PITY ME

Image result for romeo in renaissance painting

Pity me that I use this elaborate lie

To make me happy.

When did truth make anyone happy?

The truth is sad—or when happy, we doubt its validity,

So if this elaborate lie makes me happy,

And you detect the lie, yet, pity me;

And to properly pity me, say nothing.

I call my lie elaborate, because I thought of everything.

I live in my happiness alone

And it requires nothing from you.

Everyone knows the best lie

Requires no one else to say

Anything—you don’t need to kiss me like you used to do;

Keep on giving me that angry eye

Like you did today.

I never hated you. I love you. That’s the lie.

The lie makes me happy. And to love, I will always lie.

A lie lives forever. Only a truth can die.

 

 

 

LIFE, WITH INSULT

The insult lovers feel

Is a hurt known to never heal.

Dido took a bath which burned like day

Before night’s insult would go away.

Insult finds you, though shadows fall.

Insult does not eviscerate partly the mind, but all.

You cannot explain away insult, it burns

Like a burning net on the skin, the lover yearns

No more for love; revenge duplicates; you take turns.

Insult destroys monarchs if it comes from low friends,

The list of wrongs brokered by a single word never ends,

And what you told me in secret last night bends

The world up to my right ear

Which now will not love my left ear.

The chief sorrow of the beggar on the ground

Is not the empty cup’s hollow sound;

If dinner come, the beggar is happier than a king;

The beggar dreads when insult comes around;

No matter how high, or how low into oblivion we sink,

Insulted past is how we love, and insulted present is how we think.

You might see someone behaving badly;

They are hoping to deliver an insult

Before an insult is thrust back at them, and sadly,

Insult never ends its tumult

Of eternal insult.

A whisper stands in the way

Of muscle and faith and happiness

As the god stops. “What did you say?”

It does not take a poet to formulate

Nice words with an undercurrent of hate,

Anyone can insult. Words know how to fight.

“Good morning” and “hi” and other phrases

Which gladden morning and brighten night,

Exist for one reason: to stop

Insult, which wants to drop;

I’m sure you can see it in the eyes.

Madame Insult dazzles as she enters the room.

If for a second, you wait, you are insulted.

You are no expert. You will be taunted.

An official consults several officials apart.

Someone is always deciding your fate.

Insult is the very beating of the heart.

Her gift to me was an insult to you.

If we can’t say things to our lover, what are we do?

 

 

 

 

 

LIFE ECLIPSES LIFE

Life eclipses life, the solid will always

Stand in the way of the solid,

As I once stood in your way, blocking your view,

Vast view of freedom! So many things you wanted to do!

Your life was so unhappy, you filled it up with me,

I eclipsed your body, and made your spirit see.

You looked at all the planets and feared you had found one

Who would always orbit with you and always block your sun.

I came too close; my love eclipsed yours.

So journey, again, my love, among the infinite stars.

ANTI-TRUMP UNIVERSITY

Genius of the U.S is not in executives, legislatures or colleges but in the common people. —W.W.

I borrowed money to attend Anti-Trump University.

I read the adulterous Walt Whitman.

But Whitman is not adulterous at all;

Holy, timeless scribe, he wants every prejudice to fall;

Every man is complete, every child and wife,

Succumb not, he says, to lamentation or strife,

But love the labor of democratic works and days.

The highest act of the self is praise.

The divinity of Whitman sees and inhabits all,

He rises to the top, and suffers no one to fall,

He leans on me as I study, and sees

The comedy of Leaves in the universities.

 

 

 

DIONYSUS IS THE ONLY LOVER

Image result for dionysius the god

I was bitter about the unremarkable

And plain manner in which I followed rules and was glad.

I dressed down or up to be successful.

When someone told me they loved me, I felt slightly panicked and sad.

I never felt comfortable loving another.

They should have told me: Dionysus is the only lover.

Dionysus, with wine, and nothing on,

Is the only god having fun.

The messy, bucolic parade

Is a myth the clever Apollo made

To identify Dionysus with weeds and rustic shade.

Dionysus is more urbane, insistent and crude

Than nature. Dionysus has never obeyed

Time, or slow dripping pleasure,

When, spilling wine, or hearing music, we watch our senses fade.

Dionysus is more chaotic and rude

Than sorrow, or when the intoxicated fall.

The goal of Dionysus is to embarrass all.

Dionysus plays a tune which tortures normalcy,

A sweet tune sweet lips play

Deep inside the mind all day.

With dry mouth, embarrassed,

We watch a long, passionate, lesbian kiss.

And girlfriends and wives

Chew their lips uneasily.

Woman kisses woman, a long kiss to embarrass the woman and the man.

Who kisses and understands a kiss? Only Dionysus can.

THIS GIRL FACING YOU

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This girl facing you

Wants to say something to you,

Not like your ex, who runs away—

Talk only annoys her, and she has nothing to say

But this nervous and beautiful girl

Wants to, but is afraid to speak; the first

Notes are a symphony’s best;

But love’s first words, the worst.

Lovers in the middle of love’s passionate path

Recall the first clumsy, contrived words of love, and laugh.

What curiosity and respect there used to be!

Now my ex pokes and humiliates me.

She’s no longer in my heart. Her insulting attitude

Condemns her forever. True love is never rude.

Now this new girl faces me each day

As if she had something to say.

Perhaps she wishes I would say what she

Knows could possibly be

The beginning of her life.

Or, at least, a symphony.

A shower of sorrow and strife

Begins. Timpani. Woodwinds. Brass. Strings:

My sorrowful past, hers,

And then, like the first bird, after a storm,

From the clearing in the wood, a distant oboe sings.

 

 

WE SHALL REMAIN

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We shall remain

Where they put us,

The ones who love us,

The ones who know we love.

There are a few who know you and I

Love, and we wish to lie

In bed together; they know it,

Because poet to poet,

We are writing what we owe

The other, in voices low,

Hiding beneath what our verses know,

You telling me, “I want to give you this,”

I whispering, “you already gave it to me!”

Our poems whisper because we cannot kiss.

Our language is almost there

In a kiss like wine, dry and rare.

Distant, imprisoned, only our love is free.

Not imprisoned, for we have lives

Better than most. It is those material miles,

The flesh of the wide earth,

The true obstacle,

Which prevents the physical—

You and I slipping into bed,

Great obstacle! Holy obstacle!

We loathe and love in separate regions,

Different day, night, seasons,

So the earth is the bed we slip into

As I kiss your face. Or pretend to.

Would we love if we lived next door?

I think we would. And more.

On your lips not one drop of rain

Would fall and not on my lips remain.

I saw your recent poem on a bed,

And you described perfectly

A love sexy, happy and sleepy,

The words hurrying into my head,

So I felt your poem was mine alone,

Your mind’s bed more real than my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NO ONE KNOWS AND NO ONE CARES

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No one knows and no one cares.

They may seek with curiosity

The green islands in the green sea

And the one who loves is the one who stares.

But no one knows and no one cares.

Love is but an excuse to see

What the curious need to see—

Don’t be fooled by intimacy.

And while you were napping?

The curious crowd was laughing and clapping.

The curious is all that dares,

Not love. No one knows and no one cares.

As a poet, you want an audience,

Like zoos have, with snakes

Resting or eating behind a fence,

Or maybe there are dancing bears

Who later eat you. Will you see

Sex and love scientifically?

Curiosity is all there is, or dares.

No one knows and no one cares.

 

IN DEFENSE OF THE GUT

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The fact proves the intellectual.

But in most circles, we graciously don’t press the intellectual to see how factual the fact proving the intellectual’s intellectualism is.

Intellectualism implies civility. It would be rude to ask, “How many actual facts do you have, and how many facts, and what kinds of facts, reside behind your facts?”

It is enough to be confidently in favor of facts, and say with Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Yes, Daniel Patrick Moynihan! To be an intellectual is to never question this wisdom.

Here’s what intellectuals like to ask these days. “When did America become untethered from reality?” So begins an essay, How America Lost Its Mind, by Kurt Andersen in September’s Atlantic. It’s long. You can just read this one, instead. Anderson starts his piece by quoting talk show host Stephen Colbert satirizing right wingers (the bad guys):

Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart… Face it, folks, we are a divided nation… divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart… Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.

Brilliant satire, this. Thanks, Stephen Colbert!

Colbert, and Andersen—who runs with this glib anti-gut philosophy in his article—surely knows, however, that truth is never a pile of facts. Facts are a given. Facts are so numerous that to say one is in favor of facts is to assert nothing. The “gut” (as anyone knows) is simply a metaphor for what selects facts, interprets facts, combines facts, and decides on an action in the face of too many facts for any of us to comprehend.

This is the important fact: facts are never enough, and sometimes too much, in themselves. There is no “division.” We need 1. facts (actually they are everywhere—we don’t need them, but we do need to weed them out) and 2. a gut to make sense of them.

Before we get too comfortable with Colbert’s easy “division” between head and gut, we should understand that not all facts are created equal.

The eye (that is, the gut) of da Vinci, the artist, who created the Mona Lisa, has nothing to do with the Panama Canal, or when it was finished. The fact that the Panama Canal was finished in 1914 is not a particularly useful fact, unless you are an historian looking at a certain era, or you are playing a Trivia game. If you asked a thousand readers of The Atlantic when the Panama Canal was finished, 999 would be ignorant of this particular fact. The fact-lover would need to go into a book—and perhaps never come out.

Kepler, the scientist, was the first to observe the fact of elliptical orbits—and…(wait for it) discover the significance of the fact—the universal law of gravity. Kepler’s “gut” found out the fact, the fact which solved what—to everyone else in the universe, awash in facts—was a puzzle.

Before Kepler, the fact of elliptical orbits was a mystery.  A fact. But a mystery. They can be the same.

All facts are mysteries until the gut comes along.

“Division” is the last thing we want here, despite Colbert’s point. This fake “division” distorts what facts are, and what scientists do.

To fancy oneself superior to the heart, or the gut, is the last refuge of the intellectual-who-is-never-befuddled.

The crucial understandings are those which help airplanes and missiles to navigate the atmosphere, automobiles to navigate roads, farms to produce, electronics to project images and sound, humans to live and create.

The correct divide is not the one created by intellectuals to feel superior to those governed by the “heart;” if we really want to call attention to a divide, it would be between important understandings and trivial facts—a divide not usually pointed out by the fanciful, divisive intellectual.

Different kinds of facts merge in a manner which recommends gut as more important than fact.

There is the fact of a quickly moving baseball, and the fact of the baseball player who, armed with no facts whatsoever, hits that baseball.

I saw the baseball. But I couldn’t hit it.

I saw in the Encyclopedia Brittanica that the Panama Canal was completed in 1914.

Hurray!

I’m an intellectual who writes for The Atlantic!

As we might expect, Andersen’s piece in the distinguished but fussy old magazine which first published Henry James is nothing more than a small, glittering pile of facts. There is no philosophy, no gut, no heart. It is a mere recounting of opinions which “they,” or sometimes “we Americans,” or, “one-third of all Americans,” once upon a time (ah, history!) held. The reader is made to assume, meanwhile, (on pure faith,) that Kurt Andersen and his friends live in a “reality-based community.” Buzz words—pro-abortion, climate change, Monica Lewinsky, Lee Harvey Oswald, 9/11, UFOs, God—are dangled in proximity to the wonderful notion that “facts”—which are assumed to belong, as we read the essay, solely to Kurt Andersen—are a good thing.

Andersen’s topic is credulity (how ironic!) and he informs us this—universal—phenomenon resides only in a certain time and place.

Credulity began, according to Andersen, in America, in the 1960s, coinciding with Andersen’s childhood—a coincidence, perhaps. Seances were all the rage in the early 19th century, and credulity abounds in all nations and eras, but Andersen mentions no other time and place. (Except, very briefly, P.T. Barnum is alluded to, associated with Trump.) The small scope of Andersen’s essay is stunning.

Andersen’s narrow view serves his thesis well, however; he blames the phenomenal growth of American credulity on the Internet, Rush Limbaugh, and the fall of the Fairness Doctrine, which would have helped to suppress ideas Andersen dislikes. Freedom of speech, exchange of information, and democracy are great, Andersen admits, but freedom shouldn’t go “overboard.” (!!)

And in the 1990s, as the Right gained ascendancy, it did!

Andersen has a soft spot for Nixon, whom his parents, level-headed in every way, supported, and perhaps this is why, in his essay, he makes more than a passing mention of Cuckoo’s Nest, Esalen Institute nuttiness, and general conspiratorial paranoia, on the Left. A small window of time, existed, he tells us, once in the mid 60s, and the once again in the late 70s, when the Left was crazier than the Right.

When he reaches our present day, the only pro-Trump credulity he can come up with is the one about the popular vote.

Very disappointing.

Wasn’t Andersen going to show us how, since that awful day in November 2016, America was more “untethered from reality” than ever?

He fails.

There is no point to his essay.

He obviously needed more facts.

Has anyone seen the Encyclopedia Britannica?

 

YOU DON’T REMEMBER

Image result for lovers in hell in renaissance painting

You don’t remember the pleasure you had

With me, because our behavior was bad.

What we had shouldn’t have been.

O timeless idea. Sin.

Women are better than men; they block out

The joy in the wrong, but men have no doubt.

With us, there were no tricks, no seduction. It was mutual.

We both loved. Both of us will burn in hell.

Morality has melted away.

That’s what the intellectuals say.

Of course it hasn’t.

Pleasure isn’t pleasure if it isn’t pleasant.

The faces our friends made

When they heard what we did in the shade!

In filthy places! The whole picture when we stand back

Depicts what we did as a miserable lack.

But during it, we felt we had so much.

But we found there’s nothing you can take away from touch.

You and I had what you’re not supposed to have.

Just a moment, when no one looked: we took, and gave.

 

RAGE

Image result for wall separating the lovers in painting

Rage that won’t abate

Is partially due to love, and partially due to hate.

Love and hate are always divided by a wall.

Here’s the thing: the division itself is all.

That’s why rage is what we see.

Even though she loves me.

If loves destroys the wall.

Then love will be all.

Hate will vanish as if it never existed,

Like a knot, when the string’s untwisted.

Love must be the reason:

No other reason can be.

When the reason for the wall is gone,

And the reason for the wall forgotten,

She will love me.

 

 

 

 

 

I THINK I NEED TO DO SOMETHING

I think I need to do something.

Escape the gravity of the rest and fly to you.

As kids, my friends and I asked all the time, “What do you want to do?”

To analyze this phrase

I need to turn to the poetry of praise.

This was nineteen-sixty five,

Restless Manhattan, America, rich, free, the world still old-fashioned, but jive.

Our parents were melting-pot middle-class,

An urban paradise about to pass

Into the boring white-flight suburbs

But now Riverside Drive was the place,

Riverside Park our wiffle ball, Italian ices, space.

Beatles, Monkees, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew,

Playboy, maybe stolen porn-in-Victorian-prose, too.

On the intellectual Upper West Side, hip hop was born.

Marc Edmonds was pretty forlorn,

When, after sandlot football practice, his afro was called a cunt

By young blacks who knew what it meant

To be flamboyant and half white.

We didn’t know what to do. We liked science. It was going to be alright.

New York City was just so cool,

Though I was a little terrified of getting my change stolen from me at school.

But I had diverse friends.

Always one depends

On that. But then there was you.

It really isn’t love. It’s finding something to do.

When a bunch of people are milling about,

And you’re shy, damn, you always are, and you get left out,

You decide: there’s something I better do.

And that’s all there ever is. It was a challenge reaching out to you.

Here we are. Wherever we are. So what do you want to do?

 

 

EVERYTHING YOU SAY

Image result for cypress in the lake in painting

If beauty speaks,

It speaks, and then it dies.

Beauty perishes.

What beauty can my poetry save?

It is vanity that my poetry tries?

Is beauty most serene when brave?

Does the cypress apologize to the lake,

Its reflection repetitive and still?

What beauty can I possibly make?

What beauty can my poem fill

With beauty, and which beauty will this forsake?

Is beauty mine, by no accident? By my own will?

For I have seen beauty casually in a handful of leaves

Be so beautiful, beauty itself almost grieves

That beauty is a ghost, which no one believes.

Everything you say

Can be disputed.

So every poem must die—

Unless it makes you laugh—

Or if it makes you cry.

 

 

WITH MY COLD GRAMMAR

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With my cold grammar

I build my poems; their architecture

Pleases me, and when houses and cities fall,

These poems will survive them all.

After the kisses, and the words spoken,

Comes death. But the speech of my poems will not be broken.

Clever carpenters build in wood.

I smile, and admire the chairs, and say the finish is good;

When I tour the castle, I will be amazed;

When I tour the ruins, and put a penny in the cup

Of the dying, beside a castle razed,

I will smile, and be a little less amazed.

All these emotions, and this living, and these solid things

Will never be found in what eternally sings,

Will never be found in this, already old,

And triumphant, because it is so cold.

 

 

MY WISE SAYING ESCAPES ME

Image result for spring floods in painting

I forgot my wise saying. It slipped away.

So! I am no longer wise.

Let me write instead about this:

I was wise. Because a wise saying came to me,

Formed itself in my mind,

Clever, original, searing,

And now it’s gone.

I can’t remember the way I was wise.

Looks and youth fade, we know,

But where does experience and wisdom go?

Where does genius go to die?

A bird may break its wing, but the bird doesn’t forget how to fly.

Wisdom has one task: busily repair

What the lover tried to say.

Yet despite what wisdom says,

The one you love will go away.

Why be wise? Why do we have to say anything?

I’m a drop of water. Let’s see what the rains bring.

Do you remember what I said

When I begged you to stay but you left, instead?

If there isn’t a memory

That can bring you back to me,

I don’t want to remember.

Bury these love poems. Dead in June. Dead in December.

Can a greater deluge make me wise?

Will I know differences when the waters of spring rise?

 

 

 

 

YOU HAVE TO KILL YOURSELF BEFORE YOU KILL YOURSELF

Image result for abstract painting commuter

Unless you work as soon as you get out of bed,

You have to kill yourself getting to your job

Before you get killed by your job.

Your employers, who also kill themselves, expect

You dead and dead on time. Within reason of course.

Before your lover kills you with love

You need to experience dying with others so your new love

Will kill you better than the others.

You have to kill yourself before you kill yourself.

You have to borrow money to buy clothes to wear so they can kill you properly.

You have to borrow money to buy a car to drive where they can properly kill you.

Do you understand why you first need to die so then you can die?

Perhaps it’s better to be ignorant and not understand.

In that case, you would do it this way:

Wake up with a poem beginning in your head,

Perfect it on the way to where you’re going,

And get it to the one you love before you die.

 

 

WHEN A NEW POEM IS ALL I HAVE THAT’S NEW

When a new poem is all I have that’s new,

Depressed because the sun is setting, and the sun has set on you,

Autumn in the air, and a lone bird high above, crying,

Images fade, sky and sea darkening, the cool, late summer day dying,

I gather up in a shrinking frame of concentrated light

A small forest of sounds, and write.

All wisdom is a dream.

So Petrarch taught me, and yet, I persist with my theme,

That every part was, and will be, one,

And shadows are but shadows, and will not be shadows in the sun.

What I was thinking, while day fled,  having my cigarette by the sea,

Was you, my love, and how it was you fell away from me.

You let me love one part of you, and what you gave, I loved with all my heart,

A fading melody—there was no harmony; generously you gave a single part,

Hiding other aspects of your life; I was puzzled; I begged to see

Childhood photos; I asked what you did when you were gone from me.

You refused; I began to feel other parts of you were dead, and perhaps they were:

Life-in-death is the dire realm where fairy tales occur;

Old Persia and Germany, dark avenues of refuge by the sea,

Waiting in the morning for a stranger to go, soiled femininity,

Shortened childhood fleeing crucified manhood, a crushed regime,

The mother mind missing in a horrifying dream.

Tragedy had marked your life, and none of your missing parts

Was I able to gather together, even in my love; I lacked the magic glue

To repair your sorrow; my questions pained or insulted you;

I loved a beautiful corpse, alive in body, but true love desires all;

When your reasons died in mine—and often, you refused my call—

Our love became a twilight wood, and though we loved happily and often,

Your absences were frequent and strange—were you lying in a coffin?

Why did you smile silently sometimes when you should have said

What came about? My inquiries were innocent. You didn’t tell me what you did.

Our love was the love of my life, but I was unhappy; yours was not the love for me.

I have never stopped loving your melancholy melody,

And when I, watching the darkness come, run to the only thing that’s left to me,

My readers—ghosts too!—will hear your strange song.

Or is it mine? Is this landscape me? And is this wrong?

Morning. Nothing stirs. The sun will be shining all day.

I hear a strange, unhappy, melody playing far away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO IS THE GREATEST LIVING POET?

Sushmita Gupta, painter, mother, teacher, wife, was born in Kolkata. She grew up in Bhilai, a Russian-Indian steel township in central eastern India, with perpendicular roads, and large trees which flowered during the summer and became fragrant at night. She presently lives in Oman.

She is proof that the sensitive female soul is the essence of poetry.  She reconciles the elements of the universe.

Her online site, Sushness supplies a much better view of her tasteful and prolific output.

Here on Scarriet we offer only a few poor, inflamed arguments in favor of her (the best arguments contain fire) and two of her poems.

She reminds us of Shelley, who embraced primary elements of psychology and nature.

Nor is she afraid to offer wisdom, in the ancient sense.

American poets—after Poe—a sophisticated lot, tend to be suspicious of wisdom—their excellence lies in quirky and difficult points of view.  The school of Bishop/Lowell, for instance.  Auden, perhaps, was the last poet in English who made a real attempt to sound wise.

The Bold And The Peaceful

I rushed.
It was bright.
It was crazy.
A tornado full of life.

The unpredictability!
The speed!
The danger!
My bold streak drew me to it.

I rushed across the field,
To be carried and caressed
By a tornado.

Almost there,
I stopped.
The peace within me,
Made a terrible mismatch.

The bold and the peaceful.
That is me.

In this minor poem by Sushmita Gupta, which resembles the minor poems of Shelley, we are struck by emotion, clarity, and psychological truth—the poem carries us away with its energy and immediacy—exactly like a tornado; the poem delivers its expressiveness without fuss, and because there’s no fuss, the reader is engaged; there is no hesitation, pretense, or straining after the right little details. The poem has the rigor of religion, the flow of the poem has an epic force and size, which permits the whole of the emotional expression to make itself felt. A child could understand the poem, and this is part of its appeal, and yet its subtlety is profound. The poem’s movement is psychologically astute. The key line in the poem is “I rushed across the field” and here is all the remarkable imagery we need. The very balance of the poem threatens to break it apart.  The duality is not a cancelling one, but in a brilliantly ironic way, the very source of the poem’s fury.

Sushmita Gupta is the greatest living poet.

Fame, as we all know, is based on hearsay—the T shirt is an extremely popular piece of clothing, but its popularity is not up for discussion, nor can it be mitigated by academic debate.

None can say what a great T-shirt is—it is the simple design of the T-shirt—invisible, ubiquitous—which is the “great” thing; the great poem is not akin to a great T-shirt, obviously; but the great poem achieves an excellence similar to the invisible, ubiquitous reality of the T-shirt as it exists in the practical world of clothes.

We should make it clear that Sushmita Gupta is the last person in the world who would make the claim that she is a “great” poet, much less the “greatest living poet.” She is too busy enjoying life, which includes writing poems, to ever worry about such a thing; she writes for friends, which is the practice of most poets—famous, or not.

She is humble and gracious—Scarriet makes this “great” claim on her behalf, without her knowledge, for pedagogical purposes only. We call her “great” only to advertise our own critical taste in poems written in English, which we have long developed and maintained. It ultimately doesn’t matter what a poet thinks, or whether their life circumstances justify the content of their poetry; we care, and only hope our readers care, for the poetry.

Judging poetry today is hindered by two things.

First: poetry criticism is hobbled by the cant which supposes that poetry has no relation to a made object with a clear design. “Poetry is not a T-shirt!”  Yes, true.

But indeed the poem—which belongs to life, and not to a rarefied, non-place, swirling about in a haze of intellectualized assumptions—is, like a T-shirt, a made object with a clear design.

Intellectual pedantry—which seeks to dazzle, without making sense—disagrees with the common sense premise that poetry is a “made object with a clear design,” and this pedantry wildly expands to assert that the more a poem is unlike a “made object with a clear design,” the better it is.

And so authority becomes not just partially perverted, but completely perverted. This is common in rhetorical pursuits, such as poetry, literary criticism, or politics—where rhetoric itself separates people, even though all people, in almost all cases, want the same things.

This is the first thing: on dubious authority, a poem is not recognized as a poem.

Second: although an appreciation of poetry will always exist among people who wear T-shirts, the process by which poetry is “officially” recognized is in the hands of the well-placed, academic, few—who devotedly pursue the error we just outlined.  This is especially the case, since the teaching of poetry was replaced, in mid-20th century America, by the college writing program apparatus, in which ambitious individuals transformed themselves from poets seeking fame into poetry teachers seeking fame, ensuring critical, philosophical confusion on one hand, and the precise kinds of unfortunate divisiveness and calculating hierarchy, often seen in politics, on the other—with the emptiness we would expect.

“Who is Sushmita Gupta?”

To the ambitious and well-positioned who ask this indignantly, we have no response.

Sushmita Gupta has neither bought into the expertise-cant of razzle-dazzle, formless, unclear poetry, nor has she ambitiously clambered her way into the maze of the creative writing industry.

Now obviously, this article, featuring two Sushmita Gupta poems, will not reveal to our readers what a real poem is, or any such nonsense—our argument above is not to be taken as a definition of poetry, but only a glimpse into what informs our own particular taste, out of which arises our judgment—that Sushmita Gupta’s poetry is deserving of lofty notice and serious recognition.

We spoke earlier of the importance of a poem’s formal design. Every poet should properly, and naturally, have a specific design on the reader—these two “designs” are nothing without the other—the poem’s visible, formal properties on one hand, and the poet’s invisible, emotional, and social intention, on the other. The more these match, the more successful the poem.

When we first had the pleasure of reading “His Words,” by Sushmita Gupta, we felt an emotional kick, and we were pleased at how seemingly without effort the emotional kick was administered. Only after reading the poem, again, with a critical eye, did we recognize its formal perfection.

The poem contains six stanzas. In stanzas two through five, the first part of each stanza is concerned with what “he” does to “her.”

The final line of these four stanzas reveals, progressively, the result of what he does to her.

We see effect on her, and also the effect of her—as when an image, such as “petal” is used.

The result of the last line of each of these stanzas is also her words, the poet’s, on “his words”—his words and her words contend within the poem, in an unspoken manner.

Sushmita Gupta’s poem, “His Words,” is more than a poem vindicating itself. The poem transcends its own poetic rhetoric in its final line—even as it remains securely within the arc of the poem.

It could be argued that the poet, in her final accusation—as a poet—is accusing herself, though this is not explicit.  There is meaning within meaning—within the poem, and one final possible meaning—outside the poem itself.

Nothing is left out, nothing more is needed—and every part of the poem belongs to every other part, as well as to the whole.  The measured perfection and ease, is breathtaking—even as the subject itself is a dramatic whirlwind.

~~~~~~~~~~

His Words

He chose
Each word,
With utmost care.
He strung
The sentences
Into lyrical poetry.

His writings
Touched her,
Like she was
The most beautiful.

His writings
Caressed her,
Like she was
A fragrant being.

His writings
Stroked her,
Like she was
A tender petal.

And she felt,
Being carried,
Over the threshold,
And pledged herself to him.

Only,
He did not know
She lived.

 

 

 

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