MY MORNING IS YOUR EVENING

for c.s.

My morning is your evening:

I think, I worry—as your day’s cares float away.

My evening is your morning,

My dreams, your day.

When morning light blinds me

And Boston trains noisily run,

Your Calcutta sky dissolves

And whispers, There. That’s done.

You live near the warm earth’s middle;

I, near the top, on the other side, and far away.

Electric storms connect us,

The internet’s continual day.

Electric telephone,

Busy luminosity—

The world buzzes.

Am I busy, or lazy?

Let the hurricanes come

And push the warm air here

As winter darkens the crowds

Of this cold holiday year.

We celebrate in costumes

And jackets and candles and snow.

You put away your sari

And miss things which I don’t know.

The earth lies between us;

All we have is mind

Sniffing electric evidence:

Are you good? Am I kind?

My poem laughs—it has always been this way.

Always distance; always night chasing the day.

Always this! always this!

What is far, close; and the close, far away.

 

 

 

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WHY ARE PEOPLE UGLY

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Why are people ugly?

Because otherwise sex would drive the human race mad.

Ugly people having sex isn’t sexy.

It isn’t sexy. It’s sad.

That’s why the truly sexy are miserable, too.

I want to be your friend. I don’t want to sleep with you.

 

When you told me I was sexy,

It just made me self-conscious and confused.

Sex is too serious. Are people meant to be eaten?

You were honest. But I wasn’t amused.

 

It always offends the ugly

To bring sex to the feast.

Everything that eats—

And gets fed on—is a beast.

 

Food should be beautiful—

Bathrooms and sinks, too;

And yard implements and gardens,

And everything but—God, please not you.

 

 

 

 

 

IS RENOIR PORN?

The Large Bathers—Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Renoir was in his mid-forties when he devoted four years on his famous “The Large Bathers” (1887), perhaps his most ambitious painting.

Will RSAP—the “Renoir Sucks At Painting” protest group—go to Philly next?  The small group of protesters, led by Max Geller, made the news this month with two anti-Renoir protests in Boston (Museum of Fine Arts) and New York (The Metropolitan). Renoir’s ‘Bathers’ hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

According to Hyperallergic, RSAP demanded the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan take down its 19 Renoir paintings because Renoir’s work is “poorly rendered treacle.”

RSAP is right.  Renoir is candy.  Renoir practiced on Rubens when he started out, and, failing miserably at truly heroic painting, became a sugary postcard illustrator, part of the great aesthetic decline in the West since the late 19th century: Brahms replaced by Philip Glass; Tennyson replaced by William Carlos Williams; Goya replaced by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.  Corporate producers are killing music, “Creative Writing” is killing poetry, and Trash has replaced Art. The 1% not only conquers with banking and war, but with this kind of shit—turning people into sheep without taste. Poe and Shelley were correct: aesthetics, which inhabits a position, morally, between reason and passion, is vital.

To many, Renoir, seems old-fashioned and rigorous, not part of any “decline,” not guilty of painting that, in the words of RSAP, “sucks.”  Poetry sucks today, and yet those who acknowledge this will nonetheless defend William Carlos Williams as an ideal of “High Modernism,” when, in fact, William Carlos Williams does suck, despite what a guy in a textbook says.

To get back on the right track, we should go back and protest where it all went wrong; this is actually far more effective than wrangling with contemporary rot.  Once you accept the establishment of a William Carlos Williams or a Pierre-Auguste Renoir as something historically legitimate, the game is over.

Most people think RSAP is a joke; but it is actually not.

Peter Schjeldahl in the New Yorker has called their protest “silly,” which is how a “serious” art critic would make it known that he does not think the protest is a joke, and, even if it were a joke, it nonetheless makes him uncomfortable, and the art world uncomfortable, because of what we have just said.  And isn’t it interesting how this tiny protest, which is merely “silly,” has already gained so much traction?

The protest, in our opinion, is wonderful, and not silly—only if it gets people thinking about art again: something no one has done for a hundred years in America, given the onslaught of horrible art that we must accept if we are “cool,” and reject, if we are not.

It is the vast and clever ‘guilt scam’ (be cool or else!) of the Modern Art Salesman-Pusher, who wants to make art easy to make, easy to like, and easy to sell for big money.  It is probably the biggest scam in the history of the world.  The “art” collectors in the early 20th century hired critics and built museums to house their “collections” and became super-rich, while destroying Taste itself to seal the deal.

It began with the Salon des Refuses in 1863, a year in which America was fighting for its life in a meat-grinding Civil War which France and Great Britain, now allies, had helped to bring about. (France and Britain’s “neutrality,” which said, General Lee, kill enough Union soldiers, and we’ll recognize the Confederacy, turned what should have been a small war into a very, very big one.) The Salon des Refuses was not some kind of underground protest against the art establishment; it was mandated by the imperialist Napoleon III. The new works were greeted with howls of laughter. Exactly 50 years later, the new art was shipped to America (the Armory Art show of 1913) by John Quinn, collector of the new art and Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot’s attorney.  Again, the new art—Duchamp got most of the attention, not Picasso—was greeted with howls of laughter. (After all, Duchamp was a prankster.) But “critics” came to the rescue; A.C. Barnes (of the Barnes Foundation) collected; his friend, John Dewey, earnestly and seriously wrote. And fortunes were made.

Of course, Schjeldahl in the New Yorker does not defend Renoir as revolutionary or new—which is how junk like this was first ushered in by the con men: Art should not stagnate! Art should develop and be new! This new art is inevitable!

Schjeldahl is happy to defend Renoir as junk, for as he writes in the New Yorker of Renoir: “His art was from, for, and about an ascendant class. His exaggerated blush and sweetness makes sense as effusions of triumphal exuberance.”

Bad art—but somehow “ascendant” and “triumphal.”

He sounds more like a propaganda minister than an art critic.

Schjeldahl happily goes on: “Have the R.S.A.P. members ever truly looked at Renoir’s “Dance at Bougival” (1883) in the Boston M.F.A.? …”redolent of heat, music, smells, and light sweats of exertion and desire. Cigarette butts litter the floor at their feet. This is not candy-box fantasy. It is the real life of real people in a real place, glorified. Modernity is dawning. There’s a beat to it, and a glow.”

No. That’s the point. There is no “exertion and desire.” There’s no “beat.” Okay, maybe a little one.  (Can you dance to the “Mona Lisa?”)

In “Dance at Bougival”—should we call it Boogie-ville?—the young woman has a bland, cute, pin-up countenance—the faceless man of gaudy swagger, wearing blue to her white trimmed in red, points his beard into her doll face. There is no “smell.” The painting is like a macho-flavored M& M candy.

RSAP should spread their protest to Schjeldahl’s remarks—make them a target, too.

No “revolutionary” fervor is present in Schjeldahl’s defense; Renoir is merely defended as “real people.”  But doesn’t art have to push onward?  Isn’t Renoir in the way?  No, he’s not, because the Modern Art “revolution” was never about progress—it was about turning people into sheep and junk into money.

The idea that Renoir is revolutionary in any sort of timeless sense, of course, is laughable—even Schjeldahl knows this; so he can only mumble something about “real life” and “cigarette butts.”

But still, Schjeldahl—and this never gets old—gives us the inevitable, “Modernity is dawning.”

Modernity.  Ah, word of so many meanings!

What does it mean?  Well, it means everything.

It means sex and fun.

And not only that. “Modernity,” you see, is inevitable, like the sun rising. It’s a new and crazy beat, daddy-o!  And it has to happen.  And it is always happening.

The most revolutionary act possible today in the art world—perhaps in the whole world: is to declare simply and loudly: Renoir Sucks!

No one would dare talk about Renoir today as Jan Gordon did in his Modern French Painters back in the 20s:

The first quarrel with the great public on the matter of art arose with the Impressionists. The little differences which arose previously, such as that with Corot—who was accused of giving cloud banks and columns of smoke instead of trees—and that with Millet, which was chiefly founded on amour-propre, never rose to a sufficient acerbity to include the general mass of the spectators. The critics attacked Delacroix, and accused him of giving them to corpses instead of human flesh (what did they think of Crivelli or of Piero della Francesca?), but the public passed by with, perhaps, a smiling shrug.

With the Impressionists, however, it became angry almost to madness. At the time of the Salon des Refuses many a Frenchman would gladly have murdered Monet or Renoir.

Jan Gordon goes on to say that—and notice how far away from Schjeldahl this is:

The Old Masters had noted that a material in light appeared often different in colour from that of its shadows; but they had, generally, so blended these colors that the colour of the material was never in doubt. They had gradually impressed on the public a fallacious notion of a burnt umber tree which was accepted with such faith that the green tree had to fight hard for admittance into art. When, however, a blue tree was presented to it, the public revolted. Yet, as a matter of fact, trees are often blue, and are very seldom burnt umber.

How blithely Gordon, in his defense of Renoir nearly 100 years ago, makes the highly dubious accusation that the “Old Masters” were “fallacious” on something as fundamental as light and color. This kind of pro-Modern Art argument is far more interesting, even if it’s a lie; but now, with the “revolution” long over, and wildly successful, no longer necessary.

And then we have John Dewey, a few years later, attacking the Old Masters in his LSD drug trip manner:

The fatal defect of the representative theory is that it exclusively identifies the matter of a work of art with what is objective. It passes by the fact that objective material becomes the matter of art only as it is transformed by entering into relations of doing and being undergone by an individual person with all his characteristics of temperament, special manner of vision, and unique experience.

Dewey bans the “objective.” Schjeldahl, living in a different era—after the battle has been won—can discourse endlessly on “cigarette butts.”  Modern critics are objective or subjective depending on the atrociousness of the art which they are selling—uh, sorry…critically defending.  And how softened-up—uh, sorry…receptive their audience is.

So is Renoir porn?

Study the “The Large Bathers,” for yourself.  Put all the ‘art critic’ voices aside, and make up your mind.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT MISSES US

“Love is an accident” —old saying

What misses us—is not—you and me.

Desire is slavery—and you and I are free.

How did this warm evening find you and I together at the entrance of the park

Where on beautiful warm evenings we once held each other in the dark?

This is a warm evening too,

But warm evenings—no—everything—is forbidden now to me and you.

You and I accidentally cross paths going home

By the same way, and I hurry on, and do not dare to look at you,

But it makes me feel things, and I’m sure it makes you feel things, too,

Having been here many times together, and now each of us alone.

It is late October and the growing darkness and the first autumn freeze

Makes tonight’s surprising mild air—and by chance, seeing you—a night I will remember,

More so than when our love was fully expressed, and your head lay gently upon my chest—remember?

Before I reach my door, still thinking of you, I linger in front of a large tree sighing in the breeze.

On high is a bright white three-quarter moon

Moving on to fullness, and I make a wish because of this, that we might be reunited soon,

Though I’m not allowed to have thoughts like this

Because desire is slavery and poison lives in a slave’s kiss.

What misses us is what kisses us—the solemn world of the outdoors, nature and her man-made park

Where we worshiped everything from dawn to dark.

Isn’t it strange, how the more we ought to remember, the more of that we ought to remember, we forget?

And here, where I glimpsed you only for an instant, here, by this poem, memory will pay its debt?

The poem’s idea: a mild breeze and thoughts of you are enough to make me glad,

As I stand in front of the moon and a tall tree rustling, and hear you speaking. Am I mad

To think the park misses us, and wonders where we are? That nature felt our love

And this is what misses our love—not reluctant you, not selfish me?

Desire is slavery—in my mind I keep seeing your dear face—and you and I are free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S.A.

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I remember when my country was young;

Day-time World Series—on television sets in store windows—watched by everyone

Who shrugged off assassinations and other black-and-white news

With candlelight dinner and stereo.

.

Now my country is password-obsessed, corporate, and cold.

Now my country is old-person stink surrounding trivia-obsessed youth

Who are older than the old.

ART COVERS UP

Art covers up everything that we would like to do.
This is your painting. And here—over here—stands you.
To acquire that skill takes a certain amount of work.
You gave up. In your soul the lazy spirits lurk.

So this is your painting. It will depict you when you are dead.
And that is the point. You—over here—just want to be fed.
You allow dress-makers and stylists to decide
Thanks to your painting, what death will never hide.

You belong to nature, and nature seeks to make another,
But not you—you want no child to grow old like your mother.
You, yourself, are the beginning and the end,
The reason for art, and nobody’s friend.

 

NATIONAL POETRY DAY, OCTOBER 1

What did you do on Poetry Day?
Did you look at someone you love—and quickly look away?
Did you write a poem, and feel awkward doing so?
Awkward—because of what all bright days and all dark branches know?
Were you able to love one moment—a single moment—that flew,
A moment, like a dream, which loomed up like a rain cloud, and sighed, in front of you?
And because your moment was sad, and yet happy, you felt in your heart what that moment knew?
Did you peek in your heart, and find out what was true?

Did it tell you poetry’s secret?  That poetry is love from start to end?
That love lives secretly in perfumed paper we send?
Does love make you uncomfortable?  Well, that’s okay.
You are not a poet. The muse does not love you, anyway.

 

THE HUMAN RACE IS DISGUSTED

Observe, as you lounge in one place,
At some busy café—you, too, will be disgusted by the human race.

The picky ordering, customers unsatisfied;
The nerdy college couple who kiss each other’s hands with loud smacks;
The slovenly old, with old-person smell that attacks;
Severe young men whose severity is impossible to hide
By expensive haircuts. Women have more skill in appearing

Tolerable to judgment’s discerning;
Nature wants to breed, the female needs to appeal
And that appeal is always a step ahead of learning;
Still, one can see the insanity that creeps
Through young women’s brains
Who must navigate the rot of fruit and meat and grains.

A cute dog is tied up outside,
This changes nothing about the colored hair and beer-bellies inside.
The weak chins, the wide jeans, the postures indicating ruthless wills,
The faces, unpleasant, resembling various animals.

The only exception to the hideous parade
Are children, who good people, in an act of goodness, made.

These dear ones make me rise above the place
To admire the city, the world, my face.

You, with the muscles and tattoos, if only you knew how ugly you look—
I suggest you throw away your Harley and read a book.

 

 

 

 

HERE AT LAST

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Here at last, I make my confession:

I never cared about any of you—

I chose poetry as my profession

So nobody else could tell me what to do.

 

Restaurants, stadiums, fancy clubs,

Expensive cars and beautiful snubs,

Car crashes, suicides from broken loves,

All the shit of the world; getting old,

Death, I turn all this shit into gold

With a stubby pencil, a scrap of paper; I hide away

To conceive what you have to slave over every day.

 

“How was your weekend? The concert?” It was great!

No, it wasn’t. I’m happier and went to bed at eight.

You need to appear happy.  Social lies. I revel

In the truth. You struggle to find your level.

The concert wasn’t “great.” You lie. I know

As you run down the street, late for your show.

Writing poetry cannot be stopped

By businessmen, or time, or love that flopped.

I have a rock concert in my head—

You paid a hundred bucks to get a headache, instead.

 

Your actors and your infrastructure, the research you do for your book

Has no interest for me. I, the poet, enjoy every moment. Take a look.

I also experience things; I love, I love to throw a ball.

The difference is you experience things partially; I feel it all.

 

When I think of a line and reach for my scrap of paper and pencil number two,

I feel as much desire as your costs and burdens bring the useless desire which burdens you.

 

I CAN NO LONGER HATE AND LOVE

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I can no longer hate and love.

No more of this casual dating.

Loving the one you hate is a prison.

There’s a beauty in simply hating.

 

I can no longer hate and love

Like Catullus, whose single book survived. (The world wasn’t waiting.)

Optimistic women and their rules,

Their pop culture—I find their desires grating.

 

Hating one you love is the worst emotion one can feel;

If there’s love, hate inevitably enters, because fear

Of losing one you love is real;

Nothing prevents the tainting of the beautiful;

Whatever is beautiful produces the horrible;

Beauty and sadness are twins; God, a golden tear.

 

I can no longer hate and love,

So goodbye, love, goodbye.

I had a million poems for you,

Intricate and opposite and sly.

 

 

 

NINETEEN ORIGINAL SCARRIET LOVE EPIGRAMS

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1. Love is 90% hygiene.

2. Love was invented by poetry, because  poetry can be defined as a potential conversation in the mind and to be attracted to someone in a civilized manner is to imagine what it would be like to have a conversation with them.

3. Men love what they desire, women desire what they love.

4. Women spend their lives looking for a man who they want to have sex with and who wants to have sex with them—but not too often.

5. The idea of the child begins love, the child ends it.

6. Hate is love’s back-up plan.

7. Love takes offense; hate is not even the offense, but merely the aftermath of a misunderstanding.

8. Sentimentalism in love is a profound reaction in the man, a hidden cause in the woman.

9. In love the woman is cruel gradually, the man, all at once.

10. The broken-hearted man wants more woman, the broken-hearted woman wants less man.

11. Homosexuality is art to heterosexuality’s nature.

12. In the throes of love, the man looks in order to feel, the woman feels too much to look.

13. Abstract love is moral; love’s particulars are selfish.

14. Married women cheat in an act of retreat, married men cheat in an act of expansion.

15. Love is emotional expression wherever those emotions are forbidden, thoughtful expression wherever those thoughts are not forbidden.

16. We never end up with the one we love, for we can’t relax with the one we love.

17. When a woman looks profoundly, she hates; when a man looks profoundly, he loves.

18. The chemical reaction of love always requires some remarkable, fortuitous disagreement.

19. Love makes us think we are not allowed to have what we love.

 

 

 

 

WHO WILL BE KIND TO ME?

Kindness is advertised, and I am told,
Kindness is better than desperate love, desperate and bold,
Or passionate love, inquisitive and sly.
William Butler Yeats has said that a kindness will charm
Even the mad, roving lover’s troubled eye.

Courtesy, Yeats said—his best poem quoted to me by a cautious friend—
Is how my daughter must be chiefly learned—kindness and courtesy, the shore
Where wave-crashing beauty comes to its ship-wrecked end.

We were so bold to love, and we put out on the salty sea,
A sea of confusion and tears, the sea now seems to me.
But though I lie, hurting on the beach, kindness is a what, not a who;
I do need kindness and courtesy; what Yeats says is true—
But the kindness I need must come from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LET’S REDUCE EVERYTHING TO LOVE

“Einstein For Beginners” will never work.
A little information makes you look like a jerk.

Do you remember what you were doing
When you first heard of light-years?

Do you remember what you were doing
When things changed for everyone?
When you looked up and saw
The eight minutes twenty seconds old sun?

Did things change for you?
Of course they didn’t.
Poe discovered the Big Bang. Nothing is new.

Do songs originate, or soothe your fears?
Look at the light, shining on your little dears.

Songs make us love, cry; then, broken-hearted, we listen for even more tears.

Is now impossible in a very big place?

What is now to a distant star?
Already in the past. That’s what you are.

Was that a moment ago I kissed your face?
I’m thinking about love and the intricacy of careers.

I would like to do mathematics but I don’t know how.
I feel the sun on my face—
I feel in the vast universe there can be now.

A little bit of heat. A little bit of glow.
Your love for me. That’s all I know.

HEART OPERATION

When love died, and they removed my heart,
I asked them, upon waking, Did you get it all?

I loved her, winter, spring, summer, and fall,
A memory for every type of love: I see them all.

The winter when we fell in love, it was warm,
Warm for winter, and not a storm.

When spring brings the first warmth creeping,
I see us among flowers, and then I start weeping.

When a summer rain hits the roof of my car,
Or the roof of the house when I lie in bed, there we are.

The warm kisses. I wish I remembered them all.
Our love was like a second summer in the beginning of the fall.

Winter’s coming.  Oh my heart! I hope they got you all.
Otherwise I will die—of cold—in the dark and cold—that grows in the fall.

 

 

THE JEALOUSY OF THE UGLY

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The jealousy of the ugly

Forbids you and I.

The morality of the ugly

Prefers the beautiful die.

 

Beauty belongs to nature. Kurt Cobain—

Remember him, with his hurt and pain—

Said, “nature is a whore.”

Yes, she’s unfaithful. She wants more.

 

Beauty takes many tries,

But that’s what nature wants and gets.

My mother has no regrets

When she looks into my beautiful eyes.

 

Children. A problem that explodes.

Morality ages each day. But nature reloads.

 

MY DIFFICULT NAME

I have a theory that you will be more difficult
If you have a difficult name.
When I kissed the two of you, whose names were the same,
Whose names were very common, I knew
Humility, not difficulty, would be the theme from both of you.
And I was right.
We took turns, and pleased each other throughout the night.
But her? With the difficult name?
She kissed me once. Once.
Now love is no longer praise, but blame.

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