WHEN SHE AND I SAT

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When she and I sat in the park,

More silent than talking,

Famished past dinner time,

Sacrifices to forbidden love

Companion to the kisses

In the breezy dark,

We loved and had love.

When others finished walking

Past, we kissed again

And made a game of it,

Or love did—we were never sure

Where love ended and we began.

Tonight I came back, feeling the years

Melt. The small park we knew the same.

Then I saw him, a familiar stranger,

A silent part of the scene

I had forgotten. He never made a sound.

He never looked around, the stooped old man,

Who came with a plastic jug of water

And watered the plants. Who was he?

Until then memory had not harmed me.

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

Running from her. Our love. The years.

 

HIT SONG

band

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

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

I did not have sex with that woman

Baby, baby, baby, I’m gonna leave you

I did not have sex with that woman

Baby, baby, baby I’m gonna leave you

Leave you in the summer time

Babe, babe, babe, babe

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

I’m so emotional right now

Or if the fetus isn’t loved

Those are the real criminals

Those are the real criminals

Those are the real criminals

Babe, babe, babe, I’m gonna leave you

Leave you in the summertime

With a dead sound on the final stroke

With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine

Number nine

Number nine

Number nine

Meer Meer Meer

How do you like it

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

Dying all the time

Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t

Atrocity no one sees

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

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

Baby you got me down on my knees

And now the news

Come on baby light my fire

Light my fire, light my fire, light my fire

Do you want me to love you

O the shark has pretty teeth dear

Dear dear dear dear

Babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe

How can you mend a broken heart

The harmful rays of the sun

Ahhh

Ahh

Ah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CREEP FACTOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The creep factor can go either way.

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

 

 

NEVER THIS

 

Looking deludes you, and those emotions, too.

Women’s magazines present faces

In a way that acknowledges those faces

Free of blemishes are vital images,

So that, for society, the illusionary is true.

A pretty face is like a flower, which is

Banal, not interesting, and hardly new.

Poetry uses metaphor—one object is placed beside another:

Do you want them doing that to you?

Hamlet has to be described exactly,

Or he won’t be emotionally true;

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

To the sea of the audience. That cannot be.

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

Except for echo bouncing off sky and ground—

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

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

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

There’s many illusionary empires: empires of kiss,

Empires of intimacy. Silent empires. But never this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I PUSH MYSELF TO THE LONELY EXTREME

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I push myself to the lonely extreme,

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

Where every councilor and flying cousin are known

By my poetry alone.

Where every drink and dream contains a pill

Of my extremist will.

Where I go down to the pit of hell—

But one more cigarette will make me well.

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

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

You would find some interest eventually.

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

Hope is despair that’s free,

Freedom: despair that hopes.

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

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

And one died for the rest of the day

Not certain if it was real or play,

And the authorities granted she was frightened to death

By a word whispered by a poet’s breath.

How easily poetry can fill

The vanities with vanity.

Modernity is Dante on the window sill.

Did you read my poem at all?

Did you read my poem and fall?

That’s not what I meant at all.

Not life. Not agony. Not at all.

Breathing life into the whole street

I walk and look and obey my fate.

I focus my mind like a laser beam.

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

Comparison, the better and the worse,

Is what human life is made of, of course.

Every second, you compare top-shelf.

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

 

 

 

MY REASONS

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

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

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

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

 

LET ME BE HONEST AND TRUE

Let me be honest and true.

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

No one can define poetry,

But I think it is love and honesty,

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

—The truest that lives in any head—

Where all the secrets lie

In a vast, ghostly landscape,

Who come out to play in dreams

And so poetry only seems

To be about seeming,

But really it is about truth that is dreaming

About what honesty can do.

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

 

LOVE IS HORRIBLE WHEN IT ENDS

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Love has no way of knowing what it is,

Because it is so many things:

Lips, songs, the words to songs,

And the soul that listens when it sings.

 

Go—desperate lover, lost, thinking over

The endless disorder and discord of grief—

Into life which assails you: tears, tears,

Misunderstanding, tears drowning your intimate belief.

 

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

Or whether it loses or wins—

Love is horrible when it ends.

As it begins, begins, begins.

 

WHEN YOU REALIZED POETRY WAS CREEPY

When you realized poetry was creepy,

You were punched in the face by a lie.

You realized what makes you love

Is that which makes you die.

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

And some of them are beautiful,

With beauty that never ends,

With beauty that makes more beauty in a way

That makes you hate that summer day

When he gave you a poem about fall.

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

 

 

POETRY IS THE BEST EXCUSE

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Poetry is the best excuse

Not to be serious about anything,

Not to be anything. When poetry asks,

It importunes nothing, it doesn’t care

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

When you arrive, and sit in the corner,

You find poetry watching you,

And you are thrilled to know

Poetry wants your secrets; if not now, later,

Or immediately, or you already did

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

 

Is it possible that poetry who shames you

By loving you—as she blames you—

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

Can hate you with such love?

Can love you with such hate?

Yes, my secret police of poetry,

You already know your lonely need to talk

Destroys poetry.

Your mind has no authority.

Beautiful evening. Will you take a walk?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROMANIA JUNE 11 2016 A POEM

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The rain after the reading

Cooled the air, and wouldn’t stop.

It invaded us with its sound.

The heart had to hear the rain drop.

 

The heart had to hear the poem

In the reading that we gave,

But sensitivity doesn’t help,

Because sensitivity isn’t brave.

 

The bravery of the brave

Is cowardice in reverse:

Retreating decides to advance.

Rhetoric becomes terse.

 

The hotel clerk comes outside

To ask, “Has the rain stopped yet?”

The poets, after reading, write

Under the awning—so nothing gets wet.

 

 

 

 

ROMANIAN DREAM: SCARRIET EDITOR READS

 

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

I HAD A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR FACE

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

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

Conversation can laugh, but it has to use tears.

I would rather talk with your face. All the years

That took to make it! Slaughtered armies, forsaken,

Fell in green valleys generations and generations

Before, when your ancient ancestors, startled in peace,

Made confident in building, soothed in war,

Came away sorrowful, by the inspiring spring

Where one drowned once—the waters raged

In love—the god loved those waters more

In the darkness, and the dark hair and eyes,

Practiced to be beautiful among sad cries.

Today, when I glimpse your face which talks

To me instantly, fed by the historical years

Of a story and humor and its grotesques,

Seeking the escape from facts and oozing tears,

My soul cries out inside where I recognize

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

It is a waste to explain how your sweetest face,

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

 

YOU CANNOT TELL WHOSE BREATH IS IN THE OBOE

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You cannot tell whose breath is in the oboe

Or whose hand is on the lyre,

You don’t know which smile wrote the music,

Music escaping the fire,

Murmuring from flower to flower,

Now, in this musical hour.

The windy lyre is tall

Because the notes need a long way to fall.

The black clarinet

Hasnt started playing yet.

What soil makes the music grow?

Atheist! You must admit you do not know.

The unknown bee will never tire

Of collecting honey from your soul,

A lonely soul too lonely to love—

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

A fantasy in C finds the only honey you hide

But tomorrow C will not find it.

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

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

Whose breath is in the oboe?

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

Which bee hums for you now?

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

Which string strikes which string in the ancient sighs below.

 

 

 

ASA CRED

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I can’t see over my language,

I can’t see over my speech,

I can’t see over what I’m saying,

Poetry is out of reach.

Let me love you, poetry,

Let me love you, word,

Let me love you, can you

Believe this is not absurd?

Who are you? What do you think of me?

I know this can never be answered,

Not by you, or by poetry.

Who’s got the answer for me?

Will poetry let me see over the wall?

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

This is the mystery, over the wall.

I’m going to take a walk. Don’t call.

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

 

 

 

 

SCARRIET GOES TO ROMANIA

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Sometimes it pays to be a poet.

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

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

DISCUTIA SECRETA

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

The first observation which came to me was this:

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

The poet wishes his poems were read.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secrecy is powerful, and usually exciting.

Social interaction, then, is not just about communication.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will also always go in.

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

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

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

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

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

 

POETRY IS WHAT MY POETRY IS SEEKING

Poetry is what my poetry is seeking,

Not the throbbing of love that takes it all away,

Not difficult ideas difficult to say,

Not the clever being clever for an hour,

Not even the red dress, nor the laughter, nor the desert flower

Bravely wearing its yellow yellow under the yellow sun.

It is how they look away from her when she is speaking.

Poetry is what my poetry is seeking.

 

Poetry is what my poetry is seeking,

Not declarations that you are the only one,

You and I hidden, camping out in the tower,

The park below, great shadows spreading by the hour,

Not tears and tears raining from a head of clay,

Not shouts and certainties which make it run away.

It is how they look away from her when she is speaking.

Poetry is what my poetry is seeking.

 

 

I SAW HER TALKING TO ANOTHER

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I saw her talking to another

Who was only a friend.

That’s when I knew our love would end.

If she gets that much delight

In conversing with a friend,

Passion which leaps in the night

Seems small and shameful,

The rudeness of a selfish animal.

I would rather have her smile

And talk like that with me for awhile.

 

 

 

FOR ME

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Suicide is suicide.

I’ve contemplated suicide for weeks.

But suicide is suicide.

Poetry is what my poetry seeks.

Clean is clean.

Ignorance is not only ignorance, it reeks.

Socrates is Socrates.

Poetry is what my poetry seeks.

The unsayable is unsayable.

So says the silence, but it leaks.

I will say something now.

Poetry is what my poetry seeks.

 

NEVER LET NATURE TELL YOU WHAT TO DO

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Never let nature tell you what to do.

Nature takes one and turns it into two.

Nature hates the single mind

Unless it is a poet’s—who is blind.

Nature loves the many and hates the few.

Cruelty, cruelty. Nature is the worst.

There’s something hates one, but loves the two,

Oh but you better ask your partner first.

She is tall and beautiful and mild.

She was a child, and now, is the mother of a child.

In the tranquility of the morning I detect a single star.

“You are my sex; I can’t have a child with you,

As lovely as you are.

Never let nature tell you what to do.

I appreciate how you infiltrate my mind,

But impossible for another to be the two of us combined.

You will beat in vain upon my beautiful wall

My beautiful sculpture must be your all.

The world will go forward without us, I’m afraid.

But you and I can lie here safely in the shade.

There is no chance that anything will be new.”

You didn’t let nature tell you what to do.

At the graduation I saw you alone in your seat,

Miserable, seeing me seeing you; that was sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

THESE GROVES

These groves are quiet

Where my lover in a purple cloud lies down.

Unhappy shadows riot.

Her hair is black, her skin, Bengali brown.

Religious crowds have not been fed,

Religious colors are a bright, bright red.

Those who roll by the river could drown.

 

Flowers in the groves rebel

In a tangerine-yellow yell.

The crimson noises

Kiss red against red

When our kissing pauses.

Aquamarines have secrets to tell.

 

Gray eyes of poem’s roses

Sleep where the persian poppy dozes.

The springy orchard and the oozing well

Release a pungent indigo smell.

No shadow is afraid.

The weed has an adamantine need

In the darkening shade.

Blue silken bell.

 

I came across the roof to see

What her religion means to me.

I dropped down from my height

In a cloud of white,

Startled by the odors of this

Delicious kiss.

 

Buzzing flies

Are husky in their thighs.

The one color which bled in my heart

Was green—which made the landscape start.

The million kisses I had in mind

Crept into hers. The groves are blind

To the lighter hues,

To drops of rain, to dusty magentas and blues.

 

A religious crowd is pressing in.

A glassy, ebony breathing skin

Breathes the world I am breathing in.

Now the night is almost white.

In dark groves my Bengali dies.

Who drinks the maroon noon

Belonging to her cryptic sighs?

 

 

 

 

SOME CRITICAL OBSERVATIONS

We have nothing against line breaks. But line breaks do not substitute for punctuation. And lack of punctuation is not poetic.

Criticism is not about brainwashing or bullying. That’s brainwashing and bullying, not criticism. A poet who is highly defensive about their own work can be a brainwashing bully. Brainwashing and bullying can be done by anyone and has nothing to do with Criticism, per se.

Criticism is a guide, that’s all. It’s the brain of the eyes. Good criticism lays out examples, shares work from many ages and writers, and presents it. End of story. Nothing wrong with that. If you are a nature poet, and there’s a million examples of nature poetry out there, you should count criticism which knows something about nature poetry as your friend—that is, if you yourself, as the poet, are not a brainwashing bully.

Writing workshops = a modern money-making scheme. We can objectively read our own work. It is brainwashing to say otherwise. If you can’t edit your work, solo, you are no writer. Criticism belongs to the newspaper, the public square, the lecture hall, not the private, writing workshop, classroom—and so the latter should not exist. The writing workshop can only exist as “invite-only” mischief, as behind-the-scenes reputation making, as institutional thievery of what should remain private in the writer’s house. Good professional criticism has been killed by the Writing Program era.

Any piece of writing can be ridiculed. The question in every particular case is always: should it be? This ‘should’ applies on many subtle levels so that a literary critic is truly the most important member of any modern society. But Criticism has been taken from society and imprisoned in a textbook. Socrates was the first really good one. Critics don’t belong in the classroom—it is a perverse waste of talent for troublesome, cynical ends.

Reading. That’s really all literary education is. Throw in purely material considerations of metrics, a few mechanical prose issues. Anything else is dubious, and perhaps damaging.

As Alexander Pope said, the spirit is more important than the letter. Don’t nitpick. On the other hand, grammar is 50% of writing. Poets who can’t punctuate kill themselves. Poe was a fierce critic, but only to rebuff really bad writing. A Poe critic belongs in a newspaper, not workshops. The old English major is better for writing because reading is better for writing. Workshops are pathological and unnecessary. If teaching writing is your gig, we are sorry. Of course it’s not your fault—it’s the landscape today.  Just pretend you are a literature teacher. And for God’s sake, make them read Plato. Be confident they will get enough empty modern certainty on their own.

E. E. Cummings used punctuation a lot. Semicolons abound in many of his poems. He went to Harvard. He used stanza, rhyme, repetition, parenthetical marks, and least of all, the line break, for poetical emphasis. He was a meticulously formalist Romantic poet who belonged to the modernist, 1920s, Dial clique of Moore, Williams, Pound, and Eliot, eloped with money-bags Scofield Thayer’s wife, won an annual Dial award just like the rest of them (with a substantial cash award) and went on to outsell them all.

Cummings fooled everyone into thinking he was modern. Clever guy.

A good writer fools others.

But not you.

A LOVE THAT LOVES IS THE LOVE THAT’S NOT AFRAID

She made such declarations when she was dying.

I found out how much she loved me in the crying,

In crying that wet her face with waters of torrential rain.

She loved me, dying, in pain.

She confessed in the shade.

A love that loves is the love that’s not afraid.

You were different. You loved me now and then.

You held back. You were proud. You knew many men

Could be yours. You greeted me when

You were in the mood, and you were afraid

I would be with another in the shade.

A love that loves is the love that’s not afraid.

She forgave me.

She was out of her mind

And I was out of mine.

We talked in the evening. There was no wine.

Hesitantly, we held each other in the shade.

O the love that loves is love that is afraid.

 

WHAT YOU LOVED FOR AN INSTANT

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What you loved for an instant

Was the slightly excited way her mouth opened when she smiled,

The symmetrical perfection of the features,

The healthy beauty of hair and skin, the intelligence

You noticed in demeanor and expression.

As she left, you saw his passive face,

Bored as he looked at her mutely as she followed him

Out of the crowded café,

And you wondered, as you admired her,

Why he didn’t love her, but maybe he did,

But like you, and everyone, he was hiding

His love. Certainly it was love that he hid?

THE POET HAS NO GODDAMN IDEA

The poet has been crowned for days and nights
And all songs and all singing delights
And all movies and all night stills,
And all night pools, and the perfumed hills.
The rock songs and the rock celebrities
And the mansions and the mysteries.

The poet has these, and the poet has you,
Because you see a book, and you don’t know what to do.
But the poet knows.
The poet has a sharp nose
For books and things,
Publishing rights, criticisms, and rings.

The poet is trying the lock
But the key doesn’t fit.
There is an awkward silence.
Are you starting to realize this guy isn’t it?
This isn’t the right night. This isn’t the moon.
Fuck.  The guy who wrote this is a loon.

 

THE WORST POEMS ARE READ

The worst poems are publicly read.
The best ones are read later
Secretly, with surprise,
As if the best were hidden for your eyes.

You found them in the volume published in a hurry;
The publisher, languid, playful—the poet, only worry,
A slim volume, with blurbs gracing a green cover,
Poems of sorrow for a sad, lost lover,
Reflecting your experience, not told
To anyone—the love, illicit, but passionately bold.

The best poems are not read
By the poet at the reading,
Who loved, and still loves,
And has no idea who likes exactly what,
Where she is, and what she might be needing.

The worst poems are read,
The best poems, missed,
Like this one about no one,
Who no one ever kissed.

 

 

 

FOR B AND A

They say women are crazy, and that’s why heartbreaks occur:

She’s not leaving you—she’s leaving you leaving her.

I loved her when I could, and this is when she left;

My heart was full—shocked to find hers bereft.

I loved her in the crescent or the full moon,

Knowing love wasn’t always, but at least it was soon.

If she wasn’t mine today, or even tomorrow,

Next week, surely, there wouldn’t be any sorrow.

But something—something—must have grown in her mind:

My satisfaction meant I was unkind.

If I could love her Wednesday, smile, and be glad

On Friday, wasn’t Thursday at least a little sad?

Was Thursday a day of smiling, too, she died

That Thursday I wrote poems—while she cried.

She wanted me—and hated it—all the time;

I kissed her Sunday; then Monday, Tuesday wrote rhyme,

Suffering not, for she was not—yet she was always mine;

She didn’t like it that she and my poems belonged to me this way.

She left, and now we suffer every night and every day.

 

 

 

 

WHAT I SAID BRIEFLY TO YOU

What I said briefly to you

Is what you will remember,

And what I practiced, long hours in the dark,

Will make no impression at all.

I worried about my imperfect face,

My impetuous, nerdy voice,

But you liked me at a glance—because I was tall.

I don’t wish it to be easy. I want to climb

A week’s journey into the clouds sighing in your mind.

Your body? I will get around to that next time.

What a sarcastic smile in a beautiful face

Can do. It taught me to fear one thing: disgrace.

I can repeat in the mirror of my memory

Safely and tactfully your irregular beauty.

This mirror is the secret to how men fall.

I didn’t know this until I wrote you a poem.

And it made no impression at all.

 

ALONE

I’m thinking alone
Is what we always are, but never wish to be.
I’m thinking how
Strange it was to watch you fall in love with me,
As if it always was, but now
That we are lovers, you don’t know how.

And neither do I. How do you fill up a day
When love is everything you want to say?
Life has no idea how to help you do
What you need to do—the plan is done by the two of you:
You, sighing that you don’t how to sing,
Me, crying, unable to do anything
That hasn’t been done before, better, by any number of creeps.
Life is made for the loveless worker who sleeps.
I am wide awake in this bed,
Unable to get this mystery out of my head
Resting millions of miles from your head.
All the crap that has gone before
And the doubts. Love stands on a slippery floor.
Angry, insulted. How did it happen that love
Became this, when we loved, and we knew, and we loved.
All I kept thinking was, don’t give up,
Even if life, forced to the edge by cruel life, lied.
Decide to stay. Or never decide.

JUST AND CRUEL

It is better to secretly burn—
Than publicly love in return.
It is easier to wallow
In the whims of love
Than deliberately and anxiously follow
The cruel love of a just, cruel God above.

So the beautiful smile secretly.
You, my only religion, in secret taught me and kissed me.

It is more difficult to be loved—
You have to love back
The lover not as beautiful as you,
The lover, who because they love you, lack
You, love, everything, and all, all! you secretly wish to do.

It is more difficult to be loved—
You have to love back
The lover not as beautiful as you,
The lover, who because they love you, lack
You, love, everything—which you are lacking, too.

 

CIVILIZATION

We know what civilization is:

Routines, friendships, small pleasures.

Rusty R. Smith enjoyed a cigarette

The way another man would enjoy

A thousand virgins.

Rusty had the occasional doughnut.

Perhaps he was gay, perhaps he wasn’t.

Rusty drank his coffee black; he liked good restaurants,

Smiling; no sex. Dead at fifty one,

He enjoyed the chatty, fatty, easy life

Of affable politics and work.

Democracy is one virgin per man,

And quite often, none;

One is not allowed to have a thousand.

But in some places one can,

And this fucks things up totally.

 

 

 

FEAR AND DESIRE

This thing, desire, makes me sad—

Like love, which is afraid, and a fraud, and fails,

Failing to do what it takes to be glad.

Desire is imaginative and believes the tales

Of desire’s success, that friend

Who ruins what my real friends patiently mend.

I believe those stories of infidelity and madness,

But they are false, exactly as desire is false. Love’s madness fails.

Despondency came; love and desire sought gladness,

But despondency and melancholy rule

Those too cautious, who went to school

Or church, and in the work of words found sadness.

If desire and love make us sad, what of fear that grieves?

The body dies: this I know; this knowing has taken its toll;

What I want most desperately is the survival of my soul;

Sad desire plots and plans. Only fear believes.

 

 

 

 

FLOWERS OF BLACK

In the old age black was not counted fair—Shakespeare, sonnet 127

I prefer the black flowers to the white.
The ink of my poems blends in with the night.
I prefer the black of petal and stem
Which in the shadows will not be noticed by them.

Flowers of black, come back, come back.

I prefer the black eyes to the blue.
The look in-between the look of you.
The look that leads me into the night
Where even the dust is dark with delight.

Flowers of black, come back, come back.

The blind know the perfume is better
Than the bright, informing letter.
I banish the clutter of color from my sight.
I want to feel you—you—in the night.

Flowers of black, come back, come back.

The night has its honesty
As the day has its lies.
If I see, I want to see
You silently speak with your eyes.

Flowers of black, come back, come back.

Put black petals on my bed.
These happy flowers of white
Oppress the memory. Travel instead
To the bed that is always a bed,
Where nothing is familiar with light,
Where a love loves love in the folded up night.

 

THAT MAKES YOU GREAT

When you are a poet, and a woman, and you run, and you are panting, and you are late.
And you apologize, and you smile.
That makes you great.

When you are a poet, and take the train and admire the terrain from the window and wonder about fate
With notebooks on your knee.
That makes you great.

When you are a poet, and you write with your eyes all the time, and your notebook is wet, and now it’s late
And you worry about the worms between the flowers.
That makes you great.

When you are a poet, and you decide you will sort it out—with poetry, poetry inside of poetry, late, late
Into the evening, and then the sun.
That makes you great.

When you are a poet, and read doctrines, and you walk among halls and you laugh and you make them wait
And you love—a little—the art of cruelty.
That makes you great.

When I see you coming, when I look at you, when I breathe you, when I read you, when I desire to be with you late, 
When you whisper the quotation that is my fate,
I would not be a stone, or a statue, or great.

 

 

THE POEM REACHES OUT

The poem reaches out.  The poet doesn’t care.
The poem does what a person in love wouldn’t dare.
The poem says precisely, without motive or riot,
The secret of the secrets crying in the quiet,
Secrets which the banner-strewn world tells
To the drowned, where the large wave swells,
To the buried, where the winds whistle in the deep wells,
To the dead, where the lizard listens to the bells.

Crash and clang. The dead world makes noise,
The creaking, metallic run where the passive experience their joys
On the train, after it leaves the station. The hearts
That were there, go home, and, in fits and starts,
Wish for the journey to start back again
So the return might be able to return again.
We went there, again, to the toad in the fen,
To the frog in the lake.
They listen for you—forgotten, for my sake.
I cannot place your eye.

A poem falls to the bottom of the lake
In a capsule, warm and dry.

 

THE DRAMATIC IS NEVER US

The dramatic is never us.

It’s the homeless man talking to himself on the back of the bus.

The dramatic is the voice we use

When describing someone else—when drama visits you, you lose.

Drama is ugly fights, but also—the movie star

Whom we think we love, and when in love, deliciously dramatic is what we are.

So love is this: feeling inside

What, if on display, the whole world would deride.

That’s why love lives in secret, despite

Public, ostentatious marriages and the chorus of love is always right!

The only reason for love ending?

We sigh too loudly, and say to ourselves, is this me? Drama defending?

We sigh too loudly, and we are heard

By our rational self—who knows the dramatic is absurd.

But dramatic is also feeling, and feeling is what we need

To defend ourselves, otherwise we’ll be expressionless when someone hits us and makes us bleed.

Dramatic love fades, but dramatic hate grows

Until this kind of drama is all our heart really knows:

Leave me alone, you asshole, I never loved you,

Or anyone. Alone, in the back of the bus: that’s me, in a year, or two.

The poetic is never us.

Poetry is such a difficult thing to do.

Remember when I gave you that poem and you didn’t think it was for you?

 

 

 

THE GIRL

Compare her movements to the way older women walk—heavily, stiffly,

In comparison to this little one, whose every movement is a dance—

Look at her! She approaches the letters in a curious trance,

Her wandering fairy boots, her outfit slightly stiff, her hair turning;

She has more life in one of her arms or hands

Than Madame Stein, who, somberly weighed down by a million sorrows, stands

Proudly and solidly in womanhood, reading the pedantry of poetry

Ignorantly: poetry of the world, poetry titanic and hurly-burly.

It is poetry of the mind, the chopping in the pan of all that is man.

All virtue is young, all loveliness is girly;

All the pains we take in love, in undressing, to find

Love, are missed by this, by these wild movements of this sweet and innocent mind.

 

LOVE DOES NOT EXIST

Love does not exist, and I know this to be true.
I am not sitting on the train with you.
I have made observances as the scientists do.
Love does not exist as I knew love with you.

When do you see lovers who cannot stand to be apart?
Speaking scientifically,
Though I defend myself poetically,
Science sees the secret avenues of the heart,
Science sees the secret movement of the eye
Following the beautiful lover’s eye carefully.
Science may even be poetry.
If there is a better experiment than I,
It is perhaps these trains
Which time hearts and carry brains.
What is this great big oil stain?
What did you do? Who did you see on the train?
How many do you see on the morning commute
Writing the poem and hearing the flute?
Love does not exist, and I know this to be true.
I am not sitting on the train with you.

AT THE END OF LOVE

At the end of love, love begins,

Love, having always loved,

Even as hate breaks hearts and grins,

Even as hate breaks hearts suddenly

Without warning. Do you remember how you did that to me?

I still loved you when you didn’t love me.

I kept my love alive. Love always wins.

At the end of love, love begins.

 

HOW CAN I NOT END MY POEM HERE

How can I not end my poem here,

Where the sentence ends, as love draws near?

The end of all ridiculous poems approaches,

The play has ended, the enormous coaches

Are pulled up in front of the grand theater

Which housed an exemplar of illusion

For an hour, dispelling the vague confusion

Which attends on us in our days without end.

The audience, I love less, of which you were not one,

Choosing instead to stay home and make fun

Of everything history has done to us

Of which historians make such a fuss

In their impotence, and expect us to make a big deal about, too.

The play is long over. But my poem is just starting to fall in love with you.

LET’S STAY HERE

Here, in the moment, here, where our eyes first met;

Here, this moment, this moment never forget;

Let’s stay here, in the liquid beauty of our looking eyes:

Ocean! Ocean—no shore, no sad-sounding bird shore cries;

The store front window, reflecting only skies;

Don’t go back into the store, into the labyrinth of lies

Where our lives exist; let’s live where you know mine and I know your eyes.

 

Make no movie, for that means so much work;

Different camera angles, other actors, the director is a jerk;

No; stay here, where the tremendous ocean sighs

With music; you have a love for clouds; clouds are imprisoned in the skies;

Skies of continuous clouds, clouds caught, appearing, going,

Clouds found nowhere else but in skies—skies which frown on their own winds blowing;

Our eyes knowing more about beauty and minds—than minds themselves are knowing.

 

Let’s stay here! In the superficial flatness of a frame,

Where many a dying lover has scrawled their forgotten name,

A space where all that wastes life, sadly and slow,

Wipes a flat life clean in an instant, erases everything we know,

But since we in the flatness live, we survive,

Where the eyes begin, always beginning, and alive;

Known, the beginning, when you looked at me and I looked at you,

The beginning of the beautiful. The beginning of the true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAY IN AND THINK ABOUT TOM

The law interns are crafting language for the next big case

That will surely destroy religion at last.

The stadium needs painting. Forget about that. It’s raining.

She was slightly surprised her neighbor’s children grew up so fast.

Now it’s raining. All that seemed rather interesting is gone.

Stay in and think about Tom.

There’s time in the bright days to laugh.

Sun makes life seem to go on and on

But the rain closes in and defines

Edges and endings. Stay in and think about Tom.

He’s tall, intelligent, brash, and slender,

Sensitive, clumsy, loves her like a dog,

Loyal, but irritatingly playful. Maddeningly tender.

Push him away in a foul mood and look he’s gone.

He wrote her too many poems. He should have stopped.

It’s raining. Stay in and think about Tom.

The finest notes of the slow movement resemble rain.

Of course she loved him, but it can never be the same.

She thinks of wind chimes. Stay in and think about Tom,

The mouth. The love that tried to make her a mom.

The pastry shop is open late. Movies can be watched

And sweet music heaves itself at her any time of day.

Stay in and think about Tom.

There will be time to do lots of things. Breathe.

She wants them but she never wants them to stay.

 

 

BRENDA HILLMAN AND LYN HEJINIAN

Poetry is most likely deemed successful if it does two things:

1. It describes what must happen.

2. It describes it as it must be described.

Most people, looking back at their lives, would say,  I could have, or should have, done it another way, sure.

Poets, however, tend to feel uneasy as poets unless they are able to say, I had to write that.

Most people might see their freedom as a certain point of pride: there’s nothing that I must do. I did that because I liked it.

But poets would almost rather say: I had to write those poems, and I had to write them as I did. I had no choice.

How else to explain the furious truth of this by Brenda Hillman:

Talking flames get rid of hell.

That had to be said. Only Brenda Hillman could have said it.

It talks of hell and how hell exists, but does not exist; it talks of how flames may or may not talk, and flames might be people or they might not be people.

It has the stamp of poetry, and there’s nothing more to say about it.

Marla Muse: What do you mean, Tom? You always have more to say.

This time I don’t.  I’m saying something which is too difficult to explain.

Marla Muse: Because Brenda Hillman said something too difficult to explain?

Yes.

Marla Muse: Tom, you are so awesome.

Thanks, Marla.

Lyn Hejinian’s line succeeds on the same principle:

You spill the sugar when you lift the spoon.

Obviously this has many meanings.

Marla Muse: Many meanings.

Marla, if you were not here to help me, I don’t know what I’d do.

Lyn Hejinian (pictured above) wants to be loved.

So does Brenda Hillman.

This tournament shows this from a certain angle.

 

 

 

RICHARD BLANCO AND CONNIE VOISINE: MORE MADNESS IN THE SOUTH

Is poetry democratic, or is it radically individual?

This argument is a good one, for both sides have a lot to say: language unites us, but what price to simply roll us all into a ball?

And yet what price obscure triviality?

Like all good arguments, to prove there really isn’t an argument at all is what the intelligent try—be accessible and unique: surely that’s possible?

Perhaps it’s not that easy.  Imagine you are at the podium in front of a crowd during the swearing-in of the president of the United States.  How can you possibly go for the surprising and the unique?

A podium in front of millions is surely where poetry goes to die.  Four years ago, Richard Blanco fought against that death with this:

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes tired from work.

This line marches along with a certain poetic solemnity: we like how “one sky” is echoed by “our eyes.”

And what could be more uniting than “one sky” and “tired from work?”  We can relate.

Perhaps this is all poetry is really striving for.  To speak for as many as possible, and to truly speak for as many as possible is all the poet can finally do.

What is the counter-argument?  Write a poem for this person, but not for that person.

Surely the universal is the best?

Connie Voisine, we get the feeling, did not write her line for the podium.  She was probably feeling reflective and calm.

And yet—her line may resonate just as much with the millions.  Why not?

The oleanders are blooming and heavy with hummingbirds.

Though we must concede that if someone knows exactly what oleanders look and smell like, they will like her line more.  Isn’t that true?

Marla Muse: Do you know what an oleander looks like, Tom?

Marla, I pass.

What’s interesting is hummingbirds are not heavy. That’s the poetry, many would say.

But as for oleanders, yes, how much does the audience know?  That matters, of course.

But does that in any way alter the formula?  Write to as many as you can?

Blanco wasn’t taking any chances: “sky,”  “eyes,” “tired,” “work.”

How safe is safe in March Madness?

Marla Muse: Not very safe.

Sky versus oleanders.  Only one can win.

 

 

 

 

 

SARAH HOWE AND EMILY KENDAL FREY: FIRST ROUND WEST BRACKET ACTION

Here’s another Madness contest which splits our brains—the infinite gulf poets navigate—between imagery and speech, between showing and telling, between photograph and rhetoric, between gazing and sermonizing.

Sarah Howe, a youngster who just won the T.S. Eliot Prize, snaps, snaps, snaps with her camera:

the razory arms of a juniper rattling crazily at the edge of that endless reddening haze

And there the eye goes, to the juniper—with thought hurrying to catch up.

But since the eye can’t really “see” poetry, thought gains, and takes the lead, and universities are founded—where they teach Endless Reddening Haze 101.

Meanwhile, Emily Kendal Frey asks the eye to do nothing, appealing to the Muse in a completely different way:

How can you love people without them feeling accused?

This line goes to the heart of all social and romantic confusion.

And a juniper does not have to be mentioned.

Pictures unite us immediately, for every reader, whether they want to or not, see what the poet has seen, and language is precise enough that we all “see” the “razory arms of a juniper rattling crazily at the edge of that endless reddening haze.”

Showing is something which poetry can do.

If we watch a really good dancer, we might think to ourselves, boy they are good, without enjoying the dance itself.  We love what the dancer can do, but we don’t love the dance.  And yet, loving what the dancer can do, we will still stand around applauding with others, because of what the dancer is doing, and have a good time, united with the appreciative audience.

Telling is something poetry is.

Thought is less direct in the showing that poetry does, because first the poet has to say, I am going to show the reader this particular thing I see, in order to present a poem which…

Thought is more direct in the telling of poetry, because they are the same.  The following is a thought: How can you love people without them feeling accused?

The combination of “love” and “accuse” is what makes the thought startling and interesting.

It is a psychological truth that has a certain original force.

But does Frey’s line “unite” everyone immediately?

No, because some would say: this doesn’t make any sense. To love is not to accuse. Not in my world, anyway.

But the psychologically subtle, the psychologically astute, will understand the truth of this line—it is wise, for it contains a deep understanding of human psychology.

We apologize if all we have said so far is a truism, and nothing about poetry has really been said.

Or, perhaps poetry lives in those places where nothing about poetry can really be said.

The juniper rattles, accusing us, no matter which one of these poets wins.

TOO BEAUTIFUL IS BEST: AN EASTER POEM

You may know the beautiful—-
And those who aspire to be beautiful—and all the rest.
But for tears and poetry that transforms,
Too beautiful is best.

Too beautiful to have, too beautiful to rest,
Too beautiful to want—too beautiful
Is truly beautiful. Too beautiful is best.

You whisper your love to the beautiful,
In long paths, holding hands.
With the too beautiful you cannot speak
For reasons only the beautiful understands.

Lie beside the remembered, and rest;
The remembered fits inside of pictures;
Remembered is remembered as it dies, beautiful, in the west—
A boiling horizon of tamarind trees—
Remembered—a scent in the midnight breeze—
Dying, and beautiful.
But too beautiful always is.

You may know the beautiful—
And those who aspire to be beautiful—and all the rest.
The beautiful you know are beautiful.
But too beautiful is best.

 

 

 

 

 

I GOT READY FOR LOVE, NOW I GET READY FOR DEATH

I got ready for love, now I get ready for death,
With the same uncertainty, the same excited breath,
The same thrilling heartbeat, the same glad sadness,
The same restraint, the same dignity, as I hide my madness.

You saw me on the street, I smiled and said hello.
After a little conversation, I smile again. And go.

 

W.S. MERWIN TAKES ON JULIE CARR

Poets should not depend on things, on pictures, on colors: that’s for painters.

All the best poets know that “no ideas but in things” is the worst possible advice for the poet.

Ideas use things in poetry, but poetry is speech.  Adding measured emphasis (metrics) is never unwise; our own experiments (too complex to write about here) show music to be a poetry too excitable for words, but still containing ideas—which live behind every good image in every good poem.

When reading essays: read what they think.

When reading poems: read what they do.

But in both cases, the essence is an idea.  Philosophical acumen is the basis of all artful communication.

The greatest poets have always warned: avoid cheap politics and avant-garde tricks, which are just excuses to be lazy and stupid.

Classical learning is the only learning.

Small beer is small beer.  Snot on the sleeve is snot on the sleeve.

There’s nothing magical out there. Daddy Ezra can’t help you. Only classical learning and your pretty face can.

William Stanley (W.S.) Merwin has been publishing poetry for 60 years; he managed to make contact with icons in his youth—guys like Pound and Robert Graves and Berryman and Blackmur and T.S. Eliot—he’s a pretty famous poet (also a translator), but unfortunately, no famous poems. Merwin abandoned punctuation in his poetry in a beat/hippie move when he was in his 40s—when he was in a bit of a crisis and leaving Europe for good and coming back to America in the late 1950s.

Merwin understands that poetry is speech, and leaving off punctuation was the earnest attempt to make ‘speech-which-is-not-speech,’ or trembling, misty poetry, and to a large extent he has succeeded in that regard.

Merwin has said that in abandoning punctuation, he was leaving the page where punctuation nails things down to embrace how people talk, which is almost the same thing, though it misses the point of punctuation, which helps talking—it does not hinder it.

But Merwin is a good poet because he plays with ideas, and came to realize Pound was dead wrong about the image, and so much else. “The intellectual coherence of Pound’s work is something that I don’t any longer believe in.”  (Paris Review interview, 1986).

you know there was never a name for that color

One can see in this one line Merwin, the poet, rejecting all the painter’s tricks—those the silly Imagists insisted poets try—and instead, exploding with iambic and anapest rhythms, raining down upon us an idea, in the implied question: what does it mean, exactly, when a color doesn’t have a name?

Merwin, first seed, will be tough to beat with this one.

Julie Carr began as a classical dancer, and to dance, you need music, and poetry is a kind of dance to music—we don’t hear the music but we see the dance, the poetry.

Julie Carr is also a mother, and still young, and as soon as she turned to poetry, she accumulated awards; reading her, one gets the feeling when it comes to the flags and banners of poetic speech, she got it, and got it quickly.

Either I loved myself or I loved you.

This line has a kind of delicious despair, a romantic power; there is an intoxicating idea in the symmetry displayed in “Either I loved myself or I loved you.”

We have no doubt this contest will be a very interesting one.

 

 

 

EVERY SINGLE THING WE THINK IS REAL IS NOT

Every single thing we think is real is not.

You loved me when the summer was hot

But now that you don’t love me, that memory hurts

And so I don’t think about that memory a lot,

And no, I don’t even look now at this one who flirts.

Every single thing we think is real is not.

 

Every single movie, look, laugh, and poem is fake.

And mutability erases everything, everything—but this ache,

Which is the pain of knowing every single thing is fake.

Every moment flies, and was never real before its flight.

 

Moment! There’s an hour that wants to talk to you. Can you take

A half a moment out of your busy moment’s day

To listen to what my sad complaining hour has to say?

No? Okay, I’ll just talk to this mass of moments in the night

Of how every beautiful thing is built to break

And every single thing we think is real is fake,

And not only fake, painful, and the pain goes on and on

Even when all of the fake things, and everything, is gone.

 

 

A FACT FROM BOSTON: A POEM

“The fact,” I tell each Kolkata lady, a fact I say now with a solemn smile—

“Will you stay, just a minute, by this imaginary magnolia for awhile?—

The fact is nearly as embarrassing as its presentation.

I have one life. But elsewhere there are many.

The man usually gives birth to a few children. But. Just in case.

Biologically, the seeds he carries—each one a different face—

Are so numerous, it is a miracle of miracles, yes—

If a planet, barren but habitable, elsewhere in outer space

Had enough eggs waiting, one man, in one act, could make a whole race.

This is why men are crazy: it is because there are so many.”

And, of course, yes, so many are ugly and hateful, more would be sad and funny.

But this one, once beautiful, has not had one.

The most beautiful she was, of her particular race;

She was not from Boston, but from a wrecked and ancient place;

He loved her madly, loved her elusive, modest, beautiful face,

With a sweet, repressed, polite, poetic passion—

You would have seen Kolkata transformed into a very poetic place.

They kissed in deserted places; they lived to kiss sad, smiling expressions

That flitted across their two shy faces.

It was not easy. Boston is not a quiet place.

But now they are apart. Something happened to the heart.

He dies every hour, for his children, for his poems, in the joyous agony of many.

She sits, bored, holding her phone. Her happiness is to not have any.

Kolkata ladies, now I know you must be on your way.

Thank you. There you are. Patiently, your scent lingers in the saffron day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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