THE SECRET TO TOM BRADY’S RETIREMENT

Bleeding Tom Brady bled his own blood and NFL fans made so many memes
Tom Brady’s last game? He shows off his busted lip.

Why is Tom Brady retiring? He still looks good as QB. No one really expected this.

And why did he retire in such a strange way, without making the announcement himself, letting it float out there as a rumor for a while?

Is Tom Brady angry, and going through something no one understands?

I think it has something to do with this season’s playoffs.

First, Brady was eliminated from them.

Second, did you notice how exciting the playoffs were? A perfect storm of thrills and close games.

And did you notice how the refs stayed out of it this year, and let the players play? Yes, there were still a few questionable calls, but it went from the typical 40% of big plays decided by dubious ref calls (maddening) to about 5% (OK we can live with this) which was sooo refreshing.

And perhaps strangest of all, and most shocking, TB12 was, for the first time in his career, the victim of a bad ref call. Brady was hit, got a bloody lip, complained to the ref that the hit was illegal, and the GOAT was promptly called for a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty. The first one in his career! 15 yards is often the difference between whether a team scores, or not. Another ‘bad behavior’ penalty was called against Tampa, too, early in the game, as well, when a big defensive lineman sternly lectured, in what felt like a menacing way, the Rams quarterback. These two penalties set the tone for the game, as the confident, “sportsmanlike” Rams raced to a 27-3 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (last year’s Super Bowl champs).

Nothing destroys a football team’s confidence like punishment from officials. Perhaps athletes don’t like to be reminded that they live in a framework of rules—which have a life of their own and essentially dominate them. It’s what they most fear. Every player knows refs are the final bar to their glory. After every great play, everyone always looks around for a flag. There is one God in the NFL. It’s the ref.

Brady’s opponents in what may be his final game, the Rams, do have a bruising and aggressive front line. The odds are a thousand to one that cool, collected, veteran Tom Brady would be the beneficiary of unsportsmanlike penalties, not the victim of one. This was indeed a watershed moment. The Tuck Rule (bizarre, obscure) led to Brady’s first title and propelled owner Kraft and coach Belichick to one of the greatest dynasties in sports history, which included fines from the NFL for cheating on one hand, and yet lots of NFL ref help on the other. (Dynasties are made in mysterious ways.) If you don’t know Brady’s success and pro-Brady ref calls have coincided for all these years, you’re either a shallow Patriots fan or you don’t watch NFL games.

If you watch American football, you also know that given the NFL’s complex set of rules, penalty calls in football make little sense—but can easily determine the game’s winner.

I have seen teams receive bad ref calls and give up—almost as if they sense the “fix is in,” and quit trying. This does not lead to exciting, close games. Constant penalty flags also disturb a game’s rhythm and take the game away from the players, leading to dull, lopsided contests.

I have no idea whether an NFL ref on any given weird, game-changing call is fixing the game, or not. It’s not a big deal to admit I will never know.

Most of us exist in such a world. We’ll never know the deal on important stuff that happens. We just know when we smell a rat.

I’ve liked the Rams since I was a kid—I grew up in NYC, and should have liked the Jets or Giants, but I loved the Rams’ helmets (the curved ram horn on the side).

Partisanship, as random as it is, sharpens the senses; watching the L.A. Rams play the San Francisco 49ers this past Sunday, I could tell Fox broadcasters Troy Aikman, former Cowboy QB, and Jack Buck, son of St. a Louis broadcaster, were rooting for the 49ers; don’t ask me how I knew; the clues are too subtle to explain. I couldn’t understand why these guys wanted San Francisco to win, either. I could just…feel it. I was rooting for the Rams, for my own silly reasons. I didn’t like it that the broadcasters were rooting for the other team—they are not paid big bucks to do that; they are supposed to be professional, not sentimental. Aikman and Buck are pretty good at what they do, and I doubt many people would have detected what I did. I could just tell.

It turns out John Lynch—current GM of the 49ers—is a former colleague of Buck and Aikman—Lynch, a charismatic, engaged, ex-football player (Buccaneers) was a Fox Sports NFL broadcaster after he retired.

Buck/Aikman did not broadcast the Tampa Bay/Rams contest—but a week later, they were assigned to the Rams/49ers. I could tell they were going for the 49ers in the broadcast booth. After I found out about Lynch, a light went on.

Aikman knows a lot about personnel—which player was chosen in what draft for what role for this or that team (Lynch’s job) but he’s not nearly as interesting as Tony Romo—another ex-Cowboy QB, a younger and newer NFL broadcaster for CBS—on secretive winning strategies, the play of the game itself in front of our eyes, where Romo has quickly established himself as king.

Troy Aikman won 3 Super Bowls, but he’s not a terribly insightful announcer; he’s rather boring in a sold, competent manner. Brady has won 7 Super Bowls. Would Brady be a good broadcaster? TB seems to have no personality—perhaps that would help?

Romo, on the other hand, despite being a good player with excellent stats, won no Super Bowls, and in contrast to Aikman, as a broadcaster, he’s funny, relaxed, and loves sharing his superior knowledge of what’s happening on the field.

Sports fans have never expected much. Broadcasters like John Madden saying, “boom!” Horrible ref calls which none can protest. It’s almost like football has trained Americans for 50 years to be passive morons.

Smart, fair refs and insightful broadcasters like Tony Romo. This almost feels like a revolution.

Calling the Chiefs/Bengals game, Romo slyly alluded to a playoff gaffe he made as a player (which Romo’s broadcasting partner didn’t get) and Romo’s little joke went viral.

In the Buffalo Bill’s heart-breaking loss, Romo noticed (typical of him) exactly what the Bills did wrong at the end of the game. (No squib kick with 13 seconds left, too many pass rushers on defense)

When Tom Brady and the Bucs came back and tied the Rams 27-27, the refs did not help Brady at all; the Rams collapsed completely on their own. And when the Rams didn’t fold, and scored at the very end of the game to win—there was no ref call to save Brady.

Brady is royalty. He expects the NFL (the refs) to help him win.

Brady clearly got no help from the refs this year. Quite the opposite.

Proud, proud, proud, the man with 7 Super Bowls. Brady knows how much he means to the NFL’s ratings.

But could it be the NFL has turned over a new leaf? Have they come to realize that instead of refs favoring “great teams” and “great players,” the game is more exciting when the refs let the players play, leading to close and unpredictable results, no matter who wins?

Was the NFL sending a message, with its first-ever Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty against Tom Brady?

Is this why Brady quit?

PILES

San Francisco Opera Blog | SF Opera

Piles of notes, transparent in their piles—

music. Great musicians don’t play with smiles.

Mozart may have smiled in the wings

but not the opera singer when she sings—

unless a smile is called for in the script.

Smiles and music are antithetical.

I saw the vampire sleeping in the crypt

and sad music crept along the ground.

Where else could such horror be found?

But any scene or mood is ripe for a smile.

Pleasure and satisfaction were mine for awhile

with you, who turned away from me, at last,

with abstract words—and a chilly smile

separate from our passionate past.

Most of our lives are things we wear—

Smile. And remove it. There’s nothing there.

I was comforted.

In my icy pride

I didn’t move. Hot kisses floated in with the tide.

RELUCTANTLY

The Lion From The Divine Comedy By Dante Painting by Gustave Dore
Reluctantly, the night gives up its hours.
Hurriedly, the air gave up its sun.
Who lives in the cold and dark?
On climate earth, everyone.

Dark, the way to the distant grave,
Dark, the entrance for everyone.
Reluctantly, the night's hours
Travel towards the wayward sun.
Those who disagree with you
Have put together a plan.
The night is cold, again.
I saw the world and ran. 

PROXIMITY OF LOVE

160 Medieval Beds ideas | medieval bed, medieval, medieval furniture

I contemplate your eyes and love’s proximity

and wonder which matters the most. Love

requires the flesh but it also requires the ghost.

Insane things and hidden things and images

floating, as if described in a bad poem, or floating in a sympathetic mind—

hunt for love, hunt for love! when the hunter, not the prey, is kind.

Proximate love, proximate love! what is convenient is luxury more than enough;

I swam the seas and found nothing. I found a comfortable love, this convenient love;

propinquity and quantity was prominently my sin!

I am ashamed of where my ghost has been!

I am the poet, the theologian, the teacher, the jerk,

easy this existence compared to those who actually work.

Proximate love! It was easy because it was near.

The superstar loves his maid.

I loved you well in a former year.

The surrounding pool

protected us. Poems officially require school.

Wasn’t my soul infinite? Even in bed?

Infinite love! Infinite love!

But lying here, my soul is dead.

THE VIOLINIST

Ida Haendel, Polish-born musician known as 'grande dame of the violin,'  dies at 96 - The Washington Post

The violinist throws the music over her shoulder.

What keeps these musicians attached to their instruments?

Why do they with windy precision obey?

Is it because there is no Beethoven today?

Is this why the children hurry down the hill?

Does the gravity of music affect us all?

I am stuck in the concert hall

with madame and aunt taking a rare vacation.

The painter holds onto the window sill;

what would Mendelssohn think of our nation?

We have what we desire: the appalling number of afternoons and evenings

when we didn’t do anything! Mozart wrote

every single authentic note.

These songs have floated away.

Is this why my life leans on instruments today?

THEY

They exist outside the channels of my imagination.

When, in composition, I welcome dream’s uncertainty and surprise,

the soft, dream-like light of the wan projector’s eyes,

(how did you turn up in my dream? where were you before?)

I’m tortured by the very understanding the dream lacks

which teases me into understanding more—

first reality I reject, then fantasy tires—

which dream is the dream the dreamer desires?

I’m safe here from all ideology and argument;

in the dream, all argument and gossip is me;

my ego, that turns high sabotage into the quaintest age of poetry,

now wakes up, and of course there they are;

they will analyze my poem—

they are the enemy, just by being who they are,

mysterious and unknown.

They always make me doubt myself;

they are now discussing game theory

and they make it clear it is impossible to define the word, “game,”

which expands its meaning constantly.

Without trying, they always get the best of me.

You don’t like them either? Then we are One.

But unfortunately they are One. This won’t work.

They convince you I’m a jerk.

I take comfort in refuting them at last; I finally define the word game

to my splendid satisfaction. I achieve satisfaction.

A game is whatever you lost that you could have won.

Which mortal wins in life? None.

In the end, none of us win. Not even poems. This doesn’t want to be one.

POETRY HAS AN URGENCY

What is g-force and how is it related to harsh driving? | Geotab

Poetry has an urgency when you who write it do;

this means the temporal overcomes the spatial;

(I might as well spell it out for you)

it means you finally get it that you’ll die;

the best poems are a long sigh

with the words a total accident; did you really think

I was saying something specific? That a plan

was in my head? That a poem is a machine made by a man?

No, it is the realization that the ending

is something—depend on it—I’m sending

in a complete overcoming of the thing.

There’s a number of hexagonal sides.

Loves are on the amusement rides.

I take one step and sing.

THE NOTE

I'm Obsessed with the Doppelgänger of My Wedding Ring in This Holbein  Painting - Artsy

You can easily see how love turns into hate.

The problem is a person has to wait.

I could not bring myself to say goodbye to you

and the years passed so I didn’t have to.

The very thing that made me too attached

fed goodbye; a lonely plan was hatched,

and it was easy; life is full of sleep and sad

music in those distracting shows we watch

when exhausted; the best art is slightly mad

and it always comes down to one of those;

the trade, the error, the one that had to be,

when you rest, and resting, write poetry,

forgetting the fate of life’s gaps and design

when you are late as you write the last line.

Your poem will be analyzed later (and she

of course will not remember what you wrote)

and it will fail for the very reason that poetry

exists; and now the plain, uncovered note.

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU DON’T

Steel Works (2020) Painting by Jake Sheader | Saatchi Art

It is important that you don’t exclude water

from your imaginative domain.

You cannot go back. And your citizens will be in pain.

Once you have decided clouds in poetry

cannot be tolerated, they will not be;

the overwhelming interest in art is always:

what can we remove to more easily make the landscape seem more real?

And strength is important. A manifesto says

for the sake of its followers, “use the finest steel”

and that’s it: chapbooks will flourish; modern

times, like trains, full of calendars, will come;

this is comfortable; hurry into the interim;

smiles flash; finish playing the steel drum.

You’ll be surprised at how many sounds are possible!

Who said a cacophony

couldn’t celebrate a poetry?

But a warning: once you decide on a course,

the canals will forever be dry.

Keats will simply perish. And you cannot say goodbye.

THE FIRST MODERN JOURNALIST OF MISINFORMATION WAS EDGAR ALLAN POE. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GREATEST HOAXER EVER.

Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 Balloon Hoax tale and actual newspaper story (Poe’s revenge for an earlier 1835 moon hoax plagiarized from an earlier Poe tale) embarrassed the very newspapers who would later cover up the author’s 1849 murder—a murder exposed by Scarriet.

The small band of murderers included employees of the Baltimore Sun, Messrs Jsph Snodgrass and Jsph Walker (a couple of Joe’s). They had assistance from Poe’s own cousin, Neilson. The Balloon Hoax triumph by Poe was published, as a new book on Poe tells us, in that very newspaper, the Sun, to the embarrassment of its employees. The new book is The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science. It is by John Tresch and was published in 2021 by FSG.

The new work on Poe is extremely welcome—but it’s not about Poe’s death.

Scarriet has covered Poe’s probable murder elsewhere—correspondence exists in which Poe confessed to Snodgrass—a few years prior to Poe’s mysterious death—his utter hatred for Neilson. Every Poe biographer simply (and blindly) calls Snodgrass and Neilson Poe’s “friends.” None has been curious how Poe’s death coincided with Snodgrass and Neilson Poe appearing at the scene with the convenient note from Walker saying, “Oh, hey, Mr. Snodgrass: Poe—near death—is asking specifically for you!” In a staggering example of collective naivety, with the evidence staring them in the face, every Poe scholar and biographer has missed this essence of America’s greatest literary mystery and tragedy.

One of the conspirators was Horace Greeley, the corrupt and insane editor of the New York Tribune who hired the lunatic and famous poetry anthologist Rufus Griswold to damn Poe with a creepy obituary signed “Ludwig” hours after Poe’s hurried and secret burial by Neilson and Snodgrass. (Horace Greeley, as a presidential candidate, would go on to win the state of Maryland where Poe was murdered—in the part of Baltimore where Lincoln was disguised as an old woman by Pinkerton 10 years later; Greeley ran against Ulysses S. Grant. You can’t make this stuff up. Greeley, for political reasons, and Griswold, more for personal and literary reasons, were Poe’s sworn enemies.)

Poe had hoaxed and misinformed his way to the greatest insult in literary history. Newspaper owners were princes and Poe had beaten them at their own game.

But Poe was probably the most scientific author who ever wrote fiction. His essay on the universe—Eureka—influenced Einstein. Poe was interested in mysteries and hoaxes—because he loved science.

Poe’s literary style was a combination of realism and fantasy for an express purpose.

The fantasy and reality of Poe himself has been mixed up for a very long time—and it’s high time America gets the story right.

THE SOPHISTICATED

HD wallpaper: Zalgiris, battlefields, Battle of Grunwald, classic art, Jan  Matejko | Wallpaper Flare
The sophisticated are not afraid
of anything---except others who are not afraid of anything.
The sophisticated form clubs and cabals.
They have long meetings
until meetings are no longer necessary. 

The sophisticated understand belief is hard-wired
and cannot be avoided.
Some populations are fearless
due to credulous, optimistic beliefs
and these populations must be targeted for destruction and panic.

The nearly sophisticated lack an understanding of belief;
they believe things without knowing it.
The nearly sophisticated run interference
for the sophisticated, 
sowing doubt and panic
in the optimistic populations.

Optimistic belief has always confounded the world.
The sophisticated understand belief itself is atomistic reality.
The truly sophisticated do not confute belief,
but invent new beliefs
for their shock troops,
the nearly sophisticated.

Poet, let us hope and be naive---
admitting, in order to love,
the optimism we must believe.




THE BOOMER DRIFTS INTO LECTURE

336-VELASQUEZ (Attribué) - Soldat mort - A Dead Soldier | Perspective art,  17th century paintings, Painting

How does the physics of our life

squeeze us into our life?

How do we unravel so we know?

Why do the trivial intricacies

appeal to us so?

We don’t want to die

though in every corner of the sky,

in every ditch,

is the suffering, the ignorance, the lie.

My gilded poems prove completely false

and the one I loved wants a divorce.

A green world for the browns is the path—

and now the whites do not laugh.

The mixture is yet strong;

most are kind; most of us do get along.

The first to bet on dumping oil

makes that move alone. Predictions toil.

Elites make the lumpen boil.

I grew on a mountain of wealth—

past generations of entertainment and health!

The 1950s were a beneficial breeze.

When we were children, evil slowly got started.

Now the CIA makes sure we are broken-hearted.

My ancestors smashed the world,

producing leisure and apologetic poems—

better than your passive-income ones.

I’m afraid the new rules will not be

good for you. As for your poetry…

OUR ONE ESCAPE

Brixton rioting flares again as police move in – archive, 1981 | Race | The  Guardian

Don’t go, April, now that you
Are to warm sun and cool winds inclined—
Yet I know you will.
You’re measured by days
And cannot stop for my sad mind
Or linger here because I praise.

You are measured by what is lost:
All the years that are no more
And other Aprils gone. So if now
Winter’s nothing is your being,
It’s best I leave my thoughts of you,
Loyal only to time fleeing.
Who wants to be left behind?

Our one escape from pain
Is winter passing,
Not April, or this terrible going in the mind—
Winter is always coming and April
Hurries towards us, blind.

BREAKING: GOOD POEM PUBLISHED ON THE INTERNET

ABC13 Anchor Ilona Carson signs off from news desk on Friday's Eyewitness  News at 4 - ABC13 Houston
Without warning, a good poem
dropped on the internet. It was right there
to read for free. Rumors of this happening
had been going around the internet for years:
a good poem would simply show up,
sans credentials, and no one
would be able to prevent this from happening.
Language poets and the Modern Language Association 
and distinguished academic publishers remained silent on
whether the poem could be good if such a thing were to happen.
"Professors need to eat" was overheard in New York City,
a towering metropolis, but reaction
was generally muted. The swamp
contained a river meandering.
The froth on the beer died.
I spoke into the microphone very fast. 
A rumor had it that Rosalinda cried. 

ALL REVOLUTIONS IN LOVE

Moral Questions

All revolutions in love were literary—

until the sexual revolution (sex being a strong

element of love) broke the mold—

cinema, the Great War, the automobile,

and later in the century, birth control.

Irreverent poetry has no soul.

What other people do

unfortunately affects you.

You cannot love if love is not where

morality is. It hides, instead, behind your hair.

Utterly transformed, Beatrice is now some girl.

The old graces and rules are dashed

upon the electric steps. Nothing is cashed.

We have joined the loose brigade;

comforts and winks are written

everywhere; only what’s in vogue displayed.

Each poetry wars against the other;

I’m not able to do this anymore.

My agenda’s lyric

is a drink thrown in the muse’s face:

Not banned poetry—only unfinished.

Beatrice walking at a slightly faster pace.

HOW DIFFERENT WAR IS

Allied bombing of Germany during the second world war | Second world war |  The Guardian

In the 19th century, citizens would have lunch

and watch a battle. Now, in war, citizens

are for lunch. I cannot stomach tales

of 20th century war. As an idle citizen, fragile,

old, and full of doom, even a game of chess

makes me shudder. I feel sorry for children

and dogs. O take me to the flower show.

Return, Victorian poems and sentimentality!

Polite poem, it was always you! The word

should be the soldier; fight with language;

with all your cunning and sincerity tell a tale:

The 20th century is when it all began to fail.

TORTUROUS PARADOX

Socrates' Critique of 21st-Century Neuroscience - Scientific American Blog  Network

“The woke are asleep” —somebody

Believing intelligent design

would seem to make one conspiracy-stupid and naive.

But we are intelligent, or not, based on what we believe.

The atheist uses intelligence to find non-intelligence,

which is brilliant, no doubt.

Intelligence within finds the opposite without.

The world made itself, by chance—

things knocked about for billions of years;

we evolved from rocks into sensitive beings

vibrating stories of laughter and tears.

A rock can’t do that. Why is there a debate?

A miracle is a miracle, whether on-time or late.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say

Existence started before there was “yesterday;”

we cannot know how it started; I saw

the universe by the universe’s law

which exists together with the universe—or not.

We either have nothing—or more than we have got.

Both priest and scientist, it seems to me,

can easily agree;

they both need to go back—to philosophy.

Once, many years ago, I heard Socrates—and for a moment understood—

the secret to wisdom is the word, “good.”

THE REAL EXPERIENCE

A Midsummer Night's Dream' Review: Gwendoline Christie Stars - Variety
The real experience is walled off
from all other experience 
so it can be a real experience.
The paradox of this enters our minds slowly: is being walled off
what makes something real?
When the United States was alone,
how did it make us feel?

I am still living on that real experience 
when I was isolated with you.
We weren't supposed to be isolated
so we didn't know what to do. 

Invite the revelers, experience 
the dance danced by everyone.
Why doesn't this feel real?
I experience the trumpet and the drum.

Up in the secret loft,
where the music is heard softly below,
I ponder the real experience 
I had with someone else
ages and ages ago. 

OK YES THE CRAZY SHAPED ME

Reading International — Fred Harris

OK yes the crazy shaped me;

dad was not only jealous of mom,

but of each male child;

this bound him to family and made the safe

argumentative and wild.

I was obedient to my parents’ wishes

but I didn’t know what those wishes were; the family

had its own reason for existing; “The butter, dear!

Bacon and eggs! Dad is dad, He’ll remain here.”

I shyly went off to college, guessing all the time,

worried, comforted by plays and rhyme.

I was obedient but had dagger thoughts.

Disobedience was for losers. I obeyed

but for a larger purpose. Everything was delayed.

I watched others make a fast buck;

they knew what they wanted; this made them dull;

I was aloof; hesitating gave me intelligence,

if not material luck.

I was tortured by the inability to know

but I trusted philosophy. I took my reading slow;

(awesome, illuminating, dialogues of Plato!)

neither spiritual, nor materialistic, I was odd;

I kept converting to my own method of converting;

the only way I knew how to wrestle with God

was to send angry letters to first mom, then dad;

Philosophy cured the maudlin; finally, I was only sad.

At Iowa, in front of friends—Karla said I was showing off

(I was always drinking beers, always had a cough)

when I said I heard “I want my mother” in the melody

of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.

It took me a long time to settle down;

a bookstore job, then a job over at the college;

serious, yet joking finally about it all

is the best way to soften the fall;

I had scares and heartbreaks, enough

to be grateful, to get that experience

they say we all need.

The truly simple things are still true;

that’s what i think. But will they always be true?

I don’t know, really. I better ask you.

REMEMBERING HER AFTER YEARS

Winter trees without leaves | Stock image | Colourbox
The skeletal beauty of winter
is more beautiful than spring.
Sticks stick out of the water. 
The cloudy harbor is remembering 
things dead in spring.
Winter, warm and quiet by the shore,
wishes to remember something more.
Is it me remembering you---what to remember about you?---
or the whole thing remembering the whole thing?
Vegetation growing on the harbor floor
doesn't notice the season changing.
Reflections of far things
in the gently undulating water
surprise, like melody, my eyes.
I listen to the quiet scene
and myself speaking (awed, speaking to myself)
as if the landscape (naked trees) were an ear.
Rain is warming, in gray lengths, winter.
If this is New England at the end of December
I don't believe there's anything to fear.
Seagulls cry and feed on the low tide.
The exposed land of rocks and snails
allows me to walk closer to the other shore;
I don't need to remember anything more
unless my poem would grow heavy
with what I saw; details always their own law.
After all, you live on the other side of this bay;
what do you think they and I might say?


A SERIES OF NAPS

Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television –  NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale

Today on TV, life seems especially

shiny, odd, and creepy

but the scratchy, doggy, suitcase life

goes on; we take a nap, life

changes; moving, what do we do

with all these books? How can we

afford to live here? Which in the news is true?

You need to take control.

It was always finally about you.

Bad things pile up at the end of life;

bad decisions now assert themselves,

or maybe you chose the safe route

and you’re okay? Not likely. Lives

gather up reckoning inside every mind;

we’re all sad. Life is a series of naps.

I hear the noise: man versus woman, east versus west;

life is a series of naps

and the last nap is the best.

THERE IS ALWAYS A PROBLEM

Swatting shots, talking trash, befriending strangers: Why I miss pickup  basketball like nothing else

If you feel the truth and live it

there will always be someone

who will make you explain

so you feel stupid or insane.

You were secure in your honesty

and it even brought you joy,

but along comes an honest anarchist

presenting forbidden chaos:

“what do think of your “truth,” now, truth-boy?”

And yet you can always fix the problem,

shooting accurately, with abandon, as it gets dark

in an unlikely performance in a pick-up game:

“swish, swish, swish! I’ll show you who’s insane”

and from there to opening night

where you’re playing the Professor in Ionesco

(“The Lesson”) and emotionally you triumph;

these things shape you, make your truth insane,

the poet you are, the one who doesn’t need to explain.

IF YOUR POEM IS BAD YOU CAN SAY IT WAS A JOKE

Ben Lerner on August 9 - Hugo House

“The book that needs to be written next is the The Hatred of Poets.” —Kent Johnson, reviewing Ben Lerner’s The Hatred of Poetry.

If your poem is bad you can say it was a joke.

If no one gets the joke, then it becomes

a poem again, since few understand a poem

which is a poem that still might be a joke.

Poets make big names for themselves

with this trick alone. You know who you are.

Credulity, the blank sky. You, the big star.

SEX WITH MANY

Gary Cooper - - Biography

“hey tom. guess who else sent me a poem?”

Sex with many is the actual or implied state

which wrecks us. Jealous frenzy beats wildly

in the calmest breast. Gary Cooper was stabbed

and shot; fortunately the ladies missed.

When have the jealous ever been able to resist

the sneering provocation, no matter how good

the love? Hemingway said ‘Coop’ was perfect,

and what exactly does that mean. It means cheating

and sex with many is the idol of this world,

stirring all behavior; don’t you know why death

and its sexless partners were dancing for you

on the religious stage?

My poem can fix things. Look how

it sends the solemn music to you now.

LOOKING BACK AT SCARRIET 2021

I’ve edited Scarriet since September 2009, when Alan Cordle, who I met on the poetry-contest-exposing website Foetry, created Blog Scarriet as an alternative to the Poetry Foundation’s Blog Harriet—which banned poets (yours truly included) from Harriet’s Comments for being “off-topic” (whatever that means; digression is a sign of intelligence in my book) and soon thereafter Blog Harriet (Poetry magazine’s online site) erased Comments as a feature altogether. Poets like Eileen Myles and Annie Finch were regulars on the Harriet Comments; it was a lively good time, I thought, but management didn’t see it that way, which is fine; Harriet managed to birth Scarriet (indirectly).

Poetry and its politics boils down to one question: Is this a good poem?

Alan Cordle’s question on Foetry.com was narrower: did you take contest fees to publish the winner’s book and was that winner your friend? I did not personally expose anyone; I was just an online participant on Foetry because I was curious about Alan’s quest, which seemed to me a sincere attempt to correct a wrong. Today I still believe this.

I broadened the investigation (watering it down to something more intellectual and benign) to Is This A Good Poem? This question is the ruling spirit of Scarriet. I understood, during my unofficial Foetry membership, that poets are allowed to be friends and help each other. This will always happen, and why not? But what ultimately matters is that the best poems are praised (no matter who writes them, or what manifesto is attached to them) and the worst poems are noticed as such.

This gives rise to a sweet philosophical complexity: how do we know what a good poem is? Who are you as a critic (and a person) to make this judgment? Are you, the judge, able to write a good poem? Who are the famous poets who write bad poems? Who are neglected poets who write good poems? What inhibits us from being honest about this?

Anyway, that’s me and Scarriet in a nutshell.

The poet Ben Mazer is a friend of mine. I have written a book on Ben Mazer—which praises his poetry. I defend him as a writer of good poetry, and the friendship matters less in the ratio of how well I defend him as a poet—and how good he actually is compared to poets not on my radar.

Ben was hanging out with the poet Charles Bernstein last year and Ben said, “Charles doesn’t like you.” This flattered me, as I hadn’t realized a poet of some note knew of me or Scarriet. There’s never any excuse to be a jerk—I have been, at times, in the past, in an effort to have strong, honest, opinions—and make a name for myself.

I’ll take this moment to apologize to anyone I may have offended.

I judge (dead and living) poets in the Scarriet March Madness “contests.” A few of these poets I know, but how good they are, and how I am able to articulate how good they are, is on display for all to see, though how well I know this or that poet, is not always known. Those who know me, know I have very few poet pals, and I try very hard not to get close to bad poets. 😆 I met Marilyn Chin as a friend (not a close friend) a long time ago at Iowa before her career took off. I know Philip Nikolayev because I know Ben. I’m a shy person; my life is not full of friendships with poets—not even close. I think this helps me as Scarriet editor. (Yes you’ll notice Mazer and Chin showing up often, but some things can’t be helped, and I honestly believe they are both really good). I also met Dan Sociu in Romania in 2016, and I do think he’s a good poet. If an unpublished poet is good, I will say so. Discovering truly good poets takes a great deal of time and work—I wish I could do more in this area, but no one alive can single-handedly offer this kind of justice to the Poetry world.

I apologize for this laborious introduction; I wanted to look back at 2021:

January “Winter Threw Its Shadow Over the River of My Years” (1/30) is perhaps the best poem of this month because of its poetic cohesion; a poem can have a great idea, but unity is all. A Jeopardy poem, a CIA poem, a NFL rigging poem (life as “rigged” courts self-pity, but Scarriet siezes on the theme a lot) a love-revenge poem (another common theme) but again, interesting topics don’t make a poem good—but (I don’t think I’m wrong) an accessible idea (no matter how simple) is necessary. “Bored” (1/4) is one of the best of the month, and “My Iranian Girlfriends” (1/3) is subtle and witty.

February “I Can Confirm” (2/1) sounds like Blake, which no Scarriet poem tends to sound like. “In The Evenings” (2/9) is richly poignant, probably the best Scarriet poem of early 2021. Scarriet Poetry Hot 100! (2/15) is always exciting. Amanda Gorman is no. 1, Cate Marvin no. 2 (“Republican Party Is Evil” poets really talk like this), followed by Louise Gluck (Nobel), Joy Harjo (3rd term laureate), Don Mee Choi (National Book Award), Jericho Brown (Pulitzer), Noor Hindi (“Fuck Yr Lecture on Craft, My People Are Dying”), Naomi Shihab Nye (Emma Thompson reads her poem “Kindness” on Instagram to 2.3 million views), Wayne Miller (wrote article on talking about poetry online at Lithub) and William Logan (the critic/poet) rounding out the top 10. Also on the Top 100 list, the wonderful fugitive poets Mary Angela Douglas and Stephen Cole—I discovered them not too long ago online. As an experiment, a letter to my dad is published as a poem (2/21). “Now That The Poem Is Over” (2/22) works well.

March “This Poem Can Only Speak For This Poem” (3/7) , “Happy Marriage” (3/11), and “The Object” (3/26) (on musical fame), are the best poems. March Madness—the topic is Pop Music—(3/20) runs through early April, with interesting essays on your favorite artists and bands as they compete with each other. Nina Simone and Led Zeppelin are among those who go far. The tourney includes Spanky and Our Gang (“Sunday Will Never Be The Same”), as well as Dylan, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra.

April Many good poems this month as spring 2021 inspires love poems—not maudlin but suave and biting. Failed love poems unfortunately plague Scarriet, but in certain months real wit, rather than bitterness, accompanies the love. This month seems to be one of them. A Brief History of U.S. Poetry revised (4/30). Check out this post! Scarriet literary history at its best.

May continues with lots of good poems. “When You See Me You Insult Me” (5/25) is a classic Scarriet love poem (who hurt you so badly, Scarriet poet?) and the first of many great literary essays arrives on 5/31—a look at the critic Harold Rosenberg, who hadn’t really been on Scarriet’s radar previously.

June Poems of high quality continue. Book announcement of Ben Mazer and the New Romanticism by Thomas Graves (6/26).

July I read “Weather Poem” by Dan Sociu (7/5). Another audio feature—2 of my songs on YouTube (low-fi) (7/8) Self-indulgent, perhaps; I’ve composed many pop songs never given professional treatment for one reason or another. “Man, Those Decades In American Poetry Went By Fast” (7/11) Another historical re-posting. Finally, an essay: “The Four Quartets Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha” (7/19) in which an overrated work is just one of the things looked at.

August Some of the poems which begin to appear are slightly revised poems written long ago. Three reviews appear this month: The poems of Ruth Lepson (8/1), poems of 14 Younger Poets published by Art and Letters press (8/18) and poems of Daniel Riffenburgh (8/22). Many definitely prefer Scarriet’s prose to its poetry.

September A rather odd article in which the timelines of Delmore Schwartz and Giuseppe Verdi are compared and some observations on the partially neglected poet Schwartz are made. (9/12) An article on Tom Brady and NFL stats (9/26) Scarriet has a very opinionated, love-hate, relationship to sports. Old original poems continue to see the light of day.

October A great month for prose (and poems of decent quality continue) as Scarriet seems to be enjoying one of its best years. “One Hundred Years of Pulitzers” is a revealing historical survey (10/18). “The Poem Defined” (10/21) is a fine essay. Another Poetry Hot 100 (10/27) features the unstoppable Kent Johnson as no.1. The month ends with the scintilating “100 Greatest Poems by Women” (10/31).

November has more Scarriet essays. “Trickle Down Verse” (11/8). “The Good” (11/10). “The Textbook Which Changed Everything: Understanding Poetry” (11/19). In the autumn of 2021, Kent Johnson and his avant friends on FB goaded me into defending my core principles and beliefs. Thanks, Kent! Also this month, you can hear me recite Poe’s “For Annie” on video on my phone, one evening alone in my house, holding my copy of Library America Poe gifted to me by Hilton Kramer many years ago. (11/16)

December The year ends with an essay on Ezra Pound’s The Spirit of Romance, as I attempt to come to grips with this figure who was the subject of a Kent Johnson inspired online debate, “Can a bad person write good poetry?” (12/11) Poems on ‘poetry politics’ (inspired by Kent Johnson and friends) and politics—similar in theme to poems from January 2021, close out the month.

Happy New Year.

Thomas Graves (aka Thomas Brady and Scarriet Editors) Salem, MA 1/1/2022

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