I KNOW HOW SHE IS BEAUTIFUL

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I know how she is beautiful,

But she doesn’t know.

I made her beautiful when I loved her.  Love gave her a glow.

But where has her beauty gone?

Today I saw her, with yet another fashion on.

And now I think I know.

My love gave her a confident glow,

Which made me love her more, increasing that glow

Until she became truly beautiful, so neither one of us could know

How she was beautiful,

Since beauty always is its own reason for what it is,

Nothing more beautiful than beauty that simply is—

So she began to resent her beauty as the reason for a kiss,

Beauty the only reason for what beauty is.

You want me, she said, but beauty is not just for you,

And I believed her. The law of beauty. What her beauty said was true.

Even though we loved, I feared, in our love, what she was about to do.

One day, for no reason, she became angry. She said angry things to me.

Perfect beauty is a tyrant, and she was now acting tyrannically,

Not knowing what she was doing, and neither did I;

Her anger was baseless; I had nothing to say. Beauty caused love to die.

She was as beautiful as ice and now came the inevitable goodbye.

I was so in love with her beauty, I was timid and afraid.

I had no moral strength. Her hate grew: this dude just wants to get laid.

Love was undone by the beauty it had made.

Now she visits the beauty shop. She attends to parts. But beauty escapes her as a whole.

She is no longer beautiful. Today I glanced at her, and the whole truth flashed upon my soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY SECRET BOOK

At the beginning of my book
Is an argument which deserves a look.

Which do I love best?
I believe it is her lips—
They sometimes received my finger tips
Shyly, as I told her how much I loved them.

Her modesty was deep, and deep would I go
In loving her, to prove
The depth and sincerity of my love
And kissing her lips was one way to prove my love.

The first thing I loved was her arms
When we were friends. It produced no alarms.
A tiny rash caught from the farms. It produced no alarms.
It was a joke almost: “I first loved your arms.”

But then—I wanted to kiss her lips,
Especially on leisurely nature trips
When lovely things were all around;
The trees, which some have called beautiful,
Or the grass, the fresh air, the reasons for the trips
Were many, for nature is lovely in sight and sound—
But my focus was on her lips
And I would kiss her by bush and pond
When the hush of nature was all around.

She amazed me, and sometimes I would stretch out in unbelief upon the ground
Trying to understand when she said
She didn’t think her lips were beautiful; she would make some ordinary movement with her head
And look almost angry, as if my praise
Were insulting, as if her lips did not haunt (I lost sleep) my red nights and days.

Or was it her breasts
That drove me, to the greatest degree, absolutely mad?
The thought of her entertaining other guests
Made me jealous beyond imagining; nothing is worse than love forced to be sad
The more it ought to be happy—
What should be swelling, and proud, and sticking out
Turns morose and sappy.
The proud lover becomes a trampled-down lout.
I would pace at home and talk to myself when we didn’t go out.

But let that go. For now I know her eyes
And their shy, happy expression are the highest prize
Among all the things about her; if anything dies
Mournfully and beautifully in my memory
Most poignantly, it is those strangely wise and beautiful eyes—
Her eyes speak what cannot be spoken;
And when nature sleeps at last and nothing natural can be woken,
Her
eyes! Oh their sweet look
Will occupy the final sentence of my book.

If interest in my book slips,
If all that talk of eyes and breasts and lips
Seems too much, let me touch her lightly on the arms.
Look at that little rash. Read of that. Or simply touch the book. That will cause no alarms.

A SMALL, HIGH CLOUD

Once love reaches a certain fever pitch,
It’s an embarrassment to everybody.
Imagination explodes in dirty jokes
And life becomes pornography with clothes on.
Banal phrases like “doing it” take over the mind
Until the only solution is icy austerity,
And the frowning and the hate
Which makes it tumble down.

Kill love! Kill sex!
Kill poetry! And please kill my sexy ex!
Give me a sex-icon who lives on the moon.
Make sex impossible. Not something that might happen soon.
Please tell romance and song to shut up.
All I need is a wooden cup.
Send me on my way.
If you love me, look for me.
I’ll return as a small, high cloud one day.

 

 

 

 

THE TENDEREST HEART

A sensitive Plant in a garden grew —Shelley

The tenderest heart
Loves the tenderest plant!

Her heart feels grief
If harm should come to the smallest leaf.
She is sensitive—beyond belief.

Isn’t this what you want she should want?
To feel and want
What has no want?

The tender plant survives in the dirt.
She stays in bed—to not get hurt.

No matter how the poet implores,
She brings the tender plant indoors.

She waters the plant every day.
With your third eye, you might want to cry this way.

 

 

BEAUTY IS WRONG

Beauty is wrong
For being rare.
How can we share
If beauties are few?

Beauty isn’t fair.

I felt terrible loving you:
You were rare, and you knew.

Beauty changes from what is
To what we do
In order to please more than a few
And then everything becomes a blur:
A piece of abstract art—
Beautiful! Wait. Is that you? Or her?

But beauty is only beauty because it is rare;

No, because I saw a million beauties there,
A million beauties drowning me in beauty,
Beauty the whole reason for my mind,
Beauty the sole reason for desire,
Beauty, the sun, with its engulfing fire,
Dwarfing our earth and its little air,
Beauty in little places found everywhere,
In the sea, with billions of beauties swimming there,
Yellow and orange fish, fins waving like mermaid hair,
In sea-light creeping down from slippery upper air,
Mixing with the blue light and the green light,
So I thought, “is it really true that beauty isn’t fair?”
Were you the thing I wanted? Were you there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

SINNING

We all do what is right
In the middle of the night,
Or in the day; we do what is right,

As we think and as we calculate;
It is right to us—even if we hate
As we feel, and with feeling, calculate.

Some perceive what we do as sin,
Some, outside, looking in…
And they could be right:
Everyone loves themselves in the middle of the night.

When we discover one we loved
Has, in secret, sinned, we feel betrayed;
Forgive them; in their hearts they were right;
And fear them not; fear the one who sins in the light,
Right in front of you—and is not afraid.

 

ROBERTO CUPUCCI: FASHION POEM NO. 2

“He [Cupucci] designs as though for an abstract woman, the woman we never meet.” –Alison Adburgham

Born in Rome, Roberto Cupucci,
More splendid than Cartier, Cardin, or Gucci.
Roberto took the dress world by storm
With warm colors and warmer form.
Roberto Cupucci, give me a kiss.
I never knew fashion could be like this.
Hold me in your arms, you designing man.
I will give you my pleats. I will give you my tan.
I will give you my secrets and the softness of my skin.
Your radiance is something I am comfortable in.

I never thought I could wear a dress like this.
But the abstract is never amiss.
Hell, there is nothing like a great perfume
When you enter a room.
I do mean great, because there is a smell
Which haunts more than memory itself can in an old mossy well.
Roberto? No. Do not let them see me, Roberto.

And later, in the garden—ah, smell that garden—what shall we do?
Roberto Capucci, come closer! I want to talk to you.
I’m thinking of sitting on this couch
, at last.
Norma Kamali was the secret to my past.
Taffeta prince, I think I can be
Loved, if I march in Rome’s army,
Loved, I know, by at least one,
Who will glimpse me under the orange sun.

WHEN I WAS YOUR SLAVE

When I was your slave, and everything was seen through you,
My needs, and my mind, I hardly knew.
I studied you, to please you, and I became you, pleasing you,
Which pleased me—
For some reason—tremendously.
I did not choose to please you,
Or choose to take pleasure in you,
And certainly it was not you
Who forced me to please you;
What was it then, which made me a slave to you?

We know others by what they do,
But ourselves, by what we crave.
I couldn’t stop craving you.
And now that we are through,
I think on those needs of mine, and that mind of mine which I hardly knew,
When I was your slave, and everything was a mist or measure of you,
And I still don’t know anything. I don’t know what to do about you.
There is still the world. Ah, there it is. A view.

J. ALFRED PRUFROCK GRADES PAPERS

Do I dare to give an “F”
To my student, Amber Luck,
Who does not give a fuck?
I’m always out of breath
When I lecture them on death,
And my eyes trail the floor
Discussing poems of amor.
Do I suggest an “Incomplete?”
Shall we privately meet
To correct the wrongs
She imposed on Song of Songs?
Do I consult the dean?
All four of them, and all green?
Who gives a fuck
About Amber Luck
Who cannot write?
And yet—when I lie in bed at night,
Letting poems run through my head
Amber is the name, instead.

Tomorrow I teach World War One,
And all the slaughtering that was done,
And how it afflicted the minds
Of brilliant poets like me,
Who pull down the blinds
And weep alone in the nursery.
The war inspired poets to write “fuck,”
And I will make it clear to Amber Luck
That her attitude belongs to history.
I don’t see her as a mystery.
I only see her as a student in my class,
Another chair and another ass,
As the dean of recruitment and enrollment says.

FASHION DESIGNERS AGONIZE OVER THESE QUESTIONS

How can we make the Mae West look fashionable again?

What’s the secret to dressing short men?

What is the perfect pair of underpants?

How can stiff clothes add to romance?

Fabric or form?

What if you love layers, but it’s far too warm?

Where is the model that will make our work?

What if the handsomest one is simply a jerk?

Where’s the collar for the fat neck?

What’s the fashion for a small, wooden deck?

Why won’t anybody wear that?

What if my smile makes my cheeks look fat?

How can we be chic and affordable?

Where’s the dress that will cure every ill?

Why do colors hate?

What if they are gone when you are fashionably late?

How much of my wrist should my sleeve show?

What about the hideousness of my elbow?

What if there are too many parties?

What if there are too many fabrics?

What if there are too many arms?

What if there is war?

What if they don’t want to wear that anymore?

What if they laugh at our bottoms?

What’s the relation between feet and hat?

Why shorts with hairy legs?

Why low sandals with cankles?

Why unshaped hair?

Why too much cologne?

When did that look ascend the throne?

 

 

 

THE WINTER WE DID NOT KISS

The winter we did not kiss
Was a winter from hell.
I hoped, hoped so much more
Than I might hope to tell.
The winter we fell in love was warm.
Hidden blossoms did not mean any harm.

The winter we did not kiss
Icy silence fell.
We are taught not to tell too much.
After months, frozen by love, we say, oh what the hell,
And we confess to ourselves
All we promised to ourselves not to tell.

I hoped; hope was stronger than all
I might whisper in heaven, or shout in hell.

I hoped you and I would kiss—
Not because life is terrible, not because of this.
But because love misses love
More than anything else anything else can miss,
Whether there is snow,
Or the weather knows or does not know,
Whether the light is low in the sky,
Or the same train in the rain goes by.

A POEM IS NOT WISE WORDS

A poem is not wise words.
If you want wisdom, you would not ask the birds
Who fly from tree to tree;
Neither should you expect any wisdom from me.

Nor would it be wise to write a poem to you.
Others, not meant to read it, might see it, too.

The birds have strategies.
They fly in shade to avoid death.

The males are beauties,
But brown the female in the brown nest.

The birds feed their young,
Who fly after the song is sung
And during the singing
Cheat death’s crouch and leap
With speedy winging.

No one thinks this wisdom.
It is fear, in quick bright eyes.

Yet some might call the birds wise
Who fly above us in the skies.

LIFE IS A LONG ROOM

Life is a long room

With something happening at the other end

Which has nothing to do with you,

But which you watch, unnoticed,

Sipping your coffee, settled back in your chair,

No one, you think, paying attention to you,

Some small event

You may end up remembering more than 

These casual participants will;

Often sad to think how little people remember,

Yet this is part of the glory of memory, finally,

Is it not? What you remember, so it makes you cry?

A small crowd has gathered,

An elderly lady in a yellow coat;

They are petting and admiring a dog,

One of those handsome hunting dogs,

Noble, quick, anxious to please;

The conversation is dictated by the visible, outdoor life,

Solid animals, old houses in suburban neighborhoods at the center

Of old power and influence.  Was there music playing?

You know how much is out of reach,

How much slips away, how empty

Is your heart that knows.

 

 

TOO SHY TO TALK , HE WRITES POEMS; TOO SHY TO LIVE, SHE TALKS

In the wasteland of the winter garden,
Words on a rock remain;
Dead vines fail to cover what the flowers did,
A sentimental poem carved in a rock
Announces what the garden hid
Spring and summer and fall—
What did the poem say: did she care at all?

But this was the poem’s theme:
She did not care.
But now she does, in winter’s dream,
Death forcing love to love the cold and bare.
She made her heart hard. She talked.
The poem was right. She did not care.

 

 

POETRY IS OLD

Poetry is old, and God is old, but older still
Than even God, is institutional will,
Is professionalism perched on the shepherd’s old hill.

The professional points to the paper,
Telling artist and lover what to do.
No love here. Yes, we mean you.

It has nice clothes and a nice demeanor
But beware—there is nothing meaner.
It will send millions of souls to slaughter
As it discourses on the properties of water.

Revenge is sweet,
But even sweeter
When mingled with kisses.
She went to meet her,
She called her in.
When did professionalism begin?
It tries to cover up—but becomes—sin.

Professionalism is sexless and more powerful than sex.
Whatever is sexy, the sexless wrecks.
Love is a pitiful, awkward dance.
Against professionalism it hasn’t a chance.

There was rock music,
But what came later?
Curatorial corporate music
In a glass elevator.

Professionalism killed Mozart
And Michelangelo, too.
Eliot wore a suit
While the bombs flew.

Professionalism is clever: It precisely creates
What publicly it hates.

The priests were evil,
But universal God was good.
Professionalism’s priests
Have no God;
Professionalism is God, understood?

Michelangelo, broken by the gulag,
Modernist, paints a soul with a rag.
Soviet? Yes! So what?
What kind of art do you do?
Manage investments. Professionalism is coming after you.

 

 

 

INSULTING LOVE

A stare is an insult,
Although it be filled with love,
For if the rain comes,
It has to come from above:
He has to say hello,
He has to state his case;
He can’t just make her wet
By looking into her face.

She might feel his love
And really want to play
But when you look with love,
There’s very little to say.

The body is excited,
The grass with the dew is wet.
The love shimmers.
Perhaps you’ll talk to her yet.

CLIMB DOWN INTO THE CAVERNS OF SLEEP

Climb down into the caverns of sleep.
Kiss limbs you’ve never kissed.
Laugh at sorrow—at the comedic, weep.
Desire what you never desired,
Look for what you never missed.

What you cannot know
Creeps up on you at last.

Sleep is warm, maternal and slow,
That her children, the dreams, may be bright and fast.

When you climb down into the caverns of sleep,
Beware; this depth may be illusion
And your fate, which seems serious and profound,
Is only sleeping on the ground:
What you love is neither important nor deep.

 

MOURNING BEAUTY

Desperately, I prayed:
Ease the pain, but don’t let the memory of the sweetness fade.
Nothing sweetens like love:
Nothing hurts like love betrayed.

I used my poetry to seduce
And I was burned for playing—
Now my poetry’s words
Are only used for praying—
Black ink appropriate
For everything I’m saying.

I do not mention love,
Or beautiful eyes, or her, or me.
I pay homage to old buildings, old people,
A path leading to a river, a tree.

 

WINTER IS THE SEXIEST SEASON

Winter is the sexiest season—
When I get you by the fire, you won’t need a reason.
But let me list a few, as I am holding you.
The luxurious dark comes on with only a brief nap
And night, arriving early, allows us to unwrap
For bed: to remove the clothes from your secret shoulders
And put my toes upon your toes under the bedclothes.
The snowy wind hisses and blows against the window—
How many reasons? How many reasons are we missing?
Think of some, a reason will come, as we are kissing.
When the year is warm, we see too much.
When death’s around, I die for your touch.
In summer, too much is seen.
The sexual isn’t green,
It’s the color of your skin,
When you are out and I am in.

 

THAT WOULD BE YOU

That would be you,

Thinking the thoughts and doing the things we all do.

Sitting by yourself looking down

At the pretty world with a pretty frown.

And you and that nose,

You think you’re very pretty, I suppose.

I said you were pretty.

And I would be one who knows.

SHE MAKES THEM BLUE

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After casting about for a long time for a name for themselves, they came up with “Jefferson Airplane,” which meant absolutely nothing. –The New York Times

Public places for secret lovers are few,

But minds can go anywhere—

And they do.

The erotic is the only thing that’s true.

It is because of her

That I say hello to you.

O cruel hierarchy!

O feeble poetry.

The unmentionable is the only thing that’s true.

They have their wives and girlfriends—

But they think about her, too.

I’m thinking of her

As I say hello to you.

I wish I could describe her face.

But why? To further advertise my disgrace?

Do I need further proof so you

Might know why she makes me sigh—yea, me too?

Don’t start. We shouldn’t talk. What do you want me to do?

They play guitar far better than I.

But the best songs are poetry,

And album names, and names of bands, too.

She Makes Them Blue.

 

HISTORY IS A SEQUENCE, NOT MORALS

History is what happened after what happened.

Morality and love wait their turn in line

With slavery and murder. Your country

Is good or bad depending on what is president;

Who is considered good is dependent on who you are talking to:

The Christian inside-out, the unfaithful Jew,

The heart-sick Muslim, the movie-going American,

Who secretly has the hots for you.

The road map shows a road that winds around

Towards the sea,

Where a band of Salem merchants made history.

Good cooking is the secret to good marriage;

She was looking for salad ingredients

And he was looking for a rhyme, dreaming, distracted, by the salad bar.

There is a kind of ordinary life which defies the drama

Of TV crime shows, romance; I would like to inhabit that unpretentious life!

And cook for you in an ordinary marriage.

What can we do if Washington owned slaves?

Or not enough died for the cause? This is what happened

When I stood for a moment at the salad bar

And dreamed of history, and the soft underbelly of things.

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN A WOMAN TURNS INTO A MAN

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When a woman turns into a man,

Can she do everything a man can?

When a man turns into a woman

Does he know more about the human?

Or is the sex the only thing we see?

A new type of sexuality?

Do we hunger for a new type of touch?

Do we sometimes touch ourselves too much?

Do we think about ourselves in the mirror,

Always wishing our loveliness were nearer?

Is this why we withdraw our hand,

Saying goodbye to love forever?

One day we will understand

The sea, the tropics, and the frozen land.

ROMANCE

Is Romance a dance

Born not to last?

So we find ourselves

Mourning romantic things in the past?

Is it doubt and forgetful death

Which lends charm

To love—a charm in every sighing breath

So charming we forget the alarm

That is sighing in company with love’s sigh

So love becomes indistinguishable with death?

And we don’t see the sorrow—beautiful sorrow!—in her eye

Which makes her eye beautiful

But is the very sorrow

Which will fall in love with sorrow

And say goodbye?

I’m afraid it is so.

One left me, even as love was at its height;

We had spent many a delirious night

In each other’s arms,

And when, in disbelief, I asked her,

In icy tones, she said: “I don’t know.”

Love melted into sorrow.

I fled to madly analyze the past.

She smiled calmly on tomorrow.

 

 

 

YOU CAN’T STAY HERE

Get out of the womb,
You can’t stay here.
The cozy nursery room?
You can’t stay here.
Did you think that death
Was the only thing to fear?
Goodbye, childhood,
Innocent childhood,
You can’t stay here.
A troubled child, sassy and wild,
Too brassy now to kiss away your tear,
Changing to a woman,
You can’t stay here.
Get out, get out!
You can’t stay here!
Did you think that death
Was the only thing to fear?

OFF THE VINE

 

Fruit off the vine
Is like a line
Of poetry.

You slowly grew
And so you knew
Of poetry.

Poetry is time.
Time, here’s a rhyme
Of poetry.

The fruit must drop.
The line must stop
For poetry.

What is the line
If not imagined
Pleasure to see?

And to hear—
If poetry’s fear
Made the poet lucky?

I feared poetry
In my younger days;
The music plays

To insult poetry sometimes
With its rhymes.
But speech will get its revenge
When amid the hullabaloo

You say, “Did you know I love you?”

Then music will seem kind,
Sweet food for the blind,
And you and poetry
Will be of one mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I WENT TO VIEW THE GALLERIES

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I went to view the galleries

And I left with a woman on my arm

Who some painters used to see—

Will this do some harm

That she is now with me?

I don’t paint. I write poetry.

 

Now the painters talk.

I get to kiss her silently.

 

I view her eyes in various light

Of days’ moods dying into moody lights at night,

But her eyes have their own light

If day drowns us, or beautiful night.

Her eyes don’t need to look at me. But they might.

 

The length and shape of her produces delight.

The painters never get her beauty right,

Not understanding perspective or the light

Which drops in shadows on the long days

Of love’s torture, to sweeten our gaze,

Loving love in the umber haze.

 

 

 

 

 

THE INSCRUTABLE

Inscrutable the lake, inscrutable the trees,
Inscrutable the voice which sounded like a breeze
Intimate with love, and its mysteries,
Like a melody springing from melodies,
Or one memory living in a heart broken
By many memories,
Not one of them spoken.

The dinosaur crept in the lake and waited,
And when global warming’s ice age had abated
And we were allowed to be human again,
The fire built to please all men,
The lake, frozen, protecting all women,
With fish below, how far below,
Swimming stratas increasingly slow,
Descending in a beautiful ratio—
The dinosaur rose, looking pitifully human,
Naked outside, scientific within,
Surrounded by the lakes and trees
Inside the poem of melodies
Crashing against the side of a successful shadow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIDDLESTICKS

Sanity stands apart from poetry,
Viewing my pronouncements with disdain,
But if I should sing a little song,
Sanity may yet smile, and not think me wrong,
Not think poetry is entirely insane.

Yes, we wish we were inhabited by gods,
But the gods have left us alone
To ourselves, to ourselves,
To strive for a barren throne.

Sanity has something to do
In the parlor, at the store;
So this poem is over.
I won’t be singing to you anymore.

But later, in the evening,
When she is tired and needs to rest,
I will sing to sanity softly,
And she’ll love poetry the best.

 

VALENTINE’S DAY POEM: WHEN WE SIGHED

The lovers are silent and in a hurry.
Words are from hurt, and worry.
Words are from sorrow and fear of death,
When limbs are weak and weak, the breath.

But when we sighed in those distant rooms
There was almost joy in those glooms.
When we courted with our words
And sang to each other like birds
Or were silent for hours, hoping with fear,
Love was actually here,
Hoping desperately deception
Was not hidden in love’s’ reception,
There was a joy in this,
That, in hope, was almost bliss.
When I was courting,
My poems did their best reporting;
Oh God! those hopeful sighs
Were almost paradise.
Now that selfish love is gone,
Beautiful thoughts still linger on,
Now words are our greatest friends,
Poems, of sweet beginnings, and even sweeter ends.
We say to ourselves, with a sigh,
“Eventually a word will happen by,
One, by this sweet occasion fit,
And it will be love when I am saying it.”
The thought is what carries us through the life,
Since thoughts are words and a word marries us to a wife.
Words comfort us out of the air
When nothing but heaviness is there.

THE DAY IS RED, THE DAY IS FADING

The day is red.
The day is fading.

I would have fought for you,
Though you had been my enemy,
Though you had been untrue—
For when I love, I love
And nothing else will do.

You kissed me slowly.
I wrote poems to you.

“Take me for your own,”
Was all you had to say:
I would have taken you

In the light of day
And carried you away.

But you were like those girls
Who don’t know what to say
When the loving one they love
Is standing in their way.

You thought about the others—
The others? Love which filled the years
Will pass. They will be puzzled by your tears.

 

 

 

 

 

TO ______

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The one I love wants to talk—
I hope she wants to talk of love;
I hope she wants to talk of kissing
And the silent stars above.

The memory of her kisses
Cannot be wiped away
By love, by a conversation,
Or by a song I heard today

That tells of a broken heart
And the pain that comes from love—
Despite all the kissing
And the silent stars above.

MY LOVE NO LONGER BELONGS

My love no longer belongs to your life;
But your love to my life still belongs
For my happiness. For my happy songs.

You have given my love back.
But I still love you: I do not have that lack.

My love no longer belongs to you,
Your soul, or all your soul knows it must do.

Love made your life too precarious,
Too fateful and too serious.
Calmly, you move back to old, slow habits;
And you will grow old, and the years shall run like rabbits.

No need to run for that illicit train
Or present for love’s inspection your body and brain;
Now you can relax while you dream.

Now you can put on makeup for everyone, not me,
Who made paramount you, and your beauty.
Now you can just say anything, again,
And impress billions of men.

Who wants to be confined?
And to make matters worse, we pined.

Love really was a pain in the ass.
It had its moments, but let them pass.

What was it for, if not for children?
It only takes a moment to make a child
So then it happens you can never be wild.
You were getting old for them to have been,
So love fed amusement, flattery, and sin.
The pleasant illusion you had of me
(Of course) couldn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Women love jealousy, because they are turned on
By sparks of social comparison;
This jealousy the man has to rise above;
Indifference to the woman is the secret to success in love.
And its downfall, as well.
No wonder passionate love is a kind of hell.

I learned this too late
(I don’t know how I survived the first date)
Because I was focused entirely on you—
Or maybe not. Maybe I had some genius for indifference, too.

Who really knows?
Maybe you got sick of the shape of my nose.
Or maybe you had anxiety disorder
And you couldn’t handle me crossing your border.
I doubt it. It was the jealousy
That finally did in you and me.
I dug in. So you had to flee.

But your love in my life still remains:
For my songs, for which I take such pains.

 

 

 

I CARE WHAT BEAUTY LIKES

I care what beauty likes,
And what beauty likes is hate,
For when beauty finally loves
Liking is too late.

Beauty noticed long ago:
The standards of beauty are severe.
I kiss her, I kneel before her;
But beauty loves distantly; she doesn’t love what’s here.

Beauty made me jealous;
I was blinded by my fire,
A flame she loved too much:
Shame overtook desire.

Now what can she say
To family and friends:
Here is my life
And here is where it ends?

Our love was not heroic.
It’s easy to be distracted:
This is why she erred,
And why I reacted.

THIS POEM IS NOT FOR YOU

 

 

I’m sorry you have to read this.
It is not for you. What you are reading
Is me writing to somebody else
Who has a mouth I want to kiss.

There is nothing for you here
And not in the sense of false, or true.
You have no context for what she and I do.
In every sense this poem is not for you.

If you saw my love in a picture
You still wouldn’t know.
There is just something about her…

Am I wise to let this go?
Should I have more faith in language?
But that’s precisely it—I do.
I am using language to make an important point:
The impossibility of this poem being able to say anything to you.
It is her mouth I want to kiss.
You will have to be satisfied with this.

 

 

 

 

JUST A WORD

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I examine the picture with horror,

A photograph of one I loved,

A photograph marking a place and memories

With others, all having little to do with me.

Yet, because of the intimacy we achieved

It has everything to do with me.

The more we try and make sense of sex

The more it seems absurd.

My eye caught fire from her body and face.

Only poetry saves. Please, just a word

Of kindness for her before I die in disgrace.

She is not smiling in the photograph,

Nor does the picture capture the beauty

She had all those times when she was kissing me.

She and I hate being photographed, not because we are ugly—

No, she’s an exquisite beauty, but smiling naturally isn’t easy;

She’s sad, even miserable, and when she laughs, she laughs bitterly.

Almost religiously, I hate images, but the cruel smile

Of Cover Girl femme fatale is what my poetry uses.

When I ask her to smile for my poem, of course she refuses.

 

 

 

WHEN A WOMAN HATES

 

 

 

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When a woman hates,

There is nothing worse for a man,

For there is no creature on earth who can hate

Like a woman can.

When a woman gives love

From her soft breast,

Unsentimental imagination soars.

Inspired, the poet finds no rest

In love’s poetic task

Making obscurity so bright

The critic doesn’t need to ask.

Darkness and obscurity

Loom when the woman doesn’t love.

Light shines in every crevice

When she does.

 

 

 

THE WORLD WAKES UP

The world wakes up,
Still dark and cold,
The sound of cars in the distance;
Normally, I would be awake,
Pinned to the bed
By gossipy insistence.
Today I don’t wake up.
The world wakes up.
“Shall I marry him
Or kick him out?”
She thinks wearily.
The world holds together
Because of this doubt.

It’s winter. I don’t like
The winter weather,
But I like the seasons.
There are millions of reasons
To do this, or not do this,
So we make ourselves
Stupid and decide.
“You should have seen
How much fun I had
On the ride.”
Groan. The world wakes up.

I would be awake
Feeling the light.
Today something’s not right.
My bed is lumpy.
The body is lumpy.
I cannot face demands,
And offices, and you.
I feel the light
Today as not quite true.

The world wakes up.
I do not wake up.
Today my fear
Will be tested.
How will it be
Alone in the ground
Without a sound
As the world wakes up?

A LITTLE WINE AND YOU THINK OF ME

A little wine and you think of me,
A little more and you want to be
In the back seat kissing me.

Virginity is sobriety.
My older years have come to be
Passionate, but bad for me.
You needed wine to be
Desperately in love with me.
Drunk, you loved me desperately,
Your beauty loved me desperately.

Sober, your beauty
Was cruel to me.
Was the wine true?
Or the sober you?
We never knew.

It’s the worst
When love is a thirst:
When sweetness flies
And there is only wine—and lies.

GOD IS THE MOST CONVENIENT OF LOVES

God is the most convenient of loves
Because God is always there,
To love you in sorrow,
To love you—when everything is unfair.

I loved a woman who had another mind
Even when she loved me, and was unkind
In that way one is when one belongs to the world.
I looked for her but never knew what I was going to find.

I tried to see her! I tried to see the windings of her mind!
I kissed dust. There was a song like a flower with petals curled.
It was a pleasure to be with her but there were too many ways
For her to be gone, so now I must forget those days.

Where is the temple? The book?  The sacrifice?
She loved me, but what trouble! even on a good day she wasn’t nice.
There are no gods now! There are none!
There is only this convenience. This one.

 

 

THE LAMB THAT’S LOST

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Is all we see or seem but a dream within a dream? --Edgar Poe

We love the lamb that's lost,
Not the lamb that's here---
That's why nothing---nothing---is clear---
We love the lamb's that's lost,
Not the lamb that's here.

That's why when you speak
I always disagree---
Because the thing you love
I cannot hear or see.

Lost! Lost! Lost!
What we love is lost,
The valley in our mind
That we have never crossed.

I can't explain the lost to you---
The explanation is lost, too...

That's why you're a mystery,
Smiling and near---
We love the lamb that's lost,
Not the lamb that's here.



POEMS ABOUT POETRY

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Poems about poetry are the best poems there are.

The best light is the light which illustrates a star.

The best love is love which focuses on love,

Not those who wear love’s hat and love’s glove,

If the haberdashery is not too far.

We notice in faces, traces

Of a life busy and sad,

But we don’t like these faces.

Poems that are bad

Tell of other things,

When all we want from poetry

Is a poem inside of poetry—

A specter in a cloud that sings.

 

 

 

 

ONLY ONE PICTURE

 

 

Only one picture captures who I am
And does not let me run away,
A picture you saw of me
When the morning sun’s first ray
Penetrated, like the world’s first camera,
The black darkness of a heart
Comforted by its darkness, tra la.
When you have time, throw that picture away.
The forest majestically throws shadows,
A hushed, dappled memory which consumes my heart.
By the brook, where the twigs are broken,
Where we spoke? There I’ll die by a new dart.

DO WE WANT EQUALITY?

“Married with my uncle…but no more like my father than I to Hercules”  —Shakespeare, Hamlet

Equality. Do we want it?

Equality is, for both the peon and the pundit alike, the political aspiration of modernity.

But what if this honored term—equality—veils something terrible which undermines all that equality is?

What if there is an iron law of psychology that says equals will always be rivals?

In every practical aspect of life, subordination exists, often without us even thinking about it. We who count ourselves fortunate (and enlightened) that we no longer obey royalty, find supervisors, bosses, sub-bosses, managers, assistants to the assistant manager, everywhere we look, never thinking how we are more enslaved than ever by iron laws of inequality.

We have less equality than ever, even as modernity itself is defined by this very idea.

In contemporary parlance: WTF?

Shakespeare’s most important point in his History Plays: Being a king sucks.

Even if you are a peon, don’t envy the king.

This is the core belief of conservatism: social progress is an illusion—because equality is an illusion.

Here is the two-part conservative wisdom:

1. Bad news for the peons: there will always be kings.

2. Good news for the peons: being a king sucks.

This is far better than radical wisdom:

1. Bad news for the peons: there will always be kings.

2. Bad news for the peons: you must kill the kings.

Being a king, being responsible, being public, being wealthy, running things? It’s no fun.  You don’t want to do it.

Be glad you don’t have to do it. Better to tinker (write, paint, invent, frolic, laugh, love) under the radar.

Today we can dress better and have more girlfriends than our boss—and no one cares; not even the boss.

And why?

Because he’s our boss.

If he were our equal, then the two of us would be rivals. And then it could get nasty fast, as the ‘girlfriend count’ would become a matter of high importance. And the company would suffer, because equality would foster a rivalry that petty office hierarchy prevents.

We often notice, to our chagrin, how quickly marriages fall apart—witness the divorce rate among modern Westerners who freely and voluntarily partner with rationally and carefully chosen equals.

Not that unequal relationships survive, either—but why do equal matches fall apart just as often?

Because of the equality.

Of course it’s not equality itself that’s to blame, but equality is inevitably something else: a rivalry.

And here’s the dilemma.

Equality, that modern ideal, runs smack up against something natural and ancient and pernicious.

Nobody wants to be equal to somebody else.

And we often talk about “equal opportunity:” summed up by: ‘we know everyone is not going to be equal, but at least give everyone an equal chance to succeed.’

But this distinction is empty, since equal opportunity is a bigger illusion than mere equality; the millions of ways to be unequal are rolled into so-called “opportunities” in such a way that the whole noble “equal opportunity” ideal is never, and will never be true.  There is no blank tablet, no starting from scratch; the race never begins at the beginning.

Equality and equal opportunity are merely the formulations of polite words.

The truth is, in the reality of our hearts, equality, when it does happen to exist, or is perceived to exist, is a license to fight.

“Let’s settle this now, and determine who is better at this and that, and who will make the decisions on this and that!”

Calculation (which can detect equality) is tied up with war.

The very idea of equality is like blood in the water to the sharks of real life.

As soon as calculation is able to discover equality, equality is doomed.

It is doomed to be torn apart in a fight, and equality cannot survive love, either, especially when love bends to contracts and agreements and calculations.

And the truth of love is the truth of rivalry: behind every lover stands a multitude of rivals.

Equality is not even a dream.

It’s a lie.

 

 

 

FIRST YOU HAVE TO FALL IN LOVE

First you have to fall in love
And be a victim of the god
Who died yesterday in the flowers
But lives today in your beating heart
Which makes you lie awake by the moon for hours.

Then you make that grand correction
Where the one becomes part of the many again.
The numerous stars overwhelm the sun.
It was happiness to be weak
And feel yourself a sigh among the sighs,
Your life belonging to one set of eyes,
The one you have the one you seek.

But the true One, which is the many,
Reasserts itself against the Two—
And you fall into disunion
Which is perfect; which is perfectly you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF YOU

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I need to get to the bottom of you.

I’ve had some superficial loves; now only the deep will do.

Love makes cowards of us all:

We choose the rich, the beautiful, the tall,

And then because we’re cowards, love makes us sad.

The only way to love is to be completely mad.

So come, let us go

And find what love can know.

We stare at a Rembrandt for hours,

We listen to Mozart for a day.

We peek behind the curtain

Of a Shakespeare play.

Someone speaks to us openly

Of things we consider in bad taste.

We write the letter quickly

And sign it, “Yours, in haste.”

Now we plunge towards stone even as cold winds blow

Around the never yielding, the never beautiful, below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCARRIET ROCKED 2014!

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Thomas Brady: the simpleton who writes it all

In the 365 days of 2014, Scarriet brought you half that many original items: poems of lyric poignancy, articles on the popular culture, essays of Literary Criticism, the occasional humor piece, and the Literary Philosophy March Madness Tournament—in which Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Freud, Baudelaire, Woolf, De Beauvoir, Marx, Maimonides, Wilde, Poe, Emerson, Wordsworth, Pope, Wollstonecraft, Butler, Rich, Frye, Mallarme, Adorno, and 44 others sought immortality against one another in an orgy of wit and game.

Without further ado, here (with publication dates) are the most notable of the past year:

1. The One Hundred Greatest Hippie Songs 2/13.  This wins based on numbers. Over 15,000 views for this post alone in 2014, and it is averaging 120 views per day for the last 3 months, with views increasing, nearly a year after its publication. It’s always nice when an article has legs like this. We’re not sure what ‘search engine magic’ has made 100 Greatest Hippie Songs so popular. Prophetically, in the piece, we wrote, “All American music is hippie music.”

2. This Novel Has More Information Than You Need 9/18.  An essay provocative and charming at once.

3. No Boobs! 11/27. Hilarious (part two) satiric commentary on the December issue of Vanity Fair

4. The Problem With Rhetoric 5/1. Pushing the intellectual envelope is perhaps what we do best. In this essay we argue that reason does not exist.

5. Integration of Poetry and Life 11/3.  Another nice essay of essential Scarrietesque provocation smoothly rendered.

6. Marjorie Perloff, Adam Kirsch & Philip Nikolayev at the Grolier 9/15. Wearing a journalist’s hat, we meet Perloff, debate her, win her over, and demolish Concrete Poetry for our readers, as well.

7. Poe and the Big Bang: “The Body and the Soul Walk Hand in Hand” 3/10. Poe does most of the lifting here; a crucial addition to Scarriet’s campaign to lift the slander-fog hiding the world’s greatest mind.

8. Badass, Funny, But Alas Not Critic-Proof 6/27.  Tough love for the poet/professor David Kirby. And for those who fret Scarriet is too rancorous, relax; ‘The Kirb’ is still a FB friend. We don’t flatter—that’s the secret.

9. Is Gay Smarter Than Straight? 2/3. Only Scarriet would dare to ask—and really answer this question.

10. Rape Joke II 6/14.  We delivered a true poem; it offended one of our loyal readers for not being feminist enough; even though our poem was true, it was somehow supposed as an insult against Lockwood. We stand by our poem which is true, if imitative. We value originality, but since when was art that imitates a bad thing? We also admit we wrote the poem to become well-known. We played it up on twitter. So what? Scarriet believes everyone deserves to be famous.

11. Poe v. Wordsworth 8/18. March Madness contests are always excuses for brilliant essays. We made use of a wonderful book: Michael Kubovy’s The Psychology of Perspective in Renaissance Art.

12. “I Still Do” 10/13 Nice poem.

13. Chin & Weaver at the Grolier 7/21. Meeting up with California-based Marilyn Chin at a reading becomes an excuse to write an essay on the laws of poetic fame.

14. Painters & Artists Need to Shut Up 6/23.  Usually we pick on the poets.

15. Rage In America 7/7.  A political corrective to Jim Sleeper’s Fourth of July essay.

16. Poetry Hot 100 10/8.  Scarriet releases these now-famous lists several times a year. Valerie Macon topped this one.

17. What Does The History of Poetry Look Like 12/2. We often bash T.S. Eliot and the Modernists; here we lay down a genuinely insightful appreciation of Eliot’s Tradition.

18. Valerie Macon! 10/6. The credentialing complex destroyed Macon. We did a radical thing. We looked at her poetry, after she graciously sent samples.  Memo to the arrogant: her poetry is good.

19. 100 Greatest Folk Songs 11/17.  Not just a list: an assessment aimed at revival. Don’t just reflect the world. Change it.

20. The Avant-Garde Is Looking For A New (Black) Boyfriend 11/8.  A popular zeitgeist post inspired by Cathy Hong, which got po-biz stirred up for a few days.

21. Religion Is More Scientific Than Science 12/15.  An interesting discussion of free-will. Yes, we take comments.

22. Poetry, Meta-Modernism, & Leonardo Da Vinci 1/6.  Da Vinci compares poetry and painting in fascinating ways.

23. De Beauvoir v. Rich 4/22.  Scarriet’s March Madness contest yields essay on Behaviorism and Feminism.

24. Sex, Sex, Sex! 10/19. An interesting essay (obviously) in typical Scarriet (Are you serious?? We are.) mode.

25. Philip Nikolayev 11/15.  An excuse to try out ideas while praising a poet and friend.

26. “Poetry Without Beauty Is Vanity” 10/17.  A lyric poem which ‘gets’ rap.

27. Harold Bloom v. Edmund Wilson 8/13. Wilson was a real force in March Madness and so is this essay.

28. Fame: Is It Really Hollow? 7/2.  An exciting essay using Scarriet standbys The Beatles and Poe.

29. 100 Greatest Rock Songs Of All Time 5/9. The definitive list. Another constantly visited post.

30. 100 Essential Books of Poetry 5/21. People love lists. We get it now.

31. “Not Everyone Is Beautiful” 6/5.  A lovely little poem.

32. All Fiction Is Non-Fiction 5/19.  Scarriet makes the counter-intuitive simple.

33. The Good Economy 12/30.  We nail a simple but brain-teasing truth which rules us all.

34. Fag Hags, Cock Teases, and Richard Wagner 11/11. A bitter essay on a complex topic.

35. 100 Greatest Jazz Vocal Standards 10/14. And the Scarriet hits just keep on coming.

36. Hey Lao Tzu 10/27.  Scarriet takes down the wisest of the wise.

37. Ben Mazer At The Grolier 10/20.  The Neo-Romantic genius gets the Scarriet treatment.

38. “A Holiday Poem” 12/14.  An offensive poem written from a persona; it’s not our opinion.

39. Misanthrope’s Delight 6/11. An amusing list which makes light of misanthropy.

40. “What Could Be More Wrong Than A Poem Stolen From A Song?” A lyric gem.

And that’s our Scarriet top 40 for 2014!!

Be sure to read these if you missed them!

Scarriet thanks all our readers!

And especially the great comments! You know who you are! Always welcome and encouraged!

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

GETTING WHAT YOU WANT

Getting what you want
Always depends on someone else;
Even if you are the sun,
You need the glass to be seen;
A wall will keep you out—though you make the whole world green.

The road is built by the government,
But the government is built by a man;
You have to do what you need to do; you have to do what you can.
The label they give you does not matter,
Though you may think it does—
It was for their convenience, and they have moved on;
Conveniently, the reason for everything is gone.
They didn’t just give you a stomach,
They gave you a stomach to fill—
So nothing is what it is, unless it has a will
Imprisoned, or free,
And nothing is what it needs to be
Unless it needs what doesn’t need it
As when love falls into a life but is forced to quit
By triviality getting in the way of it,
And it may need you

For a year, or maybe if you’re lucky, two—
Or unlucky, if what needs you is ill—
Then it is you against its will,
The sunlight hoping to get inside
Where you sleep fitfully; where you hide.

 

BEYOND ALL THIS

Beyond all this
Perfect lovers kiss,
where no revenge exists,
nor reason for revenge,
nor those flaws,
which harden into laws,
As we look around, never knowing
whether the one we love
—do we love them?—
is coming or going.

Beyond all this…!
Had we such imagination,
All would be bliss!
Had I but seen!
How could I look and look and miss
That perfect kiss
Beyond all this?

 

A HOLIDAY POEM

 

IMG_20140218_113143_915

A certain amount of leisure
Defines a real man,
Not doing something—even though he can.

Despair is on the face of every middle aged woman I see,
Or a kind of triumphant anger
Staring from her baggy eyes defiantly;

She works hard, and her beer belly man works hard
Doing stuff for the house and yard,
But don’t get that shit near me.

Despair lives in the weary face of every middle aged person I see.
A forty-something woman told me her cell was shutting down
For the holidays; she needed time for herself; looking in her face,
I saw the worry and the years eating her beauty
So that even her smile looked like a frown—
It was horrible. And this is not an isolated case.

The only thing I could think was: keep this shit away from me.
I want no part of mortality, its triviality and its oblivion,
And its little bouts of superficial happiness,
And its ignorance and its whining and its complaint.

There will never be an interesting thought in your head.
I want nothing to do with this.
I will kiss my slender reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Then I will write a poem.
Then I will faint.
Then picture me, if you can, asleep in my beautiful bed.

 

 

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