THIS IS HOW I FELL FOR HER

It began at the top of my head,
Where the dignified thoughts are.

Pity them! They fell far.

Philosophy turned into crying;
Infant fears my new philosophy,
Getting what it wants by lying.

After this occurred, what is left to say?
Reason descended and passion rose.

I read that eyes were paths to love:
When she was near, I looked in those.

Deprived of breath, I became drunk,
For what is the point of intoxication?
To die while you are living,
For love makes everything want to die.

The trick was: it seemed to be her.
But it all happened in my eye,
It all happened in my breath,

It was me inside me falling

And mine was a beautiful death.

The falling was happening in myself;
A frightening fall inside my head,
And after breath, blood succumbed;

My happy death knew at last it was dead.
My death found joy in a living
No longer known as life.
My life I tossed to her. Finally my feet fell;

I fell beside her.
I have not been myself since she became my wife.

WHY AM I UNTRUE?

image

When I think constantly of you

How is it possible I am untrue?

This is how love shames me in the end:

Love belongs to the stranger, not the friend.

If I always think of you,

You are a friend, but a stranger, too,

And soon, strange, strange is what you are,

Not the sun I always see, but a mysterious star

That watches me, high, high above

Even when in the dull day I move.

But that star! That distant, looking you

Always looking to see if I’m untrue.

And I am! That’s what humans are!

So I say no to love! I say no to you, the sun, the star

Too beautiful, too strange, too far.

THE ONE I LOVED

image

for Claire Montrose

The one I loved? The last time we kissed, he stroked my chin

And fed on my mouth like a starving man. I remember the night and his lips.

Some believe in bad luck; they feel they can never win.

I think we both felt that way: belief in bad luck, a gene, we both inherited.

Our love was too good to be true, we felt, so in our minds our love had to end.

And it did end, with great pain, and our genes proved they were right.

True, it was not meant to last, since it was forbidden and dangerous.

I worry too much; I once saw a parent unconcerned as her young son walked on a wall

Above the sea; if I were as blithe as that, I would have clear skin and fifty boyfriends.

Now I have bad skin and no boyfriends, though I am especially beautiful, some say.

The one I loved wanted sex more than I did; this gets tiring after a while;

I have a bag of chips theory: the man wants sex often, so the bag is gone in a week;

For me, the bag will last two months; he eats chips out of love for me,

Perhaps, but I resent having to buy a new bag all the time;

The difference in appetite begins to wear you down;

I finally got annoyed, and thought, if you want sex so much, go have it with somebody else;

I want to be loved for who I am, not for beauty and sex all the time.

Love for women is social; we want to be loved for more than sex.

It’s like this: when a tight sock leaves a mark on my leg, a hot stream of water

In the tub aimed at my leg gives me the most exquisite pleasure,

But I don’t spend my days thinking about this pleasure;

The sensation is very, very nice, but trivial; when I start to feel

The most important thing to him is getting in the tub for that hot stream of water,

I don’t care how loving and charming he is, or that he wants me

There in the tub with him—I get sick of his addiction to pleasure; I pretty much told him,

Oh for Christ’s sake! I’m sick of this routine! Get in the tub with someone else!

He was horrified, of course; heartbroken, couldn’t understand, wondered

What he had done wrong, he thought I loved someone else, and this

Just got me even more annoyed, and I should have tried to explain,

But you can’t—I only came up with the bag of chips theory later.

But I was so annoyed and so sick of it all; without a word I dumped him.

At the time I was furious, and it felt good; he was helpless, I was helpless,

But still I felt like I was doing something that had to be done.

I told myself: I’ll have new chips every six months, maybe when I’m drunk,

But you can’t plan spontaneity. And I don’t want to take the time to find out

How many chips someone is going to want to eat: it would become the same thing.

He doesn’t know how I’m doing, because we never speak.

Now, the danger gone, the celibate years have gone by, and he hasn’t a clue, I’m sure,

Why our beautiful love died; we really loved each other—but he was crazy for me, I think;

He wrote me poem after poem, and when he kissed me in the moonlight

I knew I was making him very happy; I said he was the only thing that mattered,

And I guess, in a way, that was true; love is just a silly pleasure for me, though;

The fact that I was not as intense as he was just urged him on, and made him jealous

And passionate; I would be lying if his passion did not fire me up sometimes

And there were moments when I wanted him deeply, but I couldn’t shake the idea

That love was just a crazy thing, and, finally, kind of silly.

I loved him as best as I could; he wrote me thousands of poems

And isn’t that just as silly, really? They are just words, after all;

And his poetry was a way of escaping me, too; he didn’t have to say it:

I knew he wanted fame and admiration from other places; sure, he did.

So I don’t want to pretend that his love was all that pure; my lips

Were there for him to kiss; I’m sure he thought of other lips;

What was all that imagination for, anyway? And are these poems mine?

When I die and they put the few possessions I own in a box, poems in that box

Will not be mine; they will be his.  I did the right thing. I’m glad the one I loved

Is not here to see me age, my mouth fading above my chin.

My face is one thing he especially loved. He was always writing about “beauty.” Crazy.

I was right. Our love took us to heights neither of us were meant to win.

When I do die, and they put my things in a box, I know the world will quickly forget me.

If he still thinks of me—we live close to each other, by the sea—

The idea of me simply disappearing is probably what makes him saddest of all.

I can see him, alone, on this sunny day, maybe walking a long peninsula,

Hiding his tears from the t-shirted tourists,

While here I am—now plain and gray—just across the inlet, in the yard, pulling weeds.

Sure, we have many memories, but what else can I say?

It’s too emotional, and I want my peace, and I’m sure

He’ll write a poem or two about it, so in the end, we’ll be okay.

LECTURE INSIDE OF SORROW

Lecture inside of sorrow,
Invention inside of pain,
Love inside of love
Has thwarted love again.

A message inside a message
That says all is well
Describes messes
Of which we dare not tell.

Improvement and progress
Are hollered down the lane.
The sun will shine again
As the sun will explain.

From here to there
Is how our love progressed.
But that went nowhere,
As you may have guessed.

She wanted mystery,
He wanted love out loud.
He desired nudity.
She preferred a shroud.

The revolution of sighs
Began in the city
And spread to the suburbs,

Infecting the pretty.

The pretty went to sell
Pretty in the square
But found the town in flames
And an ugly mob there.

The librarian wept
Upon her soft, soft seat
While the cylinders unfolded
And the sky rained meat.

Lecture inside of sorrow,
Invention inside of pain,
Love inside of love

Has thwarted love again.

 

SHE CURES ME OF YOU

She cures me of you
Because she is beautiful, too.

One look at her face
And I forget our disgrace.

A glance from her eyes
And your beautiful image dies.

But all I see and think—
No matter how wise and beautiful the drink

That drowns all that went before—
You and your beauty rise up and conquer me once more.

As long as I was faithless, and thought
That numerous loves spied
Could equal you, or that in their life my love for you could have died,

Ten times more grew my love for you,
More than beautiful, more than life, so beautiful you grew

That you even now carry her, the beautiful, around,
Added to you, triumphant, who adds, like a poem, sound to beautiful sound.

 

 

 

THERE IS ONE BEAUTY

There is one beauty on this earth
In which all the others, partial, find their worth.
So please pardon me who was able to find
All beauty in you. I was blind.

Beauty blinds us all until we find,
With our partial selves, the one beauty in our minds,
The one beauty one in poetry finds,
The one beauty that makes one faithful, happy, and true,
Not as I was, who wrote all that bad poetry to you.

 

 

 

 

 

I LIKE YOU

I like you, even more than before.

How is this possible? The secret is this:

Poetry teaches apology and forgiveness.

I have crossed out many a line

And put aside many an effort

Wholly written from kissing and wine.

Now as I contemplate forgiveness, there are sweet cold flowers

And a sweet cold sun. These mornings have been cold.

And the warmth only lasts a few hours.

Evenings have been cold, too.

Coldly—not with love—I sometimes think of you,

Coldly, when the hot sun burns,

And hotly, and mildly; harshly and sweetly by turns,

With every emotion: you, the only one, who has made me feel every one.

This is why I must like you or die; you are the only one

Who can make me cry for every reason under the sun.

You make me feel weak and strong, right about everything, and wrong,

No one has ever made me feel like you about everything, and everything possible, like you.

I feel like Sylvia Plath, who thought she was a Jew.

You make me feel like Marilyn Monroe, and look, I’m a guy;

And I can hear you say, “duh,” and give a little smile

And I can’t return that smile, because I fear you really think

I’m a fool, and inside I die, when I should just smile and wink.

I’ve confessed: you have an advantage over me.

This is why it is so difficult for me to move towards you romantically.

I love you too much and I fear you’ll take advantage of me.

I would go mad. So I have to stop at like.

Not only insanity and blood pressure—my bad poetry would spike!

Poetry makes life and love where there is none

And you are my poetry. You are the real sun

That burns. Poetry is the unity. But you are the one.

 

 

 

 

 

WORKING, NOT WORKING

At work, I may not be working,
Joking with my co-workers when there’s not much to do.

At work, I may be working hard,
But it’s not like I’m cleaning my yard;

I’m on coffee and glancing at names and numbers
With pleasant dreams of leisure in my head.

This may sound crazy, but work is not really work,
Just as the economy, the measure of how humanity does
Is best when activity wastes a lot, so a lot of useless work is done.

Things that break keep the economy humming;
Awful art filling up classrooms, hospitals full, beads and bangles made.

Birth because of death; death, our boss, flies in from the shade,
Oversees us and makes us scurry back to work
As we get back to doing what other departments do not know we do.

All errors we fix are good errors, providing us jobs,
A good life, planted with loving care by death—who is always busy.

So work is not work; there, I hope that’s clear;
Now on my day off, work is everywhere:

In the morning, I switch on my devices
And feel the zero-one-zero world in operation.

I have my coffee at the inspection garage.
The sweat and oil drip amid the noise;

Then, more coffee at the quiet, spacious dealership,
Suits and ties flying.

Stuck behind the garbage truck, I observe
Arms hurling garbage, impatient rush-hour cars grumbling.

To find some peace I duck into a cafe,
But the waiters, looming over table and counter, work, too.

Exhausted from watching the tired,
I go home, find the cat sleeping, and realize what I must do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BATHROOM SELFIE

IMG_20150605_203419_749

OK, if you think this is a load of crap,
Wait until you see what I do next.
If you don’t like the poems and the weather,
You can always walk from room to room
Using your legs. Dinosaurs owned legs—
The most primitive device of life on land!
What you thought was a poem, won’t be a poem.
I took a picture, with my phone, once,
Of a likeness of you I drew in the sand.

I WILL SIGH FROM THE SAME SORROW TOMORROW

I will sigh from the same sorrow tomorrow.
And who can I blame?
The conductor in my train’s narrow corridor
Who calls my city’s name?

Scenery of swamp and river,
Blur of buildings outside a window,
Static suburban history
Of parking lots and industry
That always looks the same?

Are there passengers I can blame?
Those who sit in their seats half asleep,
Who will never know my name?
Who will push in selfishly for seats tomorrow?

Or should I look elsewhere for my sorrow,
A sorrow that truly makes me sigh?
Perhaps it is the beautiful sky
In various hues. Nature is always true
And Nature always reminds me of you.
Perhaps Nature is to blame. She is always the same.

Love? Which, because of its sorrow, makes me feel love is true,
Is this not happy? I do not have you, and yet to me, our love is true
Because of sorrow yesterday, today and tomorrow,
A sorrow always the same—
Since you don’t hold my hand and lean over to me and whisper my name.

Pitiful joy! Pitiful truth! Pitiful sorrow! Pitiful life! All the same.
The same sorrow sighing tomorrow.
Sorrow of millions.
And who can I blame?

 

 

WHEN EVENING IS TRULY FAIR

When evening is truly fair

And no words can possibly describe

This evening sweetly and softly rare,

Dusky tops of silky trees swaying

In breezes dearer than music playing,

There is truly something only we two share.

I, the poet, have nothing resembling poetry

To say why sky and dying sun and air

Are beauty breathing as if beauty itself were breath,

And your beauty, your loved beauty,

Like my poetry, is ravished by this

Life lying down beside a breeze-kissed death.

A poet reduced to words like “breeze” and “kissed!”

A beauty merely human inside a mystical mist.

Humbled by comparison to fairest weather,

My poetry and your beauty lie down together,

And here beside a fragrant, moon-lit vine,

We kiss. And on our humbled kisses dine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POETRY IS LOVE

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0m0qXy1hsNE/S_PzsNLB8rI/AAAAAAAAASc/Y00MI_DQ6M8/s1600/DEATH+OF+SOCRATES+(DAVID).JPG

Poetry is love. This is literally true. As poets, we do not speak partial truths. We do not say things just to say them. We do not experiment. We do not hide behind show-off language, learning, or obscurity.

The truth of a beautiful song is a beautiful truth.

But here is an even more important truth: poetry is love.

Poetry is the evidence of love, which, in terms of what we need, is a pretty big deal, since fake love is all around. We love candy. Or, our taste buds do. Our health does not love candy. The love for candy, just like the love for a lot of things, is fake; candy does not love us; no thing loves us, and therefore it is not really love to love things, to love what does not love us, for love involves sweet reciprocation; and imagine the falsity in the soul when we love that which does not love us— this is not love!

Love is that which loves and is loved in return.

The desire for candy is as close to love as some people get, and, people whose ‘greatest love’ is simply a desire for what does not love them are people who are naturally offended and embarrassed by reciprocal love, by actual love, this paradise beyond their reach, since they are too foul or stupid or selfish or hungry to have actual love.

Love has millions and millions of enemies, and the hatred of love manifests itself in all sorts of ways: the cackling laughter of the foul-mouthed humorist; the noisy rudeness of the practical-minded poetry-hater; the gruesome, cynical philosophy of the “wise,” who are barred from every delight; the Pollyanna painters of crude colors, whose frozen smiles keep love away.

Here we must say something about reciprocity. We said it is ridiculous to speak of “loving” candy since  candy appeals only to a part of ourselves and is not good for us—our health. But can we then truly love a vegetable serving, or a piece of beef, since these foods are good for our health? There is a scale. Flesh loves us more than candy, but it would still be ridiculous to say a piece of dead flesh loves us. But there is a scale that we should note and consider if we strive for wisdom, and we should ponder what it means that flesh loves us more than candy.

On the other hand, we do talk of “sweet” love, and if the sweet is good, in as much as it gives us pleasure, in this way we say that candy is at least good because it provides “evidence” of the sweet—good because it is truly a delight.

We see there are two kinds of delight then, in this present example of sweetness: the sweet which is false, because it hurts our health if too often indulged, and the sweet which is true, in that it is evidence of that which is delightful. The candy maker is both good and bad, then, producing what is potentially bad (if desired) and good (as evidence).

The poem, as we said, works like candy and sweetness—the poem is “evidence” of love, not love itself.  This is nevertheless not a minor consideration, since love is of infinite importance, and is denied to so many.

The poem imitates, just like the painter, and it is the vanity of both the painter and the poet to think they create, when the best they can do is present evidence of love.

The painter pontificates for hours on his art and then the mere surface of a lake in one reflected instant puts the painter to shame.

The world—which the poet and painter strives to imitate—is already an artist; the poet is not the first to arrive in the wilderness; there has been a poet there already: the self-reflecting world is a poem, a painting already. The poet and painter are hardly needed, except that [painters and poets] serving a different purpose are busily wrecking the wilderness for the comfort and pleasure of flesh and candy eaters. And so painter and poet are called upon to restore the wilderness that has been broken, even as the audience they serve has already been corrupted and sophisticated by the pieces of wilderness imbibed.

So there is already a poem in the wilderness that is not the wilderness—and further, the wilderness has been changed by the non-poets. There is a sweetness in the candy, there is a green in the leaf that is not the candy and not the leaf. And the sweetness and the green is, for the poet, mere evidence of something inscrutable, untouchable, ideal, and gone, but which nonetheless is being consumed by their audience on a grand scale. Poetry is utterly useless and impossible, then. Nuanced speech already belongs to the non-poets as they take apart the wilderness, non-poets cramming themselves full of the material the poet (or painter) would otherwise delicately use.

Now let us return to love; the actual poet secretly gives up “poetry” to all the non-poets speaking their wilderness-breaking, sophisticated sentence and song, and uses instead: love. The poem is an act of love: a speech that loves what it is speaking, and in order to love what it is speaking, ‘that which it is speaking’ can never be in the least obscure or difficult to understand; for to love is to reflect like the natural lake, to present intact and precisely what is loved, in order to be known better, and all the better loved.

We know writers who can take something very simple and make it very complex; writers who do this are neither lovers nor poets; they tend to be scholars, or plainly those haters who are barred from love. They tell long stories, demanding you pay attention to the chain, and when you fall asleep they give a literary cry of triumph, for you, the lover, failed the test, and all the literary scholars applaud, and in the din you hear the buzz-saws that cut the wilderness, or the building in every country which occurs only to build, so that everyone can have “a job,” and so the “economy” can thrive, killing every poet and every lover in the process. We hear the men sitting around bragging, with the women bored to tears; or the women gabbing, and the men bored to tears; where are the sweet tears of love, like a lovely waterfall in the wilderness?  The radiant kisses of a man focused on a woman and a woman focused on a man?

But wilderness and kisses are metaphors; as poets, we prefer you don’t take our language too seriously; it is only hinting at what poetry truly is: at best the faintest evidence of divine love.

The ancient dilemma was understood by Socrates, the pre-Christ, who allowed poets one task in the Republic: to praise. Praise is the simplest form of love, the evidence of love we find in speech, the only kind—for otherwise it is rhetoric, not fashioned for love, rhetoric which is valuable, but not the same as song. The qualifications we find in rhetoric are those qualifications which check pure praise and love; the heart of rhetoric is this qualifying quality that demands a reason as it unfolds like prose; it does not reflect like poetry.

Poetry praises what it says—this is how it loves. This is why poetry is the very opposite of the obscure, and if it is not understood immediately, based on precisely what it says, it is not poetry.

We spoke of a precise saying that is then said by poetry in such a manner to hyper-clarify what is said, in a manner that makes the most difficult thought clear to the mind of a child.

Of course, if that which is made abundantly clear is not worth pondering in the first place, the poem has no point. Poets who have nothing to say will hide what they say in obscure speech, thinking smoky appearances will be applauded for the very thing which is not poetic: obscurity.

The poem’s evidence of love is two-fold: first, a beautiful picture, idea, or insight, perfectly worth loving and admiring in itself, and second, the presentation of it so the reader sees it with as much ease and joy as humanly possible. There is a twofold praise: praise presented in a praiseworthy manner is, if we might say it as briefly as possible, a poem.

 

I WANNA TELL TINA, TOO

Christine walked by with a pear and apple,
Saying, “I need one more, so I can juggle.”

“You can juggle two,” I told her, “with one hand.”
And I thought of fruit falling, and then a name for a band,
In my game of ‘randomly name a band:’ Bruised Fruit.

With the name, Bruised Fruit, I go to Annemarie:
“Hey, Annemarie, I have a great name for a band.”
And I notice Tina missing. “I wanna tell Tina, too.”

Hey, even better: I Wanna Tell Tina, Too.
Is this crazy?  Is this what poets do?
And what would you think of this by the time it gets to you?

HOW SWEET THESE TEARS

How sweet these tears from missing you,
How sweet these tears that fall!
When I lost you, darling,
I lost it all.

How easy for my tears to fall, sweet tears,
And a pleasant feeling when they fall!
When I lost you, darling,
I lost it all.

My tears have no trouble falling when I miss you,
I’m glad when they trickle and fall!
When I lost you, darling,
I lost it all.

I love when tears fall sweetly and I pant
With pleasure, with sweetest pleasure as they fall.
When I lost you, darling,
I lost it all.

Tears fall; they fall because I am weak!
And weakness makes everything fall.
When I lost you, darling,
I lost it all.

COMPLAINING TO GOD

image

Why did you provide us with music

And then give us one song?

And then we find each note

Of the one we are given is wrong?

Why did you give us vision

Inside our beautiful eyes

Which, when matched up with voices,

Melts in confusing lies?

Why did you give us a meadow

With sweet flowers perfumed?

And people. Ill-dressed people.

Eating noisily. And doomed.

Why did you offer the sun

Heralding a multitudinous day

Ending in nightfall

Where one shadow cannot stay?

I HAVE THE POEM IN MYSELF

I have the poem in myself
And you are the poem everyone wants to see.
You are the sun.
I am shadowy.

No one learns to read.
We only learn to see.
Nature has us reading
Her signs, to satisfy
What Nature has to be:
Breeding, breeding, breeding.

All you think you do—
No matter how mute and obscure—
Done for none, or one, or few—
Is done for one reason: to make more.

So the poem in myself
Is a love letter to you;
You are the better poem,
Because of how you look and what you do,

Even if it is walking,
Or washing clothes.
You don’t need anything.
Everyone knows.

Slaves to nature,
Slaves to her commands.
Read about the slaves
In foreign lands.

Read of history, and switch every soul,
Man for woman, black for white.
Would anything change? No?
No? Then what’s the point?

Read about the lovers,
The burning lovers, the sad wives,
The workers in the workshops
Making models of those who always lose their lives.

Read of the singer singing his song,
The crowds, listening, crowding to belong;
Read of the builder, building the house,
For baby and father and mother and mouse.

I have the poem in myself—
There! You may see!
You are the sun.
I am shadowy.

WHY DO YOU FIND IT STRANGE

image

Why do you find it strange that you can hide your face from God?
A tiny cloud can block the sun—do you find that odd?

It’s easy to hide from God—him to whom you ran
Is now him you run from—you, the same sweet woman, he the same sweet man.

You find love, which costs nothing, and is your greatest joy, one day,
And before the night, with ecstasy come, you throw it all away.

Why do you find it strange that God can disappear
In one act of unkindness, and now nothing that is God seems here,
From birds flying above, to your own nose wet with a tear?

How can all this love go away in an instant? Isn’t that odd?
And then you view a poem, a mere poem. And feel the return of God.

 

 

 

 

 

A FEW KISSES

Is there a cure for this?
We exchanged the sweetest kiss.
It is difficult to describe my illness
Except to say it has weakened my defenses
Not exactly in my body, but somewhere deep within.
There is not one word for this illness in all of medicine.
It is more real than anything in psychology books
And from every official person I get the strangest looks.

And friends? To complain of this to friends is the worst.
I would tell a complete stranger first,
For my illness is strange; I am now, myself, a stranger,
And talk to myself at length, at all hours, about this danger
To my health. Nothing is the same
Since my blood was stamped with the being and the being’s name.

I have succumbed to joy! Illness? Illness of bliss!
It is the illness which surpasses all illnesses—
And I know in my heart there’s no cure for this.
If only officials had stopped us when we kissed,
Or a friend had been present, or a feminist.
The feminist could have shouted, “He’s stalking you!”
But we were alone. For a kiss. Or a few.

 

 

 

 

 

ONE HUNDRED SONGS TO BREAK YOUR HEART, MAKE YOU SAD, CRY.

We need a list like this, because songs do assault the heart, and the two most readily accessible lists we find on the web of “songs that make you cry” are so-so, mostly devoted to recent and mediocre indie rock songs.

The “songs that make you cry” lists are further limited by a lame criterion of a close-reading of lyrics—many people don’t know this, but this song is really about a friend of a friend of the songwriter who was dying of cancer, etc.

A great sad song should strike one as sad immediately, by itself, on its own, with its own poetry and music and mood—it should not require an actual sad reason why it was composed revealed to the listener—one shouldn’t need to have the lyrics explained in order to be saddened by the song.

And yet, and yet…secret sad meanings hidden in the lyrics…okay, who can resist those?

But here’s the deal: First, if the actual tragedy the lyrics allude to is the source of the heart-breaking song, then how is this any different than if someone simply told you of a heart-breaking tragedy?

Second, it is the discovery of the hidden aspect in the lyrics which does most of the heart-breaking work, for it is this ‘finding out’ which imitates the mechanics of regret: oh if I had only known how much they really loved me! It is this dynamic which is at work in the oh this is what the song means! trick.

Whether the song is about something that actually happened is beside the point. If we are really moved by a song, on some level it is real for us—and nothing more needs to be said on the issue.  Obviously, the point is, when compiling this list, we have considered the total impact on the heart by the song itself. The tragedy (imagined or real) matters, obviously, but more importantly is how it all comes together in the way it is conveyed by the song, so it stays pleasantly in our memory. The melting of the heart by a song (whether “tragic” or not) should be a pleasant experience. Bewitching perhaps, but ultimately a pleasure, since happiness is (or should be) the end of existence. The songs on our list may, or may not, make you cry. But it should be a happy cry.

But the more we ponder this whole question of context, the more it threatens to explode the whole project: what about a song like “Un Bel Di,” from Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly, also known as “One Fine Day?” Does one have to know Italian, or the opera’s heart-breaking story from which the song emerges, to appreciate this song?

Well—to truly appreciate the song, yes.

“Context,” which, for the sake of “artistic purity,” we have been trying to mitigate, if not eliminate, keeps looming up, like a moon which needs to shine.

The best conclusion, we think, is this: if the moon is a really beautiful one, and is really shining beautifully—if the song itself really is magnificent—we can expect the listener to also understand the clouds heaped up around that moon—especially if the song is already deservedly popular; or, if the song itself, because of what it is, really deserves, in our opinion, this extra knowledge and attention.

We will not worry ourselves that lists like this can never satisfy everyone, for this does not mean lists such as this are not worth doing. Scarriet’s One Hundred Hippie Songs of All Time, published a year ago, is consistently visited two thousand times a week.

But of course “hippie” is more readily understood than “heart.”

And here we might as well add that the heart needs protection—and this is what T.S. Eliot meant when he famously said poetry is “an escape from emotion”—the heart-breaking song is restrained and cool and artificial to a certain degree precisely so the heartbreak doesn’t overwhelm us. But… isn’t that the point? To be overwhelmed, so the heart “melts?” Yes, but some cry at almost anything—commercials, other people crying—so that the songs on this list aren’t even necessary. Keep in mind we speak of ideal, aesthetic, and universal “melting.” This entire list, obviously, cannot be heart-breaking for you.

Further, in this list we attempt to appeal to all tastes.

The genres of hard rock and blues, the music that “sold its soul to the devil” receives its due punishment by not being included on this list. We could have picked a song like “The Thrill Is Gone” to honor the late, great B.B. King, but we could not find it in our hearts to do so. Work like this is admirable, but, for us, just not heart-melting. The stretched-out, pounding attitude of ‘ain’t life a bitch? doesn’t quite fit what we are after.

The “melting” is not finally from pity, but from the extraordinarily beautiful and wise.

Occasionally the beautifully wise is like ice—but as this list shows, icy perfection rarely melts the heart.  Often it is just a warm, slow melody.

Puccini might be said to have invented the modern pop song, or maybe it was Mozart?  Or Bach?  The hook—and then creeping behind it, another equally as sweet!  And so sweet—it has to be brief.

And then, added to the music, the story and the poetry.  What mortal can resist it?

Anyway, we hope you enjoy our latest, One Hundred Songs To Melt The Heart.

1. One Fine Day (Puccini’s Madame Butterfly Aria, “Un Bel Di,” is the heart-breaking standard: beautiful, involves a young girl’s heart—that sings the song—a sailor, and two cultures on either side of the world—and the “one fine day” never comes. 

2. Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O’Connor’s performance of Prince’s song proves sadness is best when it is majestic, observant—“7 hours and 15 days”—and has no bitterness. A tear-jerker for the ages. An electronic standard.)

3. Someone Like You (Adelle’s voice inhabits this Edna St. Vincent Millay-type song’s every pitch, timbre, and mood—resigned, but not resigned—almost as if her very heart were the instrument. Too recent to appreciate? No, this performance is timeless.)

4. Just Say I Love Him (Nina Simone’s six and a half minute, poignant, subtly electric guitar-soaked revery from her neglected masterpiece Forbidden Fruit—1961. If women are dominating this list so far? That’s why they call them divas, fellas…)

5. Video Games (The video of this casually, stupidly languid but passionate song by Lana Del Rey has 83 million views and yes we are in a different era now of perfecting heart-tugging—technically and artistically. A female’s hungry, proud, sultry, deeply expressive voice is still key, however.)

6. Sue Me (Duet between Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.  When her voice tearfully cracks on “I could honestly die.” From Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls. The scene itself is semi-comic—it doesn’t matter.)

7. Hurt (Johnny Cash. Noble, yet agonizing. Tears the only defense against this.)

8. Honey (Bobby Goldsboro makes a goddamn movie with a song. Sentimental, perhaps, but the vocal and the lyrics expand possibilities in a way that practically forms a template of its own.)

9. O Mio Babbino Caro (Puccini and Callas. The song doesn’t need translation. Puccini invented pop, perhaps.)

10. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Smiths. Urban, angsty poetry at its very best. The Smiths’ signature sound is divine, in a fake-casual sort of way.)

11. Stranger in Paradise (The Four Aces’ hokey-histrionic performance of this exquisite song is the formula of homely passion which is necessary; it is not icy, classical perfection we’re after. Sigh deeply if you agree.)

12. It’s All In the Game (Tommy Edwards. It’s all in this glimpsed not quite sad perfect gem of a song.)

13. Alameda (Elliot Smith almost wallows too much in self-misery to project: “Nobody broke your heart. You broke your own cause you can’t finish what you start.”)

14. Hello In There (John Prine made a masterpiece for neglected seniors.)

15. Heart of Gold (Neil Young. It’s very hard to write a truly beautiful sad song. The slightest trace of self-pity ruins it.)

16. Saint James Hospital (Pete Seeger’s Youtube ‘video’ of this beautiful, beautiful, somber, ‘dying cowboy’ folk song has only about 3,000 views. A pity.)

17. Turandot  (Puccini. Pavarotti. Music so sweet it hurts.)

18. Lacrimosa (Mozart. The Requiem. The happy genius feeling indescribable pain.)

19. Green Fields (Brothers Four. Layers of slow, trembling, lush, melancholy. Gorgeous.)

20. Wild World (Cat Stevens. An achingly sad ‘lover leaving’ song tinged with impotent fatherly advice. )

21. Blue Velvet (Bobby Vinton sings this as schmaltzy pop–the velvety tune itself transcends its setting.)

22. My Sweet Lord (George Harrison took the most powerful secular format ever: rock music, blended it with religious feelings, in a way which still sounds like a love song: “I’d really like to know you.”)

23. Auld Lang Syne (The Bobby Burns’ tear-jerker.)

24. April Come She Will (Simon and Garfunkle. We can never get enough, it seems, of lost love and seasons. A couple of guys from Queens, New York. Maybe the best singing/songwriting team ever.)

25. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (The Beatles. John Lennon had this love/hate thing with the music of Bob Dylan. Lennon was a genius who hated/loved.)

26. Space Oddity (David Bowie. Alienated by technology, a theme of this great techno-song from our modern era of passionate contradictions.)

27. The Man That Got Away (Judy Garland. Ju-dy Gar-land. Man-that-got-away. Okay?)

28. The Way We Were (Barbara Streisand. Nostalgia from one of the greatest pop divas.)

29. And The Sun Will Shine (Bee Gees. Robin Gibb. Sweet. Vaguely sorrowful. That is all.)

30. I’m Not In Love (10cc. “Big boys don’t cry.” Yes, they do.)

31. If You Go Away (Shirley Bassey best performs this Jaque Brel number of what we all fear.)

32. Dream Brother (Jeff Buckley. A superbly expressed song of beautiful primal longing.)

33. High Your Love (Donovan, from his 1996 Sutras: “Looking for you in the longing of life, and all the time, you were here by my side.” Wow. It’s rare when embarrassingly wise wisdom breaks your heart.)

34. Do You Realize?? (Flaming Lips. A sentimental song that grabs sentimentality by the throat.)

35. Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen. The nearly atonal baritone delivery manages to be a mesmerizing diversion. Anyone can sing. Anyone can make music. Anyone can cry.)

36. What Is A Youth (from Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet—also known as “A Time For Us.” This lovely song, sung as Romeo and Juliet first cavort at the home of the Capulets is a happy/sad cinematic, musical stunner)

37. Knocking On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan. Zimmerman was so sentimental he had to be tough.)

38. The Only Living Boy In New York (Simon and Garfunkel. It is about tall Art going off to an acting gig and leaving small Paul alone, who takes the sweetest revenge in it.)

39. It’s All Too Much (The Beatles from Yellow Submarine. A lesser known song, but it could be the best Beatles’ recording. A pounding, psychedelia of heart-melting sweetness from George.)

40. The Incest Song (Buffy St. Marie. There are tragic ballads galore; this one is quite good—from her 1964 It’s My Way! one of the greatest original folk albums—no, albums—ever recorded.)

41. Go Way From My Window (John Jacob Niles.  An old man’s heartbreaking voice. Bob Dylan would later use the title of this song as a lyric in his sad-but-slightly-snarling “It Ain’t Me Babe.”)

42. Lonesome Valley (Erik Darling. “You’ve got to cross that lonesome valley by yourself.” Lyrics, music, delivery. Easily one of the greatest recordings of all time.)

43. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (George Harrison’s third on this list! “They bought and sold you.” They did.)

44. Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol. “Would you lie with me and just forget the world?” Asked sadly and sweetly.)

45. Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying (Jerry and the Pacemakers. String section strains to slow down the finger-snapping beat of the sad, optimistic shimmer. “Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey” is equally as good.)

46. Your Song (Elton John was a throw-back to the Tin Pan Alley days when composers and lyricists were separate people; John wrote all the music; Bernie Taupin, the lyrics: “how wonderful life is that you’re in the world.”)

47. I’ll Be Seeing You (Billie Holiday. This is perhaps the poetic trope: seeing the beloved in other things. And Holiday’s voice is one of those sad ones we love because it talks/sings.)

48. Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon and Garfunkel. Their album of the same name beat out Let It Be for the Grammy as the 60s came to an end, Art & Paul and the Beatles splitting up.)

49. I Think It’s Going To Rain Today (Judy Collins sings it from her magnificent 1966 covers album “In My Life.”)

50. It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down  (Honestly, we couldn’t find the definitive recording of this great, great folk song of the Titanic disaster. Probably Pete Seeger.)

51. Perfect Day (Lou Reed. Languid masterpiece from another artist with “a voice that came from you and me.”)

52. Lady Jane (The Brian Jones era Rolling Stones. Old people back in the 60s who hated noisy rock must have been taken aback when songs like this were produced.)

53. A Day in the Life (Beatles. The reflective, sad quietness of this song reflects the touring band, going in the studio, growing up.)

54. Walk On By (It can’t help but feel a little like Bacharach, David and Warwick is music as business. A perfect business. Imagine these three as unknowns, turning out hundreds of songs a year, and then the whole cache is discovered.)

55. Sarah (Scarrietmeister. We include our own singing, songwriting, and producing only to prove that Poe was right: only a good poet can be a good critic. We humbly write and record music, and that’s why we can sensitively and lovingly make these lists.)

56. Smile (The lyrics are iconic; the musical credit goes to Charlie Chaplin, who first sang it in his 1936 film, Modern Times. Which is how life works: you’re working on a movie and then a song comes to you…)

57. End of the World (Skeeter Davis asks “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?” in one of the sweetest, simplest, and most poignant songs of all time.)

58. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me (The reggae beat, the bend-y notes, the hopeless, self-effacing melancholy required, perhaps, a Boy George, to make it happen; or was this song inevitable?)

59. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (The songwriting team of Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach wrote this for their 1933 musical. Great songs are inevitably written for something…a musical, a movie, a friend, etc)

60. Moon River (Once lyricist and Georgia native Johnny Mercer put “moon” with “river, the song probably wrote itself; he originally tried “blue river,” but found it was already taken. “Huckleberry friend” worked, too.)

61. Over the Rainbow (The best songs are simple ones: “somewhere,” became for the songwriting industry what “nevermore” was for poetry; the octave jump from some to where launched us “over the rainbow.”)

62. Good Night Irene (Leadbelly learned the song in the South from family in the beginning of the 20th century. Pete Seeger with the Weavers—before Elvis—made black music for the American masses: Billboard’s no. 1 song for 1950, the year after Leadbelly died.)

63. I Will Always Love You (Written and recorded by Dolly Parton in 1973 and made into a monster hit by Whitney Houston in 1992. Both times for a movie.)

64. Come All You Fair And Tender Maids (Pete Seeger sings it best. You hear a beautiful, old, neglected folk song like this and you can’t help but wonder how easily today’s pop machine could make it a “hit.”)

65. September Song (Lotte Lenya sings this sad song written by her husband, Kurt Weil)

66. You’ve Got A Friend (Carol King wrote it and James Taylor recorded it in a comforting blast of singer/songwriter bliss.)

67. Ave Maria (Schubert. Uplifting. Can the heart follow?)

68. Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Elvis Presley was a rocker, but also country western—a genre, we are aware, that is not represented well by our list. Hank Williams moans and cries, and we won’t deny the greatness of this music, but heart-wise, it often sounds too quirky or cornball to our N’eastern ears.)

69. Sheep May Safely Graze (Kirsten Flagstad does a pretty good job with this Bach cantata.)

70. The Three Ravens (Alfred Deller sings in the “sweet and high” style this ancient English ballad about a dead knight and his faithful animals.)

71. An Affair To Remember (Nat King Cole. One of the great heart-melting singers. Beautiful, sad song from the beautiful, sad film.)

72. Is That All There It Is? (Peggy Lee gets deep.)

73. The Winner Takes It All (ABBA. Is this really true?  Is there a “winner” in love? It doesn’t matter, because the song makes it true.)

74. Where Have All The Flowers Gone? (Pete Seeger’s song, fashioned from other sources in 1955. It led to Dylan’s question “How many roads must a man walk down?” and the rest is folk/rock/pop history.)

75. Those Were The Days (Mary Hopkin. Does history kill nostalgia? The Beatles produced this.)

76. My Cherie Amour (Stevie Wonder recorded it; he and two others wrote it. Sweet, sad, pop perfection.)

77. Cry Me A River (A jazz standard embracing heartbreak for two.)

78. Another Day (Paul McCartney wrote a lot of sad, clever, touching songs; he sang this one with Linda.)

79. A Day In The Life Of A Fool (Jack Jones does a solid job with this sob-fest from Brazil. Black Orpheus is the 1959 Academy Award winning film which made the song famous.)

80. It Was a Very Good Year (Songs that look back over life are usually a pretty good bet to be at least mildly heart-breaking. Frank Sinatra is the wistful deliverer in this case.)

81. Oh What Wondrous Love Is This? (A spiritual which is similar to “Amazing Grace,” and just as good.)

82. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd. Syd Barrett was their songwriter, and then, after he tragically left, the subject of their best work.)

83. I Don’t Like Mondays (Boomtown Rats. A big hit in England, Bob Geldoff wrote this song in 1979 from a news story out of San Diego, California: a 16 year old girl went on a shooting spree for no apparent reason.)

84. Hey There Delilah (Plain White Ts. Songs with girls’ names are usually a good start.)

85. Indian Summer (The Doors had a bunch of haunting little numbers like this. It is argued often that Morrison was not a “real” poet, but this group used Brecht/Weil and William Blake in their recordings. They were one of the truly poetic rock groups, far more sensitive than most.)

86. Time Of Your Life (Green Day. A breakup song that doesn’t quite sound like a breakup song—the most noble kind.)

87. La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf is the world’s favorite female French singer. This one song will have to represent the lovely French cafe tradition. Our favorite album of this type is April In Paris by Jacqueline Francois.)

88. You Are My Sunshine (First recorded in 1939; covered numerous times. Sing it to your kid.)

89. Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve. We love the video of Richard Ashcroft knocking people over in London as he lip-syncs.)

90. Viva La Vida (Cold Play. An uplifting number. The lyrics are somewhere between profound and hazy, but the song is catchy enough so one doesn’t care.)

91. It Will Rain (Bruno Mars. Perhaps the best from this visceral writer/performer. This one was co-written for a movie—“Twilight.”)

92. Careless Whisper (George Michael. Co-written with his Wham! partner when they were unknown. Sexy. Depressing. Very 80s.)

93. Come As You Are (Nirvana. Kurt Cobain generally expressed pain very well—some might feel this song is heart-breaking.)

94. Maggie May (Rod Stewart. A sad, in-love-with-an-older-woman, not-knowing-what-to-do-with-my-life song.  Doesn’t try to be a heart-breaking song, but it is.)

95. Fortunate The Man With None (Dead Can Dance. The lyrics come from a Bertolt Brecht poem.)

96. I Say A Little Prayer (Aretha Franklin sings one of the sweetest songs of all time.)

97. Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues. “Just what you want to be, you’ll be in the end” is a killer.)

98. Dear Mama (Tupac. The late rapper appreciates his mother.)

99. Everybody Hurts (R.E.M. Many songs tell stories, give advice, but not that many are written specifically to reach out and comfort.)

100. Blue (Marina and the Diamonds. Released this year; energetic and vapid, as all ‘young people’s music of today’ seems to those who are older. But it’s still about the heart.)

WE TURN OURSELVES INTO ART

image

We turn ourselves into art,

Tragically, unlike what the animals do,

Who have no art, and live in nature,

As I once lived with you.

Remember, mother? In your water

I was small, and lived.

As soon as we are born, we belong to art.

All sorts of coverings begin,

And judgments and hidings

And the eye has to watch how it looks

Or it will seem, or be seen, as impolite.

The feast and the spectacle

Become a predicament,

Especially in longing and love.

Art snakes around the statue of judgement

Is a metaphor that confuses us in school

And the teacher who first tells us, “In art, there is no right answer,”

Is silly. Not really cool.

Because life, we know inside, is all about right or wrong.

You can sing, or you can’t; you love, or you hate that song

And your opinion is good—because it’s yours.

There is nothing else to say after “there is no right answer,”

Except to live the life of uptight clerks in stores.

You love me or you don’t. That’s the way it is.

You might learn a little about art. You pass—or fail—a stupid quiz.

We turn ourselves into art. That’s all we do.

And don’t you believe it, for they don’t believe it, smirking,

Delicate in their eyeliner in the airliner, when they say, I like you.

 

 

 

FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, I AM FREE AT LAST

What I once hated, I now love,

Since love conquered me

By other means than love, mysteriously,

As when the eye is forced to see

Itself in another’s eye

And succumbs to what belongs to that eye’s body.

Previously, I thought a face ugly,

And now, joyously: “why, why, why?”

I know too many things should not be thought beautiful,

Lest my judgement be destroyed—

But now I am over you, and I am overjoyed.

Yours was a superficial beauty, the kind everyone sees;

But now I love the many’s incongruities.

I love what was impossible to love before.

Love was once you. Now, it is more.

Love is focused on one person because one person is what we are,

But infinite beauty reached me from afar

Through an atmosphere that once held one star

And now holds many.

I am wealthy, for I once held one penny,

One—you—who I held as gold in my heart.

To love, I had to hate, having died by a single dart.

 

 

THE FEMININE HAS FEELINGS

The feminine has feelings
The masculine must treat more than well.
Do not let thinking
Doom you to a genderless hell.
The feminine has feelings—
The masculine should learn how deep,
Or the masculine will learn
That the masculine, too, can weep.

Since both genders are jealous,
Both genders are blind,
Believing every type of itself unkind.
“The world is unkind!” the lover cries,
Peering into the kindest eyes.

 

 

 

WHAT IS POETRY? LISTEN TO ALEXANDER POPE

Pope: No awards or degrees. Self-taught. Banned from higher education in his native England for being a Catholic. World famous.

Alexander Pope was 20 when he wrote his rhymed “An Essay on Criticism.” This single essay contains more memorable poetry quotations than the entire 20th century produced.

We want to focus on one from that essay, which might save poetry from the wretched state it is currently in:

“What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.”

In their mania for “the new,” the modern poets (who have no public) constantly strive for what has never been thought before—and no wonder the results are sometimes pleasantly odd (at best) but mostly baffling, obscure, and unreadable.

Since thought and language are profoundly linked, any random combination of words, sentences or phrases will, in theory, produce “new thought.” If only this were true! We would all be poets, and all poetry magnet kits, Shakespeare.

It is easy to illustrate, with the help of Pope’s quote, this “new thought” folly, but this does not mean this folly has not been highly seductive.

Unfortunately, bad things seduce.

The Moderns, if anyone has any doubt, are to blame. We mean those men born in the latter part of the 19th century—Pound, Eliot, and William Carlos Williams.

Who has “thought” in white spaces on the page: how “oft” has that been thought before?  If you take this question too seriously, be careful; you might have the Modernist virus—which holds the utterly baffling “new” to be more important than common sense.

Pound’s Imagism, which led to his friend, Williams’ “no ideas but in things” further points to the insanity at issue; what sort of “thought” runs about in and between “things?” Isn’t it people (like Pope) who think?

If by “things,” the Modernists meant a sort of no-nonsense materialism (da Vinci on perspective or Poe on verse) than surely they would have said so (if they could actually bring themselves to do such a thing) but they didn’t; they really did mean things: a poem that reverently mentions a wheel barrow. This is really what it was all about. Yes, it really was crazy. A Duchamp conceptualist art joke. Ha ha.

T.S. Eliot represented the “serious/educated” fake side of Modernism, the counter-weight of gravitas in the Modernist scam.

Sexless, morbid Eliot—who hated Shelley—was like the sexless Ruskin and his “pre-Raphaelite” movement—eclectically raising certain art moments far above others: champion the Middle Ages at the expense of Raphael and the Renaissance: Ruskin—who famously and publicly attacked the great American poet, Whistler.

Eliot, when he was not whimpering about the end of his beloved British Empire in “The Waste Land,” theorized that Milton and the Romantics were saddled with a “dissociation of sensibility,” unlike the “Metaphysical poets.” It was actually taken seriously in some circles that Byron, Shelley, and Keats lacked fusion of thought and feeling, while Donne did not. Taking nonsense like this seriously was just what the Modernists did. Eliot attacked “Hamlet” and the work of Poe, for good measure. Modernism had to kill certain things before it, so it, itself, could be taken seriously. This is what it means to be “new” and “modern,” and Anglo-American, and teach in college.

The New Critics, the American ‘T.S. Eliot’ wing of Modernism, with their stern, tweedy advice that a poem was not something which could be “paraphrased,” was another weapon against “what oft was thought.”

Imagine the horror. Thousands and thousands of poets writing poems that cannot be paraphrased.

What could be paraphrased was too close to Pope’s “thought,” and the whole era of Pope and his Romantic Poet admirers had to be done away with: John Crowe Ransom (b. 1888) advised that we can’t write like Byron anymore, and the influential New Critic textbook, “Understanding Poetry,” held up as models little poems by Williams and Pound (on “things” and nothing else) and featured an attack by the Anglo-American Aldous Huxley against America’s Shakespeare, Edgar Poe.

Not only does casting aside “what has oft been thought,” cripple accessibility and thought, it also damages expression—since it leaves the poet nothing to express, a problem solved by Ashbery (given the Yale Younger by Auden, an Anglo-American friend of Eliot’s).  Ashbery—praised by the Poe-hating Harold Bloom and other academics—and his brand of refrigerator magnet poetry, is the natural result of the whole process, the decline which started when Modernism kidnapped the arts in the early 20th century—a decline from common sense to mystical snobbery.

Pope’s point: Expression should be new, not thought. This is poetry: new expression, not new thought.

The modern poet has been seduced by the idea that “If I don’t come up with new thoughts, I must be stupid!!”

But this idea is stupid.

Because here’s the secret: it really has all been thought before, and the most interesting thought is what has been running through the thoughts of everyone for centuries: you, as one poet, can’t compete with that. So don’t even try.

Don’t wreck yourself on expression trying to come up with original thoughts.

Original thoughts, which are truly that, are actual ideas which no one has ever entertained before. If one should be so fortunate to come up with one of these—if one is supremely lucky and fated to win the ‘idea lottery,’ why would one ever think that a ‘winning ticket’ like this should be inserted into a poem?  (Those things nobody reads anymore.)

Of course the reply might be: but according to you, Pope did, and you are spending this essay of yours defending Pope.

But Pope belongs to history, and here is where the picture of our essay gains its third dimension. We have spoken of 1) thought, 2) its expression—and the third, which is: ‘what has gone before,’ Pope’s “what oft was thought.”

We must assume that Pope’s advice—his thought—was “thought before”—Pope’s very idea, expressed in 1712, that what poetry really is, is whatever has been previously thought but now expressed in such a way that—what?

Had been thought before, but Pope crystallized it with his expression.

The message is this. Be humble, as the speaker for your tribe: take their thoughts and express them so that the thought is transmitted in the most efficient manner possible. Here is the essence of invention and beauty, for beauty, by definition, is that which expresses what it is immediately, and invention, in all cases, is nothing but that which takes our wants and brings them to us in less time. Beauty and invention do not create the wants, they serve them. Likewise, the poet does not create thoughts, but merely serves them.

A poem, as directly opposed to what the New Critics said, is not only that which can be paraphrased, but that which travels in that direction to an extreme degree.

Pope was—is—a crucial historical marker, and his “Essay” could not help but influence poetry that came after—not in the fake way that Modernism tried to usher in change and influence, with its influence of the thoughtless new for its own sake, sans want and sans beauty—for Pope had expressed a thought in such a way that gave that thought new currency, new force, new appreciation, for the sake of generations coming after, who need to understand anew the delicate ideas that fade away in utilitarian light.

There is a war, as Plato said, between philosophy and poetry, what is matter-of-factly good for the state and what is ecstatically good for the individual—“clean your room” (public projects) on one hand, and “what are you doing in your room?” (private desires) on the other—and this conflict is timeless, and its resolution is the secret of all human activity that can be called policy or art.

Pope’s admonition for poetry: “what oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed,” is precisely a blockbuster quotation because of its efficiency in resolving the philosophy/poetry conflict for the good of humankind; poetry can err in one of two basic ways: it can be too didactic in a public-minded manner, or too creepily and anti-socially private (obscure). Poetry, because of what it is, must err in one direction or the other, always attempting and failing at a happy medium; Pope erred, as a poet, towards the didactic, and Poe and the Romantics were a correction in the other direction. Yet the greatness of Pope’s formula remains—a Platonic ideal, feeding with its ideality poets of all kinds, as they move with their poetry towards public/private gratification.

Modernism’s “progress” is merely a Shadow Movement, moving in a faulty direction, downwards, backwards, a mere reaction to the True Progress of Great Poetry—which expresses beautifully what we all in our hearts know.

POETRY AND LIFE

Educated poetry and ignorant life
Can never touch:
Poetry is learned in the schools;
Life is an embarrassing love reserved for fools.

Husband and wife cannot love each other too much:
The child must come first:
Before life does its worst,
Put the child in school.

Brats all in a row;
Give their passionate minds a tool,
A computer: to fight the foe,
Ignorance—another name for wandering life.

I write poems in a school on a computer for my co-worker wife.

MY MISTAKES FIXED

When I loved, I erred severely,
When I loved, I made a terrible mistake,
But surely every sickness can be cured
If all it is, is an ache?

When I loved, I traveled to an unknown heart,
When I fell, I tumbled to a veiled mind.
When I loved, I fell in love with a land,
A valley no historian can find.

When I loved, I loved other mountains,
I loved other rivers—a past—a tribe:
And when they came into that valley,
They settled and would not climb.

When she loved, she loved me, unknown,
She loved me, a mysterious rhyme.
No one knew why, or how, we loved.
We settled and would not climb.

Water came into the valley,
Sweeping fantastically; a flood filled
Two hearts, floating on a sea;
We swam, and did not touch, to not get killed.

It felt like fate, not love,
It felt we were swept by a higher power;
I lie back, free from my mistakes!
Love feels more like God every hour.

SHARE AND LIKE

 

In a happy marriage, the sex can just happen,

But with lovers it has to be endlessly negotiated and arranged;

I’m over that. If you want to know the truth,

I slept with you because I wanted to find out if a poet was more than just a penis,

And I found out that a poet is just a penis; so, goodbye.

I don’t care now much poetry you write, you’re just a penis.

Go write your heart-broken poems so you can be a famous penis; I really don’t care.

Sometimes it’s annoying how simple the answers are.

A discord needs resolving, a cat needs to drink,

The weather is kind in a sunny, naive way,

And, wondering how much human speech my cat understands,

I think: how happy to live on that sub-linguistic level

Where all that matters is you are satiate after you drink.

I’m sick of all these thirsty woody allens.

And don’t get me started on cunts!

Go work on a construction site if you fancy that, or sprinkle rose water

On your cunt or something. But just leave me alone!

I’m going to try monogamy; monogamy, monogamy, so uncool,

But isn’t that what everybody secretly wants (and hardly ever gets)?

First, God, the law-giver, second, the husband (who you sleep with) and third, your friends.

What’s wrong with that?  Do you think I want to make laws?

Everything got turned upside down.  I thought I was God

Because I slept with my friends.

And that confused me a bit, you know, when I believed I was God.

I felt like God. You should have seen how they behaved when I walked by.

Take my hand, jealous, tortured, shit-faced, husband.

Tomorrow, maybe, it will just happen in the dark

And then I will get up and feed the cat, as usual.

Oh, won’t I be happy?

I won’t worship anybody but God,

Who makes the sunny, simple afternoons,

Who makes the darkness (good on God for that!)

And lets me satiate myself, naively.

What else?

 

 

 

 

 

THE TRAGICALLY BEAUTIFUL

The tragically beautiful—called by the fearful: femme fatale,
Lives in the eye of love’s storm, calm, away from the strife
She causes, possessing the inner peace of the cruelly beautiful,
Bred to be a mistress, not a friend or a wife.
She may say she is not, but everyone can tell
Beauty made in heaven from beauty made in hell.

The tragically beautiful—loved by the passionate, one and all,
Checks the passion that lives in her soul,
She, the beautiful, immune to the cruelly beautiful,
Is cold, while the fire of her lover’s desire rages out of control.
She may say she is not, but everyone can tell
Beauty made in heaven from beauty made in hell.

She’s tabula rasa; does not write, but is written,
Has no need for depiction, analysis, or signs,
She is their perfection: her thoughts bite; she is never bitten.
She belongs to the sensual: flowers, animals, oceans, wines;
When she moves among the sensual, she is diminished for a spell;
She becomes a landscape: moonlight undulating on the ocean’s swell.

She will pet the small animals; she will seem gentle.
She will emit animal charm exceedingly well;
But do not be fooled, for everyone can tell
Beauty made in heaven from beauty made in hell.

The poet strives for beauty more beautiful than her own,
And he may have lips that she loves to kiss,
But the poet—tragic poet!—cannot make her continually moan
For him. She does not want him all the time. And all he wants is this.

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT RACE FOR A MINUTE

Vanessa Place: Art School Cool Forever?

Which of the following four individuals are racist, everything else being equal:

1). A white man who reviles black men and sleeps with black women.

2). A black man who reviles white men and sleeps with white women.

3). A white lesbian who writes on Facebook that we need to carefully listen to people of color and not let our white background get in the way of understanding what people of color experience every day.

4). A black lesbian who writes on Facebook that white people need to listen carefully to people of color and not let their white background get in the way of understanding what people of color experience every day.

The answer is obvious.  You know the answer, don’t you?

The issue of race is complicated—but not.

Poetry is complicated—until a good poet comes along.

The bad is complicated.

The good is not complicated.

Academics have been talking a lot about race lately—and making it sound extremely complicated—even as they try to make it sound extremely simple: white privilege.

A couple of conceptualist poets—Kenneth Goldsmith and Vanessa Place—used racist material for “art” and the “art” remained stubbornly invisible in the Conceptualist manner, leaving the Conceptualist Poets themselves looking a bit—oops!—racist.

Since every revolution has its purists, looking “a bit” racist can get you in a heap of trouble, and now Vanessa Place and Kenneth Goldsmith, once museum-curator-poet cool, are verging on not being cool.

Conceptualism messed with Ferguson and Gone With The Wind and learned the lesson of the dyer’s hand: like Lady Macbeth, Vanessa Place wishes her hand clean again.

Avant-garde poets sympathetic to Conceptualism, like Ron Silliman, have suddenly been reduced to apologetic whimpering re: the once proud 20th century poetry avant-garde which he and his friends represent (male and white…shhhh).

We at Scarriet have been Silliman’s gentle scold and conscience for quite some time.

Now it’s official:

Quietism 1 Conceptualism 0.

Remember Rita Dove versus Marjorie Perloff?  That seems like a minor dust-up in comparison to what’s occurring now. Or was it? Perhaps it is only possible for the scandalous and the wrong to exist this minute?

The cool-kids-trying-to-be-cool-again are fighting back, of course.

Vanessa Place, who was thrown off a committee because of her insensitivity to racism, may be a beloved martyr tomorrow: who knows?

Her defenders will say: Her hand is not clean, but no one’s is.  Nothing is clean.

We said the complicated is bad, and the simple is good, so here’s the whole Place controversy as simply as we can put it:

Those attacking Place are anti-Racists.

Place is anti-Pro-Racist.

This is like the early stages of the French Revolution: in the ‘race atmosphere’ which exists now, everyone is potentially a saint or a sinner in the blink of an eye.

The possibilities are endless.

Listening to everyone—especially academic poets—discussing race is amazing: talk about twisting oneself in knots.  “Am I good, or am I being too patronizing?”  “Am I being too honest?” “Shall I speak up? And what shall I say?”

Some just want to talk about art. Art, the concept, is the only umbrella that protects. Conceptualism thinks art is a useless concept, which is why the conceptualists feel unprotected and uncomfortable now.

The wheel is turning.

In Silliman’s latest, “Je Sui Vanessa,” Silliman cracks from the pressure of watching his beloved avant-garde  peeps, Goldsmith and Place, become totally uncool.

Silliman equates those attacking Place with hate crime murderers.

When morals are questioned, discomfort results. When cool is questioned, all hell breaks loose.

This is one of those points in history where you feel yourself moving, even as you are standing still.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNFLINCHING

The famous fine arts painter Lucien Freud died in 2011 at the age of 88, bringing tears to the eyes of Sue Tilley, the model for one of his most famous paintings, “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping.”

We quote the Telegraph:

Sue Tilley, who sat for the nude Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, said today she has had ”fantastic experiences” as a result of posing for the unflattering portrait.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, she said: ”I found out last night on Twitter, bizarrely, and I did start crying. I haven’t seen him for a long time and he’s not really a close friend now but it’s a part of my life that’s kind of gone.”

Ms. Tilley has etchings that Freud gave to her, which are potentially worth thousands of pounds, but says that money is not an issue.

”Money’s not really important. Don’t you think in life sometimes experience is more important than financial gain? Because of this painting I’ve had fantastic experiences.”

The portrait is characteristic of Freud’s unflinching style, but Ms. Tilley said she watched the work being painted and so became acclimatised to it.

”I saw it all the time because it’s so huge, you would see it while he was painting it. He’s not behind it, so it’s in front of you the whole time, so I got very much used to it.”

“Unflinching.” This does sum up Lucien Freud’s “style,” doesn’t it?

Another term might be “High Realism,” or “Unflattering Realism,” and this raises an interesting question on how we view art—and poetry (since this is Scarriet’s milieu) in our time.

“Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” (1995) sold for 33 million dollars at auction in 2008, a record amount for a living artist.

We might say that Lucien Freud’s work is the very opposite of Abstract Art. No one would ever call Abstract Painting “unflinching.” On the spectrum of artistic expression, “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” is closer to Romantic Art than Modern Art—or does it lie between the two?

In Modern Art, the person disappears, human-oriented expression vanishes, the artist slyly hides as Design-Abyss stares back.

The “abyss of design,” a term we coin at this very moment to describe the rather inhuman, abstraction mania destroying all beautiful and intelligent art in an orgy of Ad-logo, unreflective doodling, might be occasionally called “unflinching,” but “unflinching” only and purely in regard to what is, unfortunately, in most cases, bad taste.

Go to any modern art museum, or any art school, and gaze with as much love and empathy possible at the so-called “art” on display there. What strikes us, after the initial and simple embarrassment of how purely ugly most of it is, is the awareness of an urgently crafted “design” of no design: art that says nothing, art that presents no context for what it is trying to say, and as a result, though there may be some interesting bare bones of  “design” present, some half-formed idea struggling to emerge from the foam of applied chemicals, some interesting pieces of material or texture present, nothing is finally realized or finished, to any moderately intelligent person’s satisfaction. It is Design so proud of itself (a pride typically fashioned from a philosophy that believes no audience can escape from the world which is brutal and meaningless) it has completely forgotten that it (design) exists for something else.

It doesn’t help that people in the art world often lack any real understanding of Letters.  The art world is full of brilliance—which unfortunately can barely read and write, and with an understanding of history skewed towards the haphazard and the new. Resenting those who can read and write, “artists” continue to commit suicide every day.

Animation/cartooning/illustration is the new wonder of the art schools, and has by far the most chance for something pedagogically useful, since the work on Cartoon Network is wonderful—precisely because it is forced to entertain coherent human ideas—to be, in a somewhat realized manner, happily and joyfully human, escaping the Prison Camp of Bad Taste “history” and “painting” and “design,” currently destroying thought in various near-illiterate institutions.

What do we think of Lucien Freud’s “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping?” Does a work like this make abstract artists and designers, artists who produce things without true realism or context: 3-dimensional bodies and faces which float in unreal spaces; bad jokes of collage, cut-and-paste, two-dimensionality, cowards? Does Lucien Freud, with his unflinching view of humans in a completely human context, make cowards of them all?

Well, almost. Design, after all, has its place. Take a look at the mass of humanity: all those T-shirts, baseball caps, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, bangles, tattoos.

The art of “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” does make other “artists” look like mere designers. Advertisers. Art School Officials. T-Shirt Logo Makers.

And yes, “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” does look back to the art era known as Romanticism—which was the renaissance of the Renaissance: Keats, Shelly, and Byron extending Shakespeare—to the sounds of Mozart and Beethoven who were extending Bach—as painters like Copley and Goya made Truth and Painting synonymous.

Perhaps Romanticism, like the great Renaissance era which inspired it, which was itself inspired by Plato, could not last—but it will never go away, (although, God knows, the “art” schools have tried).

The era of Romanticism ended—with Corot, landscape, and then Impressionism prettifying and domesticating what had been great—for purely political reasons: the great rivalry of Britain and France dissolved like a dream in the mid-19th Century, and Britain and France became a Joint Empire dedicated to crushing the Spirit of Goya and the United States—a marvelous Romantic experiment which gradually went from David-to-the-British-Empire’s-Goliath to surrogate British Empire. Ugly, anti-human, modern art was intentionally spawned by Paris and London, and then in the World War One era, imported to New York, as the Modernist sickness, allied with the building and fashion trades, took over, eventually becoming its own self-fulfilling prophecy in “democratic” academia.

“Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” a success today, (superficially, at least,) flying in the face of contemporary Abstract Painting “success,” reminds us of another unflinching, Hyper-Realism painting.

We think you will guess the painting we mean, when informed it emerged from a late Romantic artist in the very era we are discussing—the middle 19th century crossroads which saw the revolutionary greatness (if that be not too hyperbolic a term) of Romanticism still living but dying, as Britain/France, that dreaded, imperial, Modernist Monster, was born—: “L’Origine du monde” by Gustave Courbet.

This scandalous Courbet painting, a great Romantic painting, but veering towards what might be characterized as “unflinching” bad taste, is a symbol of Romanticism dying: a descent, perhaps?

We have hopes, then, that the late Lucien Freud’s “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” in our era, might represent a renewed ascent of human-based Romanticism come to rescue us from our cheap, Modernist “Art School Design” Nightmare.

Freud’s “unflinching” view of woman—and we believe the woman is superior to the man—may offend.  What do you think?  Does it offend you?

We ourselves, here on Scarriet, have offended our own dear mother, with the occasional poem on the human frailties of women—whether it be vanity, or getting old, or lacking inspiration—and this “unflinching” look is not meant to offend any one person, but to show the type, and not even to blame the type, but to look unflinchingly on how the type, in general, can be trapped and oppressed.  We are vindicated by our conviction that pity and truth in art is better than flattery and lies.

The Romantic loves, but loves honestly, without flattery.

Scarriet is producing essays and poems in the great Romantic spirit—never to demean, but to save the world from significant aesthetic and philosophical lapses.

Genius—in the crisis period in 1866, when Courbet revealed his painting to the world—and in the crisis period of today in 2015—has no choice, in the Romantic spirit, hard beset and distorted by many forces, but to risk the “unflinching” view, even if it offends various institutions, the men who run them, but, God forbid and forgive us now!—never, the holiest being in the universe: woman.

WOMEN AND COMPETITION

As way of introduction, we will quickly reference two other articles on women and competition.

First, in “Where Women Are More Competitive Than Men,” the authors conducted an experiment with men and women to find out which gender was more competitive. They found women were just as competitive—it simply depended on whether the test subjects belonged to a patrilineal or a matrilineal society—one of these exists in a certain part of northeast India.

Second, in “Elite Professionals Hold Back Other Women,” we read the following:

It is, genuinely, a brave new world for women, but it is also a world that requires a completely new divide: between a cadre of educated, elite women at the top and the great female majority for whom things have barely changed except that now instead of cooking, cleaning or taking care of their own children in their own home, they’re performing such duties in restaurants, office buildings, and ironically, the homes of the successful female professionals.

Powerful women have no problem pushing other women down—administrative assistants are 97% women.

We need to face the truth at last: there certainly may be gender differences, but women are just as competitive as men. It wasn’t all that long ago that the vast majority of sports players and fans in the United States were men— and we see how that has changed.

But as the experiment in the the patrilineal and matrilineal societies showed, a great deal of social malleability exists.

There are three major areas of competition: sports, business, and—love.

Byron once wrote, “Man’s love is of man’s life a part; it is a woman’s whole existence.”

We’ve all heard the phrase, “love is a game,” and what people tend to mean by this is not that love is a mere toy, but that love is marked by intense competition—in love there are winners and losers, which has a profound impact on the emotional life of a person, and the stakes are not trivial; they are life-changing, extremely significant on many levels, and Darwinian.

It is said that men are “players;” they love and run; but the woman—traditionally shut out of sports and business—is the original Player when it comes to Love and Romance. She is the female spider who eats the male, beautiful, but nasty, like nature red in tooth and claw; male players “run” only because they don’t want to be caught and eaten.

Even advocates of love must admit love is a nasty business. It takes our worst traits: jealousy, anger, insecurity, doubt, lust, greed, and hooks us in.

When we “lose” in love, the “game is over,” and the “winner” wants no more to do with us: run along, little boy, you lost. So says the woman, who a short time before, wept and worried over us, covered us in kisses, told us we were all they cared about.

Women are more competitive in love because this is where they can be competitive.

If women are as competitive as men, then their competition needs somewhere to go. 

Men are freely competitive in sports and business—so they have no competition left for love. A man doesn’t want to fight in love; when a man is with a woman he likes, he is happy, and just wants to be happy with her. But for the women, it is far more complicated.

Kept from the competition of sports and business for so long, many women traditionally find reasons to be competitive in a place where the man is not—in romance.

Women choose a man, not based on how attractive he is, but on whether or not she thinks she has a chance to beat him in a good, well-played game. This may sound crazy, but we have a hunch it is true.

Love is a game for women, but not for men.

If men seem to be “game players” in love, it is out of fear, as we mentioned above, fear of being devoured by the female spider—or beaten soundly, trounced and humiliated, by the original “player,” the Female Player (femme fatale). It is the woman who truly relishes love as a game totally and completely.

This is not to say that men are not vaguely aware that love is a competition—they know love has winners and losers, and that in love gone wrong one can dump or be dumped; they know, of course, men compete, generally, at least, with other men for women.

It is this “competitive” aspect of love that makes it an arena for competition—and women, if they are competitive—and we think they are—find this the most convenient place to be competitive. And they get to compete (in the U.S.) against the most “competitive” creature on earth: the American male.

When we meet someone frustrated by love, single and no longer looking, we don’t say they are not “loving,” and we don’t cruelly assume they have given up because they are unloving; they are simply sick and weary of the “competition,” because that’s what love is.

Women, traditionally shut out of sports and business, have made it so.

Love either has a clear winner and loser (someone is dumped), or it is unclear who is winning, or the whole game is cancelled, or, and this happens fairly often, the man simply refuses to play the game, and while not “winning” with this strategy, can maintain a certain dull stability in a relationship.

How one plays the game of love depends on three things: 1) one’s personal history; 2) the kinds of gambits, strategies, and defenses one chooses; 3) how attractive, reckless, and heartless one happens to be.

The most common way to cancel the “game” is to have a child with someone. Therefore, those who don’t want to have children tend to be real players—be careful of them, no matter what they say.

Of course, one can have a child with someone and then be dumped by them—and so the dumped will be anxious to get in another game and win.

Having a lot of children with someone, however, is a pretty good way to get “love as competition” out of one’s system—but if a nasty dumping occurs, all bets are off. One may give up, or look for a win.

Those who have lost will often want to play again—so they can win. One should beware of them, obviously.

But there are some who may be addicted to “winning,” and so it is their “success” that makes them dangerous.

The addictive “winner” probably became that way because of a particularly heart-breaking “loss” which happened long ago.

Relationships that last for any length of time are those in which no clear winner is established.

One “wins” when a tipping point is reached on the issue of “trust;” for whatever reason, a threshold is reached in which jealousy belongs almost entirely to one person, and not the other—and that person, the one who is overly jealous or clingy—loses, and because they are too jealous, they are dumped. Interestingly, “evidence” and actual behavior mean little; both of you may be cheating, or one, or none, but if you don’t care and the other person does, you win.

One can dump, fearing one will get dumped, but the first one to dump does win. That is the iron rule of winning, and there are no exceptions—except if the one dumped doesn’t care. Not caring is the ultimate triumph.

If one dumps, but then undoes the dump, one is winning, but has not yet won.

When a woman chooses to start a relationship with a man, thinking she can win, she will find out pretty quickly if a man is very much a man: a simple, jealous creature, devoted and simple-minded when it comes to love, not effeminate and cunning in the least. He will be easy to vanquish.

The gay man is the natural antidote to the femme fatale—because he is gay, she cannot harm him; but if there are degrees of homosexuality, men may present different and exciting challenges to the woman hungry for a challenging win.

A fool can dump a genius.  Love is the great equalizer.

The unlearned beloved knows, the poet lover doesn’t.
The genius poet thought love was enough. It wasn’t.

One can dump, however, and think one has dumped successfully, when one really hasn’t.  It is possible for the “winning” fool to remain a fool.

If a couple dumps each other simultaneously, this can mean a variety of things, but it most likely means they both lose.

SINCE I FOUND LOVE

Since I found love
As a continuous dream continuing with thoughts of you,
I found the love we began grew
In new ways strangely and sweetly—
But not happily or completely.

I find that I love
The flowery paths we used to take,
When the sweet flowers by sweet winds would shake
Perfume of flowers into the air;
As I gradually lost the memory of your kissing,
As I breathed, on my own, the flowery air,
I found a deeper love, deeper than kissing,
A love for a beauty that doesn’t care
That I am walking there,
Or that I am pleasantly aware
Of those flowers we loved,
As this evening I breathe the flowery air.

When you were here,
There was too much care,
And when you were sweetly near,
I was always afraid—
Even when you kissed me in the scented shade—
That one day you would not be there:
A fear, proudly, but fearfully, I would not share.
Because we walked, like a dream, these paths together
It is almost too good to be true
To find a love I love that does not require you
To be here. Do you feel this, too?
Perhaps it is different for you.
I don’t know. Did I ever know you?
Could you walk these paths without feeling sad?
I was sure this would happen to me,
But without you, I feel—strangely, excitedly—glad,
As if I were loving all that time, and you
Were only the excuse to love this quiet beauty,
This loveliness of the world, and this pleasant view
Now makes me think of you,
But not with sorrow;
My love for you does not need you.
I am glad we loved, but now I look ahead to more lasting loves tomorrow.

GOD NEVER MENTIONED HER UNTIL SHE WAS ILL

God never mentioned her until she was ill.

No one discussed her until she died.

I was not allowed to be happy; I learned of her precisely as I cried.

My eyes were streaming as I found out

She had been; too late to know—all that I knew was in doubt—

Doubted the mountain had gold, doubted the river beyond was wide.


God made poetry from her life as her bones were lying there,

As storms raged, and every beast hid in its lair.

People huddled from the cold, complaining of the legendary weather,

And the world, I feared, would forget her altogether.

His poetry, I hoped, would keep her alive, but I wondered

Why His poetry was obscure—had the fates blundered?

Why did her cloudy illness and tears

Move God, the poet: what of her happier years?

Happiness? Everything is revealed in time:

Desire had been her illness. And oh my God she had been mine.

LIFE IS A LIE THAT TELLS THE TRUTH

They say the poem is a lie that tells the truth.
But life is a lie that tells the truth
For life is full of error, leading us to believe she doesn’t love us
When she does. Her actions were meant to deceive, for life deceives in love.

A poem is a truth that tells a lie. I write the truth: I love her.
But love is large, and she and I are small.
Hurrying to its conclusion, the poem makes sure we are not seen at all.

THE BEE GEES

I want to listen to Lana Del Ray all day

And the Bee Gees most of the night;

Or is it the other way around?

I never get music right.

I know the coolest music that no one else knows,

But that’s useless; what’s the point of an unknown rose?

You can’t win when it comes to unknown roses—

Or other people’s eyes, or other people’s noses;

Something about good taste and something about a bad smell

Interferes with sight, so we don’t see very well.

To protect ourselves, we close our eyes on the back of the bus,

But when we get there, we open them—and everyone’s laughing at us.

I walk downstage to the music of the Bee Gees,

Vanquished by trivia!  The aromas of teas…

WHAT IS POETRY?

A poem is an imaginative fiction, and though it may aim at a kind of truth, it is not real; it is not the truth.

The poet never necessarily endorses what he imagines in his poems.

A poet is essentially a playwright or a story-teller. Shakespeare is not himself guilty of mayhem, because he put mayhem in his plays.

The mind that imagines is not the hand that does. The author is never the persons imagined.

Countless authors have used their own experience to recount crimes in the first person. Of course this does not mean they are guilty of anything. A society would not be free if it prevented authors from making imaginative fictions.

Think of all the songs that sing of things not necessarily condoned by the singer or the songwriter. Poems, like songs, like stories, like plays, are finally not real; that’s why they belong to creative writing.

There are some, who have almost no imagination themselves, who would judge a poet harshly by that poet’s fictions—fictions meant to shine light on life by dint of imaginative thought, seeking to understand and cure the world’s ills, the very ones which most afflict those who have no imaginations, those who, ironically, imagine that a fiction is entirely real.

Unfortunately, poetry is increasingly taught in our schools as something which is not imaginative, but either a collection of facts or the real voice of a real person speaking. The imaginative virtue, in this case, is replaced by a different virtue, a virtue that is virtuous precisely because it has no imagination at all.  Either the poem makes no sense (without sense, there is no imagination) exhibits some political opinion found in any newspaper, or is a kind of memoir in which the poem’s speaker is precisely relating a real incident from real life. The imagination is nowhere to be found.

The virtue which is virtuous because it has no imagination is a necessary virtue, and there should be no objection to it: ‘virtue without imagination’ accompanies duty and loyalty and obedience of every kind, and society as we know it would be impossible without this kind of simple virtue.

But this kind of simple virtue has nothing to do with imaginative writing.

This does not mean that the imaginative cannot be moral and virtuous, in the final analysis, and in fact, it should be, but it is moral in a different manner; it arrives at the good in a more round-about way; as in Dante’s famous poem, hell may have to visited before heaven is gained. In the imaginative fiction, “hell” is both real and not real.

Great poets have been exiled. Mixing real with unreal, the real they include may still offend. Imaginative writing, which comes close to the real, includes this risk. The ‘scary’ real mingles with the ‘scary’ fiction.

But in the end, it is fiction, and, if it is good fiction, it overcomes the scary, it does not support the scary, for the imagination is guided by the ultimate truth or good, if it is good. The imaginative writer, using the bad occasionally, strives to be good. Not because the writer is ‘honest,’ as in writing a truthful memoir, or because the writer expresses a desire to ‘save the whales,’ but because the fiction is a fiction which participates in a truth expressed in a highly imaginative manner, so that the expression itself is as important as the thing expressed, the power of the expression giving a kind of license to say what people may think but are afraid, or too embarrassed to say, the embarrassment existing not because of who the poet is, but because of the world’s shortcomings. The poet is not expressing his thoughts, but in the imaginative act of the fiction, the thoughts of everyone. This is the purpose of imagination: to go out of ourselves in a moral act and identify with the world, to identify with the intrigues and secrets and welfare of the world, for the sake of the world.

I have been influenced by the work of Dorothy Parker, one of the best poets of the 20th century. The last stanza of her poem, “Love Song,” goes like this:

My love runs by like a day in June
And he makes no friend of sorrows.
He’ll tread his galloping rigadoon
in the pathways of the morrows.
He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start,
Nor could storm or wind uproot him.
My own dear love, he is all my heart,—
And I wish somebody’d shoot him.

Parker is madly in love with a man who will not sit still long enough to love her, and the torture is such that she wishes somebody would kill him. We don’t know how real, in this particular case, this sentiment is, but we do know that this precise sentiment could be real, and this very sentiment could be Parker’s precise state of mind.

But since, as readers, we know it is a poem, we identify abstractly with its sentiment; we call it real and yet unreal, and don’t equate it with any actual behavior of Parker’s. As we live in a free society, we do not censor; we allow both Dorothy Parker and her poem complete freedom, with the democratic conviction that a society which suppresses fictional expressions of this kind will be a society which has less creativity and more violence.

Scarriet holds to this principle of free expression: we carefully and deliberately produce work that could be true, but which is not true; no person, place, or thing is ever identified so that a stranger might identify the truth of its content in any way; only its truth as an inspired fiction exists; a Scarriet love poem could be about any love; the universal sentiment is always the subject, never a particular individual in a particular circumstance. The imaginative poem is the only poem we allow to be published here.

Shelley said the secret of morals was love, for love makes us passionately identify with another person.

Romantic attraction, or love, used to be the staple of lyric poetry, but imagination is required to make love interesting, and the non-imaginative poetry of today is not up to the task.

First, since love has been written about so often, the challenge to be original is greater.

Second, romance has become problematic in modern times, just as romance.

Third, since poetry now exists most influentially in the college classroom, it behooves professors to make poetry a subject that feels more modern, and expresses the sort of social change college campuses are simmering with; thus love poetry is tacitly rejected as too simplistic and old-fashioned, too associated with popular music, and so essentially not serious.

Fourth, social media has created a firestorm of private-turned-public, take-no-prisoners, gossip which pries into slightly uncomfortable private feelings with a judgmental animus never before seen in history, and since original romance effusions are bound to entertain slightly, or even deeply, uncomfortable private feelings, the love poet may just throw in the towel altogether, and instead write poems on very simple subjects, like history, politics, and philosophy.

Imagine if the Beatles were told they couldn’t write love songs; the Beatles simply would not exist.

The result, today, is that poetry finds itself in a state of confusion, exiled from all song, or lyric, elements, and struggling, as “poetry” to make a prose more meaningful than—prose. Which, obviously, cannot be done.

Look at these lyrics from one of the Beatles’ best-known albums, Rubber Soul, released in 1965, the height of Beatlemania, in which the Beatles were also striving to be more sophisticated:

“Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man, you better keep your head, little girl, or I won’t know where I am.” —Lennon & McCartney

This is from the songwriters that would go on to produce “Imagine” and “Let It Be” and “Here Comes The Sun.” Imagine if a would-be John Lennon wrote a poem like that today, and it ended up on Facebook. “Run For Your Life” was influenced by an Elvis Presley song, and has been covered numerous times. What is the difference between a song and a poem? Should poets be held to the same standards as songwriters, recording artists, and other ‘creative writers,’ and what should those standards be? Should all creative writing, whether a movie script, a short story, a song, or a poem, be held to the same moral standard, whether or not it appears in a cinema watched by millions, or on some poor wretch’s blog?

If I make something up, which nonetheless has some resemblance to reality, in a poem, is this not the same as a major-release film depicting precisely the same thing, with the only difference that the latter costs millions of dollars to make, and employs thousands of people? It may just be that the film will be considered an elaborate fiction, no matter how horrific the content, but with the way poetry is increasingly read and judged these days, the poet, it will be assumed, is somehow responsible in his own person, as the filmmakers are not, for any offensive content that is part of the fiction.

Can censors say, “You may write about love, but you may not depict hateful things like jealousy?” No poems or songs like “Run For Your Life?” No ambiguity of desire allowed? Where do we draw the line, when it comes to imaginative fictions, in keeping a society creative and free? And can we ever justly assume something about an author’s personal character—think of our Shakespeare example—based on their imaginative fiction?

Look at what Plato demanded for his Republic: poems that only praise. (Plato, contrary to popular opinion, did not ban all kinds of poetry from his ideal society.) A song like “Run For Your Life” would be banned, because threatening to kill your girlfriend is not praising her.

It didn’t matter to Plato that Lennon wrote a song about an unnamed girl. What mattered was purely the bad emotions involved. Yet Aristotle would say these “emotions” are a vital part of art’s expressive good.

Was Plato right?

How imaginative/expressive/creative are we allowed to be?

We believe we have made it clear where Scarriet stands.

If Scarriet has ever strayed, in any way, from our rigorous standard,—we are human, after all, and poetry is a passionate and extremely difficult art—we apologize, without reservation.

I HAVE ONE MOTHER

image

I have one mother, who bore me long ago,

From her I came, and from her I still go

Into all that is not mother—into all that she

Hopes I will create, as she created me.

Creation is a burden, and creation is a woe,

For much happens by the flesh that we do not know,

And I went from my mother, hoping that she

Could let me go, and yet not forget me.

That is our sorrow! That is our fear:

That what made us then will not love us here.

O, let my thoughts be consistent and clear.

Let sounds that rebound make sense in my ear.

What began my life, please see it through,

No dream! but love that lives forever in you.

 

BEAUTY IS NOT FOR EVERYONE

Beauty is not for everyone.
First, how would ugly work get done?
Second, how would the ugly ever be loved?
Third, beauty must be found.
You will not see it just lying on the ground.
And who understands its cruelty?

Say beauty belongs to me
And beauty will always stay.
Lie to me, and kiss me
Extravagantly.
See? This is almost beauty.
Back there, when you felt something, what did you surmise?
Kiss me, again. But this time close your eyes.

 

 

 

THE POETRY THAT COMES TO ME

The poetry that comes to me

Is the love that comes to you.

But first comes the love,

The sweet, sweet love.

The line invented by my mind

Is the praise that comes to you.

But first comes the love,

The sweet, sweet love.

The eye that finds my eye

Is the look that comes from you.

A love, they say, can die.

But love is all I do.

Always in love, and always free,

Because the poetry comes to me.

MY LOVE IS DYING

The fiction writer, to acheive the dark comedy of life,
Does best in simple, transparent language to draw that life,
Careful not to intrude on that life
With fancy language or opinions, letting the facts of that life
Do most of the work, like a painter of still life.
No artist, using life, can compete with life.

Life contains endless material for the artist
Who does not find it necessary to invent or feel or think.
A million reporters for one poet: everybody’s a poet, wink, wink.

The Instagram photograph is the new art.
Snap it. Ten thousand pixels: each the perfect singing part.

The picture is laughing, the picture is crying.
Literature—lovely literature! is dying.

The death of a beautiful woman is the most poetical topic, said Poe.
And the best topic for fiction?  I believe I know:
The unhappy beautiful woman.

We are disgusted when an ugly woman has sex.

When a beautiful woman has sex, we are torn,
Since we are happy if we are having sex with her,
But if she is having sex with someone else, we wish she were never born.

If the beautiful woman is not having sex, the harsh division vanishes;
We are no longer torn; we are content to read the fiction
Detailing the unlikely: a beautiful woman’s chaste sadness.

Love produces so much unhappiness
That unhappiness is how we see—the shadows of sorrow covering life,
So love, in unreal ways, might be tolerated, and in very small ways—even for a moment!—loved.
Sex penetrates our consciousness, disguised, and understood, by other means;

Inscrutable chastity!
I read what you wrote, to find out what beauty means.

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW

The hill has water running down its sides
Beneath the pansies and forsythia
Where the hyacinth bends, and the slender cunning
Of the iris no longer hides.
Spring is here. There is no more snow.
In case you didn’t know.

My mind has love running in and out of it
Where desperate thoughts of flowers
Vainly strive with thoughts that kiss my thoughts of you
Where the butterflies flit.
You’re in my mind. You will never go.
In case you didn’t know.

There was nothing reasonable about last fall
When the trees heaved down their leaves
And the wind blew cold upon the dying hill,
Which was not ours at all.
But spring is here. There is no more snow.
In case you didn’t know.

ANOTHER’S HAPPINESS MAKES YOU SAD

Another’s happiness makes you jealous.
And so you understand
Why sorrow comforts you,
And sorrow comforts the jazz band
You love to listen to.

You sigh. You know why
Sorrow in every song is the best thing
And when you clap your hands, you sadly sing
And sing of sadness more, and to cry
Is your highest happiness.

Everyone who knows us,
Knows no one should be jealous.
Jealousy is worse than sorrow.
Happiness leads to jealousy, and more jealousy tomorrow.

I have seen every genius fall,
Sighing, into a wish there were no happiness at all,
As jealousy (born in hell!) makes a heaven of sorrow.

POETRY AS POP CULTURE TRIVIA, OR ANOTHER BULLSHIT NIGHT IN SUCK CITY

image

I bet you think this poem is about you.

Three poets read at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival’s “Headline Event” in Salem on Friday night. By now, it is a truism that contemporary “headline” poets do not traffic in anything that resembles poetry: speech that aspires to music. Instead, we get speech aspiring to pop culture trivia. The poems themselves—clotted, reference-heavy—vainly strive to be interesting with all the things they talk about, but the befuddled audience greets ‘oh-is-that-the-poem? Is-it-over?’ effusions with deathly silence. Immediately, the poet begins to nervously joke with the audience and there is palpable relief in the crowd—in attendance for entertainment, or enlightenment, or social snobbery, perhaps—as the poet makes an off-the-cuff remark that elicits laughter (ah, we are being entertained!). “I should have told you that the poem [which I just read and no one could fathom] was about [fill in obscure pop reference].” (Laughter).

The evening was very much like this: unfathomable “poems” eliciting silence, with wheedling, used-car salesman joking in-between. Beethoven at the piano with hands in casts but joking up a storm. A wonderful evening of “music.”

The first poet did that annoying, stiff “poet-reading voice,” the sustained vocal tic in which prose is forced to sound like stilted prose in order to sound like poetry.

Reads a “poem.” No reaction. Poet: “I should have told you the whole book that poem is from is about me being poor and dreaming of being an astronaut.” Laughter.

And so the evening of “poetry” proceeded.

The death of poetry is kept from the audience and its friends because referential language is endlessly—referential. “I mention Peaches and Herb [70s soul group] in this poem,” the poet announces, to appreciative tittering. Peaches and Herb!

A poem, or series of poems, or something, on Jack Johnson, the early 20th century boxer, is full of information on the legendary figure: “poetry” meets Wikipedia. Peaches and Herb was only mentioned in passing in some poem that was trying to…? It sort of makes one feel sorry for Peaches and Herb. The first reader quotes Jack Johnson in his poem and then tells us of the theft in a sudden little-boy outburst, post-poem: “Decidedly dissatisfied by my presence.” It turns out the best line of the evening is by Jack Johnson, the boxer.

The second reader, a middle aged woman, Denise Duhamel, is more visibly ruffled than reader number one by audience non-response—she is bravely cheerful in a slightly heart-breaking manner and laughs nervously and obviously wants applause, and through sheer will, eventually gets a little, in  a spectacle of podium-groveling both touchingly noble and embarrassing at once. She has a romantic side—it fails in a mawkish poem about James Taylor and Carly Simon—but it saves her in what is the most satisfying portion of the evening—a piece in which a woman narrator and her husband witness another couple fighting, which elicits a lovers quarrel between them as they take sides. The other couple, overseen arguing on a beach, eventually make up, and the speaker ends with the observation: “no one was watching us.”

The “romantic” Duhamel was hit and miss, but at least she felt the romantic need to be heartbreaking, and the heartbreaking requires a certain coherence—and becomes naturally funny, by turns, if enough enough “heartbreaking” detail is provided.

The two men—Adrian Matejka and Nick Flynn—seemed intent on showing off, not communicating. I know this! (Good for you) the sole emotional content of the dudes’ poetry.

The third reader is best known for Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, a memoir about his homeless father which was made into a movie. Since poetry isn’t memoir or fiction, published poets seem to understand that one doesn’t get up in a front of an audience and make one personal tragedy or topic the centerpiece of the presentation—even though this is what an audience more easily digests. Poetry readings risk taxing the attention span very quickly, because there’s so many mental paths traveled over the course of even a few poems. And here’s why fiction and memoir sell better: it’s a simple matter of singular focus. Poetry’s “riches” defeat it.

Poets don’t help matters with musically-deaf poems chocked with facts and trivia. Lou Reed was the pop reference of importance for the third reader—the fact that his father died on the same day as the pop icon was well…a fact—like James Taylor and Carly Simon’s divorce, like black boxer Jack Johnson’s white mistresses—and facts were all equal here. The Poetry of Fact. The poems tended to remain on this level, the level of the fact: too much story and poems crystallize into fiction, too much emotional focus and poems harden into uncool sentimental poetry—so fact is where they stay, or, more accurately: move around in, in a molten fury, a super-intelligent flux; the more ambitious poems create a three ring circus of facts: the missing jetliner in the news, the painter Fra Angelico, the poet’s mother, and surely something is profound and enlightening in the mix—to the poet, but not, unfortunately, to the audience. It finally becomes an orgy of Wikipedia meets the personal, or worse, blah blah blah hell.

The charming and witty personality of the poet often hides the boring, badness of the poetry, in a live setting.  But in the long run, oh witty friends! we do not believe this is good for poetry.

WHEN MY HATE LOVES

When my hate loves, it is like love, in fact:
Love is the feeling, and sex, the desired act.

It is not like adding love to cause the hate to sleep
So one can make a show of politeness to a creep.

It is hate actually loving, and hate loves like love;
Hate is what it is, but love is what it does.

Love can be aroused by an identifying pity
Which makes us ache in a sweet melancholy—
We don’t love their perfection, but their faults;
We rejoice that love does not run, but halts.
Love halts right beside us.
The bus breaks down and we get on the bus.
But what notes faults insults.

So merciful, identifying love breeds hate—
The lover learns the hateful truth too late:
The one who kissed us is suddenly irate.
Sweet love is changed to injurious hate.

But since love was the original intent,
Hate loves, despite hate, despite resentment;
Love hates, driving the confused lover mad.
But hate loves, so the heavens are glad.

There’s no escape from a hateful love like this;
Love hates as love, teaching hate how to kiss.

It doesn’t matter what we feel, or what we do.
Hate tells hate to hate us if we hate you.

 

YOUR DIVERSITY IS CONFORMITY

The boy raised in a suburb, white,
Learns in school his heart is blacker than night,
Life is large animals eating small;
Not sin, but God’s City, the terrible loss, the terrible  fall,
He learns, he learns it all.
Vaginas have a great deal to say.
He listens to vaginas talk all day.
Vaginas are here. And they’re not going away.
Did you write a poem on a vagina today?
He learns he took something, and must give it back
To the world, his daddy, and his daddy’s daddy, the fault and the lack.
The old science and the old erection,
The old knowledge and the old protection,
Are dead, say the new Chairs, the new Head.
But nothing, when you look around, is changed at all:
Buildings and rockets and marriages and laws
Weigh heavy on the landscape, the economy,
Customs, play, manners, money, no pause
Of the world’s activities can be discerned. Everything is lovely.
And when the boy, now a man, receives his degree,
He assumes, with some debt, all the old knowledge,
And forgets what the vaginas had to say in college.

 

 

 

 

WHO SAID LOVE

Image result for taj mahal

Who said love is like money? They were right.

When you have a lot of it, you keep it out of sight.

The only time you spend a lot is when you need to get

What someone else can give you—but not quite yet.

I’m still making payments on the lovely house

That is you. A house, lovely, but quiet as a mouse.

Our two houses stand, indebted to each other.

How rich we are, in being poor for each other.

You have paid as much for me, and you, too,

Owe millions, with kisses the bank misses past due.

Love makes us poor, swells our debt

For a dry floor, a bed that’s wet.

Love, to be love, must be spent,

A kiss coming by a poem sent.

My mortgage is by your mortgage always due.

You must pay me love that’s always owed to you.

 

 

 

 

THE POETRY COMMUNITY LOSES ITS MIND

Over the weekend, thanks to Reb Livingston, we became aware of a brewing scandal in the poetry community.

Scarriet feels compelled to respond to the ‘anonymous sexual abuse outing document found in AWP restroom controversy,’ not because we have any special interest in it, per se, but because we believe the scandal currently poisoning po-biz manifests aesthetic attitudes of significant pedagogical importance.

Scarriet is a boutique—a high-end, up-scale, boutique, of what might be called expensive, high-fashion poetry and poetry criticism; we produce clothing and accessories for the soul, and we make no apologies for the beauty, love, truth, good taste and wit that we produce; and nor do we apologize for appealing to an elite class of soul (which has nothing to do with advanced college degrees or any of the credentialing nonsense that characterizes the pyramid scheme of so-called “professional” poetry, with its animal grunting and network stroking). We take poetry seriously, and don’t come around here with that ‘pyramid’ nonsense please. Our readers generally know, and do not.

This controversy has nothing to do with us, of course, because we are free of the odor of po-biz, and merely roll around in poetry. But this scandal affects us because it impacts how the world sees and practices poetry.

Scarriet is a high-end boutique precisely because we live the poetry, and can respond to a controversy like this without passion or self-interest.

Our position is this: poetry, some time around the beginning of the 20th century, was, in a series of adroit political and pedagogical maneuvers by Modernist poets, wealthy individuals, and government officials, coaxed away from its public role and public use to become a playground of pretense and experiment (all in the name of public and pedagogical improvement more accurately reflecting real life, etc).  Seducing poetry away from what it had been turned out to be wildly successful, since the seduction had a democratic appeal: obscure, fragmentary prose became the ‘poet’ standard anyone could reach, and, at the same time, one could ‘learnedly be modern’ and reject the ‘fussily moral’ past. (‘Could’ is not quite accurate; one did—the two necessarily went hand in hand.)

It is important to note here that “what poetry had been” is more accurately what poetry is-–as shown with poetry—by the best poets of the past. Shakespeare set a high standard, Poe set a high standard, Keats and Shelley and Tennyson set a high standard, Whitman and Wordsworth and Barrett set a high standard, not in the sense that professors are required to make us understand their poetry—the standard is a real one, in which accessible music joins accessible rhetoric in a highly skilled manner, clearly conveying things which the public is interested in: chiefly, relations between the sexes; moral philosophy; good taste; refinement; interest in nature and science; philosophical wit; wisdom, fears, loves and hopes common to all.

This high standard—which gave pleasure to a reading public, also took its inevitable place in the schools with the rise of universal public education.

Modernism piggy-backed into the schools as it managed to standardize itself there, and, gradually replacing the ‘old’ poetry with the “Red Wheel Barrow” and “The Waste Land,” used the force of its school-validation in combination with the rise of the Creative Writing Industry (Iowa, Paul Engle and his friends, the highly government-and-think tank connected New Critics, including Robert Lowell) as poet-teachers increasingly joined the piggy-back phenomenon in an orgy of self-interest that cut out the old standards and left no room for Byron. Poetry was no longer a public enjoyment—it was something only professors could teach, and as poetry became more experimental, inaccessible and obscure, the self-interested professor became more prominent in what became essentially a pyramid scheme of teachers/wacko explainers on the inside, and everybody else (including the public) on the outside.

Which brings us back to the scandal: an ugly manifestation of the ugly things which naturally occur whenever favors replace standards.

We don’t need to take sides here; we only need to point out—as we have just done—in the simplest manner possible, a truth, which, despite the brevity, we are certain everyone immediately understands (remember when poetry was like this?).

The accusers, in the current scandal, are accused of slandering the innocent (slander: 1. an important trope in Shakespeare, 2. used to destroy the reputation of America’s great standard-bearer, Edgar Poe).

The truth has yet to come to light. Accusations themselves can murk up the light on their own. We do not know the truth and do not speak of it, obviously. The rage of the accusers does not equal the truth; but their rage could be based on a truth; we are not taking sides. As we pointed out earlier, we have the luxury of not taking sides, since we stay clear of all po-biz insanity, and care for poetry alone.

The accusers open their letter (following a list of the accused names of the men) with a profundity which needs saying and which we agree with:

It has finally come to the attention of the literary “community” that women are abused and experience gendered violence just like women in all other social spheres of the world. The humanities do not save us, the assumed “humaneness” of the poet or writer does not exist. We say “community” in scare quotes because we have no shared actual commonality or trust that forms the bedrock of self-identified communities.

Yes. Poets and poetry need no special protection or defense, and it’s the Modernist (and contemporary) poets and their fans who play this ‘poet immunity’ card the most, even as they trash the reputations of a Poe or a Shelley. The accusers are right to expose this douchebaggery. And no more hiding behind “community,” either, which is code for the Creative Writing Era favoritism douchebaggery which has cynically steamrolled the standards of old.

But the accusers don’t get it entirely right, and come close to spoiling everything, for they go on to summarize:

This is a statement against the straight male cisgender patriarchy that enables this behavior: not only bringing direct harm to women, but those who have knowingly stayed silent while your fellow writers abuse people in positions of lesser power.

So we are to believe that gay men and women cannot, and do not, abuse women? How can one be interested in justice—and be so utterly naive?

The accusers, in their wrath, are strangely divided—they expose douchebaggery and yet they are victims of it, in almost equal amounts.

The reason for this is simple, as well. Since poetry has lost its public, there has been an increasing attempt in some circles to make poetry relevant to a public again by making poetry (poetry!) simply about hot button, political issues. But there are things like the essay which already exist for this. Here, again, we see the whole thing unfolding simply and naturally, due to the original Modernist error.

And now we bring our notice to a close, secure that Scarriet is the only sane, up-scale island left in poetry today. We are happy. We are  proud.

 

 

I KNOW HOW SHE IS BEAUTIFUL

image

I know how she is beautiful,

But she doesn’t know.

I made her beautiful when I loved her.  Love gave her a glow.

But where has her beauty gone?

Today I saw her, with yet another fashion on.

And now I think I know.

My love gave her a confident glow,

Which made me love her more, increasing that glow

Until she became truly beautiful, so neither one of us could know

How she was beautiful,

Since beauty always is its own reason for what it is,

Nothing more beautiful than beauty that simply is—

So she began to resent her beauty as the reason for a kiss,

Beauty the only reason for what beauty is.

You want me, she said, but beauty is not just for you,

And I believed her. The law of beauty. What her beauty said was true.

Even though we loved, I feared, in our love, what she was about to do.

One day, for no reason, she became angry. She said angry things to me.

Perfect beauty is a tyrant, and she was now acting tyrannically,

Not knowing what she was doing, and neither did I;

Her anger was baseless; I had nothing to say. Beauty caused love to die.

She was as beautiful as ice and now came the inevitable goodbye.

I was so in love with her beauty, I was timid and afraid.

I had no moral strength. Her hate grew: this dude just wants to get laid.

Love was undone by the beauty it had made.

Now she visits the beauty shop. She attends to parts. But beauty escapes her as a whole.

She is no longer beautiful. Today I glanced at her, and the whole truth flashed upon my soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY SECRET BOOK

At the beginning of my book
Is an argument which deserves a look.

Which do I love best?
I believe it is her lips—
They sometimes received my finger tips
Shyly, as I told her how much I loved them.

Her modesty was deep, and deep would I go
In loving her, to prove
The depth and sincerity of my love
And kissing her lips was one way to prove my love.

The first thing I loved was her arms
When we were friends. It produced no alarms.
A tiny rash caught from the farms. It produced no alarms.
It was a joke almost: “I first loved your arms.”

But then—I wanted to kiss her lips,
Especially on leisurely nature trips
When lovely things were all around;
The trees, which some have called beautiful,
Or the grass, the fresh air, the reasons for the trips
Were many, for nature is lovely in sight and sound—
But my focus was on her lips
And I would kiss her by bush and pond
When the hush of nature was all around.

She amazed me, and sometimes I would stretch out in unbelief upon the ground
Trying to understand when she said
She didn’t think her lips were beautiful; she would make some ordinary movement with her head
And look almost angry, as if my praise
Were insulting, as if her lips did not haunt (I lost sleep) my red nights and days.

Or was it her breasts
That drove me, to the greatest degree, absolutely mad?
The thought of her entertaining other guests
Made me jealous beyond imagining; nothing is worse than love forced to be sad
The more it ought to be happy—
What should be swelling, and proud, and sticking out
Turns morose and sappy.
The proud lover becomes a trampled-down lout.
I would pace at home and talk to myself when we didn’t go out.

But let that go. For now I know her eyes
And their shy, happy expression are the highest prize
Among all the things about her; if anything dies
Mournfully and beautifully in my memory
Most poignantly, it is those strangely wise and beautiful eyes—
Her eyes speak what cannot be spoken;
And when nature sleeps at last and nothing natural can be woken,
Her
eyes! Oh their sweet look
Will occupy the final sentence of my book.

If interest in my book slips,
If all that talk of eyes and breasts and lips
Seems too much, let me touch her lightly on the arms.
Look at that little rash. Read of that. Or simply touch the book. That will cause no alarms.

A SMALL, HIGH CLOUD

Once love reaches a certain fever pitch,
It’s an embarrassment to everybody.
Imagination explodes in dirty jokes
And life becomes pornography with clothes on.
Banal phrases like “doing it” take over the mind
Until the only solution is icy austerity,
And the frowning and the hate
Which makes it tumble down.

Kill love! Kill sex!
Kill poetry! And please kill my sexy ex!
Give me a sex-icon who lives on the moon.
Make sex impossible. Not something that might happen soon.
Please tell romance and song to shut up.
All I need is a wooden cup.
Send me on my way.
If you love me, look for me.
I’ll return as a small, high cloud one day.

 

 

 

 

THE TENDEREST HEART

A sensitive Plant in a garden grew —Shelley

The tenderest heart
Loves the tenderest plant!

Her heart feels grief
If harm should come to the smallest leaf.
She is sensitive—beyond belief.

Isn’t this what you want she should want?
To feel and want
What has no want?

The tender plant survives in the dirt.
She stays in bed—to not get hurt.

No matter how the poet implores,
She brings the tender plant indoors.

She waters the plant every day.
With your third eye, you might want to cry this way.

 

 

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,317 other followers