The best competition is love.

These two poets—Rubenstein and Desrosiers—in this Scarriet Poetry March Madness battle, could never, in their wildest imaginations, imagine this contest: their lines meeting in any manner, much less like this.

We are only imagining it now ourselves, without a clue as to the outcome. We imagined a Madness, and that’s all we really needed to do.

In the lines themselves, we see the extent of these poets’ far reaching imaginations.

Says Raphael Rubinstein:

Every poet thinks about every line being read by someone else.

But is this imagination? Isn’t this just plain fact?  The fact that we write for others?

To answer this question, we’ll say this:

It is never a matter of something being factual—or not. It is never that simple. The fact that we write for others can be overturned in an instant—because pure solipsism is possible in writing, and perhaps even preferred, if not the actual fact, since we can be our own audience—we couldn’t write coherently, otherwise. So here we see Rubinstein’s wounded fact—“every poet thinks…” is merely something he is imagining. He imagines he has an audience, when he really doesn’t. And yet, for his line to be read and understood, he does—have an audience.

So Rubinstein, in his line, is imagining—and yet not. Factual—and yet not.

His wit is on display, and we are not sure whether he should be applauded for it, or whipped.

I think we can praise him. The greatly imaginative are always partly factual and partly not.

It is not so much that imagination loves facts—as facts love imagination. The world loves its God.

Now comes Desrosiers to add a beautiful idea to what has been said:

I wish you were just you in my dreams.

How deliciously and wonderfully ironic.

We wish and dream for what is neither wished nor dreamed.

We want the facts—in our dreams.

And we don’t want them anywhere else.

We want to wish for our facts, but not have them.

We want to dream our audience even as we know the last thing they are is a dream.

The poem becomes a fact when it hovers in the mind as a desire for a fact.

This March Madness contest may just be the strangest one so far.

And whose fault is that?











  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 28, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    This is, in fact, a very dreamlike essay. It wins the prize.

  2. Ric Couchman said,

    March 28, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    What is the March Madness contest?

  3. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 28, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    If you go back to the Post of March 12, 2016 dear Ric, you will find the beginning of it for this year (March Madness 2016). The full explanation,answer to what is the march madness contest really belongs to tom brady (thomas graves) who I think invented it poetry-wise. I wouldn’t have said anything, the answer belonging after all to the inventor, but he may be away scribbling another poem or hobnobbing with shadows so I gave a limited answer because if there’s anything Mary Douglas dislikes it is a perfectly decent person standing around waiting for an answer that does not come. (no matter what the reason is). No criticism directly stated or indirectly (implied). I just think a question if not rude deserves an answer; a comment deserves a response whenever possible or else we are all just living in Rudeland.

  4. thomasbrady said,

    March 28, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Hi Ric,

    Thanks, Mary.

    Ric—it’s a poetry tournament, much like the college basketball “March Madness” basketball tournament.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      March 28, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      You are welcome Tom. Hope I didn’t answer out of turn but when questions or comments hang in the air they drive me crazy like an uresolved chord. It’s not a problem I have with the person or persons not answering or not commenting. It’s just the physical presence of the question or comment hanging overhead like the sword of Damocles that irritates me past human endurance. Haha. Why I will never have in my houselet the beautiful but unfortunately named piece of music by Charles Ives: “The Unanswered Question.”….

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        March 28, 2016 at 11:19 pm

        Plus I do feel sympahy for the person lingering in the antechamber wondering is anybody home, have they all been struck by the plague or am I in ghostland and haven’t figured it out yet. I seem to remember a TZone episode called Is Anybody there where the main characer walks into a diner with the eggs frying, the coffee perking, the movie theatre open and the whole town deserted. Eek.

  5. Ric Couchman said,

    March 28, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    Hi, Tom. Thanks for the detailed response, Mary. I did a bit of searching around, and I was able to arrive at a basic idea of what it is all about. Very creative indeed. I continue to follow the posts on this site with keen interest. Again, thanks.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      March 28, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      You’re welcome, Ric. See, that’s another problem with my knee jerk response. Humans are good at figuring things out for themselves especially people here. This place does deserve keen interest, I think so too/

      • Ric Couchman said,

        March 29, 2016 at 11:11 am

        Oh, I do greatly appreciate your “knee jerk” reaction. It does suggest a kind of community spirit, helping me to feel that I am not alone in a new place 🙂 Again, thanks.

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          March 29, 2016 at 1:47 pm

          I’m very glad about that. I’d like to make a few more comments on your delightful chocolate chip cookies essay. I think the main thing is you are writing from exactly what happened to you but also you hae something in your writing that is a very good gift from the writing fairies to have (if you don’t mind my expressing it that way; it really does feel that way to me) and that is the gift of including the reader in what you are doing. All the great writers had it, Dickens had it, for example. And the people that wrote those great weekly reader summer adventure novels for boys and girls way back in the day. Making your reader feel welcome in your book, be it novel or essay or creative non fiction, is very rare and I think, the best of all gifts.

          Also it strongly reminded me of an experience I have lost of being able to walk freely through a city noting this and that, stopping here or there or not stopping. I don’t feel that freedom anymore the way I used to being older now and not as agile (but I’m working on it).

          You brought back to me a very simple (but delightful) memory I had of goiing to a mall in D.C. when I lived there and treating myself to one GIANT Mrs. Fields Oatmeal Raisin cookie, fresh baked and still warm. The thing that amazed me the most about your essay was your fortitude in not eating the cookie till you got home. If that cookie smelled the way you described it you must be the strongest person on earth. I would have gobbled it down right there on the street in front of the obscure little bakery. Thats another thing I liked. The feeling of finding something fantastic in an unlikely place which DOES occur in real life just as much as in the fairy tales. Anyway, your essay had that kind of magic sprinkled over it from some where and I think it’s just wonderful. PLEASE read the essays of Christopher Morley. I really think you will find a kindred spirit there. (And read Scarriet. If often has unexpected beauties and surpriss in store in unexpected places)

          • maryangeladouglas said,

            March 29, 2016 at 1:49 pm

            The oatmeal raisin cookie was a big deal to me because I spent ALL my money on books and that was the one dessert I allowed myself. Little things, little details mean more than the Great American Novel in my book. And the ability to register them and convey them to others so that they remember especially good things that happened to them cannot be overpraised. You HAVE this.

            • maryangeladouglas said,

              March 29, 2016 at 2:09 pm

              A lot of Christopher Morley’s essays, plus his novel The Haunted Bookshop are available for free through Kindle.

              • Ric Couchman said,

                March 29, 2016 at 2:30 pm

                Again, I thank you for your kind words. And when you get a chance please read my recent “The Flight of My Imagination.”

                I did download “The Haunted Bookstore” and am looking forward to reading it. I do value your recommendation.

                • maryangeladouglas said,

                  March 29, 2016 at 3:12 pm

                  Ric, I look forward to reading your essay. It’s great your going to read that book. Sometimes I have book intuition not only for myself but for others and I do hope my intuition is correct, but in any case, to see a writer using language, used in a way that’s fallen into disuse is valuable for any aspiring writer and discerning reader though I think Morley’s style was unusually the anomalie even for his generation. And he liked it that way.

  6. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 29, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Ric, after reading that essay I felt like I needed to take that stuff you take to not get sick on the plane, very dizzying. The weird thing is the imagination that’s good for writing in real life can cause you to worry about every possible thing under the sun, every possible pitfall that can happen in a real life situation, endlessly. Like Dostoyevsky’s journals on the books he wrote with their endless variations on possible outcomes for his characters (also highly recommended)

    Which is why I believe people with imagination have it worse than those without it. We have to train our imaginations to imagine what can go right. I liked that music reversed the situation for you. I’m foggy on the last line, Maybe you need to go into that image a little bit more. The thing is, read it as if you don’t know your own mind back to yourself and see if there are any jigsaw pieces missing. You magically did capture the feeling of being off the ground in this state of mind and it makes me wish right now I lived on the ground floor instead of the fifth.

    • Ric Couchman said,

      March 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      I get what you are saying about the last line. I agonized over it for a while. The word I had in mind was “stinger” (“the thing that bees and wasps use”) like in stinger missile, but in view of all scary stuff going on I decided to keep it cryptic 🙂

  7. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 29, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    That’s your choice to make. Anyway, the beauty of writing on the internet is that you have total freedom, at least in the U.S. we do to write whatever you want, especially as it’s not for sale and there doesn’t have to be a “target” audience whatever the heck that means that you tailor what you write to. The thing I am finding myself is it is very important to rely on your own judgemet about what you write and find delight in it yourself and these are natural graces and gifts that accure when your write from your own heart and mind. Also, just because people don’t comment doesn’t mean they aren’t reading. We live in a bizarre culture where if what you do doesn’t generate fame or fortune it doesn’t account. But writing what you see, what you feel what you imagine has a spiritual benefit to yourself (and maybe to others) as you are mapping your own mind and this really does have value just not the kind that gets your name in lights. And if you do this, really paying attention to what you think, feel and observe and finding the best words YOU can, the words YOU want to use or not use, you are successful in it no matter what the herds moo. It is not easy though to train yourself not to care about what people say or even harder, what if they say nothing. But if they say nothing in a way you are even more free. The problem with feedback from others of any kind is that it can become addictive so that you can’t function without it. But functioning without feedback is a good way to grow up and to maintain happiness in and of yourself, by yourself living according to your own values and delights. Much more serene too.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      March 29, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      that accrue, sorry, other typos too but not cryptic ones I hope.

      • Ric Couchman said,

        March 30, 2016 at 1:25 am

        I certainly appreciate your words of wisdom. I like your point about the artist’s freedom and the necessity of writing from the heart and from our creative instincts. Sometimes I tend to forget that idea. I must keep it in the forefront of my mind at all times. Jean-Paul Sartre in his “What is Literature?” expressed similar sentiments. He said that literature is freedom or is concerned with freedom. It is commitment. Thanks again, O wise one 🙂

  8. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 30, 2016 at 3:57 am

    I’m not at all wise except that I depend on God but I’m glad something I said struck a chord. I’m always hoping in what I say or in my poems that what I think and feel will strike a good chord with other people because really you don’t just want to say things for yourself alone. I will think a long time about that phrase literature is freedom. The beauty of literature and of especially classical music has been with me since childhood but I always saw, felt and heard the beautiful as streaming through God, through the composers and the poets to us. It helped so much that my grandparents and my mother raised both my sister and I with these things because they really did ripen within you over time in an incredibly deep and sustaining way, as familiar friends to be counted on. I feel concerned so much that several generations of children now in our educational systems do not any know of the existence of this heritage of beauty in so many respects but are just being groomed for the workplace. Even on the collegiate level. This is a great tragedy that must be remedied. I pray about it all the time. I don’t know what else to do.

  9. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 30, 2016 at 4:02 am

    I don’t know what else to do except write another poem…

    I Want To Make Butter Of The Palest Yellow

    I want to make butter of the palest yellow
    and stamp it with the willow tree
    or with a golden seam.

    cream butter, submerged is springs all summer,
    ice cold lady-in-waiting for
    the Elderberry Queen, the jam of

    all jams, spread lightly on a honeyed crust
    or the thin crusts for the gentlefolks’ tea
    fallen on poverty

    with wild strawberries crushed
    and savored to the last crumb
    with a prayer and the last

    of the wild mint
    when winter’s in the air
    Christmas so near.

    when we say to the ghost of our angels
    pass the butter, dears.
    go fish where there are no fish

    and make a tricoloured wish
    for the Trinity is here
    asking for drawn butter

    on God’s asparagus.

    mary angela douglas 29 march 2016

    • Ric Couchman said,

      March 30, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Selah. When confronted with a work of art The most prudent thing that one can do is to pause and deeply consider. Thanks for sharing the gems of your creativity.

  10. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 30, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    You are welcome.

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