which explains the past with some arrangement in the present—the arrangement is the bridge—which makes past and present one, informing the temporal mind.

Ordinary facts, experienced in the present—unlike works of the imagination—hide the past from the the eye which is not expert, or highly discerning. We are fooled by the present fact—react to it only as fact. The imagination is the corrective to this.

What the imaginative loses in present factual-ness it gains in its conservative attachment to cause—to an a priori existence of a past understood precisely because it is the past. Imagination literally creates from fact even as the imagination is not the fact, because imagination takes its identity by the fact that it is not the fact.

We can see by this reasoning that the imagination is what we use to grasp factual reality.

For if one keeps adding present facts to the receiving mind, or the senses, in the present, one will never reach an explanation of the facts—one just keeps adding facts. Adding facts does not get to the fact behind the fact—only the imagination, the faculty which takes the past and leaps with it into the future—with a resting, stop-over discreetness in the present (the art work)—knows and grasps and understands the reason for the facts. Only the imagination is able to glimpse, through hypothesis, what the factual past planned.


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Too much talk ruins love.

Does she let you keep talking?

Be quiet. Or you’ll be walking.

If you unfurl all you have to say

Love, who looks, who loves looking, will silently turn away.

Love is wordless.

Look more. Speak less.

Love is the deer in the shade.

Love is not what a man with a camera made.

Love is not the swelling music and the try.

Love is the deer who in silence ambles by.

Love is not something you did.

Love is not how you lecture, or kid.

Love is the mist of ignorance

Where she laughed once and you haven’t seen her since.

Love is the shape hidden in a book

Taking her gaze. And there, for a long while, she will look.

The eye is the avenue of love.

And what travels down that avenue

Is her face, when she turns away from you.



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Darling, describe your stubbed toe,

Not your success. Your success everyone will know.

Talk to me about your minor pains,

The sad ones no one understands.

Love only loves when it is low.

Your smile and your goodness belong

To the world. Look at all your photos.

The world has written you a song.

Darling, I will listen to your saddest woe,

The smallest mishaps which make your sadness grow.

The festivities are over. You’re famous. Let’s go

Into the mountains where no one is famous.

There is fresh air

Where none care.

Kiss me. Don’t mention your success.

Or my success. No one needs to know.

Love only loves when it is low.






I’d rather have a Paper Doll to call my own than a fickle-minded real live girl

“Paper Doll” —Lyrics written by Johnny Black 1915, recorded by The Mills Brothers 1942

Get this. The song “Paper Doll” (“when I come home at night she will be waiting, she’ll be the truest doll in all the world”) was composed during WW I and recorded during WW II—two of the more famous international wars of mechanical ferocity—which killed people in great numbers on one hand, and killed chastity in a great number of people on the other—in the western, 20th century disruption of simple, misty, village existence.

The automobile, the cinema. Also hordes of young, robust male soldiers far from home occupying men-depleted foreign towns.

Wars promote murder—and sex.

The man who sleeps with many women, or who desires many women, is not looking for the elusive one, for you don’t need to search for love sexually.  The man who sleeps with many women is escaping the heartbreak of losing “the one.”  “The one”—love and sex living together in one person.

Men all want one love—after the mother, the wife.  All men treasure monogamy with the woman of their dreams.

It is often said humans are not monogamous. This is a falsehood. They are monogamous. They always behave monogamously, even when sleeping around.

The Casanova is a former saint—whose heart was broken by a “fickle-minded real live girl.”

Men, then, are monogamous, and faithful marriage, reflecting what men want, is not a prison, but a paradise.

Unfortunately, war—promoting murder and sex—invades the garden and ruins the dream.

Women, angels who pity and care for men as part of their love for all, mercifully do what they can—to improve the lot of males crushed by circumstance.

Some women genuinely pity males—those males whose ideals have been ruined and who cry out for “paper dolls.”

Or, as we hear in the news today, not “paper dolls,” but “sex robots” (!!) which are said to be just around the corner, if not already here. (!!)

Seductions—by real women, paper dolls, robots, fantasies in the head, or pictures on the wall.  It really doesn’t matter. These are merely the effects of the tortured, miserable, heart-broken male.

Women, for the sake of these devastated men, invented Fickle-ism, a set of accepted behaviors in which women get to be fickle, and not virtuous.

Fickle-ism was invented to save men’s pride: “she left you, not because of your shortcomings, but because women are like that—they are fickle, they can’t be true, they sleep around, they have the attention span of a child. So don’t blame yourself. Go ahead and sleep around yourself. Hurt a woman, in turn. It’s okay. People sleep around. They like sex. That’s what they do.”

Fickle-ism soothed the male ego, a male ego crushed by ruined idealism—the belief in faithful marriage and monogamy.

If the ideal—the “woman of your dreams”—is impossible, at least salvage a little pride for those boys, those idealists, those good men, who really did want love, and who have tasted profound despair.

Fickle–ism often goes by another name.


This month two important Feminist Zeitgeist books have arrived on the market:

Camille Paglia, a pro-porn, anti-feminist, warhorse (the genders are different—Rousseau is wrong: nature, not society is the most important trope when it comes to genders—feminism wrongly makes women “equal” to men while at the same time pushing them into danger) has published a new book (a collection of old essays, actually) called Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender and Feminism

Laura Kipnis is a film professor at Northwestern, who recently got into some Title IX trouble where she teaches.  Her just-released book, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes To Campus, documents today’s “sexual paranoia on campus.”  According to Kipnis, women on campus are being turned into helpless victims, into easily-triggered children, and feminism, which seeks to empower women, is, in the name of advancing women’s rights, actually turning back the clock to an era of women as helpless damsels in distress—-and she pins much of the blame on the Department of Education’s hyper-feminist Title IX funding reality (no school will bite the hand that feeds it) expanded to a hyper-sensitive degree in 2011 by the Obama administration.

Kipnis points out that males are fighting back, in court, with lawsuits, against current, repressive, paranoid, feminism in the universities.

Kipnis is a Freudian. She believes in repression as Freud defines it. Taboo sex with siblings and parents is something she’ll explore in her classroom. She admits to sleeping with “a professor or two” as a student. All part of student life, as she sees it.

Kipnis thinks it’s okay for professors and students to have sex.

A male professor at her university lost his job—he got drunk with a female student (who was below the legal drinking age) on an art gallery “date” and the student stressed out afterwards (she ended up at his apartment) and brought a complaint.

Kipnis defends the professor.

The stories by professor and student of what happened on the night in question differ. But both agree they were at a jazz club, at midnight, and they were drunk, and kissing. Kipnis spends a lot of time on minor details of the evening and feels the student lied about some things.

The basic facts, however, clearly point to a professor’s behavior not in keeping with the idea of a university.

It’s a mystery how anyone can condone professors drinking, or sleeping with, students.

Let’s ask: What is a university?

Simply it is this: Professors assigning work and grading students for that work.

There is no university worth the name if professors don’t do this job.

A student may attend college and not do school work. That’s her choice. The university still exists if a student attends, and chooses not to be studious.

But if the professor drinks with the student—what is that?  That’s no longer a university.  It’s something else.  And if a professor has sex with a student?  That’s not a university, either.  How can a transcript of grades from that university be trusted? How can we trust any grade the professor awards that student?

As a Freudian, Kipnis believes there’s always a danger to forbidding something—you make it more alluring.  Perhaps murder (or sleeping with your mother!) has a certain attraction for some, because it’s forbidden—but that’s no reason not to have laws against it.

Kipnis writes that it was not until 2012—very recently—that her school forbid professors from dating students.  This is pretty shocking.  Should it be okay for professors to date students?  Really?  And Kipnis doesn’t like the new rule.  She thinks college students are old enough to date whom they choose, and that young women should not be treated like vulnerable, helpless creatures. Kipnis, believing herself a good feminist, doesn’t think women need to be protected from men, except, of course, when the man is a criminal rapist.

Paglia is different.  She believes all men are rapists at heart. This is how nature made them. Paglia believes women do need to be careful.  She believes women are powerful femme fatales with sexual allure. They are not, nor should they try to be, just like men.  Paglia laughs at the idea that gender is a social construction.  Nature, red in tooth and claw, rules the night, according to Paglia.

On college campuses, the following is definitely on the rise: a woman (often drunk) will sleep with a guy, and then decide he “raped” her, and accuses him—and the guy’s life is destroyed.

Kipnis believe this is what happened to the professor—in the case she examines in her book, Unwanted Advances, the case which she referenced earlier in a Chronicle of Higher Education article—which brought feminist protests against her, fueling the eventual publication of Unwanted Advances.  Kipnis is reasonable—she concedes the professor made some poor choices, and can see why the university had to let him go; but she does go to a lot of trouble, a great deal of trouble, it seems, to defend him, and makes the case that a troubled, man-hating, feminist student used the college rules to destroy him.

Kipnis believes the feminists who hate men and cry rape at every chance are out of control.  No one would disagree that false cries of rape and abuse are wrong.

As a feminist, Kipnis believes feminism has gone too far, and is making women weak.

Kipnis thinks women should be strong, independent, curious, and ambitious—and sleep and drink with whomever they want.

Paglia would say this is naive.

There are three things at play here.

One, Actual rape, or whatever is objectively and measurably criminal—which everyone condemns.

Two, Sex, and the whole range of regrets, recriminations, doubts and misgivings which might come to light afterwards—and the question of who is having sex with whom.

And finally, Institutional Integrity.  Which cannot exist if professors sleep with students.

Number two (Sex)—and, with Kipnis,  Number three (Institutional Integrity) is where Fickle-ism, or Feminism strongly gets involved, and tends to mess everything up.  Women are feminist—that is, they are fickle.  Free and unpredictable.  Just like guys.

People tend to be free and unpredictable.  Sure.  Agreed.  But this is not the point.  Free to do what?  Unpredictable in what ways?  Only the context makes the “free” good or bad.

The fickle is never, in itself, good.

To repeat.  Women were being good to men when they invented Feminism—or Fickle-ism.

Fickle-ism, as we’ve seen, salvages men’s pride.  You got your heart broken? She left you? Don’t feel bad.  Women are free agents. Women are not passive flowers for men’s enjoyment. They have their own minds. They are wanton, indecisive, free, and fickle.

But men don’t need this.

Men need to accept it if they are rejected by a woman.  There’s always a good reason why.  It’s not because women are fickle. Or stupid. Or bad.

Not that men and women will not be fickle sometimes, make bad choices, or make cowardly choices.  But when it comes to laws and rules, feminism and fickle-ism should never be a factor.  Laws should not promote bad behavior, but good behavior.

Bad people making mistakes and bad choices will always be a problem.

But bad laws are far worse.

Kipnis is correct to push back against the excesses of police-state feminism.

She is utterly wrong, however, to object to the rule which forbids professors from sleeping with students—and therefore her entire argument collapses.

Fickle-ism will tend to do that to any argument.

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The fall falls and the leaf is dry.

All your reflected beauty, Cynthia,

Is beautiful, but will die.

Look! The mist drowses.

The breeze blows your belief back into your eyes.

This is love—if you let me lie.

All the mists that sit upon the hill

Are drowsy, slumbering, and still.

The evening holds you, Cynthia.

The day is bright, but has no will.

The night should be peaceful

If you take the precarious pill.

The fall falls and the leaf is dry.

Love was always convincing the eye

While lips were content to lisp and lie.

Love was always convincing the face

Love is water, and has no place.

You have decided

The world was right when it derided.

You have desires none can fulfill.

Look at the mist on the misty hill.

Look at the sunset going down in the grasses.

The fall falls.

What is beautiful is beautiful, but eventually passes.


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Any song you hear with him

You can hear with me.

Any thought you have,

Any connection or memory

You have with him you can have with me.

The favorite things you count on, or like to do

Are yours. They belong to you.

And my studied indifference and his are the same.

You can be angry with him, or have me to blame.

We can erupt into laughter, or you can laugh with him,

You can kiss the cloudy pink darkening rim

Of the evening the way the horizon kisses the sun.

It’s not really you. But you decide which one.




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The charms of woman are not that many

And are easily bought—by a pretty penny.

If they have charms, they are human charms:

Conversation, eyes, comforting arms.

If you want to insult a woman

Praise her as a female human,

Ass, tits, cunt: things common to her

Are insulting and vulgar.

How can insults be praise?

Whether steamy nights or plain days?

So what are the charms we find?

There’s no such thing as a female mind,

Since all humans have them; none

On earth could see without the sun

Or think without a mind.

To say “the sun is male” would be unkind,

And “the mind” has no gender exactly the same;

So “female mind” is just a term to blame.

What is a female charm?

Can we say? Without doing harm?

Children have charms, soft things have charm, true,

But these insult. Littleness won’t do.

The soprano ability to sing

Might be the only thing,

But even that is done by a man;

Whatever she can do, he can.

Female animals are needed on a farm,

But how can we name a female charm?

We cannot say anything at all.

And finally, they love men. Ah. Ironic fall.




Smile that gleams like a star.

Smile that seems to be everything you are.

I knew you before I loved you,

And then my loving grew,

My love became pleased at all my imagination could do:

To walk by your side, even though I didn’t know you, in the past,

With perfect admiration, not worrying whether things would last.

Love was easier when the first quiet admiration knew

To build a world and a place for it and a sky

And love, lovely in its wings, tumbled with ease after flying very high.

To be lighter than air

Was the aim of my love, to dwell softly in your soft hair,

To be shadow and light—kissing you everywhere.

Did I know you long ago, in those sad years,

When you lived in your disappointments and your tears?


Smile that gleams like a star.

Smile that seems to be everything you are.

I loved you before I knew you

After seeing you in a picture or two.

I felt I knew everything. I was pleased at what your eyes and smile could do.

My heart departs in an hour,

I am in, and I’m looking forward to meeting you;

Were I to hold you, and understand your power:

To make everything seem immediately new,

I would not feel the need to go

Into the inner regions. And your poem tells me: you know.

I admire you, living inside your beauty,

And I love, with certainty,

Your smile—as I know you smiled—smiling in all those years

Despite your disappointments and your tears.


Smile that gleams like a star.

Smile that seems to be everything you are.

I decided to love you madly.

Was it because every time you smiled, you smiled somewhat sadly?

The smile that smiles sadly is the smile that sees me.

You saw me with your smile, your paintings, your poetry,

And I felt, though it wasn’t, your smile looking directly at me

And without a thought whether it was wrong or right

I found myself thinking of you before I fell asleep at night,

And waking up, in love, the morning entirely new.

I am in love with you.

Your smile confronts my enemies and my years—

Your smile ends my disappointments and my tears.












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The young Nathaniel Hawthorne. He aged quickly.

Empires are obsessed with money.

Their colonies are obsessed with sex.

The greatest author of the British Empire, Charles Dickens, invented Scrooge.

The first great prose writer in America, Nathaniel Hawthorne, wrote a famous book about adultery, The Scarlet Letter.

Religion handles the problem of sexual misconduct—the poor, with their suffering, often find their only real pleasure in sex; the rich have many pleasures, and sex might be one of them: money buys all.

Dickens was immensely popular in England, (the first serialized fiction writer; like TV before TV) but due to international copyright laws, his works were published at no cost in the United States—Edgar Poe complained vociferously of this, because U.S. authors were slighted, since American publishers would rather print British works for free than take a chance on an American author.  Poe, gentleman that he was, cared for money, fame, and country (he did not write about sex).  Dickens agreed with Poe, and on a tour of America in 1842, Dickens collected and delivered to the U.S. Congress signatures of American authors who were against the international copyright laws which hurt both Dickens and Poe.

Hawthorne was a strange, reclusive man, whose ancestor was a Salem witch trial judge, and he married an artistic, reclusive woman.  They did have three children, and Hawthorne was certainly a man of the world, but his fiction deals with madness and secret desires.

Dickens wrote from the Christian, domestic center of an expanding worldwide empire and his morals were sunny and simple—despite London nearly ruling the world, London was full of the wretchedly poor, and Dickens wrote for them.

And this line sums up Dickens quite well:

A loving heart is the truest wisdom

When Hawthorne was a boy living in Salem, two events darkened his life: first, his sailor father died of yellow fever at sea, and second, president Thomas Jefferson imposed a shipping boycott—a response to Great Britain’s piratical belligerence in the early 19th century—which crushed maritime Salem’s economy.

Hawthorne died when the American Civil War was still raging. Pictures of him in his 50s (he died at 59) show a very old man. He was first recognized as a great author by Poe, with some reservations, since Hawthorne belonged to the Transcendentalist clique Poe disliked; Poe theorized brilliantly on the short story while reviewing Hawthorne’s tales—the Scarlet Letter was published after Poe’s death, and there’s whispers Hawthorne’s most famous work was based on the rumored affair of Poe and Fanny Osgood.

Hawthorne wrote, not for an Empire, but for an incestuous, puritan village.

Dickens’ characters had funny names.  Hawthorne’s characters had funny souls.

Here is Hawthorne’s line in the March Madness contest:

She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.

Who is the greater genius?

The soaring, sentimental Dickens?

Or the burrowing, burning Hawthorne?

Purgatory puffing a pipe?

Or hell awake under a stone?





We are busy at Scarriet—publishing new posts on almost a daily basis: original essays, poems, epigrams, Scarriet March Madness Poetry contests—in its 8th year, going on right now, Scarriet Poetry Hot 100’s, you tubes of poem readings, and even song compositions.  And one day we would like to repeat our successful Scarriet Poetry Baseball Leaguein 2010 (when I was teaching English Composition as an adjunct professor and working full time at my real job) Blog Scarriet ran an entire season with 16 teams of all-time poets with entire lineups, pitching staffs, trading deadlines, statistics, pennant races, and a world series—Philadelphia Poe defeated Rapallo Pound.

Scarriet Poetry Hot 100 allows us to bring attention to poets who are not famous yet, but who have written wonderful things: Daipayan Nair, Stephen Cole, Sushmita Gupta, Payal Sharma, Mary Angela Douglas, Nalini Priyadarshni, Philip Nikolayev, Paige Lewis, Valerie Macon, George Bilgere, Kushal Poddar, Joe Green, Cristina Sanchez Lopez, Merryn Juliete, Chumki Sharma, Stephen Sturgeon, Simon Seamount, Lori Desrosiers, and Noah Cicero.

This is a personal note to just say THANK YOU to all our readers—as we head towards a million views since our founding in 2009.  “The One Hundred Greatest Hippies Songs Of All Time” (published in February 2014) still gets over 2,000 views a week.  “The Top One Hundred Song Lyrics That Work As Poetry” (published in 2013) still gets 1,000 views a week.  And posts like “Yeats Hates Keats: Why Do The Moderns Despise The Romantics?” (published in 2010) are constantly re-visited.

A poet (who I’ve never met) on Facebook, Linda Ashok, originally from Kolkata, today requested her FB Friends share “what’s happening to your poetry” and, without thinking, I quickly wrote a post—and realized your friendly Scarriet Editor has been up to quite a lot, lately, and Scarriet readers might as well hear about it:


Shohreh Laici  who lives in Tehran and I are working on a Persian/Iranian poetry anthology—in English.   (See Laici’s translations of Hessamedin Sheikhi in Scarriet 11/26/16)

My critical study of the poet Ben Mazer will be published by Pen & Anvil Press.

My review of Dan Sociu’s book of poems Mouths Dry With Hatred  is in SpoKe issue 4

Also in SpoKe issue 4: is my review of the Romanian poetry scene (after attending Festival de Literatura, Arad, 9-12 June 2016, Discutia Secreta)

Thanks to poet and professor Joie Bose, I participated in Kolkata’s Poetry Paradigm Coffee for a Poem on World Poetry Day, March 21, in Cambridge MA.

Charles River Journal will be publishing chapters of my Mazer book.

Facebook and Scarriet is where it all happens: so I’m actually not that busy—the literary world comes to me!

Below: the new family dog.  If I don’t walk her, she pees in my bed.  Seems fair.

Image may contain: people sitting, dog, living room, table and indoor





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Stephen Crane. 1871–1900  Red Badge of Courage ponders the American Civil War bloodbath.

This prose bracket contest features war (Crane) and  love (Lawrence)—and it probably doesn’t get any better than this.

Ironically, (of course—what do you expect with war and love?) the war passage is peaceful, and the love quotation is warlike.

The horror of war, the beauty of horror, the resting aspect of war, the natural inevitably of war, is captured for all time by Stephen Crane:

The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.

Meanwhile, D.H. Lawrence, for whom love and passion was a religion (why is this not true of all of us?  Perhaps it is), injects horror into love—which makes it real love, unfortunately.

He kissed her, and she quivered as if she were being destroyed, shattered.

The glimpse into truth carried by words always has an irony for us—since words are removed from reality.

Aren’t they?



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I remember her face,
Classical and long,
Like a Mediterranean song.
I remember her neat lips
Always had a faint smile,
For she knew I wanted her all the while.
I remember her nose.
Any woman going to a plastic surgeon would cry
“I want one of the those.”
My praises didn’t lie.
Her breasts I pressed against
Could not be fenced.
When I praised her, she would half-agree;
My praises brought out a dull modesty.
She was not a poet; the praises I spoke
Would produce from her, at best, a self-effacing joke.
She wouldn’t love me back
In the same way.
A few times she blurted out
Her love. The rest of the time I was in doubt.
Why was she unsure? I cannot say.
I remember her head flung back,
The divine liquid black
Which made her face divine,
Failing for a moment to cover
Her face gracefully, a sign
She could be ugly,
The first sign: I didn’t love my lover.



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I held my breath under the New England trees.
The grass was soft where I bent my knees,
By the broken twigs and flowers, and I wept openly in the park
Until large buildings were immersed in the evening and the puddles after the rain were dark.

A thought came into my heart difficult
To forget. Could I forget what I felt?
I couldn’t. I couldn’t forget cold numbers or the old address,
Or what it seemed to be, and loosely what it was attached to, historically, or less.

I made my way into a patch of woods
Where the shadows had hidden us. The moods
Of love are many, and some of those moods are pain.
I walked with a fistful of flowers out of the woods to the lane.

I remember thinking I remembered
That I had been good, though I couldn’t remember,
And I made inside myself a thousand pacts
That I would be good and safe: my remembrances, my acts.

You want me to surrender. But I surrendered long ago.
You wonder if I love you. Was it so difficult to know?


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The post-modern novelist William Gaddis

To be post-modern is to be self-referencing in a despairing sort of way, and who has time for the egotistically bleak?

Gaddis said the writer was the “dregs” of his work and the work was all-important. But he protested too much, for post-modernism is where “dregs” is the “work.” OK, this defines modernism, but post-modernism was the most superficial attempt imaginable to escape modernism, this being the whole point. “Modern” and “post-modern” talk was mostly legitimized by over-serious scholars marking “eras” for  convenience for textbooks for modern art classes. University taking a vocational turn towards fashion.

We don’t have time for William Gaddis, but to be kind to him, we have even less time for post-modernism. Time has no time for it, either. It’s already past, and will leave Warholian personality quirks as its mark. Modern was already post-modern: Duchamp’s urinal (1917) became Warhol’s Brillo boxes (1964). Ironic branding existed in 18th century peasant fashions. Post-modern is the attempt to pretend Modern—or Modernism—was ever “modern” at all. I almost said “in the first place,” but “at all” is better. Post-modernism is merely the continuation of Hamlet’s winking madness. A gang of anti-corporate artists: The Weavers? The Beatles? Or the Velvet Underground?

The mischief makers of anti-corporate sincerity inevitably are killed by legal sharks. Upon the stone barriers of bottom line legality flying imagination crashes. Idiots want what they want; those who attempt to wake up the idiots end up as some definition of the criminal. One wonders why the world is full of dumb fucks and the answer is simple: happier to be a dumb fuck with everyone else than be a miserable lone fuck at odds with all the dumb fucks. Happiness is a law.

Which brings us to the words of William Gaddis in our Scarriet Madness Prose bracket:

“Justice?—You get justice in the next world; in this world you have the law.”

Does it have a chance against an 18th political pamphleteer and Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Jonathan Swift?

We don’t think it does:

“When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that all the dunces are in confederacy against him.”

We vastly prefer the Swift.

But the law might feel differently—especially if the dunces are using it.





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Make me want you, but don’t give in

To my poetry, my poetry of desires;

The best poems burn with helpless fires;

A poem wins if the poet doesn’t win.

For my poems as poems to grow

Lead me on and on and then say no.

Let me see your twinkling breast,

So in my mind I get no rest.

Let me see your face

So I slow down my pace.

Give me your sweetest laugh

So I make gaffe after gaffe after gaffe,

And finally, in a sweat,

Write a poem they can’t forget.

Get me into my swimming head

By keeping me out of your bed.

Lure me down countless, countless roads

Covered by vegetation, thick and green,

Snaking along turbulent waters by lighthouses unseen,

Where barking Brahms harmonies call in secret codes,

And the passing night is punctuated with fog and mist.

Leave me on a Saturday,

So that I ponder for a week that’s grey.

And if we did, deny we ever kissed;

Get me to believe you will never

Hold me or kiss me, again, ever, ever;

Or much better, please don’t ever kiss me

And get me, when you see me, to think

You might possibly get on to me;

Get me believing the possibility there might be a link

To a figure made of cloth, gems, or stone,

Who cannot think, but thinks it thinks, when it is alone,

Turning in its orbit as if hope lived yet

To hope. Be disdainful, but not too cold. Get

Me to feel my fond desire for you

Could be a long series of poems. Resist. That’s all you have to do.

I think about you day and night.

You didn’t know?  Now you know why poets write.









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Poetry was going down the tubes fast in 1936.

Mad Edna Millay (“what lips my lips have kissed and where and why…”) was about to be replaced by a grey suit…

Paul Engle, with his Iowa Masters Degree (for a book of mediocre poems) and his Yale Younger Poetry Prize (for the same book of mediocre poems) was launching the Iowa Writer’s workshop, which would change the poetry landscape forever—millions of students and professors rushing in where Shelley (a drop-out) feared to tread.

In the 19th century Byron performed physical acts of daring.

In the 20th century, there was no Byron. There was Wallace Stevens—who got beat up, by Hemingway, a prose writer.

The poets were not swimming the Hellespont. They were becoming professors.

Blame it on the Russians, if you want.

College loans (for bad poets) in the United States began with Sputnik.

Paul Engle raised money—for his Iowa Workshop, and later, for his International Writing Program at Iowa—from the Rockefeller Foundation, to fight communism.

Engle writing to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1960, in the wake of the successful Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957:

I trust you have seen the recent announcement that the Soviet Union is founding a University at Moscow for students coming from outside the country…thousands of young people of intelligence, many of whom could never get University training in their own countries, will receive education … along with the expected ideological indoctrination. 

Poetry training in the United States became “indoctrination,” too.

But it was different.

The CIA funded Modern Art to counter Soviet Realist Art—this is crazy, but it happened.

Engle’s “indoctrination” was of a perfectly harmless kind: an anti-indoctrination indoctrination in the unique American way:

Earn a degree and become a poet! Teach others, so they can earn a degree and become a poet! Poetry! Freedom! Freedom! Money! Poetry Workshops! Freedom! Poetry! Money! Poetry! Freedom!

It was exciting. I knew the extrovert Paul Engle—in person.  Poetry! Freedom! Money! is precisely the kind of energy he gave off.

Here in the 21st century, the faucet cannot be turned off.  Trained university poets, training, granting, publishing, are now a flood. The game is on. Fame and poetry are hidden away. If money is like water, poetry is being written on it.

Hemingway (informally tutored by the crazed and clever poet, and modern art collector, Gertrude Stein) was the muscled prose writer who enjoyed vast fame—as poetry was dancing its strange, crooked dance into the university.

This is what the public thought they wanted. Hemingway:

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.

Real simple prose is almost like poetry sometimes.

Something was going on here.

Prose, simple as a fist, is poetry?

Poetry can easily rush into complexity, and the temptation is great for poets to fling themselves upwards in a funeral pyre of words—but the funeral is theirs.

Poetry is anti-complex.

Hemingway was a poet—(when he wasn’t writing badly, which he often did)–if simplicity is poetry.

And when pretense and experiment is the only other game in town–-it is.

Up against Hemingway, in the 2017 March Madness contest, is Mrs. L. Miles.  Yes, that was her moniker when she published her book on phrenology in 1836.

This is not poetry.  This is real prose, extraordinary for what it says:

The loss of one eye does not destroy the vision. The deafness of one ear does not wholly deprive us of hearing. In the same manner Tiedman reports the case of a madman, whose disease was confined to one side of his head, the patient having the power to perceive his own malady, with the unimpaired faculties of the other side.

Certainly this applies to the twin vision of poetry and prose, and we think it explains why millions, without poetry in their souls, can fool us into thinking they love us, and are sane.




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John Ashbery has been fooling around with girls on the side.
Do you believe this? Decide. Decide.
If you need attention,
It pays to be outrageous and get a mention
In whatever forum supplies
Notice to paint brushes, arms or eyes.
They will end up asking where you have been,
Maybe even ask about the tears your tears have been splashing in.
Life can be sentimental and real
But poems need to be reticent, and not really show how you feel.
The gypsy can stomp and shout,
But please don’t tell the modern reader what your poem’s about.
Otherwise, you know, the charge
Of sentimentality will be leveled at your Cleopatra on the barge;
Her look, as you’ve described it here,
Is too much like a diamond shining in a diamond-shaped tear.
So look to your necklace, your locket, your phone
Which is calling you now, in a frail, low moan.



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F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Great Gatsby is a beloved American novel—a short novel—almost like a long poem.  The writing is delicate, sensitive; the narrator is reflective, sad, moral, demure—not really part of the action; an innocent, bemused witness.  The trope is similar to Watson observing Sherlock Holmes—a trope lifted from Poe’s invention of detective fiction: the teller of the tale tells the reader what is just beyond the teller’s comprehension.

The theme and lure of Gatsby is America’s freedom—freedom that’s wicked: wealth of a dubious nature—beautiful wealth growing from the soil of crime.  And love of a dubious nature—the freedom of adulterous love.

Nick Carraway is us—when we are young, and try our first novel: what’s this big, grown-up, world all about, anyway?  Ugly, seedy, wrong.  But the author will make it beautiful.  Or, sublimely ridiculous, that so amid the tragedy you can (holding the understanding author’s hand) almost—laugh.  And Gatsby is also us—that’s what finally makes Fitzgerald’s book great; we identify not just with the narrator, but with Gatsby.

Fitzgerald succeeds in making his story beautiful, as well; before he was destroyed by alcohol, F. Scott Fitzgerald had high ideals; Fitzgerald rhapsodized over the poet, Keats (who also won highest accolades from Poe as “always a poet of beauty”) and The Great Gatsby achieves a beauty, as we see in the very last line of the book:

And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Oscar Wilde had a sharp wit—he was plying the same trade as Fitzgerald: making the tragedy of life palatable with a mind that greatly understands.

Wilde, like any genius, fights for happiness—genius is a defense against all the meanness of the world.

One can see him winking when he says:

Always forgive your enemies—nothing annoys them so much.

Christ told us to forgive our enemies—and the pleasure-seeking brute in us protests—“forgive our enemies?  That’s no fun!

The admonition to forgive our enemies robs us of energy in a desire for justice, and cheats us out of the pleasure of defeating our enemies.

But not so fast, Wilde says.  When you forgive your enemies, “nothing annoys them so much.”

And here, in a single stroke, Wilde restores the passion and the energy of justice—while remaining true to Christ’s suggestion.

The Great Gatsby does this, and a certain kind of fiction does this—it presents “enemies”—characters, whom, if we met in real life, we would fear, or hate—and the author attempts to make it possible, even as we shudder at their wrong, to forgive them.




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Eric Blair changed his name to George Orwell to hide from Stalin. 

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

–George Orwell

A dinner party is the last triumph of civilization over barbarism. Conversation depends on how much you take for granted. Vulgar chess-players have to play their games out; nothing short of the brutality of an actual checkmate satisfies their dull apprehensions. But look at two masters of that noble game! White stands well enough, so far as you see; but Red says, Mate in six moves;—White looks, —nods;—the game is over.

–Oliver Wendell Holmes

George Orwell is famous for expounding the truth of government control: lying that blatantly misleads and so breaks the will of resistance.  It’s a two step process. A lie—so obviously a lie, that it is also a form of oppression. The imposition of totalitarian thuggery on a sovereign nation—the Soviet state, in the modern era of advanced communication—and spying—caught the attention of an eccentric, rough-and-ready-yet-awkward, British Empire civil servant, who was born in India, and who served in Burma in the Imperial Police: yes, that’s right— George Orwell himself was an Orwellian Policeman who worked for the British Empire.

George Orwell was working towards a British identity in a H.G. Wells/Bertrand Russell free love, atheistic, homophobic (he called friend and associate Stephen Spender a “pansy”) socialist-but-watch-out-for-the-Soviet-Reds, keep-a-patronizing-eye-on-the-English-working-class, whip-the-school-boy-when-necessary, ramble-in-the-woods, tinker-in-the-garden, blow-up-a-chemistry-set, play-a-prank-or-two, good-cup-of-hot-tea-and-milk, traditional England, sort of way. He loved London. He hated Moscow. Orwell is a great deal simpler than he might seem. To be an eccentric Englishman is to be, quite matter-of-factly Orwellian, through and through—if you haven’t met one of these types, already.

Orwell is that special kind of hero to every western, post-War intellectual—the anti-Stalinist Leftist. He wrote two classics exposing, first in a fairy tale, and then in a dystopian thriller, totalitarian, ideological, mind control, Soviet-style, Communism—or, the CIA Deep State, if you like. He was deeply involved in working class, leftist, journalism and politics, and his two famous books were probably good because, in both, he was able to take a holiday and write fiction to indirectly say what he otherwise strenuously and directly said, and lived: shot in the throat by a sniper in Spain while fighting against Franco, threatened and decried by Stalinists, fighting for socialism, surviving the blitz, writing non-fiction, working part-time jobs, falling ill a lot, chasing women, traveling, and playing a tramp (spying) in poor districts as a journalist.

Writing Animal Farm must have been a lark for this non-stop, chain-smoking, frail, driven, adventurous, wreck of a man who died at 46.

He wrote the Alice in Wonderland of the 20th century about the Soviet Union.

He updates the Victorian classic with absurdism still the underlying trope:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. (1984)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Fire Side Poet who knew Emerson, who lived in Massachusetts, a physician and man of letters, is the American 19th century liberal, ready to join the English and punish the Russians and Germans. Checkmate is moves away, but as certain to come as high tea. Holmes is the brilliant 19th century, free-thinking American—not quite the same thing as an early 20th century, free-thinking, British eccentric, but close. We assume there is much too much evil in the world—so no need to play out the chess match. Accept the match is over.  The U.S. and Britain are to rule the world.  Haven’t you heard?

But what is this? Neither Red nor White have surrendered!

They are still playing!

After numerous overtimes, steady Holmes edges eccentric Orwell!


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Charles Bukowski goes up against Robert Frost in this final Round One Poetry Bracket contest.

These are 20th century poets, so don’t expect beautiful poetry.

Bukowski is essentially the child (whoring and drinking whiskey) who utters homely truths which the educated are forced to admit are true.

There’s nothing worse than too late

And there you go.  Who can deny this?  Isn’t he right?

Robert Frost, like Emerson, Melville, and Whitman, first found fame in Great Britain, which, until World War Two, was the World’s English Professor for those seeking literary fame.

The American poet Amy Lowell was visiting London at the same time, fighting with Ezra Pound and his buddy, Ford Maddox Ford—who wanted Amy’s America to join the bloodbath against “the Huns” in the approaching Great War, and Amy would have none of it. Frost, who had a curmudgeon loner streak, kept away from this fight.

Frost’s first two volumes of verse were published in London in 1913 and 1914, just as England was crying for war and it was getting underway.

Then while the genocide was occurring, in 1915, Frost slipped back to America, at the age of 40.  Frost won the first of his four Pulitzer Prizes in 1924, and began teaching at Bread Loaf in 1921, helping to pioneer America’s dubious yet successful Writing Program industry.

Bukowski was born in Germany in 1920—to a German-American sergeant in the American army occupying a defeated Germany after WW I.

Growing up in Los Angeles, a socially withdrawn Bukowski was ridiculed as a boy for his German accent, and frequently beaten by his unemployed father.

Frost goes against Bukowski with his famous

Two roads diverged in a wood and I—took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” was inspired by Edward Thomas, a English poet and walking companion when Frost lived in England; Frost thought Thomas was too fussy about what road they took on their rambles around the English countryside.  Thomas died in the slaughter of World War I.

The wars of the 20th century throw long shadows over all, even these two poets, Bukowski and Frost, who were not soldiers themselves.

The kid who was ridiculed as a kid for his German accent wins.



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William Blake, the Romantic Era painter and poet (1757–1827) is the author of many famous lines of poetry.

He seeks the crown of this season’s Scarriet Poetry March Madness with this one:

He who mocks the infant’s faith
Shall be mocked in age & death

But he’s up against a monster!

Alfred Tennyson’s

Blow bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

Poetry participates in sound.

The Modernists make the absurd claim that poetry can be prose—which implies that prose cannot be poetic.  But. Yes. Prose can be poetic—-in every manner in which the Modernists define poetry—and so we see the complete absurdity of the Modernist definition of poetry—which is no definition at all.

If there are no rules for baseball, there is no baseball, there is chaos, and there is already plenty of chaos in the universe.  But if there are rules for baseball, we have baseball, which adds to the world’s enjoyments.  Rules add. Freedom subtracts. One should celebrate definitions and rules—for they produce bountyScarcity, anxiety, and boredom come about when definitions and rules are destroyed.

We love the sentiment of Blake’s couplet, and the strange and marvelous “infant’s faith.”

But the Tennyson is pure poetry of the highest kind.

Blake’s is the impulse for poetry.

Tennyson’s is poetry.

Tennyson wins.




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The poet Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

The American poet, Cornelius Mathews, has made his way into the Scarriet 2017 March Madness Tournament (immortalizing him forever) by way of a notice by Edgar Poe, who otherwise thought his poetry (at least in a review of Mathews’ long poem, Wakondah) was “trash.”

But this line, as Poe has pointed out, is sublime:

Green dells that into silence stretch away

makes for a very strong entry by the obscure poet Cornelius Mathews, who wrote romances, as well.

We are not sure how to approach this line.  The crowds cheering for it are certainly vociferous and rowdy.  What can one say about this line, except to cheer exuberantly and exultantly, and hope the author wins?

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow

Is a somewhat famous 20th century line by Theodore Roethke, a large man, a manic sufferer, a formalist, less urbane than Robert Lowell—Roethke’s father was a German immigrant who owned a green house.  Roethke is the author of a few “hit” poems: “Papa’s Waltz,” “In A Dark Time,” “Elegy for Jane,” and “I Knew A Woman.”  We love these poems. Roethke is a very, very fine poet.

The Roethke fans are screaming loudly, as well.

And the game is played.

The picturesqueness of the Mathews blows away the bloated, faux-mystical, egotistical, oration of the Roethke.

Can it be any wonder that

Green dells that into silence stretch away



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Fanny Osgood

There were many exquisite women poets in the 19th century, but since “modern” means more than “women” in poetry, very few of them are read anymore.  Dickinson, really. And that’s it.

In this contest the great John Donne takes on an American poetess from the 19th century, rumored (rumor only!) to have had an affair with Edgar Poe.  He supported her in reviews.

She spoke not—but, so richly fraught
With language are her glance and smile,
That, when the curtain fell, I thought
She had been talking all the while.

–Fanny Osgood

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

–John Donne

Why do we think these 19th century women poets were not modern?  They were.  And one can certainly see why they thought they were being “modern.”

Just compare the two—John Donne:

For those whom thou [a personified Death] think’st thou dost overthrow

to Fanny Osgood:

She [an actual person] had been talking all the while.

Fanny Osgood is a modern writer.  Why is she forgotten, then?

T.S. Eliot—part of the male Poetry & Criticism clique, with Pound, of High Modernism, (only Marianne Moore was allowed to join the club as a token)—championed the “Metaphysical Poets” (the term was actually coined by Samuel Johnson, who found fault with the same group) and Donne was one of these heralded ‘Metaphysicals’ for Eliot, who busily damned Shelley, Milton, and Shakespeare, and unlike Poe, seemed to find no female poets to his liking.

Donne, sounding like a school boy, tells someone named “Death” you’re not so “mighty” and you cannot “kill me.”

The whole thing is laughable, and really belongs more to Theosophical Wit than Poetry.

Donne is done in by his own logic; he says that if a nap is good, death must be better—and yet we wake up from a nap.

The chief secretary of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal (Donne’s position for a while) also says that “our best men” end up with Death, but this, apparently makes Death bad, the same as when “desperate men” go with him.

And Death is apparently not “mighty” because he hangs out with “war.”

The real wit is achieved at the end, which basically says if we do wake up after we die, as with a nap, then, and only then: “Death, thou shalt die.”  Which is only to be expected.

Contrast this with Fanny Osgood’s passage in March Madness 2017.

According to Poe, this is the best kind of poetry, “breathing Nature,” with “nothing forced or artificial.”

Osgood describes beautifully a woman who speaks without speaking.

Here are the two quatrains which precede the one quoted:

Now gliding slow with dreamy grace,
Her eyes beneath their lashes lost,
Now motionless, with lifted face,
And small hands on her bosom crossed.

And now with flashing eyes she springs—
Her whole bright figure raised in air,
As if her soul had spread its wings
And poised her one wild instant there!

She spoke not—but, so richly fraught
With language are her glance and smile,
That, when the curtain fell, I thought
She had been talking all the while.

Fanny Osgood has defeated the immortal John Donne!  A mighty upset!  Death, art thou shocked?


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Who has heard of the poet Thomas Buchanan Read?

None, is our guess.

Poe called Read “the echo of an echo,” a “copyist of Longfellow.”  “His sin is imitativeness.”

We love this line, however:

As if the star which made her forehead bright
Had burst and filled the lake with light.

Poe also called Thomas Read, “one of our truest poets,” and praised his “fancy,” “tenderness” and “subdued passion.”

But Poe, always on the look out for plagiarism, felt Read may have seen this by James Russell Lowell: “As if a star had burst within his brain.”

The lovely effect of Read’s couplet is a simple matter of what poetry does best: it lays movement over meaning.

The word “burst,” because the ‘r’ and the ‘s’ and the ‘t’ are all pronounced, stops the progress of our reading with an “explosion.”  The result of the explosion is replicated in the steady iambic rhythmic of: “and filled the lake with light.”  The ‘l’ sound of “lake” and “light” makes for beauty, just as “bright” and “burst” do—it is the brightness of the star which is bursting and creating the image of a lake filled with light—rhyming with bright. 

Anyone who doesn’t appreciate this, and who does not believe this belongs to the highest aspiration of poetry, is not human.

Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just ourselves—
And immortality.

Dickinson, in her famous line, is doing the same thing: Because I could not STOP (same iambic rhythm, same pause—instead of Read’s “burst,” we get Dickinson’s “stop.”  And the charm is when Dickinson repeats the word in the line: Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me.  And “stopped,” pronounced on our lips, is literally more of a stopping than the word, “stop,” since with “stopped,” we have to pronounce more letters—which is appropriate, for we are dealing with the stop, absolutely—death.

Dickinson’s line continues, “the carriage held but just ourselves—and immortality.”  This is brilliant, because who wants to be immortal inside a carriage (coffin)?  It reminds one of Hamlet’s line, “I could live in a nutshell and be a king of infinite space…”  Immortality inside a coffin, infinity inside a coffin—a crucial difference.  Or perhaps not. How would it be, if there are two lovers, in love forever? Inside a coffin?  A common theme: Love and death.  But the Madness 2017 features words, not whole poems, so let’s not get distracted.

Personifying death is artificial and labor-intensive, although it awakens a certain primitive thrill, this courting scene which Dickinson (like the old German artists) sets up.

Read’s “star” is finally more purely thrillling than Dickinson’s “death.”

Read—narrowly—upsets Dickinson.







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The film bracket consists of famous one-liners heard from the movies.

Memorable poetry was murdered by Modernism in the early 20th century; but it remained alive in America in popular song and popular film. Keats was taught in American colleges until the English professor was gradually replaced, from the middle to the late 20th century, by the Creative Writing professor.

Poetry isn’t poetry if it isn’t memorable.

By this definition, a line from a film, a line which everyone knows, is poetry in the consciousness of a nation.

So here we go with round one action:

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn versus. Elementary, my dear Watson

“What seems to be the problem?” “Death.” versus Oh no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.

I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse. versus To be or not to be, that is the question.

Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown versus I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk? versus You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore versus Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.

I coulda been a contender versus I want to be alone.

Bond. James Bond versus Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.


Here’s 8 contests—the greatest movie lines of all time.

Is objective judgment possible here?

Is there too much associative baggage, too much context in each line, for any true objective aesthetic judgment to be made?

There are many who say no objective aesthetic judgment can ever be made.

However, one does not have to read Plato or Kant to understand that truth is not understood by something outside itself—the truth of something is how it presents itself to us from the inside out.  Measurement, for instance, is a thing’s extension, or an event’s duration—and length or brightness or size can be, but is not, subjective; however, we don’t need “inches” or “seconds” to make something “true.”  The truth is already in the measurement-potential.  And the thing determines how it is measured, not the other way around. The thing in this case is a movie line—which has a real existence in the real world and makes an impact on the real world as much as any solid object we might want to “measure.”

So objectivity is possible—we just need to ascertain how this is to be measured.

First, poetry’s success is largely determined by its rhythm.   If all else is equal, the more interesting rhythm must prevail in terms of movie lines, as well.

Second, movie lines—with their context—can evoke more or less, depending on the lucidity, interest, and focus of the ‘film scene’ they are from—the imagery, drama, or character of the movie line itself should be considered.

And third, we have language. Language can move inward towards specific definition and outward towards general truth—and speech which does both of these at the same time in a coherent manner, is certainly a sought-after quality.

And this pretty much covers it.  This is how we “measure” the aesthetic excellence of move lines.

“Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By” has a more interesting rhythm than “Bond. James Bond,” though both are strong.  Everything else is pretty much equal.  “Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By” evokes more of a specific scene, too.

But why does this movie line get misquoted all the time as “Play it again, Sam?”

How can so many people hear something incorrectly into popularity?

How is there “room for error” when we are talking about a very short phrase in the minds of millions?

Does this automatically call into question the popularity, or the aesthetic quality of “Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By?”

It could, but we don’t think a popular line should be punished because it is misquoted.  The original phrase, as spoken in the film, is still responsible for launching the success.

Sam beats James.





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When you express yourself like this,

What can you say to me?

I guess all I can do is kiss

You and hug you and let you sleep.

Everyone reads your poetry.

Looks at your paintings divine.

You make men pause and women, weep.

There is no bottle that holds such a wine.

There is no city that contains

A gift I could give you. I go outside. It rains.

I march around between ten and two

And maybe some people wonder what I do,

Or wonder if there is a moon in the sky

That’s also a sun, and can I explain why

The revolution in the mountains

Has not spread to the sea.

When you express yourself in art,

What can you say to me?






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