YOUR BITTERNESS, MY LOVE

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You can have your bitterness

And I will have my love.

These days lovers are criminals

And haters are victims. Well, fine.

I will let my poetry in the crevices shine.

You can have your gossip in the shade;

Whatever comforts you,

Whatever little dangers the rumor mill has made,

Hold dearly in your heart, as you go, austerely,

Less happy, hourly, yearly.

Sorry. You cannot take the love I feel away.

Every day, love is what I choose.

But you won. You’re much safer than I.

The bitterness you have none can have, or want, or protect, or lose.

NEW SCARRIET ESSAY: THE CONSERVATIVE IMAGINATION

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The imaginative does not produce a series of images.

Imagination builds coherently upon—what?

The only thing it can build on—the fact.

And the fact exists as fact in only one place—the past.

“The sun will appear tomorrow” is a fact. And its truth may point to the future—but it exists, as facts do, in what has happened.

So it is with revealed religion.  For believers: Christ is sacred because He is gone.  The divinity of Christ, His future glory, depends on the fact that what He did is done.

But let’s not get led down the path of religion too far.

The important scientific point here is that fact, too, exists in what has happened.

The imaginative is conservative.

If the imaginative partakes of the new, it does so by virtue of its connection to the past.

The imagination does not produce a heap of disconnected images.

Chaos is antithetical to the imagination.

Imagination transforms the factual past into the ideal future.

The present is the framed moment of the imaginative work.

The present is over-valued: it is what the unlearned see.

This populist, hyped, over-valuation of the present is why the sacred, sublime truth must stoop to be seen.

The fact, and the rule which the fact expresses, can never be a quirky exception, or a radical new thing, for the past to be the past must be the rule, the fact (what has happened), the cause.

The cause must be substantial and obey rules—and results are just that, effects, and wholly dependent on the cause, the past, the fact—and nothing can be imaginative as a mere effect—the imaginative is that which creates images, effects, feelings—and all that we associate with the imaginative work.

Imagination, therefore, the imaginative faculty itself, is always conservative. Not by choice, or morals, or whim, but existentially so; by all the laws of the universe, the artist who is imaginative is inspired by the factual past.

Every present fact which we casually see (without our imaginations) has a fact hidden in the past which explains it—the present fact we casually see.

The imagination is this fact in reverse. The imaginative work of art explains the past with the present.

Imagination is that which explains the past with some arrangement in the present—the arrangement is the bridge—which makes past and present one, informing the temporal mind.

Ordinary facts, experienced in the present—unlike works of the imagination—hide the past from the the eye which is not expert, or highly discerning. We are fooled by the present fact—react to it only as fact. The imagination is the corrective to this.

What the imaginative loses in present factual-ness it gains in its conservative attachment to cause—to an a priori existence of a past understood precisely because it is the past. Imagination literally creates from fact even as the imagination is not the fact, because imagination takes its identity by the fact that it is not the fact.

We can see by this reasoning that the imagination is what we use to grasp factual reality.

For if one keeps adding present facts to the receiving mind, or the senses, in the present, one will never reach an explanation of the facts—one just keeps adding facts. Adding facts does not get to the fact behind the fact—only the imagination, the faculty which takes the past and leaps with it into the future—with a resting, stop-over discreetness in the present (the art work)—knows and grasps and understands the reason for the facts. Only the imagination is able to glimpse, through hypothesis, what the factual past planned.

TOO MUCH TALK RUINS LOVE

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Too much talk ruins love.

Does she let you keep talking?

Be quiet. Or you’ll be walking.

If you unfurl all you have to say

Love, who looks, who loves looking, will silently turn away.

Love is wordless.

Look more. Speak less.

Love is the deer in the shade.

Love is not what a man with a camera made.

Love is not the swelling music and the try.

Love is the deer who in silence ambles by.

Love is not something you did.

Love is not how you lecture, or kid.

Love is the mist of ignorance

Where she laughed once and you haven’t seen her since.

Love is the shape hidden in a book

Taking her gaze. And there, for a long while, she will look.

The eye is the avenue of love.

And what travels down that avenue

Is her face, when she turns away from you.

 

LOVE ONLY LOVES

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Darling, describe your stubbed toe,

Not your success. Your success everyone will know.

Talk to me about your minor pains,

The sad ones no one understands.

Love only loves when it is low.

Your smile and your goodness belong

To the world. Look at all your photos.

The world has written you a song.

Darling, I will listen to your saddest woe,

The smallest mishaps which make your sadness grow.

The festivities are over. You’re famous. Let’s go

Into the mountains where no one is famous.

There is fresh air

Where none care.

Kiss me. Don’t mention your success.

Or my success. No one needs to know.

Love only loves when it is low.

 

 

 

SEX ROBOTS GO TO WAR

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I’d rather have a Paper Doll to call my own than a fickle-minded real live girl

“Paper Doll” —Lyrics written by Johnny Black 1915, recorded by The Mills Brothers 1942

Get this. The song “Paper Doll” (“when I come home at night she will be waiting, she’ll be the truest doll in all the world”) was composed during WW I and recorded during WW II—two of the more famous international wars of mechanical ferocity—which killed people in great numbers on one hand, and killed chastity in a great number of people on the other—in the western, 20th century disruption of simple, misty, village existence.

The automobile, the cinema. Also hordes of young, robust male soldiers far from home occupying men-depleted foreign towns.

Wars promote murder—and sex.

The man who sleeps with many women, or who desires many women, is not looking for the elusive one, for you don’t need to search for love sexually.  The man who sleeps with many women is escaping the heartbreak of losing “the one.”  “The one”—love and sex living together in one person.

Men all want one love—after the mother, the wife.  All men treasure monogamy with the woman of their dreams.

It is often said humans are not monogamous. This is a falsehood. They are monogamous. They always behave monogamously, even when sleeping around.

The Casanova is a former saint—whose heart was broken by a “fickle-minded real live girl.”

Men, then, are monogamous, and faithful marriage, reflecting what men want, is not a prison, but a paradise.

Unfortunately, war—promoting murder and sex—invades the garden and ruins the dream.

Women, angels who pity and care for men as part of their love for all, mercifully do what they can—to improve the lot of males crushed by circumstance.

Some women genuinely pity males—those males whose ideals have been ruined and who cry out for “paper dolls.”

Or, as we hear in the news today, not “paper dolls,” but “sex robots” (!!) which are said to be just around the corner, if not already here. (!!)

Seductions—by real women, paper dolls, robots, fantasies in the head, or pictures on the wall.  It really doesn’t matter. These are merely the effects of the tortured, miserable, heart-broken male.

Women, for the sake of these devastated men, invented Fickle-ism, a set of accepted behaviors in which women get to be fickle, and not virtuous.

Fickle-ism was invented to save men’s pride: “she left you, not because of your shortcomings, but because women are like that—they are fickle, they can’t be true, they sleep around, they have the attention span of a child. So don’t blame yourself. Go ahead and sleep around yourself. Hurt a woman, in turn. It’s okay. People sleep around. They like sex. That’s what they do.”

Fickle-ism soothed the male ego, a male ego crushed by ruined idealism—the belief in faithful marriage and monogamy.

If the ideal—the “woman of your dreams”—is impossible, at least salvage a little pride for those boys, those idealists, those good men, who really did want love, and who have tasted profound despair.

Fickle–ism often goes by another name.

Feminism.

This month two important Feminist Zeitgeist books have arrived on the market:

Camille Paglia, a pro-porn, anti-feminist, warhorse (the genders are different—Rousseau is wrong: nature, not society is the most important trope when it comes to genders—feminism wrongly makes women “equal” to men while at the same time pushing them into danger) has published a new book (a collection of old essays, actually) called Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender and Feminism

Laura Kipnis is a film professor at Northwestern, who recently got into some Title IX trouble where she teaches.  Her just-released book, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes To Campus, documents today’s “sexual paranoia on campus.”  According to Kipnis, women on campus are being turned into helpless victims, into easily-triggered children, and feminism, which seeks to empower women, is, in the name of advancing women’s rights, actually turning back the clock to an era of women as helpless damsels in distress—-and she pins much of the blame on the Department of Education’s hyper-feminist Title IX funding reality (no school will bite the hand that feeds it) expanded to a hyper-sensitive degree in 2011 by the Obama administration.

Kipnis points out that males are fighting back, in court, with lawsuits, against current, repressive, paranoid, feminism in the universities.

Kipnis is a Freudian. She believes in repression as Freud defines it. Taboo sex with siblings and parents is something she’ll explore in her classroom. She admits to sleeping with “a professor or two” as a student. All part of student life, as she sees it.

Kipnis thinks it’s okay for professors and students to have sex.

A male professor at her university lost his job—he got drunk with a female student (who was below the legal drinking age) on an art gallery “date” and the student stressed out afterwards (she ended up at his apartment) and brought a complaint.

Kipnis defends the professor.

The stories by professor and student of what happened on the night in question differ. But both agree they were at a jazz club, at midnight, and they were drunk, and kissing. Kipnis spends a lot of time on minor details of the evening and feels the student lied about some things.

The basic facts, however, clearly point to a professor’s behavior not in keeping with the idea of a university.

It’s a mystery how anyone can condone professors drinking, or sleeping with, students.

Let’s ask: What is a university?

Simply it is this: Professors assigning work and grading students for that work.

There is no university worth the name if professors don’t do this job.

A student may attend college and not do school work. That’s her choice. The university still exists if a student attends, and chooses not to be studious.

But if the professor drinks with the student—what is that?  That’s no longer a university.  It’s something else.  And if a professor has sex with a student?  That’s not a university, either.  How can a transcript of grades from that university be trusted? How can we trust any grade the professor awards that student?

As a Freudian, Kipnis believes there’s always a danger to forbidding something—you make it more alluring.  Perhaps murder (or sleeping with your mother!) has a certain attraction for some, because it’s forbidden—but that’s no reason not to have laws against it.

Kipnis writes that it was not until 2012—very recently—that her school forbid professors from dating students.  This is pretty shocking.  Should it be okay for professors to date students?  Really?  And Kipnis doesn’t like the new rule.  She thinks college students are old enough to date whom they choose, and that young women should not be treated like vulnerable, helpless creatures. Kipnis, believing herself a good feminist, doesn’t think women need to be protected from men, except, of course, when the man is a criminal rapist.

Paglia is different.  She believes all men are rapists at heart. This is how nature made them. Paglia believes women do need to be careful.  She believes women are powerful femme fatales with sexual allure. They are not, nor should they try to be, just like men.  Paglia laughs at the idea that gender is a social construction.  Nature, red in tooth and claw, rules the night, according to Paglia.

On college campuses, the following is definitely on the rise: a woman (often drunk) will sleep with a guy, and then decide he “raped” her, and accuses him—and the guy’s life is destroyed.

Kipnis believe this is what happened to the professor—in the case she examines in her book, Unwanted Advances, the case which she referenced earlier in a Chronicle of Higher Education article—which brought feminist protests against her, fueling the eventual publication of Unwanted Advances.  Kipnis is reasonable—she concedes the professor made some poor choices, and can see why the university had to let him go; but she does go to a lot of trouble, a great deal of trouble, it seems, to defend him, and makes the case that a troubled, man-hating, feminist student used the college rules to destroy him.

Kipnis believes the feminists who hate men and cry rape at every chance are out of control.  No one would disagree that false cries of rape and abuse are wrong.

As a feminist, Kipnis believes feminism has gone too far, and is making women weak.

Kipnis thinks women should be strong, independent, curious, and ambitious—and sleep and drink with whomever they want.

Paglia would say this is naive.

There are three things at play here.

One, Actual rape, or whatever is objectively and measurably criminal—which everyone condemns.

Two, Sex, and the whole range of regrets, recriminations, doubts and misgivings which might come to light afterwards—and the question of who is having sex with whom.

And finally, Institutional Integrity.  Which cannot exist if professors sleep with students.

Number two (Sex)—and, with Kipnis,  Number three (Institutional Integrity) is where Fickle-ism, or Feminism strongly gets involved, and tends to mess everything up.  Women are feminist—that is, they are fickle.  Free and unpredictable.  Just like guys.

People tend to be free and unpredictable.  Sure.  Agreed.  But this is not the point.  Free to do what?  Unpredictable in what ways?  Only the context makes the “free” good or bad.

The fickle is never, in itself, good.

To repeat.  Women were being good to men when they invented Feminism—or Fickle-ism.

Fickle-ism, as we’ve seen, salvages men’s pride.  You got your heart broken? She left you? Don’t feel bad.  Women are free agents. Women are not passive flowers for men’s enjoyment. They have their own minds. They are wanton, indecisive, free, and fickle.

But men don’t need this.

Men need to accept it if they are rejected by a woman.  There’s always a good reason why.  It’s not because women are fickle. Or stupid. Or bad.

Not that men and women will not be fickle sometimes, make bad choices, or make cowardly choices.  But when it comes to laws and rules, feminism and fickle-ism should never be a factor.  Laws should not promote bad behavior, but good behavior.

Bad people making mistakes and bad choices will always be a problem.

But bad laws are far worse.

Kipnis is correct to push back against the excesses of police-state feminism.

She is utterly wrong, however, to object to the rule which forbids professors from sleeping with students—and therefore her entire argument collapses.

Fickle-ism will tend to do that to any argument.

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THE FALL FALLS

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The fall falls and the leaf is dry.

All your reflected beauty, Cynthia,

Is beautiful, but will die.

Look! The mist drowses.

The breeze blows your belief back into your eyes.

This is love—if you let me lie.

All the mists that sit upon the hill

Are drowsy, slumbering, and still.

The evening holds you, Cynthia.

The day is bright, but has no will.

The night should be peaceful

If you take the precarious pill.

The fall falls and the leaf is dry.

Love was always convincing the eye

While lips were content to lisp and lie.

Love was always convincing the face

Love is water, and has no place.

You have decided

The world was right when it derided.

You have desires none can fulfill.

Look at the mist on the misty hill.

Look at the sunset going down in the grasses.

The fall falls.

What is beautiful is beautiful, but eventually passes.

ANY SONG

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Any song you hear with him

You can hear with me.

Any thought you have,

Any connection or memory

You have with him you can have with me.

The favorite things you count on, or like to do

Are yours. They belong to you.

And my studied indifference and his are the same.

You can be angry with him, or have me to blame.

We can erupt into laughter, or you can laugh with him,

You can kiss the cloudy pink darkening rim

Of the evening the way the horizon kisses the sun.

It’s not really you. But you decide which one.

 

 

THE CHARMS OF WOMAN

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The charms of woman are not that many

And are easily bought—by a pretty penny.

If they have charms, they are human charms:

Conversation, eyes, comforting arms.

If you want to insult a woman

Praise her as a female human,

Ass, tits, cunt: things common to her

Are insulting and vulgar.

How can insults be praise?

Whether steamy nights or plain days?

So what are the charms we find?

There’s no such thing as a female mind,

Since all humans have them; none

On earth could see without the sun

Or think without a mind.

To say “the sun is male” would be unkind,

And “the mind” has no gender exactly the same;

So “female mind” is just a term to blame.

What is a female charm?

Can we say? Without doing harm?

Children have charms, soft things have charm, true,

But these insult. Littleness won’t do.

The soprano ability to sing

Might be the only thing,

But even that is done by a man;

Whatever she can do, he can.

Female animals are needed on a farm,

But how can we name a female charm?

We cannot say anything at all.

And finally, they love men. Ah. Ironic fall.

 

 

YOUR DISAPPOINTMENTS AND YOUR TEARS

Smile that gleams like a star.

Smile that seems to be everything you are.

I knew you before I loved you,

And then my loving grew,

My love became pleased at all my imagination could do:

To walk by your side, even though I didn’t know you, in the past,

With perfect admiration, not worrying whether things would last.

Love was easier when the first quiet admiration knew

To build a world and a place for it and a sky

And love, lovely in its wings, tumbled with ease after flying very high.

To be lighter than air

Was the aim of my love, to dwell softly in your soft hair,

To be shadow and light—kissing you everywhere.

Did I know you long ago, in those sad years,

When you lived in your disappointments and your tears?

 

Smile that gleams like a star.

Smile that seems to be everything you are.

I loved you before I knew you

After seeing you in a picture or two.

I felt I knew everything. I was pleased at what your eyes and smile could do.

My heart departs in an hour,

I am in, and I’m looking forward to meeting you;

Were I to hold you, and understand your power:

To make everything seem immediately new,

I would not feel the need to go

Into the inner regions. And your poem tells me: you know.

I admire you, living inside your beauty,

And I love, with certainty,

Your smile—as I know you smiled—smiling in all those years

Despite your disappointments and your tears.

 

Smile that gleams like a star.

Smile that seems to be everything you are.

I decided to love you madly.

Was it because every time you smiled, you smiled somewhat sadly?

The smile that smiles sadly is the smile that sees me.

You saw me with your smile, your paintings, your poetry,

And I felt, though it wasn’t, your smile looking directly at me

And without a thought whether it was wrong or right

I found myself thinking of you before I fell asleep at night,

And waking up, in love, the morning entirely new.

I am in love with you.

Your smile confronts my enemies and my years—

Your smile ends my disappointments and my tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINAL ROUND ONE PROSE BRACKET BATTLE IN MADNESS: DICKENS VS. HAWTHORNE

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The young Nathaniel Hawthorne. He aged quickly.

Empires are obsessed with money.

Their colonies are obsessed with sex.

The greatest author of the British Empire, Charles Dickens, invented Scrooge.

The first great prose writer in America, Nathaniel Hawthorne, wrote a famous book about adultery, The Scarlet Letter.

Religion handles the problem of sexual misconduct—the poor, with their suffering, often find their only real pleasure in sex; the rich have many pleasures, and sex might be one of them: money buys all.

Dickens was immensely popular in England, (the first serialized fiction writer; like TV before TV) but due to international copyright laws, his works were published at no cost in the United States—Edgar Poe complained vociferously of this, because U.S. authors were slighted, since American publishers would rather print British works for free than take a chance on an American author.  Poe, gentleman that he was, cared for money, fame, and country (he did not write about sex).  Dickens agreed with Poe, and on a tour of America in 1842, Dickens collected and delivered to the U.S. Congress signatures of American authors who were against the international copyright laws which hurt both Dickens and Poe.

Hawthorne was a strange, reclusive man, whose ancestor was a Salem witch trial judge, and he married an artistic, reclusive woman.  They did have three children, and Hawthorne was certainly a man of the world, but his fiction deals with madness and secret desires.

Dickens wrote from the Christian, domestic center of an expanding worldwide empire and his morals were sunny and simple—despite London nearly ruling the world, London was full of the wretchedly poor, and Dickens wrote for them.

And this line sums up Dickens quite well:

A loving heart is the truest wisdom

When Hawthorne was a boy living in Salem, two events darkened his life: first, his sailor father died of yellow fever at sea, and second, president Thomas Jefferson imposed a shipping boycott—a response to Great Britain’s piratical belligerence in the early 19th century—which crushed maritime Salem’s economy.

Hawthorne died when the American Civil War was still raging. Pictures of him in his 50s (he died at 59) show a very old man. He was first recognized as a great author by Poe, with some reservations, since Hawthorne belonged to the Transcendentalist clique Poe disliked; Poe theorized brilliantly on the short story while reviewing Hawthorne’s tales—the Scarlet Letter was published after Poe’s death, and there’s whispers Hawthorne’s most famous work was based on the rumored affair of Poe and Fanny Osgood.

Hawthorne wrote, not for an Empire, but for an incestuous, puritan village.

Dickens’ characters had funny names.  Hawthorne’s characters had funny souls.

Here is Hawthorne’s line in the March Madness contest:

She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.

Who is the greater genius?

The soaring, sentimental Dickens?

Or the burrowing, burning Hawthorne?

Purgatory puffing a pipe?

Or hell awake under a stone?

 

 

 

SCARRIET SUCCESS

We are busy at Scarriet—publishing new posts on almost a daily basis: original essays, poems, epigrams, Scarriet March Madness Poetry contests—in its 8th year, going on right now, Scarriet Poetry Hot 100’s, you tubes of poem readings, and even song compositions.  And one day we would like to repeat our successful Scarriet Poetry Baseball Leaguein 2010 (when I was teaching English Composition as an adjunct professor and working full time at my real job) Blog Scarriet ran an entire season with 16 teams of all-time poets with entire lineups, pitching staffs, trading deadlines, statistics, pennant races, and a world series—Philadelphia Poe defeated Rapallo Pound.

Scarriet Poetry Hot 100 allows us to bring attention to poets who are not famous yet, but who have written wonderful things: Daipayan Nair, Stephen Cole, Sushmita Gupta, Payal Sharma, Mary Angela Douglas, Nalini Priyadarshni, Philip Nikolayev, Paige Lewis, Valerie Macon, George Bilgere, Kushal Poddar, Joe Green, Cristina Sanchez Lopez, Merryn Juliete, Chumki Sharma, Stephen Sturgeon, Simon Seamount, Lori Desrosiers, and Noah Cicero.

This is a personal note to just say THANK YOU to all our readers—as we head towards a million views since our founding in 2009.  “The One Hundred Greatest Hippies Songs Of All Time” (published in February 2014) still gets over 2,000 views a week.  “The Top One Hundred Song Lyrics That Work As Poetry” (published in 2013) still gets 1,000 views a week.  And posts like “Yeats Hates Keats: Why Do The Moderns Despise The Romantics?” (published in 2010) are constantly re-visited.

A poet (who I’ve never met) on Facebook, Linda Ashok, originally from Kolkata, today requested her FB Friends share “what’s happening to your poetry” and, without thinking, I quickly wrote a post—and realized your friendly Scarriet Editor has been up to quite a lot, lately, and Scarriet readers might as well hear about it:

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Shohreh Laici  who lives in Tehran and I are working on a Persian/Iranian poetry anthology—in English.   (See Laici’s translations of Hessamedin Sheikhi in Scarriet 11/26/16)

My critical study of the poet Ben Mazer will be published by Pen & Anvil Press.

My review of Dan Sociu’s book of poems Mouths Dry With Hatred  is in SpoKe issue 4

Also in SpoKe issue 4: is my review of the Romanian poetry scene (after attending Festival de Literatura, Arad, 9-12 June 2016, Discutia Secreta)

Thanks to poet and professor Joie Bose, I participated in Kolkata’s Poetry Paradigm Coffee for a Poem on World Poetry Day, March 21, in Cambridge MA.

Charles River Journal will be publishing chapters of my Mazer book.

Facebook and Scarriet is where it all happens: so I’m actually not that busy—the literary world comes to me!

Below: the new family dog.  If I don’t walk her, she pees in my bed.  Seems fair.

Image may contain: people sitting, dog, living room, table and indoor

 

 

THE MADNESS CONTINUES. STEPHEN CRANE VERSUS D.H. LAWRENCE

 

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Stephen Crane. 1871–1900  Red Badge of Courage ponders the American Civil War bloodbath.

This prose bracket contest features war (Crane) and  love (Lawrence)—and it probably doesn’t get any better than this.

Ironically, (of course—what do you expect with war and love?) the war passage is peaceful, and the love quotation is warlike.

The horror of war, the beauty of horror, the resting aspect of war, the natural inevitably of war, is captured for all time by Stephen Crane:

The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.

Meanwhile, D.H. Lawrence, for whom love and passion was a religion (why is this not true of all of us?  Perhaps it is), injects horror into love—which makes it real love, unfortunately.

He kissed her, and she quivered as if she were being destroyed, shattered.

The glimpse into truth carried by words always has an irony for us—since words are removed from reality.

Aren’t they?

 

THE LIQUID BLACK

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I remember her face,
Classical and long,
Like a Mediterranean song.
I remember her neat lips
Always had a faint smile,
For she knew I wanted her all the while.
I remember her nose.
Any woman going to a plastic surgeon would cry
“I want one of the those.”
My praises didn’t lie.
Her breasts I pressed against
Could not be fenced.
When I praised her, she would half-agree;
My praises brought out a dull modesty.
She was not a poet; the praises I spoke
Would produce from her, at best, a self-effacing joke.
She wouldn’t love me back
In the same way.
A few times she blurted out
Her love. The rest of the time I was in doubt.
Why was she unsure? I cannot say.
I remember her head flung back,
The divine liquid black
Which made her face divine,
Failing for a moment to cover
Her face gracefully, a sign
She could be ugly,
The first sign: I didn’t love my lover.

 

I SURRENDERED

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I held my breath under the New England trees.
The grass was soft where I bent my knees,
By the broken twigs and flowers, and I wept openly in the park
Until large buildings were immersed in the evening and the puddles after the rain were dark.

A thought came into my heart difficult
To forget. Could I forget what I felt?
I couldn’t. I couldn’t forget cold numbers or the old address,
Or what it seemed to be, and loosely what it was attached to, historically, or less.

I made my way into a patch of woods
Where the shadows had hidden us. The moods
Of love are many, and some of those moods are pain.
I walked with a fistful of flowers out of the woods to the lane.

I remember thinking I remembered
That I had been good, though I couldn’t remember,
And I made inside myself a thousand pacts
That I would be good and safe: my remembrances, my acts.

You want me to surrender. But I surrendered long ago.
You wonder if I love you. Was it so difficult to know?

PROSE BATTLE IN MADNESS: WILLIAM GADDIS AND JONATHAN SWIFT

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The post-modern novelist William Gaddis

To be post-modern is to be self-referencing in a despairing sort of way, and who has time for the egotistically bleak?

Gaddis said the writer was the “dregs” of his work and the work was all-important. But he protested too much, for post-modernism is where “dregs” is the “work.” OK, this defines modernism, but post-modernism was the most superficial attempt imaginable to escape modernism, this being the whole point. “Modern” and “post-modern” talk was mostly legitimized by over-serious scholars marking “eras” for  convenience for textbooks for modern art classes. University taking a vocational turn towards fashion.

We don’t have time for William Gaddis, but to be kind to him, we have even less time for post-modernism. Time has no time for it, either. It’s already past, and will leave Warholian personality quirks as its mark. Modern was already post-modern: Duchamp’s urinal (1917) became Warhol’s Brillo boxes (1964). Ironic branding existed in 18th century peasant fashions. Post-modern is the attempt to pretend Modern—or Modernism—was ever “modern” at all. I almost said “in the first place,” but “at all” is better. Post-modernism is merely the continuation of Hamlet’s winking madness. A gang of anti-corporate artists: The Weavers? The Beatles? Or the Velvet Underground?

The mischief makers of anti-corporate sincerity inevitably are killed by legal sharks. Upon the stone barriers of bottom line legality flying imagination crashes. Idiots want what they want; those who attempt to wake up the idiots end up as some definition of the criminal. One wonders why the world is full of dumb fucks and the answer is simple: happier to be a dumb fuck with everyone else than be a miserable lone fuck at odds with all the dumb fucks. Happiness is a law.

Which brings us to the words of William Gaddis in our Scarriet Madness Prose bracket:

“Justice?—You get justice in the next world; in this world you have the law.”

Does it have a chance against an 18th political pamphleteer and Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Jonathan Swift?

We don’t think it does:

“When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that all the dunces are in confederacy against him.”

We vastly prefer the Swift.

But the law might feel differently—especially if the dunces are using it.

 

 

 

MAKE ME WANT YOU

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Make me want you, but don’t give in

To my poetry, my poetry of desires;

The best poems burn with helpless fires;

A poem wins if the poet doesn’t win.

For my poems as poems to grow

Lead me on and on and then say no.

Let me see your twinkling breast,

So in my mind I get no rest.

Let me see your face

So I slow down my pace.

Give me your sweetest laugh

So I make gaffe after gaffe after gaffe,

And finally, in a sweat,

Write a poem they can’t forget.

Get me into my swimming head

By keeping me out of your bed.

Lure me down countless, countless roads

Covered by vegetation, thick and green,

Snaking along turbulent waters by lighthouses unseen,

Where barking Brahms harmonies call in secret codes,

And the passing night is punctuated with fog and mist.

Leave me on a Saturday,

So that I ponder for a week that’s grey.

And if we did, deny we ever kissed;

Get me to believe you will never

Hold me or kiss me, again, ever, ever;

Or much better, please don’t ever kiss me

And get me, when you see me, to think

You might possibly get on to me;

Get me believing the possibility there might be a link

To a figure made of cloth, gems, or stone,

Who cannot think, but thinks it thinks, when it is alone,

Turning in its orbit as if hope lived yet

To hope. Be disdainful, but not too cold. Get

Me to feel my fond desire for you

Could be a long series of poems. Resist. That’s all you have to do.

I think about you day and night.

You didn’t know?  Now you know why poets write.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE PROSE BRACKET MADNESS: HEMINGWAY VERSUS MRS. MILES

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Poetry was going down the tubes fast in 1936.

Mad Edna Millay (“what lips my lips have kissed and where and why…”) was about to be replaced by a grey suit…

Paul Engle, with his Iowa Masters Degree (for a book of mediocre poems) and his Yale Younger Poetry Prize (for the same book of mediocre poems) was launching the Iowa Writer’s workshop, which would change the poetry landscape forever—millions of students and professors rushing in where Shelley (a drop-out) feared to tread.

In the 19th century Byron performed physical acts of daring.

In the 20th century, there was no Byron. There was Wallace Stevens—who got beat up, by Hemingway, a prose writer.

The poets were not swimming the Hellespont. They were becoming professors.

Blame it on the Russians, if you want.

College loans (for bad poets) in the United States began with Sputnik.

Paul Engle raised money—for his Iowa Workshop, and later, for his International Writing Program at Iowa—from the Rockefeller Foundation, to fight communism.

Engle writing to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1960, in the wake of the successful Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957:

I trust you have seen the recent announcement that the Soviet Union is founding a University at Moscow for students coming from outside the country…thousands of young people of intelligence, many of whom could never get University training in their own countries, will receive education … along with the expected ideological indoctrination. 

Poetry training in the United States became “indoctrination,” too.

But it was different.

The CIA funded Modern Art to counter Soviet Realist Art—this is crazy, but it happened.

Engle’s “indoctrination” was of a perfectly harmless kind: an anti-indoctrination indoctrination in the unique American way:

Earn a degree and become a poet! Teach others, so they can earn a degree and become a poet! Poetry! Freedom! Freedom! Money! Poetry Workshops! Freedom! Poetry! Money! Poetry! Freedom!

It was exciting. I knew the extrovert Paul Engle—in person.  Poetry! Freedom! Money! is precisely the kind of energy he gave off.

Here in the 21st century, the faucet cannot be turned off.  Trained university poets, training, granting, publishing, are now a flood. The game is on. Fame and poetry are hidden away. If money is like water, poetry is being written on it.

Hemingway (informally tutored by the crazed and clever poet, and modern art collector, Gertrude Stein) was the muscled prose writer who enjoyed vast fame—as poetry was dancing its strange, crooked dance into the university.

This is what the public thought they wanted. Hemingway:

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.

Real simple prose is almost like poetry sometimes.

Something was going on here.

Prose, simple as a fist, is poetry?

Poetry can easily rush into complexity, and the temptation is great for poets to fling themselves upwards in a funeral pyre of words—but the funeral is theirs.

Poetry is anti-complex.

Hemingway was a poet—(when he wasn’t writing badly, which he often did)–if simplicity is poetry.

And when pretense and experiment is the only other game in town–-it is.

Up against Hemingway, in the 2017 March Madness contest, is Mrs. L. Miles.  Yes, that was her moniker when she published her book on phrenology in 1836.

This is not poetry.  This is real prose, extraordinary for what it says:

The loss of one eye does not destroy the vision. The deafness of one ear does not wholly deprive us of hearing. In the same manner Tiedman reports the case of a madman, whose disease was confined to one side of his head, the patient having the power to perceive his own malady, with the unimpaired faculties of the other side.

Certainly this applies to the twin vision of poetry and prose, and we think it explains why millions, without poetry in their souls, can fool us into thinking they love us, and are sane.

 

 

PORN IN MINIATURE

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John Ashbery has been fooling around with girls on the side.
Do you believe this? Decide. Decide.
If you need attention,
It pays to be outrageous and get a mention
In whatever forum supplies
Notice to paint brushes, arms or eyes.
They will end up asking where you have been,
Maybe even ask about the tears your tears have been splashing in.
Life can be sentimental and real
But poems need to be reticent, and not really show how you feel.
The gypsy can stomp and shout,
But please don’t tell the modern reader what your poem’s about.
Otherwise, you know, the charge
Of sentimentality will be leveled at your Cleopatra on the barge;
Her look, as you’ve described it here,
Is too much like a diamond shining in a diamond-shaped tear.
So look to your necklace, your locket, your phone
Which is calling you now, in a frail, low moan.

 

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD AND OSCAR WILDE FACE OFF IN THE PROSE BRACKET SCARRIET MARCH MADNESS 2017

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F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Great Gatsby is a beloved American novel—a short novel—almost like a long poem.  The writing is delicate, sensitive; the narrator is reflective, sad, moral, demure—not really part of the action; an innocent, bemused witness.  The trope is similar to Watson observing Sherlock Holmes—a trope lifted from Poe’s invention of detective fiction: the teller of the tale tells the reader what is just beyond the teller’s comprehension.

The theme and lure of Gatsby is America’s freedom—freedom that’s wicked: wealth of a dubious nature—beautiful wealth growing from the soil of crime.  And love of a dubious nature—the freedom of adulterous love.

Nick Carraway is us—when we are young, and try our first novel: what’s this big, grown-up, world all about, anyway?  Ugly, seedy, wrong.  But the author will make it beautiful.  Or, sublimely ridiculous, that so amid the tragedy you can (holding the understanding author’s hand) almost—laugh.  And Gatsby is also us—that’s what finally makes Fitzgerald’s book great; we identify not just with the narrator, but with Gatsby.

Fitzgerald succeeds in making his story beautiful, as well; before he was destroyed by alcohol, F. Scott Fitzgerald had high ideals; Fitzgerald rhapsodized over the poet, Keats (who also won highest accolades from Poe as “always a poet of beauty”) and The Great Gatsby achieves a beauty, as we see in the very last line of the book:

And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Oscar Wilde had a sharp wit—he was plying the same trade as Fitzgerald: making the tragedy of life palatable with a mind that greatly understands.

Wilde, like any genius, fights for happiness—genius is a defense against all the meanness of the world.

One can see him winking when he says:

Always forgive your enemies—nothing annoys them so much.

Christ told us to forgive our enemies—and the pleasure-seeking brute in us protests—“forgive our enemies?  That’s no fun!

The admonition to forgive our enemies robs us of energy in a desire for justice, and cheats us out of the pleasure of defeating our enemies.

But not so fast, Wilde says.  When you forgive your enemies, “nothing annoys them so much.”

And here, in a single stroke, Wilde restores the passion and the energy of justice—while remaining true to Christ’s suggestion.

The Great Gatsby does this, and a certain kind of fiction does this—it presents “enemies”—characters, whom, if we met in real life, we would fear, or hate—and the author attempts to make it possible, even as we shudder at their wrong, to forgive them.

 

 

THE PROSE BRACKET: HOLMES VS. ORWELL

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Eric Blair changed his name to George Orwell to hide from Stalin. 

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

–George Orwell

A dinner party is the last triumph of civilization over barbarism. Conversation depends on how much you take for granted. Vulgar chess-players have to play their games out; nothing short of the brutality of an actual checkmate satisfies their dull apprehensions. But look at two masters of that noble game! White stands well enough, so far as you see; but Red says, Mate in six moves;—White looks, —nods;—the game is over.

–Oliver Wendell Holmes

George Orwell is famous for expounding the truth of government control: lying that blatantly misleads and so breaks the will of resistance.  It’s a two step process. A lie—so obviously a lie, that it is also a form of oppression. The imposition of totalitarian thuggery on a sovereign nation—the Soviet state, in the modern era of advanced communication—and spying—caught the attention of an eccentric, rough-and-ready-yet-awkward, British Empire civil servant, who was born in India, and who served in Burma in the Imperial Police: yes, that’s right— George Orwell himself was an Orwellian Policeman who worked for the British Empire.

George Orwell was working towards a British identity in a H.G. Wells/Bertrand Russell free love, atheistic, homophobic (he called friend and associate Stephen Spender a “pansy”) socialist-but-watch-out-for-the-Soviet-Reds, keep-a-patronizing-eye-on-the-English-working-class, whip-the-school-boy-when-necessary, ramble-in-the-woods, tinker-in-the-garden, blow-up-a-chemistry-set, play-a-prank-or-two, good-cup-of-hot-tea-and-milk, traditional England, sort of way. He loved London. He hated Moscow. Orwell is a great deal simpler than he might seem. To be an eccentric Englishman is to be, quite matter-of-factly Orwellian, through and through—if you haven’t met one of these types, already.

Orwell is that special kind of hero to every western, post-War intellectual—the anti-Stalinist Leftist. He wrote two classics exposing, first in a fairy tale, and then in a dystopian thriller, totalitarian, ideological, mind control, Soviet-style, Communism—or, the CIA Deep State, if you like. He was deeply involved in working class, leftist, journalism and politics, and his two famous books were probably good because, in both, he was able to take a holiday and write fiction to indirectly say what he otherwise strenuously and directly said, and lived: shot in the throat by a sniper in Spain while fighting against Franco, threatened and decried by Stalinists, fighting for socialism, surviving the blitz, writing non-fiction, working part-time jobs, falling ill a lot, chasing women, traveling, and playing a tramp (spying) in poor districts as a journalist.

Writing Animal Farm must have been a lark for this non-stop, chain-smoking, frail, driven, adventurous, wreck of a man who died at 46.

He wrote the Alice in Wonderland of the 20th century about the Soviet Union.

He updates the Victorian classic with absurdism still the underlying trope:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. (1984)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Fire Side Poet who knew Emerson, who lived in Massachusetts, a physician and man of letters, is the American 19th century liberal, ready to join the English and punish the Russians and Germans. Checkmate is moves away, but as certain to come as high tea. Holmes is the brilliant 19th century, free-thinking American—not quite the same thing as an early 20th century, free-thinking, British eccentric, but close. We assume there is much too much evil in the world—so no need to play out the chess match. Accept the match is over.  The U.S. and Britain are to rule the world.  Haven’t you heard?

But what is this? Neither Red nor White have surrendered!

They are still playing!

After numerous overtimes, steady Holmes edges eccentric Orwell!

FROST AND BUKOWSKI: POETRY ROUND ONE

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Charles Bukowski goes up against Robert Frost in this final Round One Poetry Bracket contest.

These are 20th century poets, so don’t expect beautiful poetry.

Bukowski is essentially the child (whoring and drinking whiskey) who utters homely truths which the educated are forced to admit are true.

There’s nothing worse than too late

And there you go.  Who can deny this?  Isn’t he right?

Robert Frost, like Emerson, Melville, and Whitman, first found fame in Great Britain, which, until World War Two, was the World’s English Professor for those seeking literary fame.

The American poet Amy Lowell was visiting London at the same time, fighting with Ezra Pound and his buddy, Ford Maddox Ford—who wanted Amy’s America to join the bloodbath against “the Huns” in the approaching Great War, and Amy would have none of it. Frost, who had a curmudgeon loner streak, kept away from this fight.

Frost’s first two volumes of verse were published in London in 1913 and 1914, just as England was crying for war and it was getting underway.

Then while the genocide was occurring, in 1915, Frost slipped back to America, at the age of 40.  Frost won the first of his four Pulitzer Prizes in 1924, and began teaching at Bread Loaf in 1921, helping to pioneer America’s dubious yet successful Writing Program industry.

Bukowski was born in Germany in 1920—to a German-American sergeant in the American army occupying a defeated Germany after WW I.

Growing up in Los Angeles, a socially withdrawn Bukowski was ridiculed as a boy for his German accent, and frequently beaten by his unemployed father.

Frost goes against Bukowski with his famous

Two roads diverged in a wood and I—took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” was inspired by Edward Thomas, a English poet and walking companion when Frost lived in England; Frost thought Thomas was too fussy about what road they took on their rambles around the English countryside.  Thomas died in the slaughter of World War I.

The wars of the 20th century throw long shadows over all, even these two poets, Bukowski and Frost, who were not soldiers themselves.

The kid who was ridiculed as a kid for his German accent wins.

 

BLAKE AND TENNYSON ROUND ONE BATTLE IN POETRY BRACKET, MADNESS 2017

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William Blake, the Romantic Era painter and poet (1757–1827) is the author of many famous lines of poetry.

He seeks the crown of this season’s Scarriet Poetry March Madness with this one:

He who mocks the infant’s faith
Shall be mocked in age & death

But he’s up against a monster!

Alfred Tennyson’s

Blow bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

Poetry participates in sound.

The Modernists make the absurd claim that poetry can be prose—which implies that prose cannot be poetic.  But. Yes. Prose can be poetic—-in every manner in which the Modernists define poetry—and so we see the complete absurdity of the Modernist definition of poetry—which is no definition at all.

If there are no rules for baseball, there is no baseball, there is chaos, and there is already plenty of chaos in the universe.  But if there are rules for baseball, we have baseball, which adds to the world’s enjoyments.  Rules add. Freedom subtracts. One should celebrate definitions and rules—for they produce bountyScarcity, anxiety, and boredom come about when definitions and rules are destroyed.

We love the sentiment of Blake’s couplet, and the strange and marvelous “infant’s faith.”

But the Tennyson is pure poetry of the highest kind.

Blake’s is the impulse for poetry.

Tennyson’s is poetry.

Tennyson wins.

 

 

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