YOU ENJOY SMOKING BY STOPPING

Image result for sun through fog on the river

You enjoy smoking by stopping,

So when you come back to it the nicotine kick is new.

You tried to explain this to me

In terms of love, when we were lovers, but I just felt insulted by you.

Now I know you were right.

Of course you were. You were my delight,

Even when you were cruel and stayed away,

And I wondered, non-stop, why you had stopped, the whole day.

I thought. You didn’t. You were always right.

The ridiculous truisms in a love song

Applied to you. How were you never wrong?

Here I am the poet, pining, trying out the love song.

A good poet is always stopping:

A thousand edits in every line.

Look at how many seeds are dropping,

To fall, to die, to grow, to lose their way in the confusing wine.

It’s good to stop many times. The painter’s great

Who touches and re-touches. da Vinci and canvas equals a long wait.

Of course I haven’t stopped since we stopped,

Even though it was well understood

That we stopped for good.

Careful discussions and plans were dropped.

Stop. Start over. Stop. Revise.

Think. Don’t think.

Life does not cease. Even when you close your eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EVERYTHING IS OUR PRISON

 

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Everything is our prison.
When in your doom, you fall,
Ha, think how it was Newton who knew it all,
Who discovered the universal law,
Not one thing—everything kills you in purple, white, tooth, and claw.
There is no individual thing.
The talented know an old giant book when they sing.
Not one girl, but all love, all things pertaining to love
Trap you and make you cry to God above,
“Help me! She broke my heart!”
Well that’s because she knows the art
Because the art is practiced everywhere:
The secret of it is wrapped up in every girl’s hair.
Everything—not her—makes you despair.
Everything, not your mother,
Nursed you. Everything. No other.

 

 

TODAY, ON THIS BORING DAY

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Today, on this boring day,
More information is flooding your brain
Than your life can possibly contain.
A song you’ve never heard, which could have been yours,
Comes from some restaurant,
Fleeting images suggest and hide all you wanted and want,
The afternoon light reflecting off the floors,
The strangers, bored, hanging around,
All that in your eye and out of the corner of your eye, is found,
As you get your coffee, bored out of your mind.
You live in your narrow memory. Wider, and you would be blind,
More, and you would stand still
And listen, much longer than you could, or will.

 

SHE CALLED ME “GRAVES”

 

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She called me “Graves” in a dream last night.

I forgot she used to call me that.

She was sometimes romantic when I served her food.

I was always romantic; she was rarely in that mood.

She had a smile that was angry underneath.

She had beautiful eyes and beautiful teeth.

When rivalry in animals is seen, we are not surprised;

When we see it in our lover it bewilders us, disguised.

She once sent me a text out of the blue,

Which said only, “I love you.”

She knew how to hint, tease, to evince

Despair. I saw that and I’ve never been as happy—before, or since.

 

 

THE ONE I LOVE ISN’T LOVED

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The one I love isn’t loved. She

Doesn’t even read my poetry.

Strangers read my lines,

Knowing the what, but not for whom, it pines.

She is behind a wall

And doesn’t care for me at all.

If this is the definition of hell,

Perhaps I know suffering well.

Full of self-doubt, she doesn’t find

My love for her in her mind.

Human beings want to make things right

Every day and every night.

The mother bird wakes, sings her song

In the night, with no idea she is wrong.

The couples enter the restaurant

Oblivious to my want.

The one I love isn’t held. Or adored.

She doesn’t hear my voice, or the chord,

Or the pitying sadness I sing,

Longing and sadness invading everything.

She and I see the same moon, the same sky,

The same tumbling clouds sweeping by,

Hear the same news of the same tragedies,

Know the same temperate day which dies,

Feel the same night which is too cold,

Note the same trends, new or old.

We lie awake, pondering the same fate,

The same advancing death. We both wait.

We both walk and talk and laugh

Almost on the same path.

She is behind a wall

And doesn’t care for me at all.

I love one who isn’t loved. She

Is my Shakespearean tragedy.

Every one needs one of these

To really love. So please,

I don’t need your feeling, or care.

Pity her. Oh God! She’s right there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE STRANGER GLIMPSED

Image result for man smoking cigarette alone at night film noir

Drunk on a cigarette and the night

I had a thought like a white light:

Love is wild poetic thoughts in the mind.

Love is neither physical, nor conversation, nor being kind.

Love is wild poetic thoughts in the mind.

Poetry is love and love is poetry.

Love travels by the mind and enters me.

Longing for her is not enough,

The dream of her dream loving, is love.

When you see the poet lingering and alone,

Smoking a cigarette, and still as a stone,

You have seen love. Do not fear

That stranger. Love? It’s here,

In wild poetic thoughts of the mind.

Love is neither physical, nor conversation, nor being kind.

Love is a god. And when the light goes on

The mind understands she was wild and she is gone.

 

 

 

HOW I FUCKED UP EVERYTHING

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By lingering on her eyes for a moment too long,

There followed a relationship that was completely wrong.

I read that eye contact is better than personality or looks.

Thank you. Stupid books

Reading led me to believe I understood a lot.

Wrong. A theme is merely by its own themes caught.

After book learning, I was set free

In a life without books. Tragedy.

I ventured into her eyes with advice that was good.

A lettered atheist walking into God.

 

 

 

THE LEFT

The Left has an agenda you’re not allowed to touch.

Feel. Please don’t think too much.

Sacrifice for others, and the others are here.

They are not far away. And enemies, too, are near.

The enemies are not others. They are very much like you.

Almost exactly. That’s why there’s so much work to do.

The enemy could be your father, the enemy could be your son,

Not helping others. Ruining all the work the Left has done.

Lesson One: Do not trust the United States.

A country excludes others. Exclusivity hates.

Enemies talk American history and love American laws.

They are not others. They are enemies—against the cause.

For them, America belongs to British history and that whole thing,

The enemies love patriotism, the bullshit of “sweet liberty I sing.”

Taught to resist ‘divide and conquer’ they love the United States;

Enemies love the ‘one fits all’ symbol. One symbol, many hates.

The enemies hate all others—the Left must remember this.

Enemies are known by symbols, by the flags they kiss.

Enemies hate all others—they love themselves, and God.

Note the love of symbols—the hate for anything odd.

The worst symbol of the enemies is Life, which makes

Them oppose all excuses for any action that takes

Innocent human life. Like all ideals, this goes too far.

There is no ideal. Only the other makes us who we are.

But the Other of the Left is an empty symbol, too.

Enemy or other, I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BEAUTY I CAN’T HAVE

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The beauty I can’t have is this moon

Which will sink below the horizon soon.

The air of this June evening by the ocean.

Big roses. Trees. And my emotion.

The beauty I can’t have is tall.

Excuse me. I have to take this call.

Okay. It was just her telling me again

How inferior I am to other men.

The lovely women too retiring leave me cold.

The women who haunt me are beautiful and bold.

The beauty which is private and hides

In me but disappears with the tides,

With the days, which dwindle into dark

Dreams. The green, shadowy park

Of little paths of flowers bending to bees,

The pollen clinging to their furry knees.

The perfect bodies of whores in porn.

The light when I was born.

The beauty I can’t have is her,

And all the loves in the world that were.

The only beauty I have is love, which she

Gave me once. That’s the beauty which belongs to me.

 

 

WHY DID SHE LEAVE ME

Aiming at the truth, I forgot to do something,

And for someone I loved, this failure to do

What I forgot, had more meaning than even the true.

It showed a character flaw

More meaningful than my solid jaw,

More meaningful than the poems I wrote

To her, or the red envelope with the love note.

It hurt her, and she never did say

What it was, and I didn’t realize what it was until today.

It can take a long time for the truth to manifest.

Even as you aim to be good, it can ruin all the rest.

Once I bought one plum and I should have bought two,

And one time I reached into my pocket for pennies and I had too few.

But when someone scrutinizes you

And is struck by what your character doesn’t know,

Every mathematical formula will not help. You better go.

And I could still be ignorant. I wept. I worked out. I re-read

Every word of this poem. What was it that wasn’t said?

 

 

 

THE ATTRACTION FORMULA

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The attraction formula is simple: 1 + 1 = 2. When two people are mutually in love with each other, the happy result is 2. This happens in the beginning of love.

What eventually happens, as most people know, however, is one feels more attraction than the other.  There is nothing that says attraction must be equal, and we all know it often isn’t, especially with the passage of time. Attraction is fickle and involuntary. This can be expressed in the following way: -1 + 1 = 0.

1 = a healthy amount of attraction, or love.  A -1 indicates the person who does not have any attraction for the other person in the relationship—they may like them for all sorts of reasons, but they would prefer not to have sex with them.

Many long-lasting couples have a relationship whose attraction formula equals 0.

These relationships last, and they can be quite happy, because both are willing to accept 0 as the result. These couples are good, honorable people, and they make a kind of secret concession, realizing that everyone can’t be forever attracted to a person as they were when they first fell in love.

It helps if family and friends think the number is a 2.

But 0 is far more common, even though it is kept secret.

The total can never be more than 2, since two are physically and psychically incapable of love totaling more than 2.

But there is an interconnected dynamic which rules attraction, and this is why -1 + 1 = 0 couples are so common.

There is a strong tendency for attraction to be unequal, and the inequality itself creates a self-feeding dynamic in couples—the one who feels more attraction than the other begins to experience doubt, and the gap widens as mutual awareness of the gap, and subtle reaction to it, widens it.

Once 1 + 1 turns into 1.5 + .5 (remember the total cannot be more than 2) the inequality tends to widen even further, as the one who feels less (.5) attraction begins to feel uncomfortable by the 1.5 of their desperately attracted and jealous partner.

Even though 1.5 + .5 equals 2, a much larger total attraction factor than the 0 of many stable couples, the 1.5 attraction felt by one half spells trouble, since it is more than the “allowable” 1, half of the maximum of 2 when both are attracted to each other equally.

And further, the momentum of 1.5 + .5 will probably head into 2 + 0 and even 2 + -2 territory. The 2 is compensating for the -2 to an extreme degree, and such a relationship cannot survive this kind of unequal momentum. Momentum is more important than raw numbers.

The number 0 is stable, as long as 1 and -1 remain steady opposites.

The unlucky lover always complains—when I’m indifferent, they want me, but when I want them, they are indifferent. This is a natural law. It sometimes corresponds to gender differences, but not necessarily. The law is common and powerful and can be seen in -1 + 1: if one is attracted, the other is not, and visa versa. Why this law?  Who knows? It certainly keeps things interesting.

But why aren’t there a lot of couples who are .1 + .1 or some such combination? Because of the unequal momentum factor—it is rare for 1 + 1 to diminish step by step in equal amounts.

This is why the greatly unequal 1 + -1 is so common. It is due to the natural unequal law. The -1 is proud that their partner is sexually attracted to them, even though they cannot reciprocate.

A 0 + 0 is rare, since there’s no attractive dynamic to keep either interested, or flattered.  Why should 0 + 0 be a couple at all?

1 + -1 is more common also, because a 0 is a saint, a rare individual so enlightened that they escape the attraction/repulsion dynamic entirely. The 1 + -1 couple manage to combine as a 0, finding enlightenment through and with each other.

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPINESS

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Drones separate them, the happy combine work and play.

On the secret to happiness there’s really nothing more to say.

In matters of genius and love, the formula is the same.

Lovers combine and share. The miserable divide and blame.

Broken souls and hearts, with their broken hearts and minds,

Give short answers; the happy sail upon whatever the conversation finds.

No forbidden topics for the happy; no secret shame in their past;

They converse on anything, and make the conversation last,

For they were good when the world began, and they will tell you how

Their childhood flowed into maturity, the love then finding the love now.

The happy have only one sorrow; the unhappy are all around;

I remember her bursts of anger. I was afraid to make a sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FATHER’S DAY IS MOTHER’S DAY

Father’s Day is Mother’s Day.

She allowed me to be a father

With her permission and her love—

Which I hardly deserved, a callous nobody.

All daughters deserve praise on Father’s Day.

I became a father because of them,

Intentionally or not. Father’s Day is Daughter’s Day.

Fatherhood belongs to women who are not mothers.

Had they flirted with me,

This callous nobody, moody and alone,

Or given me bad advice,

I had not become a father when I did

(It only took a moment)

And maybe I had never become a father

(Foolish to disparage moments).

We praise intentions every day, but in truth

Wild, unknowing fate and chance is all,

And fathers are moments inside moments inside moments.

Father’s Day is Everyone’s Day,

The best of many days, a great and holy day,

And many wild and joyous celebrations

Should occur, except farty old men are disgusting at parties,

And men do not party well, and fatherhood not at all.

But no solemn marches, either, please.

Attention to fathers fallen or dead

Puts too much emphasis on the man,

When Father’s Day belongs to fate and women.

Father’s Day is Permission  Day.

Without her permission

My children would not now be waking up

With hope and expectation, which is all life is.

 

 

 

 

THE TROUBLE WITH THE GOOD

The trouble with the good is, in people, it’s utterly mixed with the bad.

Your neighbor, with his lawnmower and his published ethics, is absolutely mad.

The mother, of unassailable virtue, who sends a book to her grownup son,

“How To Be Good,” insults him and herself, attempting to love everyone.

My mother is bookish, the son thinks; the bookish spreads its blight

Of pedantry—ending in the minds of the silent, who think, this shit isn’t right.

Those who spend their lives writing really have nothing to say,

And those not prepared to listen already are on their way.

This poem, with ten sails, flying, chases you down, in vain.

The poem fails with its craft, when the poem should have been plain.

And yet, had the poem said clearly what really needed to be said—

Too late. The one who wanted to hear it is dead.

“Oh, fuck it” says the genius, the genius not understood—

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Mozart never said, “Be good.”

 

 

 

A GOOD MAN

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A good man is hard to find.

One day he finds you.

And you don’t know what to do.

Your father was not a good man,

And all those creeps certainly were not.

But the good man, too, makes you feel caught.

You want to go. You look to prove

What you already know:

He’s a bad man. He’s just slow.

You’re unable to connect

To his love and respect.

He must be a fool.

So you leave him. That’s the rule.

 

 

 

TO LOVE ONE AND ONE ONLY

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I saw something today,

Or was it yesterday? Far away.

Silly nature, with her bees and flowers,

The sexes mingling during appointed hours,

Breeding nature in wild disarray;

But I want only her to stay.

To love one, and one only.

To be queer to all women, but not quite.

To long for Rosalinda every day and every night.

To be gay, but not quite.

To love one, and only one.

Rosalinda! I am almost gay. Is this alright?

 

FAME

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You cannot serve both poetry and fame.

A poet is a whore to now—or always the same.

If you want your books to be read

More than you love to write, you are dead.

If you seek fame, you are not you—

Poetry must be the only thing you do.

The great poets had no wills;

They didn’t ask others; they went to the hills.

Keats and Shelley did not need prizes.

They walked out and watched sunrises.

You must be able to review

Yourself—if you need help, poetry is not you.

If you listen to the siren call,

“We’ll make you a poet!” you won’t be a poet at all.

Some poets have no doubt,

And from the first line of the poem you can’t get out,

And those poets can be very good,

But they don’t need to be understood.

Better the poet who is divine

In doubts, and overcomes those doubts in every line.

Judge me: do I succumb to gossip, bitterness and fame?

No, read carefully—I love her. Only love is to blame.

 

 

 

 

 

NEAR AND FAR

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Near and far have personalities.

Far is melancholy and peaceful.

Far is thoughtful. I like far.

Once I met someone who was like a distant star.

Last night she was in my dream,

Sitting at a desk, at work or prison, doing nothing.

Each morning I arrived hoping she would be there.

She was more beautiful than in life—

Even though she is beautiful in life—

Because it was a dream.

I am now haunted by this dream.

Near has a distinct personality.

The smallest item on the face

Can fill you with joy or disgrace.

The slightest change can fill you with fear.

I don’t like near.

“Excuse me, Mr. Graves, can I see you in here?”

INDIAN POETRY —JUNE

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In his poem, “Ugly Histories,” Shrenik Mutha recounts, without trying to be overtly poetic, husbands slapping wives within his family.

their histories are
shameful. I will write them
even if they don’t tell me, even if I don’t know them,
I will write them
by listening closely to the silences in people’s voices.

Is how “Ugly Histories” ends.

And then follows:

“Shrenik Mutha is a Pune based poet. He studies Law.”

Why am I not surprised “he studies Law?”

Families have “ugly histories,” which must be unpacked, and the bravery and the beauty forgotten, and if the poet won’t do it, well, there’s always a lawyer who will.

Truth is attractive, and poets will tell their readers how attractive Dame Truth is—and readers, in turn, emboldened, can shout the news.

To make the good known, efficiency is crucial—the more readers informed of the truth, the better, which is perhaps why poetry was invented—to make the truth as attractive to as many people as possible—without bothering with the machinations of the courts, where true and just proceedings are respectful, confidential, fair, material, argumentative, and agonizingly slow.

Mutha’s “even if they don’t tell me” might not fly in court

Hearsay, like poetry, can go in any direction.

All citizens have a right to be treated justly; and usually the more just, the more dull.

The poets have a slightly different agenda.  Dame Truth might wink. Or smile.

Or weep.

*

Urvashi Bahuguna gives you so much trouble and adventure in her poems, you exhale deeply after you finish reading.

Walking a rope bridge over the Atlantic, she freaks out.  “The stomach is a swing” is how she deftly conveys the sickening fear. “Stepping off the bridge, the grass/ is grasped at for support.”  From her poem, “Alone.”

Like most moderns, she doesn’t let form get in the way.  No verse manuals for her. “there is no manual on how to resist/ a man who steps off a moving train”  From her poem, “In praise of drool.”

The poem, “Boy,” is worth quoting in full:

Boy meets girl, girl orders the right
dish in a restaurant. Boy thinks
he never has to order for himself
again.

Girl doesn’t get on the aeroplane,
Boy doesn’t understand, won’t hug
her back. Girl slips into his pocket
her mornings where she will wake in time
for him to hear her voice before his
day ends.

Boy comes home in the holidays, Girl grows
her hair out, Boy doesn’t recognize the
inches, struggles with the idea
that she might be prettier than before.

Boy doesn’t know the new places in
town, Girl takes him for tea here
cake there, wine somewhere else.
Boy is tired, their city is shifting
in his head. Boy
doesn’t say any of this

only asks time and again
that she quit smoking. Girl kisses
some other boy. Girl wishes
it was Boy. She doesn’t tell him
any of this, only gets angry that
he doesn’t call more often. Boy is Boy.

Boy pretends it away, Boy holds the trump
card: he flies away. In tropical countries,
autumn is not a season. Boy watches the leaves
turn yellow. Boy is glad there are places Girl
is not.

“Boy doesn’t recognize the inches” is nice, as is the passage beginning, “Girl slips into his pocket…”

Nice as well: how singularly expressed are the miscommunications, the ‘who gets the upper hand’ in love, and the idea of place.

Contemporary poetry’s significance is this—rhyme and meter abating, under the quantity radar, we get “the inches” of a more subtle measure, or the artful, though plain, beauty of “her mornings where she will wake in time/for him to hear her voice before his/day ends.”  We don’t “recognize the inches,” perhaps, but Wordsworth, Shelley, and Millay are alive and well in them. Urvashi Bahuguna is a contemporary poet. “Boy is Boy” is perhaps the downside. The plain, the quotidian, the banal, and the familiar threaten to overwhelm at all times. When we judge in a poem and judge poems as we would tweets, poetry’s stock cannot help but go down. Poetry’s Modernist agenda demands the poet be good without a guide. Many get lost in the woods, and if they escape using their wits, they still haven’t found poetry—because poetry is the opposite of being lost.

**

Sridala Swami is interested in labyrinths and mazes—how to get out of them, or into them, or how they are useless. She reminds us of Jorge Luis Borges.

Poetry like hers is self-effacing—you won’t get any news of her; just news of where her mind would like to go next.  Call it avant-garde, if you wish.

Here’s a rather remarkable poem of hers:

“Redacted poetry is a message in a bottle”

You have one book with you. It is your lifeline, because you are now in a place with no means of communication. There is only this book, and your one chance of speaking to the world is through the words in it.

So you compose your message in your head, you mark words in the book, and you carefully cut them out one by one, knowing all the while that for every word you use up, others will be lost on the reverse. This is the opportunity cost of making your message.

But you do it anyway because you must. At first your dispatches are voluble and profligate. Soon, you ration your words. As the pages become cut-outs the book speaks to you differently. It must now be a classic because every time you read it, it shows you something new.

The end of the book does not come, as it usually does, when the last page is turned. It comes when what remains are the unusable words. Everyone has a different list of these, but because this is the book you have and this is your list, the words that remain include ‘anneal’ and ‘recombinant’ and ‘brise’. This is not to say that you do not love these words, or that you are not happy that somebody– the author of the book, for instance—found a use for them; just that you can’t imagine what you could have to say that would include these and other such words.

But you learn these words because—after you have said all you have to say, after you have used up all the other words—these are all that are left you. Until other words come from the outside, until they can be recycled, the words you don’t want or need are your companions through what you hope is only a temporary silence.

I am reminded of Dante’s Vita Nuova, the earlier work on falling in love with Beatrice, where in the beginning of that book Dante says this small book is copied from a larger one—his memory.

To contemplate sets of finite quantity—where it is common to vaguely assume the infinite—is the mark of the mathematical genius, and any writer, despite the immensity of language and its reality, profits quite a bit (who can say how much?) from this activity. Sridala Swami is doing that here, and traveling from the “one book” to “words you don’t want or need are your companions through what you hope is only a temporary silence,” is quite a ride.

***

Aditi Nagrath has a poem, “On Flowers, In Your Absence” which is also profound, in a more lyric manner:

Truth be told, I am never more mine
than when I am yours. What a thing to say!
I meant it. At least in the moment
of that moment—in its core, the throne
of pain—what I said was true even if
the words I used were not. Afterwards,
I turned outwards: petal, leaf, stamen,
stem, one flower, two, a bunch perhaps.
Subtle pink, startling white, a hint
of yellow. I preferred them greatly
to the colors beyond my window.

The metaphysical acrobatics of Nagrath’s poem are delightful: truth, meaning, time; the personal heroically stirring itself against the beyond.

****

Adil Jussawalla was born in Mumbai in 1940, lived in England between 1957 and 1970, and published his first book at 22.

Jussawalla’s work reflects the dying, glorious flame of formalist Anglo-American poetry.  He’s good, but good poetry needs a good audience far more than bad poetry does—should a good audience rebuke bad poetry, or ignore it? Or, is there no such thing as an “audience” for poetry (and no such thing as bad poetry) and, instead, a million types of poetry ought to find their million audiences?

I believe in one audience, and the advantage should be apparent at once—and if it’s not, the attempt to convince you of its validity will certainly fail.

The critical consensus seems to be that Jussawalla is “complex” and to understand his poetry it is necessary to pontificate endlessly about “neocolonialism” and “Marxism” and the “quest for meaning” and the “irony of art” and the “future of marginalization” and other nonsense.  Any poet is flattered by scholarly attention—until he realizes the scholarly blabber has effectively buried the poetry.

After Jussawalla gained notoriety with his honesty, formalism, and wit, in the 1960s, he must have eventually felt a great deal of pressure to sound less like Robert Lowell (d. 1977) or W.H. Auden (d. 1973). Well, Lowell and Auden didn’t have to ask permission to sound like whomever they were imitating—Milton, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Homer—so why should an Indian poet have to do the same?  Good poetry doesn’t need political, ethical or nationalistic tricks. It’s poetry. It can do any trick it wants. It just has to be good—and lucky enough (or sly enough, perhaps) not to be ruined by scholarship.

*****

Is haiku a hustle?

It was for Williams and Pound, who, in broad daylight, in the early 20th century, ripped off haiku (all the rage after the Japanese won the Russo-Japanese War in 1905) in the name of one quickly drawn up, Western, High Modernism, Imagiste, poetry movement—which lived in little magazines for a few years and then landed triumphantly in American school textbooks.

Poe said a “long poem doesn’t exist,” but he also warned that poetry is neither truly itself as a mere epigram.

Poe’s warning hasn’t slowed down “The Red Wheel Barrow” and its harrowing influence. It’s difficult to argue against the brief when time is all we have.

A larger term for Modernism in the West (with all the loaded, hate-the-classical-past, rhetoric implied) might be Impressionism, in many ways its earlier manifestation—art seeking only an immediate “impression,” whether it’s a war photograph, an Instagram poem, a Rumi insight poem, or a piece of ‘collage’ art resembling whirlwinds of trash, in a symbolic critique, perhaps, of “late capitalism.” Impressionism covers all, and is hard to resist.

Paresh Tiwari has been “widely published” and “has conducted haiku and haibun workshops,” says a website. (Haibun is the introductory prose piece to a haiku).

This is the kind of poet who fills the serious poets with despair, since what serious poet can compete with a poem like the following?

in the space
between falling rain
and loneliness…
the song
that once was ours

There. Consider yourself hustled.

******

Anjali Purohit, situates herself against haiku/impressionism in the pure temporal/metaphoric force of her poem, “The Wave.”  It is simple, yet effective:

The Wave

She knows she will break
And yet
She rushes to meet him,
The rock.

Rising and falling,
a song
gathering momentum
smiling surf
rushing to throw herself
at the rock.

He just waits
patiently watching
her insanity
as she smashes into him

Inevitably
breaking herself into
infinite particles
spray and foam

covers him
for a moment too brief,
holds him
in her temporality

he just waits
patiently watching
her madness
unmoved, knowing

that even after
she scatters
herself with abandon and
abates, subsides, silent

going back into
her mother’s womb
again
one with the deep

that she goes only
to gather strength
build up and
come rushing back

to be splintered
around him.
Patiently waiting
The rock.

Over and over forever
She knows she will break
and yet
she rushes.

*******

And so we come to the end of June’s poets. Thanks, again, to Linda Ashok. We’ll see you in July!

 

 

WHO IS EVERYBODY?

 

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Who is everybody? And why does physical appearance mean so much?

Except when it means nothing at all?

And the former judgement we had of looks makes us feel petty and small?

And we settle into an appreciation of the mind

And affectionately we touch

The small and deformed hand

Of a lovely soul, and know ourselves to be kind.

Who is everybody? And is it their story which matters most,

Or is there a certain spirit which makes them who they are,

Ineffable! Details of life cannot change their unique ghost,

Their soul unalterable. Conversing with them, glimpsing them from afar,

Hello! There you go! Harvey Goodfellow Wintergarden! Yes! Here you are!

And whether you find them in bed, naked, or see them age,

Or grow angry—never sadder than when Harvey fell into a rage!

You know them stamped forever as no one but themselves.

The posts on the pier—look, they are stiff and unmoving—

But in the water—my perception of them!—they are like the water, gently moving.

Who is everybody? When we hear someone for the first time, speak,

The physical—as voice—takes revenge, and it changes how we perceive their physique.

Who is everybody? What is the mystery of everybody? Who

Does cruel things? Oh God, cruel things! Just because they are you?

This picturesque landscape contains ancient houses and a bee.

Who is neglectful? Gentle but neglectful? Forgetting life? Me.

The girl looks at her phone, gets in her car, and drives away.

You thought you knew her but you don’t know her at all, today.

The physical is revenge. Movements in your mind. Like the planets. Revenge!

Who is everybody? They are standing in a circle, like the stones at Stonehenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHE TOLD YOU!

Image result for modern photography: the cafe

She told you, and now you are telling us

In poetry which is helpless.

Every thought earns a thoughtless reply.

There’s no philosophy which does not its opposite imply.

Is there no conviction? No certainty?

You are pretty. Yes, old. No, thirty.

She can say whatever she wants to say.

To yourself, you will contradict her. But not today.

For once you would like a piece of philosophy to stay;

You want the truth to be stable, to be what it is.

There was a hint in an earlier poem she wasn’t real, and you were alone.

After this poem there will be a quiz.

ROOTING FOR LOVE

Image result for mob with torches chasing frankenstein

Frankenstein and King Kong

Were like all lovers: wrong.

Horror is a love and love is a horror.

We are not good enough to love her.

We are beastly. We take her by the hand

And the rivers rushing are the color of the land.

We are hungry, and we walk with her at night,

And we do things and say things and we are never right.

She wants a nice meal. She wants money.

We are the bear in the woods sniffing honey.

Like a sketch by Dürer, we are the skeleton,

Thinking of death beside the smiling maiden.

Rooting for love. Because love always fails.

Along the bay from the restaurant we watch the sails.

The monster, who would be a lover,

Is hated by the mob, the conservative mother.

The rocky path leading from the castle to the sea

Is secretly familiar. Love, too, eluded me.

I can’t change the channel. I have to watch this show.

Horror. Horror. Love is too slow.

I don’t want to do this. Please understand.

I got down on my knees. She told me to stand.

I knew I was handsome, a better poet than Jim.

And yet when I loved her, she was thinking of him.

I loved, I loved. They were rooting for me.

But I was a monster. They felt pity.

In the clearing, where the birds touch the ground,

Snakes feed without making a sound.

Oh gods! Who look down at us from above,

The immortal can root for only one thing: love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN INSULT IS AN INSULT IS AN INSULT

Let us make a careful study of insults! says the learned man.

All of us insult another every time we can,

By not listening for a second or two,

By speaking of love, but out of turn.

And by insulting myself, I once insulted you.

When the sun received the smallest slight,

It shocked half the world: night.

Insulting is like breathing—it’s what humans do.

Insult is why there’s torture and why great cities burn.

Just like people, insults are fat, or white, or small.

An insult may resemble a flea, a fire,

A god—beautiful and regal and tall.

An insult can be very beautiful—when to be

The most beautiful was your desire;

An insult can be something not insulting at all.

We must study insult, then, and see

Why insult is the public and secret heart of humanity.

They say, to avoid insult, stick to facts.

But the truth is deeply insulting. Reality is an axe.

They say the worst insult is based on race,

But the motive may have nothing to do with the shade of the face.

If you are in love, be ready to be insulted.

Insults are accidents. Love was not consulted.

Insult in love can make us frightened,

And love’s no help—the insult is heightened.

And strange, the worst insult is, “Let’s be friends.”

Friendship is beautiful. But not when love ends.

THE THIRD

Immortality” —Diotima

Everyone knows the beautiful will be loved, no matter what the beautiful do,

But if you look a little closer, Rodrigo, you’ll find this isn’t true.

If you don’t love, you will not be loved.

The one who admires you—

Because you are beautiful, and a good person, too—

Wants your love more than he wants you.

And to get your love, resorts to designs, strategies, confusions,

And hate will creep into love, since impatient love demands illusions,

And desire naturally thinks of horrible schemes,

To make love love in a faithless life of unequal dreams.

Do you believe love is possible, the great beauty making up her mind

To love you, but there is always something missing, something not right,

Isn’t that true, Rodrigo? Why was she, why were you, so angry? So unkind?

Remember, three is the magic number in life:

Soft shoulders, bony shoulders, muscular shoulders.

Or the maiden, the wife, the ex-wife,

Disco, punk, and the ballad. To organize, you need only three folders.

Souls of gold, silver, and clay.

The ugly, the beautiful, and the most beautiful far away.

All good people live and fit into three:

Innocence, drunkeness, and then a new and wiser sobriety.

You love them, they don’t love you—these comprise the first two

Which afflict us all, Rodrigo! You love them. They don’t love you.

But if you want to be cured of all misery,

Let me tell you of the third. Listen to me.

The beautiful is not loved the way people think.

The poet’s eye possesses beauty more than any man with strong arms can.

No beauty is possessed. Beauty is poetry and madness. Drink

All beauty and throw the cup away.

The third is God—who doesn’t want to be a man.

 

 

TO BE A HAPPY, ATTRACTIVE WOMAN

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To be a happy, attractive woman is impossible.

You must be a painter—so that your face

Brings out, and combines, your kind features with subtle grace.

You must be a poet—so that your voice seems

Not only intelligent, but a cloud of speechless dreams.

You must be a dancer—but your dance

Must move sweetly in every circumstance.

You must be neither too young, nor too old.

You must be modest, but also devilish and bold.

You cannot be clumsy, or rude, or crazy, or any

Of the million, subtle, things which make us ugly!

You cannot be too large, too thin, too spotty, or too small.

You must be able to love, and love one, and if not one, all.

Nothing is more attractive than the attractive which can pine

Madly for one. Attractive love is greater than wealth or wine.

Some cannot love; love is not a casual thing; maybe one loved before,

And cannot love again. If there’s no love, what is attractive for?

The pain, when attractive is attractive—but not for them,

Ruins happiness. Attractive must always worry about them.

Yet the attractive woman has no obligation to love a particular guy,

But if the attractive is attractive to the world’s eye,

The unattractive need to be respectful and aloof,

And let the attractive seek a more complex love,

Not monogamous, private perhaps, or public, practical, difficult,

Who is to say? The happy, attractive woman will harm

Everyone who tends to jealousy, seeing the lucky on her arm.

Finally, attractiveness is always dying.

And what if you, the poet whom she loves, is lying?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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