LES MURRAY AND JOE GREEN: FIRST ROUND BATTLE IN THE SOUTH

Language can do anything.

If you’ve read Emerson, you know how he says nature is a language, and the Poet, belonging to nature, is nature and speaks nature, and how do you like that?

Buying into this makes you either a brilliant genius or a complete fool.

If Emerson says you’re a genius, maybe that’s enough.

After all, you’re on his land, he knows Margaret Fuller, he went to the Harvard Divinity School, and he also knows T.S. Eliot’s grandfather, who founded a Unitarian church and a college in St.Louis, after he left Harvard.

Les Murray is slightly more skeptical.  He’s got a wing-ding line:

Everything except language knows the meaning of existence.

What can you say to this?  You dare not say anything.  Or, you say a lot.

You can tell from this one line that Les Murray is a tough cookie, and probably wouldn’t have any problem punching Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nose, if it came to that.  (I’m not saying it would come to that.)

Joe Green is a different creature. Funny and shy.  He would apologize for being on Emerson’s land. “I’m sorry, sir. I was walking my dog and…”

Emerson would stare at him. Coldly.  For ten minutes.

Joe would be talking away.  Joe would get out his phone and ask if Emerson wanted to see pictures and stuff on the internet.

But let’s leave this scene. This is starting to get embarrassing.

Marla Muse: I don’t know why Waldo is so arrogant.

Emerson sermonized. That’s all he really did.  Here’s Joe Green’s line:

I’m tired. Don’t even ask me about the gods.

Joe Green is the human poet, the most human poet there is.

Marla Muse: I’m sure he will be glad you said that about him.

I can’t wait to see who wins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Comments

  1. Joe green said,

    April 17, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    The line was actually from a poem dictated to me by the Ka or soul of Rin Tin Tin and may be found in his anthology “The Dark Bark.” I shyly recorded his poetry. Rinty died exactly at the last second of the last century. His poem

    Letter from a Dog Before Troy
    Dear Penelope,
    It’s windy here. Nine years in a tent on the beach.
    Ulysses says they know what they’re doing.

    Right.
    Nine years and for what?
    What’s nine years to them?
    Most of my life.
    I’m tired. Don’t even ask me about the gods.
    There’s a limit to loyalty.
    But you already know that.
    I know about the puppies.
    You should have told me.
    She told me, of course.
    I don’t care.
    Just get them out of Ithaca.
    By the time you read this
    I’ll be gone. I have..what..four more years?
    Going to someplace where there are no men.
    No gods.
    Maybe a few rabbits.

    • Surazeus said,

      April 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      I love it, Joe.

      • Joe green said,

        April 17, 2016 at 2:21 pm

        Too bad you never knew Rinty. Late at night he would go on and on about the Pre Socratics. He just wanted someone to listen. You would have been better.

  2. Joe green said,

    April 17, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    These few poems are from the original 1,673 page manuscript “The Dark Bark” found buried in “The Yard” (as the poor animals who are to be euthanized call it) at the pound in Brighton Beach. They are the work of Rin Tin Tin. I write elsewhere of the strange and tragic events that led me to this manuscript – my depression, initial contacts with the spirit world, inadvertent destruction of the complete posthumous poems of Shakespeare as communicated to me by the spirit Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the establishment of communication with the dead animal world (Thank you, Ted Hughes) and, finally communication with Rinty’s spirit with the assistance of the KA of W.H Auden.
    Here I can only give the briefest sketch of Rinty’s life.

    We know about Rinty and the movies. I’ll skip that. What is not so well known is that he was an excellent jazz guitarist. He met Billie Holiday in the Fifties. They fell in love. No one knew.
    Intellectual love, of course.
    He goes mad with grief after her death and — because all dogs know the essential existentialist insight — decides to create himself anew by joining the Cuban revolution.

    It doesn’t work — he tries to establish serious theatre in Cuba and overcome the typecasting he has suffered from all of his life.

    Oh, during the first flush of revolutionary joy audiences accept him (he thinks) as Puck in his Marxist version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” but soon he is reduced to playing bit parts in proletarian dramas and then its not long before there is no place for him in the State Theatre.

    He works as a street performer for a bit — usually as Lenin — for the Soviet visitors Castro welcomes to the island. But then is arrested for anti-revolutionary activity when he tires of doing Lenin and tries a stint as Trotsky. After his release he makes his living –such as it is — teaching the mambo to canine candidates for the Cuban National Circus and peddling marijuana to vacationers from Bulgaria.

    In 66 he makes his move and escapes to NYC disguised as Chiquita Banana (he never says what happened to the young girl on the cruise ship who had been playing the part) and almost at once falls in with a crowd of drunken stand up comic wannabes and, while stoned and driving a dune buggy along the beach, runs down and kills poet Frank O’Hara.

    (O’Hara died of injuries he received when he was hit by a vehicle on the beach at Fire Island, on Long Island, New York).

    He flees to Cuba.

    He is caught and sentenced to prison again where he is released by Castro — one of the hardened criminals Castro sends to the US — where, after many adventures, he attains his dream and is acclaimed as the “Hamlet of his Generation” by NY theatre critics.
    He gives it all up again and travels in Texas and Mexico playing country guitar and getting in fights arguing over whether Fredric Remington or De Kooning is the best artist.
    Gives that up and moves back to NYC. His poetry begins to be known.
    The reader will note that in one sequence of poems Rinty claims to have assassinated JFK. True – he did testify before the Warren Commission but I believe we can dismiss these claims as sheer fantasy caused by Rinty’s failure to get Leslie Howard’s role in “The Manchurian Candidate.” I believe we should choose to remember the famous “Life” cover of Rinty saluting the eternal flame at JFK’s tomb rather than those photos taken later that night on the Mall — drunken, under arrest and wearing only a significant leer and a leopard-skin pillbox hat.
    Rinty spent his last years in New York City.

  3. Joe green said,

    April 17, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    as a dog all he has left — loveless and writing this memoir in the pound in Brighton Beach where he will be euthanized — are memories of his betrayals and regrets that overwhelm everything else.
    The first poem “Late for a Poetry Reading” starts somewhat towards the end.

    Late for a Poetry Reading

    Late for a poetry reading
    and trusting the Sufi
    livery cab driver
    because he pretended
    he knew me
    (How old are you
    anyway? What is that
    in dog years?)
    and half drunk
    in any case
    having known
    intellectual love
    with Billy
    She dead these
    thirty years
    and fame and
    an excess of revolutionary
    ardor those years
    in Cuba
    and don’t even
    ask me about the sixties
    having ridden the
    Union Pacific
    to the Cheyenne cutoff
    loveless
    in America
    in winter
    dreaming a
    heavenly chasm
    but no and
    then hating
    death and all
    those who love it
    returning through
    West Texas from
    Pancake to
    Goodnight
    in the railroad yard
    there I heard
    the OJays and
    so returning to New York
    and ending that night
    somewhere in
    I think
    Long Island
    poetry reading
    in the Bronx
    and at dusk
    trying to find
    my way back
    seeing at the
    window of
    a perfectly bourgeois
    house her a
    young German Shepherd
    the cream gold
    glittering of her
    eyes she looking
    at this old dog
    in perfect indifference
    and knowing never
    again I turn
    the corner
    always forever
    going no-where
    at the end of this
    life

    and bark
    at the difficult dark.

  4. Joe green said,

    April 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    I know it wasn’t Leslie Howard but Rinty insisted it was…so…

  5. Surazeus said,

    April 17, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    The Les Murray line is brilliant because each word only refers to a Platonic Idea that may or may not exist in material form in the world of nature. So when we speak or write a string of words we limit the expression of that moment to the objects and actions of a process limited in time and space, freezing a moment of action in an image, while the universe of atoms is constantly seething onward in chemical changes of change in growth and decay.

    • Joe green said,

      April 17, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      But does it point to possibility as effectively as this little poem of Rinty’s

      All the Starry Animals

      Looking up
      I love them too —
      All the starry animals.
      Looking down
      Or not.
      Not saying anything.
      Not saying nothing either.

  6. Joe green said,

    April 17, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Finally…

    RinTinTology
    I never met Django
    Never really wanted too, I guess
    We would have “eyed each other warily”
    Like the time I met Senator Jack Kennedy
    Was it 57?
    In the Cozy Cole me playing there
    Jack with Sammy
    Sammy told me he was nervous.
    Jack working on his charisma thing
    And me.. height of my fame
    Billy there Jack wanting her to come to his table
    Her not noticing and me looking at her
    Playing “Vous et Moi”
    Sammy said “Man, come on down see who’s here.”
    So afterwards I sit down next to the Senator
    He in black glasses smoking a Kool
    Undercover or something
    Billie came over. She said she liked the man
    Afterwards, knew his Daddy… called him
    Mr. Death. “That boy has troubles”
    She said. “He was just nervous meeting me”
    I told her. She could see that.
    Anybody could. “He eyed you warily
    Behind those shades” We laughed.
    Forgot about it. I had something he wanted.
    And he had something…something…
    Held back… connection to.. as if he knew
    About us, about me and Billy,
    Something he said. Joking about Howard Hughes.
    Sammy told me Jack laughed afterwards.
    “Said he was nervous. Something strange. Didn’t
    Know why.”
    In 63 in August Castro “eyed me warily.”
    A little moonlight, bourbon on his breath,
    Backstage, the little moon a paper one
    For “Midsummers Night Dream” A wood near
    Athens and I had transformed it, a bit of Brecht,
    All of Shakespeare, Theseus nervous knowing
    That Quince knew, Flute knew, Bottom breaking
    the frame, declaring the revolution and me as Puck
    Leaping, flying off that stage, like Peter Pan
    TO FIDEL he standing up, smiling,
    Me kneeling with the flowers but he
    Afterwards backstage distant and cold wondering I thought
    If the applause was for him or me.
    Che was very nice, however.
    Speaking one word… one word.
    And I was in Dallas next was in Dallas then.
    If I could play great jazz guitar
    No hands…only paws
    Why couldn’t I
    Slowly…hold breath.
    There he is
    Pull the trigger
    Of a Manlicher Carcano 6.5 mm rifle?

  7. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 18, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    I am very happy to be reminded of Rin Tin Tin. And to see him featured not just up their on the big screen and on smaller, Saturday TVs but in an Epic. I would myself though gladly have left Castro out of the picture but then it’s not my poem it’s someone else’s and, either way, RTT should not just RIP and be forgotten. This deserves a Kennedy Honor eventually. It is fun to imagine this in a Norton Critical Edition, RTT graciing the cover heroically;in a black and white scene of jagged looking mountains and cliffs and ready for adventure(s).

  8. noochinator said,

    April 22, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Here’s a webpage with two of Joe Green’s poems:

    http://www.webdelsol.com/Perihelion/green.htm

  9. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 23, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Very beautiful, poems, unique. i could use a teacup like the one in the second poem. It’s not so easy standing up for things by yourself.

  10. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 23, 2016 at 12:18 am

    THE GREAT TINKERBELL DEBATE WHICH HAD A STRONG POSSIBILITY OF ACTUALLY HAPPENING

    to be sung at summer’s end…

    her wings were light green with gold spots
    I whispered to my sister;
    no! it’s the other way round

    she stomped with a cherry lifesaver frown;
    she made them last all day; I don’t know how
    while I chewed mine to bits in a matter of seconds

    but now, let’s return to the great Tinkerbell debate.
    and she flies like a hummingbird or baby meteor I
    said, but that would make her a rock when she

    landed and don’t you understand? where were the wings
    when she whirred at the windowsill and darted into
    the hall clock?

    this went on through dinner, and chocolate ice creamed,
    stirred to a fine puree and it tastes better that way
    we both concurred while

    kicking each other lightly under the table.
    now it’s fruit cocktail time and we count cherries

    and then gooseberries and who’s too sleepy finally to decide
    which way did Beauty fly when we weren’t looking;
    it happens every time; without a single chime

    out the window again. and without her sweater;

    it’s too cool for that now and
    and is tomorrow, really School?

    mary angela douglas 22 april 2016

  11. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 23, 2016 at 12:25 am

    The joy of reading something so unexpected as lines about getting the puppies out of Ithaca, having that in a sentence even, puppies plus Ithaca is side splittingly hilarious. It deserves a separate award. At least a marble statue of Rin Tin Tin crowned with laurel leaves.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      April 23, 2016 at 12:27 am

      or marble Milk Bones. Do they even still make those (Milk Bones)? It’s been so long since I had a dog I don’t even know what the dog treats are called anymore.


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