WHAT DO YOU DO?

For Ben

What do you do in the twilight, when there won’t be any sun?
When every bird is darkness, and the birds, to their dark mother, run?
When every song is darkness, and all that was dear, and holy, and still,
Remains so forever, covering all you perceived, when you gazed, at valleys, with hope, high on the hill?
When every silence is eternal, adding silence to the silent flaw
Which demands more silence, because they fall down there, with each silence, each silence, the law?
You hear the crumbs and pebbles fall to ever lower levels in the dark
Until you cannot hear them. The pages are gone.  The book is gone.  And the lark.
When the earth is your parade—but she is the one
To make the shadows come up from further shadows,
Interspersed with light—remember a day’s summer in the park?
And she loved you? And brought her hand
Into your hand…?

You are dying. I understand.
I’ve been to that darkness, too.
The same shadow that covered me covers you.

 

THE LOVER WHO REJECTS YOU IS THE CRUELEST GOD

The lover who rejects you is the cruelest god.
This cruelty you expected all along:
When you walked with her, when the two of you listened to a song,
It hid under everything you two felt and said,
In a love that made you warm—just as now you wish you were dead.

The lover who rejected you practiced long hours
To reject your eyes and reject your flowers
And to be cruel so much to the point
Where you knew it wasn’t you loving,
Because confusion presented a scene:
Knowing love made mad a love that was green.

You look at him loving her who is loving you.
Love is too loving. Love doesn’t know what to do.
Love is here, and there, and you are no longer true.

You cannot control desire, leaping into many,
And more, and cannot stop seeing, thinking and feeling.
You push the blankets away and you writhe and you look at the ceiling.

But the orgy ends.
And cloudiness is a love. And a sunset cloud a sunset sends.

And then, a calmness pervades.
The madness ends. The grass swallows up the shades.

And now you ride a leafy stream onto a silent lake
And see only her. Only her. You live—only for her sake.

Or at least, that’s what you think.
The ground is soft.  She knows you will sink.

And then, a calmness pervades.
This kind of madness always ends. The grass now has the writhing shades.

MY POETRY

My poetry, there’s no help for you
Now that she—my love!—tells me what to do.
I had a good idea for a poem yesterday;
A good poem!—she looked at me and it flew away.

My poetry, we need to talk.
In the sunlight, by the sea, we’ll walk.
Lately I’ve given up your lying
To think of her; you’ve heard me sighing.

My poetry, you haven’t got a prayer
Against her; she is Iranian. And rare.
She has a full head of dark brown hair.

My poetry, I am happy. Please don’t despair
If you are not good.  I will always care.

My poetry, there’s no hope for you,
Except when I repeat what she has to say—
And when she stops looking at me I may.

 

 

LOVE NOTHING

Do you feel nothing for me? Can this be true?

Is this why you run from me when I come into view?

I’m a philosopher. I philosophize about you.

I don’t think we love a person—we only love what they do.

This is why love is a paradox—we think love unites

Two persons—but love kills the person, even as love delights

In doing so—the dog who loves is the dog who bites.

The fact of what the other person allows you to do—

Sex—is all one can ever love. Yes. I’m sorry, but I never loved you.

I only loved that you gave me sex. And this is always true

For everyone. Love is nothing but this.

We never love the lover. We only love the kiss.

This is why you adored me, and suddenly saw me as a lout.

You don’t hate me—you hate love.  You found out

The terrible secret: great love contains great doubt—

And when all doubt finally disappears

The truth makes us cry the bitterest tears—

Love gives nothing. Love is nothing. All we can do is fake it.

I have nothing for you. Here. Take it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLOWLY, LOVE LOVED

Slowly, love loved.
Quick had been my desperate desire—
But slowly love loved.
I stood by a dying fire.

Slowly, she decided,
With limitations, to be mine.
She loved me a morning,
Or an evening, after wine.

She came to me slowly,
Covered, in public streets.
This is how love hides desire,
How secretly love meets.

She made me wait for days,
Then came in a covered car,
Watched by no one,
Under a yearning star.

WHEN SHE AND I SAT

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When she and I sat in the park,

More silent than talking,

Famished past dinner time,

Sacrifices to forbidden love

Companion to the kisses

In the breezy dark,

We loved and had love.

When others finished walking

Past, we kissed again

And made a game of it,

Or love did—we were never sure

Where love ended and we began.

Tonight I came back, feeling the years

Melt. The small park we knew the same.

Then I saw him, a familiar stranger,

A silent part of the scene

I had forgotten. He never made a sound.

He never looked around, the stooped old man,

Who came with a plastic jug of water

And watered the plants. Who was he?

Until then memory had not harmed me.

Now, seeing him, I fled, and burst into tears,

Running from her. Our love. The years.

 

HIT SONG

band

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby I’m gonna leave you

I did not have sex with that woman

Baby, baby, baby, I’m gonna leave you

I did not have sex with that woman

Baby, baby, baby I’m gonna leave you

Leave you in the summer time

Babe, babe, babe, babe

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

I’m so emotional right now

Or if the fetus isn’t loved

Those are the real criminals

Those are the real criminals

Those are the real criminals

Babe, babe, babe, I’m gonna leave you

Leave you in the summertime

With a dead sound on the final stroke

With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine

Number nine

Number nine

Number nine

Meer Meer Meer

How do you like it

She was always putting things out of the way.  She was putting things off.

Dying all the time

Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t

Atrocity no one sees

I’m coming down fast but I’m miles above you

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

Baby you got me down on my knees

And now the news

Come on baby light my fire

Light my fire, light my fire, light my fire

Do you want me to love you

O the shark has pretty teeth dear

Dear dear dear dear

Babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe

How can you mend a broken heart

The harmful rays of the sun

Ahhh

Ahh

Ah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CREEP FACTOR

Good comes out of evil and evil comes out of good.

The American people are faced with the following—we see it coming and cannot avoid it:

Either Donald Trump or Bill Clinton will live in the White House by early next year.

The creep factor has never been so high, or so visible, in the American republic.

And yet, if good does come out of evil, the 2016 presidential election will give us all a powerful, unavoidable lesson—things associated with ambition and leadership have a very high creep factor.

This useful understanding will hit us hard: those who live and work in a modest, humble, manner for themselves and their loved ones are the true owners of themselves.

A great, unspoken backlash against creepiness will occur.  Millions of Americans who quietly view the horrid spectacle unfolding in front of them will feel that the greatest virtue and the greatest happiness is honesty, hard work, good taste, intelligence, modesty, ingenuity, and kindness.

This is not to say that one cannot feel a certain pride—for whatever reason—for a particular candidate: this is not a lecture against whomever you might favor; this is not the point of this essay, and as much as democracy always seems troubling, this is okay—what we are merely trying to point out is that the general feeling of creepiness and revulsion and disgust Americans feel right now, in the summer of this election year, in reaching a fever pitch of mass recognition, will trigger a healthy purging, a new and radical appreciation among the American populus of real virtue—and this virtue will naturally and quietly grow tremendously in value.

The creep factor is a safety measure which protects us against wrong; it cannot be intellectualized away; we know it the way we know the smell of sour milk.

The creepy does not have to rise to the level of crime to be noticed—and this is what makes it such an important warning device, and also why it belongs so powerfully to both social relations and aesthetics; it is not ignored, because it can’t be, even though it is often pushed under the rug of public discourse.

Now, the creep factor does interact with libel and slander, and, if there is a question of facts—and we are falsely suspecting creepiness based on hearsay—this obviously is an issue.

But this is something which cannot be denied by the individual who feels it.  It doesn’t have to smell (alluding to our earlier “sour milk” analogy)—it can be known without a doubt even as “the creep” in question denies it, has supporters in high places, has respectability, is liked by many, and even has certain admirable qualities.  The creep factor is something we feel in our bones, even as it flies under legal or public detection.  It can be sensed, even if there is no “smell” at all.  The “creep” can play victim; “the creep” can play all sorts of games, and these games, even when they gain “the creep” public support, only increase the creep factor in our eyes.

It is safe to say that because of the choice we have for president this year, one does not have to get into the pros and cons of either one of the candidates to simply and factually state that, in total, the creep factor of public life in America has never been so high.  We can bemoan this fact, or we can see the good in it: it will lead to a healthy backlash against creepiness in nearly every corner of America.

Some will argue that when creepiness reaches a tipping point in our leaders, a tipping point in public, followers and private individuals will feel the urge to be more creepy, as well.

This may be true up to a point, but the creep factor, thanks to the current election, is so pervasive now, and is felt so significantly in the body politic, that shame and disgust will set in to such an extent that great numbers of citizens, without thinking, will turn in the other direction.

And, as we said, the creep factor affects us—who are not making judgments in a court of criminal law—rather in a social or aesthetic manner; this is the luxury we have as citizens free of the creep factor ourselves: we judge with our more gentle feelings (acute—but gentle) and not in full-blown rage, or malice.  Creepiness is not the same as crime—as when, for instance, a tyrant murders citizens in full view of all and the cowed citizenry’s inaction becomes a license for more terror.

The real and harmful violence of nations (including those of the United States) is certainly a factor that may overlap with a leader’s or a country’s creep factor—but it’s the very nature of the creep factor to belong to the aesthetic realm, occupying that crucial area between warning and harm; the greatest pain and ultimate doom has not yet occurred, and there is still hope.  Without the creep factor as a warning, the human race may have been wiped out long ago.

The creep factor is not conscience or morality; it works at a far more sensitive level, the place where flowers cast forth their delicate perfumes; the place where very small children shyly cling to the necks of their mothers and hide their faces; the place where a secret heart beats loudly, almost in spite itself, for the deepest, sweetest, and purest love, in the throes of the kindest and sweetest ecstasy; and in the place where the superior edge of the musical or poetic genius is felt, and understood, and known.

The creep factor can manifest itself in countless situations, and those who desperately cry, “Creep!” may very well be full of creepiness themselves.

Just as we are not “taking sides” on the election, neither are we “taking sides” when it comes to men versus women—or any of those other divides which divide.

The creep factor can go either way.

The creep factor moves, as delicately as any poem, in the invisible air.

 

 

NEVER THIS

 

Looking deludes you, and those emotions, too.

Women’s magazines present faces

In a way that acknowledges those faces

Free of blemishes are vital images,

So that, for society, the illusionary is true.

A pretty face is like a flower, which is

Banal, not interesting, and hardly new.

Poetry uses metaphor—one object is placed beside another:

Do you want them doing that to you?

Hamlet has to be described exactly,

Or he won’t be emotionally true;

He won’t be able to speak in the word-sea

To the sea of the audience. That cannot be.

But there is one thing that doesn’t delude you—

Except for echo bouncing off sky and ground—

And what I’m talking about, of course, is sound.

Sometimes you don’t know where it’s coming from,

But it’s the most actual thing, when found.

There’s many illusionary empires: empires of kiss,

Empires of intimacy. Silent empires. But never this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT’S FUNNY: TRAGICALLY, THERE ISN’T MUCH TO SAY

penny

Stupidity is measured in only two ways:

Not doing enough.

Doing too much.

Since all literature is concerned with dramatic human activity, and all dramatic human activity (as opposed to engineering, etc) involves stupidity, what we are about to say is absolutely true for all literature.

Our radical thesis is blandly true, yet radical: Stupidity is understood in literature only in terms of the ancient tropes, comedy and tragedy, and perceptually, popularly, in no other way. 

Comedy (Stupidity’s victory) is ‘too little being enough.’

For instance: A blind fool succeeds.

Tragedy (Stupidity’s defeat) is about ‘too little not being enough.’

For instance: O! Had we only done more to save him/her/them!

‘Too much not being enough’ is the sub-tragedy within Comedy and the sub-comedy within Tragedy.

The variable term is ‘enough,’ and the overarching constant is Stupidity.

On either side of ‘enough’ is comedy and tragedy.

Comedy is so easy to explain that it’s funny. In Comedy, in all forms of humor, “enough” is reached very quickly. This is what we mean by a “quick wit.”

In Tragedy, the audience sees the “enough” beyond the reach of the tragic (overly complex) participants.

A  melancholy disposition is akin to tragedy because it has a certain duration: like tragedy, and unlike comedy, melancholy is slow; it has a lastingness. One can never be melancholy for a moment; only humor is momentary.

Tragedy develops.

Comedy does not—or only in those representations which formally mimic tragedy for a comic end (happy resolution).

The denoument of tragedy belongs to the quick, but this quickness is only a “catching-up” from the prior slow development of the tragedy itself, in which “too much” vainly seeks to be “enough.”

Tragedy, which belongs to slow reflective menace, ends suddenly with a sudden death.  Enough is “found” at last in death.

Comedy, which belongs to quick wit, never staying to reflect, ends with marriage, which takes long preparation. Enough is “lost” in open ended, happily-ever-after, revelry.

Detective fiction, the most popular type of fiction in existence, explains a tragedy with a prose patience. Detective fiction is simply where the “critic,” not the “poet,” is the hero. In detective fiction, poetry (tragedy) is explained. Instead of ending with a tragic death after the unfolding tragedy, detective fiction begins with the tragic death and works backwards to reveal the hidden aspects of the crime.

This is why criticism which praises betrays literature and is boring. It is for the simple reason that criticism is like the detective story and a detective story involves folly, stupidity or folly covered up—a crime, a wrong.

This is why cheerleading for literature never works.

Literature requires the wrong (or stupidity) of either comedy or tragedy.

Prose reveals plainly.

Poetry hides beautifully.

Prose is the detective. Poetry is the crime, the tragedy, the ‘too much’ which is not enough, the beauty which is pleasure and would continue forever, precisely because it is pleasurable and beautiful.

The criminal is simply the one who, not obeying society, inappropriately seeks an “Eden,” a paradise of ‘not-having-to-work.’  This lazy and real desire, this attempt creates tragedy, poetry, and the need for detectives and critics.

And now we return to “enough,” for work deals with enough—we have now worked enough, we have now done enough—but not working, paradise (similar, we notice, to parasites) is ideally never-ending, for pleasure is never “enough.”

There is always enough sorrow (stupidity).

There is never enough happiness or pleasure.

Comedy—which is, and which is not, happiness—quickly finds “enough” happiness (superficially) again and again.

Tragedy—which has not, but which seeks, happiness—presents profoundly the profound desire and elusiveness of never-ending happiness.

Enough—perceived superficially is comedy.

Enough—perceived elusively is tragedy.

Enough, in its more substantial form, simply because of its elusiveness, which takes time to find, belongs more to poetry/tragedy. This is the chief reason tragedy gets more respect than comedy.

Above, we wrote, “Poetry hides beautifully.” Poetry/tragedy is a beautiful hiding.

The “hiding” activity of the poet/criminal (which the prose critic/detective/reader is called on to reveal) requires a formalist, material definition, since we need precise measurement to hide X inside of Y. This is the chief reason why great literature is formalist to a remarkable degree: it has to do with the precise hiding principle.

Comedy is when something isn’t hidden, or hidden badly.

Tragedy is when something is hidden well.

Comedy is when low stupidity understands.

Tragedy is when high intelligence does not.

When it comes to popular entertainment, today’s audiences choose what they want to watch by those ancient labels: comedy and tragedy (or murder mystery, the major genre Poe added).

Contemporary literature—literary fiction and contemporary poetry—abandon, out of sophistication, these “labels” for something vaguely realistic or ethical.

We might call this a scientific, experimental maneuver based on wisdom and intelligence.

But here’s the rub.

The realistic and the ethical have no sense of “enough,” precisely because they seek (unconsciously) to be unmoored from the “labels,” comedy and tragedy.

Explanatory science (sans “labels”) has no limit—has no “enough.”  No tragedy, or comedy, or stupidity.

Poets and writers of literary fiction today are more than a little exasperated and puzzled by a public they’ve come to despise, a public which devours popular brands of shallow literature and entertainment, but turns its back on the insight, subtlety and beauty of literary fiction and contemporary poetry.

It would be one thing if the public didn’t read anything; but it is more insulting to contemporary poetry and literary fiction authors that the public spends a great deal of time reading popular, formulaic works.

Stupid people—they read too much (genre) and gain nothing (remain stupid), or don’t read at all, and remain stupid.

But what if comedy and tragedy are not mere “labels?”

What if comedy and tragedy contain a truth more fundamental to reality (the stupidity of enough) than moral or newsy or journalistic or “realistic” nuance literature?

What if the whole notion of what is “enough”—in terms of the duration of a work, what a work is going for, and audience expectation, depends on whether a work is “enough” based on “stupidity?”

Because, really, what is contemporary poetry? (No names, no fame, no cluster of readers, no true influence.)

Isn’t contemporary poetry something not defined as “comedy”or “tragedy?”

And therefore, isn’t it essentially something not really defined at all?

If stupidity is defined by “enough,” and no sense of “enough” exists where contemporary poetry is concerned—on any level whatsoever—how can it even exist in the public’s mind?

No wonder it doesn’t sell.

Comedy and tragedy (as genres) both participate not in reality perhaps—but stupidity, and by that very participation are usefully connected to the whole notion of “enough,” a definition which contemporary poetry completely lacks.

If one wishes to convey the realistic, the overtly ethical, the journalistic, there is, of course, a wide field for that.

It’s called non-fiction.

When Poe invented the new genre of detective fiction, he temporarily dipped into realism; he described an actual crime in New York. (“Marie Roget”)

Of course “real life” informs comedy and tragedy. But these literary genres are what informs, for better or for worse, literature itself, not—flying in the face of common sense—real life.

This is the shocking truth, which is obviously difficult for the sophisticated to understand, and which we now in this essay boldly and sadly declaim.

Tragedy, comedy, and detective fiction—which is really nothing more than tragedy done backwards—are immersed in “real depictions.”  Yes. But Realism versus Idealism is not the issue at all; it’s a false trail.

All fiction and poetry (dramatic human activity of the stupid) belong to the idealism of what is “enough.”

In the non-fiction field, stupidity, too, is a major consideration.

Stupidity is at the core of human society. All feel this more acutely as we mature.

All feelings, from and about stupidity, must be either comic or tragic.

Oscar Wilde was basically correct, then, when he said there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book—a book is either badly or well-written.  But what does it mean to say a book is “well-written?”

The comic and the tragic are not labels.

They have an intrinsic reality deeper than “reality” itself, in terms of all artful expression.

They are simply what literature (to any accessible, popular degree) is.

If your poetry is not aimed at the stupid, it will never have a public. And this is not because the public is stupid! (To assume this would be a grave error.) But for the reasons we have outline above.

In as much as your poetry is not defined immediately in people’s minds as either clearly comic, or clearly tragic, it will never have a public—but the reasons for this must be understood; it is not just a case of “my poetry is happy, or my poetry is sad.” The “enough” factor must be used and understood.

Sophisticates, beware!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I PUSH MYSELF TO THE LONELY EXTREME

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I push myself to the lonely extreme,

Where you—and you—and you—are a dream,

Where every councilor and flying cousin are known

By my poetry alone.

Where every drink and dream contains a pill

Of my extremist will.

Where I go down to the pit of hell—

But one more cigarette will make me well.

They say I shouldn’t rhyme so much; it’s not sincere.

But music kisses plain speech; if trumpet rhymed with fear,

You would find some interest eventually.

Define poetry? A purity of wait-and-see.

Hope is despair that’s free,

Freedom: despair that hopes.

You’re an idiot if you assume others are dopes.

Everyone has imagination. Once, a poem said “kill”

And one died for the rest of the day

Not certain if it was real or play,

And the authorities granted she was frightened to death

By a word whispered by a poet’s breath.

How easily poetry can fill

The vanities with vanity.

Modernity is Dante on the window sill.

Did you read my poem at all?

Did you read my poem and fall?

That’s not what I meant at all.

Not life. Not agony. Not at all.

Breathing life into the whole street

I walk and look and obey my fate.

I focus my mind like a laser beam.

I watch sports for a minute. For the rest of the day I dream.

Comparison, the better and the worse,

Is what human life is made of, of course.

Every second, you compare top-shelf.

My smile wasn’t perfect. So I hid myself.

 

 

 

MY REASONS

My reasons for hating you are in tatters.
All that mattered, no longer matters;
Love has taught a lesson well,
Reason can reason you into hell.
Return is the only reason for seasons;
Love has worth
Only in rebirth;
My reasonable love wants no reasons.
Give me your hand again.

It is true we are nothing; the station,
The travelers, the train.
Life rumbles on without love, without you,
And no one knows, and only the heavy train is true.
Crumbling stone, mute distraction
Is all there is,
A hopeful kiss
Is imagined when we take no action.
Can you give me your hand again?

We float, invisible, through it all,
And the same birds to the same birds call,
And no knowledge of you and I.
A film is a film that matters.  Pictures for pictures cry.
We are invisible by mountains and streams.
When I glimpsed you,
You glimpsed me, too,
But we are silent as dreams.
Will you give me your hand again?

No, it is true, I am not the same.
Our unhappy story is full of shame,
And maybe death must come, after all,
Leaving no memories on the wall,
A wall cluttered, and slippery with dust,
And you go past,
And I leave, because nothing can last,
And we go, indifferently, as we must.
Oh God! Give me your hand again!

 

LET ME BE HONEST AND TRUE

Let me be honest and true.

I am alone, and still madly in love with you.

No one can define poetry,

But I think it is love and honesty,

And from that, follows a truth, which can be said—

—The truest that lives in any head—

Where all the secrets lie

In a vast, ghostly landscape,

Who come out to play in dreams

And so poetry only seems

To be about seeming,

But really it is about truth that is dreaming

About what honesty can do.

I am alone, and still madly in love with you.

 

LOVE IS HORRIBLE WHEN IT ENDS

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Love has no way of knowing what it is,

Because it is so many things:

Lips, songs, the words to songs,

And the soul that listens when it sings.

 

Go—desperate lover, lost, thinking over

The endless disorder and discord of grief—

Into life which assails you: tears, tears,

Misunderstanding, tears drowning your intimate belief.

 

Love has no way of knowing if it comes or goes,

Or whether it loses or wins—

Love is horrible when it ends.

As it begins, begins, begins.

 

WHEN YOU REALIZED POETRY WAS CREEPY

When you realized poetry was creepy,

You were punched in the face by a lie.

You realized what makes you love

Is that which makes you die.

The poem—for you—will be read by friends,

And some of them are beautiful,

With beauty that never ends,

With beauty that makes more beauty in a way

That makes you hate that summer day

When he gave you a poem about fall.

Though of course the poem he gave you could have been about anything at all.

 

 

POETRY IS THE BEST EXCUSE

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Poetry is the best excuse

Not to be serious about anything,

Not to be anything. When poetry asks,

It importunes nothing, it doesn’t care

If you come, or if you come and don’t dance.

When you arrive, and sit in the corner,

You find poetry watching you,

And you are thrilled to know

Poetry wants your secrets; if not now, later,

Or immediately, or you already did

Spill them, even as your lover, poetry, hid.

 

Is it possible that poetry who shames you

By loving you—as she blames you—

Hates you, with a wink—as you feel great—

Can hate you with such love?

Can love you with such hate?

Yes, my secret police of poetry,

You already know your lonely need to talk

Destroys poetry.

Your mind has no authority.

Beautiful evening. Will you take a walk?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROMANIA JUNE 11 2016 A POEM

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The rain after the reading

Cooled the air, and wouldn’t stop.

It invaded us with its sound.

The heart had to hear the rain drop.

 

The heart had to hear the poem

In the reading that we gave,

But sensitivity doesn’t help,

Because sensitivity isn’t brave.

 

The bravery of the brave

Is cowardice in reverse:

Retreating decides to advance.

Rhetoric becomes terse.

 

The hotel clerk comes outside

To ask, “Has the rain stopped yet?”

The poets, after reading, write

Under the awning—so nothing gets wet.

 

 

 

 

ROMANIAN DREAM: SCARRIET EDITOR READS

 

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Here’s some poems read by the fellow in the upper right hand corner:

I HAD A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR FACE

I had a conversation with your face—in my mind—

It is the face, not the conversation, that is kind.

Conversation can laugh, but it has to use tears.

I would rather talk with your face. All the years

That took to make it! Slaughtered armies, forsaken,

Fell in green valleys generations and generations

Before, when your ancient ancestors, startled in peace,

Made confident in building, soothed in war,

Came away sorrowful, by the inspiring spring

Where one drowned once—the waters raged

In love—the god loved those waters more

In the darkness, and the dark hair and eyes,

Practiced to be beautiful among sad cries.

Today, when I glimpse your face which talks

To me instantly, fed by the historical years

Of a story and humor and its grotesques,

Seeking the escape from facts and oozing tears,

My soul cries out inside where I recognize

The something of your face and the everything of your eyes.

It is a waste to explain how your sweetest face,

Dark hair, dark eyes, is a catastrophe for me, a place.

 

YOU CANNOT TELL WHOSE BREATH IS IN THE OBOE

image

You cannot tell whose breath is in the oboe

Or whose hand is on the lyre,

You don’t know which smile wrote the music,

Music escaping the fire,

Murmuring from flower to flower,

Now, in this musical hour.

The windy lyre is tall

Because the notes need a long way to fall.

The black clarinet

Hasnt started playing yet.

What soil makes the music grow?

Atheist! You must admit you do not know.

The unknown bee will never tire

Of collecting honey from your soul,

A lonely soul too lonely to love—

A flat, A minor, a roaring etude of pride.

A fantasy in C finds the only honey you hide

But tomorrow C will not find it.

Your child is a rude child and no one wants to mind it.

A melody in D floats over you like sparks from a dying fire,

Whose breath is in the oboe?

Who plays F and G repeating on the silky sighing lyre?

Which bee hums for you now?

You cannot tell, can you? and you do not want to know

Which string strikes which string in the ancient sighs below.

 

 

 

ASA CRED

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I can’t see over my language,

I can’t see over my speech,

I can’t see over what I’m saying,

Poetry is out of reach.

Let me love you, poetry,

Let me love you, word,

Let me love you, can you

Believe this is not absurd?

Who are you? What do you think of me?

I know this can never be answered,

Not by you, or by poetry.

Who’s got the answer for me?

Will poetry let me see over the wall?

Over the wall, I’m going over the wall!

This is the mystery, over the wall.

I’m going to take a walk. Don’t call.

And may I tell you, I am not it, and you are not it, at all?

 

 

 

 

SCARRIET GOES TO ROMANIA

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Sometimes it pays to be a poet.

Your friendly editor, Thomas (Brady) Graves, is thrilled to announce his invitation to a Romanian literary conference as Scarriet seeks to enlarge its international reputation.

The title of the conference is intriguing, isn’t it?

DISCUTIA SECRETA

Because of my curious nature, I cannot help but indulge my fancy on the nature of a secret.

The first observation which came to me was this:

There are secret things which do not want to be secret.

The poet wishes his poems were read.

And things which are not secret, but which do desire secrecy.

A look on one’s face, which to one’s horror, gives it all away.

Further, there are those things which demand secrecy—but which are not secretive things.

We consider it rude to peek at whatever one is writing or reading on their phone—even though what is on their phone is banal and of no import. (Though if we don’t see it, how will we know?)

One wishes to be secretive about what one is texting—despite the fact it is of no consequence.

Or, we might wish to be secretive because it is of no consequence—one always wants to assume one is owed secrecy—and one is polite if we grant them this secrecy, even if it is unnecessary.

Secrecy is powerful, and usually exciting.

Social interaction, then, is not just about communication.

It is about, in a very real sense, manufacturing the necessity of secrecy.

We believe secrecy is good-–and we show this publicly. Secrecy is a virtue, and the polite respect this virtue.

To communicate, we share—and why do we share? To combat secrecy.

The great paradox at the center of all communication: secrecy is continually both our friend and our enemy, changing from one moment to the next.

It is almost like breathing: each instant of our lives, secrecy good, secrecy bad, secrecy good, secrecy bad.

Perhaps this is why they say a secret will always come out.

It will also always go in.

And this ‘breathing’ is further complicated by the fact that secrecy can be superficial and trivial, or it can protect our very being.

They say, “the truth will set you free.” We typically think of knowledge, of information, of revelation, of telling as that which can save us.

And then one thinks of “Prufrock,” and the lines, “I shall tell you all” and the famous rejection: “That is not what I meant at all.”  The refusal to accept the telling of all is the ‘civilized’ voice in Eliot’s poem.

As a society: We want there to be secrecy.  We want not to know.

And yet—you, you alone who read this—burn to know everything.

 

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