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 let her know.

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 rash. Read of that. Or simply touch the book. That will cause no alarms.

A SMALL, HIGH CLOUD

Once love reaches a 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.

 

 

BEAUTY IS WRONG

Beauty is wrong
For being rare.
How can we share
If beauties are few?

Beauty isn’t fair.

I felt terrible loving you:
You were rare, and you knew.

Beauty changes from what is
To what we do
In order to please more than a few
And then everything becomes a blur:
A piece of abstract art—
Beautiful! Wait. Is that you? Or her?

But beauty is only beauty because it is rare;

No, because I saw a million beauties there,
A million beauties drowning me in beauty,
Beauty the whole reason for my mind,
Beauty the sole reason for desire,
Beauty, the sun, with its engulfing fire,
Dwarfing our earth and its little air,
Beauty in little places found everywhere,
In the sea, with billions of beauties swimming there,
Yellow and orange fish, fins waving like mermaid hair,
In sea-light creeping down from slippery upper air,
Mixing with the blue light and the green light,
So I thought, “is it really true that beauty isn’t fair?”
Were you the thing I wanted? Were you there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

SINNING

We all do what is right
In the middle of the night,
Or in the day; we do what is right,

As we think and as we calculate;
It is right to us—even if we hate
As we feel, and with feeling, calculate.

Some perceive what we do as sin,
Some, outside, looking in…
And they could be right:
Everyone loves themselves in the middle of the night.

When we discover one we loved
Has, in secret, sinned, we feel betrayed;
Forgive them; in their hearts they were right;
And fear them not; fear the one who sins in the light,
Right in front of you—and is not afraid.

 

ROBERTO CUPUCCI: FASHION POEM NO. 2

“He [Cupucci] designs as though for an abstract woman, the woman we never meet.” –Alison Adburgham

Born in Rome, Roberto Cupucci,
More splendid than Cartier, Cardin, or Gucci.
Roberto took the dress world by storm
With warm colors and warmer form.
Roberto Cupucci, give me a kiss.
I never knew fashion could be like this.
Hold me in your arms, you designing man.
I will give you my pleats. I will give you my tan.
I will give you my secrets and the softness of my skin.
Your radiance is something I am comfortable in.

I never thought I could wear a dress like this.
But the abstract is never amiss.
Hell, there is nothing like a great perfume
When you enter a room.
I do mean great, because there is a smell
Which haunts more than memory itself can in an old mossy well.
Roberto? No. Do not let them see me, Roberto.

And later, in the garden—ah, smell that garden—what shall we do?
Roberto Capucci, come closer! I want to talk to you.
I’m thinking of sitting on this couch
, at last.
Norma Kamali was the secret to my past.
Taffeta prince, I think I can be
Loved, if I march in Rome’s army,
Loved, I know, by at least one,
Who will glimpse me under the orange sun.

WHEN I WAS YOUR SLAVE

When I was your slave, and everything was seen through you,
My needs, and my mind, I hardly knew.
I studied you, to please you, and I became you, pleasing you,
Which pleased me—
For some reason—tremendously.
I did not choose to please you,
Or choose to take pleasure in you,
And certainly it was not you
Who forced me to please you;
What was it then, which made me a slave to you?

We know others by what they do,
But ourselves, by what we crave.
I couldn’t stop craving you.
And now that we are through,
I think on those needs of mine, and that mind of mine which I hardly knew,
When I was your slave, and everything was a mist or measure of you,
And I still don’t know anything. I don’t know what to do about you.
There is still the world. Ah, there it is. A view.

J. ALFRED PRUFROCK GRADES PAPERS

Do I dare to give an “F”
To my student, Amber Luck,
Who does not give a fuck?
I’m always out of breath
When I lecture them on death,
And my eyes trail the floor
Discussing poems of amor.
Do I suggest an “Incomplete?”
Shall we privately meet
To correct the wrongs
She imposed on Song of Songs?
Do I consult the dean?
All four of them, and all green?
Who gives a fuck
About Amber Luck
Who cannot write?
And yet—when I lie in bed at night,
Letting poems run through my head
Amber is the name, instead.

Tomorrow I teach World War One,
And all the slaughtering that was done,
And how it afflicted the minds
Of brilliant poets like me,
Who pull down the blinds
And weep alone in the nursery.
The war inspired poets to write “fuck,”
And I will make it clear to Amber Luck
That her attitude belongs to history.
I don’t see her as a mystery.
I only see her as a student in my class,
Another chair and another ass,
As the dean of recruitment and enrollment says.

FASHION DESIGNERS AGONIZE OVER THESE QUESTIONS

How can we make the Mae West look fashionable again?

What’s the secret to dressing short men?

What is the perfect pair of underpants?

How can stiff clothes add to romance?

Fabric or form?

What if you love layers, but it’s far too warm?

Where is the model that will make our work?

What if the handsomest one is simply a jerk?

Where’s the collar for the fat neck?

What’s the fashion for a small, wooden deck?

Why won’t anybody wear that?

What if my smile makes my cheeks look fat?

How can we be chic and affordable?

Where’s the dress that will cure every ill?

Why do colors hate?

What if they are gone when you are fashionably late?

How much of my wrist should my sleeve show?

What about the hideousness of my elbow?

What if there are too many parties?

What if there are too many fabrics?

What if there are too many arms?

What if there is war?

What if they don’t want to wear that anymore?

What if they laugh at our bottoms?

What’s the relation between feet and hat?

Why shorts with hairy legs?

Why low sandals with cankles?

Why unshaped hair?

Why too much cologne?

When did that look ascend the throne?

 

 

 

THE BEAUTIFUL HAVE DECLARED WAR ON THE UGLY

Bartolomeo Veneto : Lady Playing a Lute   (Getty Museum)

The beautiful have declared war on the ugly.
The beautiful have been oppressed for too long;
Beauty has been kept from the beautiful.
Music has been kept from the song.

Do not pity the ugly; pity the beautiful, who, with beautiful eyes,
Lower them before the ugly; pity the beautiful, wrong
In the eyes of the ugly, terrified of the ugly and their lies.
If you are beautiful, you can do no wrong:
The truth of the poem. The truth of the song.

If you are beautiful, you please without trying.
The ugly, who plot and plan, say otherwise.
They are lying.

The beautiful are always beautiful, and the beautiful is an end in itself.
The ugly store and save and sell
Regrets. Remedies for regrets sell better. Look at them there on the shelf.

The beautiful have no regrets,
They smile sadly at the selling and the buying:
This remedy forgets
What this remedy was trying:
To make the beautiful ugly
Which happens when the ugly are buying.
The ugly cannot be beautiful; the ugly who say they are beautiful are lying.
And now the ugly laugh. But the beautiful are sighing.

The ugly are marching for rights.
Too many ugly are dying.
The ugly are ugly in earnest.
The beautiful are sighing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE VERSES VERSUS VERSES: MAZER AND RANSOM

MAZER:

Sunlight rests like a package at the door.
Nothing sees. The rich interior is useless to persons and chronology.
Once when the spring came to our caravan I’d say the mountain streams ran in her hair.
Let these things rest without memory.

RANSOM:

The lazy geese, like a snow cloud
Dripping their snow on the green grass,   
Tricking and stopping, sleepy and proud,   
Who cried in goose, Alas,
For the tireless heart within the little   
Lady with rod that made them rise
From their noon apple-dreams and scuttle
Goose-fashion under the skies!

Now we get to see who is in the Final Four.

But how is this possible?

Look back on a few recent posts.

Michelangelo versus Teasdale: how can we declare a winner?  The very secret of Michelangelo’s soul in a newly translated sonnet. A heart-breaking lyric by the under appreciated Teasdale. How can there be a “winner?”

Oh God! Milton’s passionate paean to Virtue. Or Byron’s passionate paean to…passion. Oh God! Trembling are the knees of the judges!

Poe against Coleridge! Verses that drown the senses and tickle the smallest whiskers of the soul! How can a mortal decision be made?

Mazer, the contemporary representative! Contemporary poetry, generally, is flat, compared to great, old poetry. Ben Mazer, by a miracle, still in this tournament, among the greatest verse-makers of all time!  Against the Tennessean, Ransom, New Critic and T.S. Eliot of the American South, poet of old women and dead children.

The Final Four will appear in a cloud of tears

POE AND COLERIDGE PURSUE FINAL FOUR DREAM!

Poe:

In the greenest of our valleys,
By good angels tenanted,
Once fair and stately palace —
Radiant palace –reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion —
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair.

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow;
(This –all this –was in the olden
Time long ago)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odour went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley
Through two luminous windows saw
Spirits moving musically
To a lute’s well-tuned law,
Round about a throne, where sitting
(Porphyrogene!)
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
And, round about his home, the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers now within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows, see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a rapid ghastly river,
Through the pale door,
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh –but smile no more.

 

Coleridge:

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
  
 The shadow of the dome of pleasure
   Floated midway on the waves;
   Where was heard the mingled measure
   From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
  
A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

TO____

The clocks are set apart
From what nature is.
Nature belongs to the clock,
Not herself: Birds sing in the cold.
The loveliest clock is a heart
Almost stopped by a kiss
Ages ago upon a rock
Before the lover and the world were old.
Our world hinges on a rhyme.
Everything resolves in time.

Nothing belongs to itself.
Time, time, time is the elf.

Time makes the distances
And the spaces, the essences
Of all colors, thoughts, and things.
Seeing is never enough;
My darling in the dark talks and sings
Of what is enough: love.

THE WINTER WE DID NOT KISS

The winter we did not kiss
Was a winter from hell.
I hoped, hoped so much more
Than I might hope to tell.
The winter we fell in love was warm.
Hidden blossoms did not mean any harm.

The winter we did not kiss
Icy silence fell.
We are taught not to tell too much.
After months, frozen by love, we say, oh what the hell,
And we confess to ourselves
All we promised to ourselves not to tell.

I hoped; hope was stronger than all
I might whisper in heaven, or shout in hell.

I hoped you and I would kiss—
Not because life is terrible, not because of this.
But because love misses love
More than anything else anything else can miss,
Whether there is snow,
Or the weather knows or does not know,
Whether the light is low in the sky,
Or the same train in the rain goes by.

A POEM IS NOT WISE WORDS

A poem is not wise words.
If you want wisdom, you would not ask the birds
Who fly from tree to tree;
Neither should you expect any wisdom from me.

Nor would it be wise to write a poem to you.
Others, not meant to read it, might see it, too.

The birds have strategies.
They fly in shade to avoid death.

The males are beauties,
But brown the female in the brown nest.

The birds feed their young,
Who fly after the song is sung
And during the singing
Cheat death’s crouch and leap
With speedy winging.

No one thinks this wisdom.
It is fear, in quick bright eyes.

Yet some might call the birds wise
Who fly above us in the skies.

MILTON AND BYRON BATTLE FOR PLACE IN FINAL FOUR!

Byron: some nerd who wrote a few poems

Milton brings it (from Comus):

Mortals that would follow me,
Love virtue, she alone is free;
She can teach you how to climb
Higher than the sphery climb;
Or if Virtue feeble were,
Heaven itself would stoop to her.

Byron:

Remember you! Remember you!
Till Lethe quench life’s burning stream,
Remorse and shame shall cling to you,
And haunt you. Like a fever dream.

Remember you! Oh doubt it not.
Your husband, too, shall think of thee,
By neither shall you be forgot,
You false to him. You fiend to me.

 

TO THE FINAL FOUR: MICHELANGELO (PREMIERE TRANSLATION) VERSUS TEASDALE!

Michelangelo:

Sonnet

Non ha l’ottimo artista alcun concetto

For Vittoria Colonna

This block of marble will not, for long, hide
My idea that seeks to destroy the inside
That keeps my idea hidden, away from the light
So you can see it and say I’ve done it right.
But I’m an ass to feel any bit of pride
For my strenuous art that carves the shape,
Or the mere idea that is my guide.
You, the model for all dress and video tape,
Stand above every block and every block broken,
Reminding me that two things matter
Hidden by pieces, paint and spatter,
World-parts seen, heard or spoken:
These two your truth: mercy and death.
Death is all I carve, in love with you, and out of breath.

Teasdale:

I am alone, in spite of love,
In spite of all I take and give—
In spite of all your tenderness,
Sometimes I am not glad to live.

I am alone, as though I stood
On the highest peak of the tired gray world,
About me only swirling snow,
Above me, endless space unfurled;

With earth hidden and heaven hidden,
And only my own spirit’s pride
To keep me from the peace of those
Who are not lonely, having died.

MICHELANGELO, TEASDALE, MAZER AND RANSOM IN THE ELITE EIGHT!!

Here are the Winners of the Sweet Sixteen Contests:

I love to sleep, still more to sleep In stone while pain and shame exist: not see, or feel, or be kissed; so do not wake me, or weep. —Michelangelo

I have loved hours at sea, gray cities, The fragile secret of a flower, Music, the making of a poem That gave me heaven for an hour. —Teasdale

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. —Coleridge

Our talk had been serious and sober, But our thoughts they were palsied and sear—Our memories were treacherous and sere—For we knew not the month was October, And we marked not the night of the year.  —Poe

But now my task is smoothly done, I can fly, or I can run Quickly to the green earth’s end, Where the bowed welkin slow doth bend, And from thence can soar as soon To the corners of the moon.  —Milton

‘Tis pleasing to be schooled in a strange tongue By female lips and eyes—that is, I mean, When both the teacher and the taught are young, As was the case, at least, where I have been; They smile so when one’s right, and when one’s wrong They smile still more, and then there intervene Pressure of hands, perhaps even a chaste kiss—I learned the little that I know by this.  —Byron

The basement casements, dusty with disuse, convey with their impregnably abstruse recalcitrance an inner life, to all who are among the living of no use. The wide walkways of the stars divide chapters of our lives like music in reverse.  —Mazer

There was such speed in her little body, And such lightness in her footfall, It is no wonder her brown study Astonishes us all.  —Ransom

Wow.  The upsets continue.

Michelangelo continues his amazing run, eliminating the best lyric poet of the 20th century, Tom Eliot (and his lovely, haunting ‘sea-girls wreathed with seaweed’ passage) with a remarkable, concise meditation on stony sleep!

The placid and beautiful verse of Teasdale runs roughshod over Wordsworth!

Coleridge versus Tennyson was a clash of titans, but the author of “Kubla Khan” prevailed!

Poe had his hands full with Keats, but that rhythm!  Poe’s got rhythm!

Milton easily dispatched Ashbery.

Byron knocked off Shelley, and deserves to be here!

Mazer may be the best poet of his generation; Mazer beat Chin in a Scarriet rematch between these two American poets.

Ransom, an underestimated lyric master (“Astonishes” astonishes rhythmically) advances over an icon, Alexander Pope!

The March Madness 2015 Poetry Tourney is now down to 8 poets!

Michelangelo versus Teasdale is next. One of these Cinderella teams will have to go! So sad.

THE LIST: SCARRIET’S POETRY HOT 100

Conceptualism Can Hardly Be Imagined!

1. KG  is talked about.
2. Vanessa Place  Conceptualism’s moment in the sun
3. Ron Silliman  Has Conceptualism fever
4. Marjorie Perloff  Wrestles with: Avant-garde = Art, not poetry
5. Amy King  “Real issue” poet leads the war against Conceptualism
6. Cate Marvin  VIDA masses breaking down the walls of Conceptualism
7. Carol Ann Duffy writes poem for reburial of Richard III
8. Benedict Cumberbatch, distant cousin, delivers it.
9. Ben Mazer publishes Complete Ransom
10. Jorie Graham  Big Environmentalism comeback?
11. Claudia Rankine  Seizing the moment?
12. James Franco  Film/gallery/poetry renaissance man or Hollywood punk?
13. David Biespiel  April Fool’s Conceptualism piece in Rumpus
14. George Bilgere  Just “good poems?”
15. Kent Johnson  “Prize List:” Brilliant or KG lite?
16. Susan Howe   Who, where, what, why?
17. Ann Lauterbach Can’t hear the baroque music
18. Corina Copp  Reproduce
19. David Lau  A permisson
20. Forrest Gander  Take a look
21. Harryette Mullen Thinking it over
22. Keston Sutherland  S’marvelous! S’alternative!
23. Evie Shockley  Electrical grass
24. Joe Luna  Pale orb that rules the night
25. Geoffrey O’Brien Library of America editor
26. Lisa Cattrone “Your mother could pull a fresh squid from a lumberjack”
27. Jennifer Tamayo  Colombian-born New  Yorker
28. Juliana Sparr Won the Hardison Poetry Prize in 2009
29. Monica de la Torre Born and raised in Mexico City
30. Caroline Knox Educated at Radcliffe, lives in Massachusetts
31. J. Michael Martinez Hispanic American poet, winner of Walt Whitman award
32. Jasper Bernes  Theorist who received his PhD in 2012
33. Mairead Byrne Discovered the internet in 1994 on a plane from Ireland
34. Ben Lerner Eyebrows haunt glasses beneath intellectual hair
35. Ron Padget  Young member of the New York School
36. Alli Warren  Born in L.A., her book is Here Come the Warm Jets
37. Sandra Simonds “And once you give up drinking, drugs and having random sex, what is left?”
38. John Wilkinson  Studied English at Jesus College, Cambridge, United Kingdom
39. Hoa Nguyen Born near Saigon in 1967
40. Will Alexander Also made Johnson’s “Prize List”
41. Sophia Le Fraga “it took me fifteen minutes and eight tries which is too many and too slow I think”
42. Joyelle McSweeney She edits Action Books!
43. Cole Swensen “for instance, the golden section mitigates between abandon and an orchestra just behind those trees”
44. Cathy Wagner Her book Nervous Device came out in 2012
45. Christian Hawkey Is a poet, activist, translator, editor, and educator. Also wears shoes.
46. Dana Ward Was a featured writer for Harriet
47. Stacy Szymaszek “then something happened and a FUCK YOU FENCE went up”
48. Rebecca Wolff “The dominant paradigm of the day: the mediocre narrative lyric.”
49. Lugwa Mutah Kidnapped in Nigeria. Made Johnson’s “Prize List”
50. Maureen Thorson “At first heartbreak made me beautiful.”
51. Sean Bonney Brought up in the North of England
52. Tan Lin Poet, novelist, filmmaker, and new media artist
53. Rob Halpern “I herded me and me and me into a room in groups of ten to twenty and stripped me and me and me naked.”
54. Charles Bernstein  Playing in Scarriet March Madness Tourney, too busy to talk right now.
55. Rob Fitterman  Postconceptual pizza
56. Matthew Dickman “All night it felt like I was in your room, the French doors opened out onto the porch”
57. Anne Carson Born in Toronto in 1950
58. Christian Bok Born in Toronto in 1966
59. Caroline Bergvall Born in Germany in 1962
60. Peter Gizzi “Beauty walks this world. It ages everything.”
61. Linh Dinh His poem “Quiz” is on the Poetry Foundation site
62. Michael Robbins “A Poem for President Drone”
63. Bill Freind “We found this on the map so it is real.”
64. Danielle Parfunda  She is the author of Manhater.
65. Daniel Tiffany “Bin Ramke has come to be known for the procedures and allusions that quicken his ongoing poetic experiment”
66. Cathy Park Hong “To encounter the history of avant-garde poetry is to encounter a racist tradition.”
67. Dodie Bellamy Sex poetry grows apace with her Cunt Norton.
68. Lucas de Lima  Wet Land is for Ana Maria
69. Rosa Alcala “English is dirty. Polyamorous. English wants me.”
70. Yedda Morrison Whites out Heart of Darkness for her book, Darkness
71. Craig Santos Perez From Guam, co-founder of Ala Press
72. Divya Victor A featured writer for Harriet last year
73. Nathaniel Mackey Teaches at Duke
74. Brenda Hillman Married to “Meditation at Lagunitas”
75. Elizabeth Willis “You don’t blame the lamp for what you cannot read”
76. Ocean Vuong Won a Lilly fellowship from the Poetry Foundation in 2014
77. Bhanu Kapil  British-Indian who teaches at Naropa and Goddard
78. Joshua Wilkinson A “Poetry Plus” advocate
79. Elizabeth Robinson “red blush on air makes fatality sublime”
80. Brandon Brown Charles Baudelaire the Vampire Slayer
81. Lee Ann Brown “The Question Undoes Itself/ On an organic twittering machine”
82. John Yau Educated at Brooklyn, Bard and BU
83. Lyn Hejinian The Queen of the Language Poets?
84. Erica Hunt  “She likes to organize with her bare teeth”
85. Michael Hansen Poetry editor of Chicago Review
86. John Ashbery  And he goes, and he goes
87. David Lehman What is the best?
88. Jim Behrle The clown downtown
89. Alan Cordle He ripped the veil
90. Helen Vendler  Sees Yeats in the twilight
91. Billy Collins  Free verse genius
92. Seth Abramson Have no idea what he’s talking about
93. Philip Nikolayev  Gold mine of Russian translation
94. Valerie Macon  We won’t forget
95. Joe Green  A Fulcrum poet
96. Garrison Keillor  Poetry’s Walter Cronkite?
97. Camille Paglia  Feminist-hating blah blah blah?
98. Sharon Olds  The sweet crash-and-burn of Iowa Confessionalism
99. Amber Tamblyn The actress. Her new book of poems, Dark Sparkler, is about dead actresses
100. Dan Chiasson  Au courant, staus quo reviewer

SLEEP AND DESIRE

Why do I want to sleep? Is it the dreaming?

Aren’t dreams as real as life’s dreamlike seeming

And dreams more pleasant, and more uniquely mine?

Who wouldn’t rather sleep than listen to assholes all the time?

But sleep is not desire and I miss desire, too.

You are not a dream, are you?

That hankering in the blood under the sun

For what is real, the dream and the real all one,

I very much want that, too.

I will never forget when you said yes

And allowed me to nightly press

My hardness against your softness,

My brute and blind and stupid prick

Against you, wise and politic.

Did that joy only seem

To be real, like a dream?

Yes, yes, I have to say yes;

It was a dream, because it’s gone now, and you were not the one,

And do we confess

Desire like that beneath the real sun?

THE SWEET SIXTEEN!

For T.S Eliot, the incense stained Moderinst, the road to the Elite Eight goes through Rome and Michelangelo.

Michelangelo has laid aside hammer and brush and pulled two upsets in a row in an elite English-speaking poetry tournament, the only one of its kind in the world. Rumors are the Pope will attend this contest.

Sarah Teasdale must conquer the iconic Wordsworth; so far she has aimed at the simple heart and won. How many more hearts can she break? Will Wordsworth counter with sentiment of his own? Or be cold and dignified?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Alfred Tennyson. Enough said!

Poe battles Keats!  Half these battles for the Elite Eight feature a Brit versus an American, and this is one of them.  Poe admired Keats, but he was happy to knock down perceived English superiority which existed then.

Milton, who was not known for his sense of humor, plays Ashbery, who, one could argue, is never serious.

The two friends, Byron and Shelley, tangle by a crystal lake at midnight.

Mazer and Chin have met in a previous Scarriet March Madness, with Mazer winning a big one. Chin out for revenge. She is one of two women left in the tournament.

And, in an interesting twist, Ransom, the “The T.S. Eliot of the American South,” whose collected poetry Mazer just published, continues his underdog run against Alexander Pope.

Eliot v. Michelangelo

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown. —Eliot

I love to sleep, still more to sleep In stone while pain and shame exist: not see, or feel, or be kissed; so do not wake me, or weep. —Michelangelo

Wordsworth v. Teasdale

The rainbow comes and goes, And lovely is the rose, The moon doth with delight Look round her when the heavens are bare, waters on a starry night Are beautiful and fair. —Wordsworth

I have loved hours at sea, gray cities, The fragile secret of a flower, Music, the making of a poem That gave me heaven for an hour. —Teasdale

Coleridge v. Tennyson

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. —Coleridge

Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark. —Tennyson

Poe v. Keats

Our talk had been serious and sober, But our thoughts they were palsied and sear—Our memories were treacherous and sere—For we knew not the month was October, And we marked not the night of the year.  —Poe

A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.  —Keats

Milton v. Ashbery

But now my task is smoothly done, I can fly, or I can run Quickly to the green earth’s end, Where the bowed welkin slow doth bend, And from thence can soar as soon To the corners of the moon.  —Milton

Some departure from the norm Will occur as time grows more open about it. The consensus gradually changed; nobody Lies about it any more.  —Ashbery

Byron v. Shelley

‘Tis pleasing to be schooled in a strange tongue By female lips and eyes—that is, I mean, When both the teacher and the taught are young, As was the case, at least, where I have been; They smile so when one’s right, and when one’s wrong They smile still more, and then there intervene Pressure of hands, perhaps even a chaste kiss—I learned the little that I know by this.  —Byron

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth! And, by the incantation of this verse, Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! Be through my lips to unawakened earth The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? —Shelley

Chin v. Mazer

My cousin calls him Allah my sister calls him Jesus my brother calls him Krishna my mother calls him Gautama I call him on his cell phone But he does not answer. —Chin

The basement casements, dusty with disuse, convey with their impregnably abstruse recalcitrance an inner life, to all who are among the living of no use. The wide walkways of the stars divide chapters of our lives like music in reverse.  —Mazer

Pope v. Ransom

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown, Thus unlamented, let me die, Steal from the world, and not a stone Tell where I lie.  —Pope

There was such speed in her little body, And such lightness in her footfall, It is no wonder her brown study Astonishes us all.  —Ransom

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