Sunday, April 22, 2018

In Secret Off the Grid

I can't believe what something’s done!
Objects correlate – words are flesh – freshly
framed in disinhibitedly-hued voluminous
exuberance – all in sudden familiarity, as if
constituents of a centrality had just been sieved
like gold bits out of rapids, inviting disparately
faceted anomalies of bling to spin around
the coalescing orb, ribbon it like Saturn’s rings.
Some unspeakability now combs and patterns
this into the singing thing a lucent poem brings
you home to. I daily step away from it, entirely
to come back to exult in the results of what
I’ve had now to accept is a reality: from which
apparently ensues exactly the decor I never knew
I’d yearned for on a kitchen table, hallway wall,
bedroom bookcase, bathroom shelf. My New York

City magic place provides the only space I've ever
comprehended comprehensively: who stumbled
on this wealth, this pelf, this unsuspected 

evidence, this perfect proof and exercise of self?
Cacophony excised, disharmony relieved,
impossibility achieved, in secret off the grid.
Ego in Handelian accord with Id.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Inside the Living

We live inside the living.
Everything’s alive:
the lair no less than lion, 
the bees no more than hive:
the you and I and everyone,
and what each sees and eats
and lives in, undertake as well 
to co-create another vital given –
a sense intent on being certainty 
that we’ll survive – wherein we
even may become, somehow 
in consequence, by breathing 
in its inorganic alchemy (no less 
alive than we), articulate: capable
of saying what we see! – capacity 
for which is borne to us in gusts 
of subtle dazzle – magic flecks 
suspended in the air, like those
that dust their gold on surfaces 
of old unfathomable Rome.
Everywhere we are 
amounts to sustenance 
and company and all
we’ll ever know of home.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Portrait Painter and the Ugly April Day
He takes his bony awkwardness into the ugly April day –
too dankly warm for May – and yet the naked trees belong
in March: that’s what humid half-baked April in New York is.
Brightness pops in here and there: forsythia: frail runty
yellow feathers sprout from scanty soil – buttering a toss
of corners in the side-walked town: he wobbles down
the pavement like a scarecrow with a tooth ache: pretty close
to true. (He muses on how art steals pain and turns it into
point of view.) If he is to love this city he supposes that it can’t
be only when the two of them are pretty, which Lord knows,
and he knows, they decidedly are not. Currents lurch: bipolar –
hot/cold – devil-zephyrs from the river twiddle with the un-
blessed ordinariness of people – tourists: bodies are a weight
and bother, something may be flourishing but it is not sweet
human pulchritude. The sun’s too rude, and flesh too blank
and pale and bulbous and mistaken to be taken seriously.
Mysteriously, though, he’s got to have a taste of it: he takes
his aches into a scraggly lower east side park: the kind
a neighborhood takes over rough-shod, makes its own.
It’s a tumble of pink children’s stools and hanging thin
and dinky kid-made mobiles with green paper strips: looks like
the lame attempts at fun-filled doodads in a bad commercial for
a used car lot without the cars. Bumps and weeds and scars are
what it has to show. He sits there on a bench as caustic as a crow.
Then he feels the red eyes in some mean graffiti drilling through
him from behind and turns around to see bold slashes of white,
red and black kick ass and suddenly, at last! he’s got the portrait
he’s been hired to paint entirely completed in his head. And
he’s a pretty good idea of how to get it onto something in
a frame instead. April doesn’t care, but why should April care?
All he knows is that he’s somewhere he’s supposed to be.
Is that enough for him? That would be enough for me.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

That Hack, That Quack

“Your gender may be nonspecific,”
offered Red, “but Art requires form.
The way you’re dancing, honey,
you’re not even getting warm.”

“So lacking are you in the acumen
we know as critical, my androgyne,”
riposted Green, “one finds your dumb
reactions paralytical, and asinine.”

They sat this way all day,
each making gibes and sending feelers
out from their haphazard
sketchy sides, like dealers

in a senselessly complex card game.
Neither was allowed a breather.
The guy who drew them hadn’t
specified their gender, either:

hence their references to same.
This is what became
of every creature in the frame
of any scribble by this artiste. Shame –

alas, alack! –
on him! – that hack,
that quack,
that Kettelhack!


Friday, April 13, 2018

Too Beautiful to be Borne

“Too beautiful to be borne!”
we were told, by the Old.
Did that mean too perfect to come
in an incarnate form, or too stunning
to bear peering into for long?
We could report that the object was large in
relation to us, and was able to barge in
without too much fuss and that rhymes
could be found to expound on it –
up and then down and around on it.
But what kept us gasping for air?
What was the there that nobody could bear –
the beauty, the shock and the kicker?
The miraculous fact with the force
to appall or enthrall?
That anything happened at all.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Undivided and Divine

You multiply yourself
into allure –
subtracting imperfections
so that you’re
the ideal incarnation
of the calculus! You sway
into those curving fine
equations that allay
all possibility
of my resisting you –
so that I leap to prospects
of  enlisting you
to join me in both long
and short division
exactingly enacted.
Such precision
will persuade: we’ll
have decided to align –
concupiscent! – ecstatic! –
ever undivided and divine.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Bach swatch of the 6th violin & harpsichord sonata (a capella violin)


Every relation that matters – that is, every relation in which your heart has an investment – is peculiar: peculiar to you. Not that other people may not really like the brand of Romanian kumquat jam you love, but constitutionally they won’t/can’t bring the same constellation of responses you bring to it. Their taste buds aren’t the same; their references to Romania aren’t the same; the way grandma dropped a dollop of it on their cream-of-alfalfa wasn't the same; the whole monumentally complex inimitable thing you are instantly makes any response you have to anything as inimitable as it is. This can be exasperating when – or if – what you want to do is to share the exact same love of something with somebody else. I’ve become more circumspect about revealing what amount, I suppose, to fixations on Henry James and Judy Garland because I’ve yet to meet even anyone who admits to being similarly powerfully drawn to them (and their numbers are legion) who sees, thinks, hears, feels what I do about them. When I am (as I always am) in Garland’s or James’ company immersively as who- or whatever “Guy Kettelhack” is, especially in full-tilt reaction, I am there alone.
Hardly news, I guess, that love can’t be explained: its effects may be sensed and shared, but not the love itself. Why would we want it to be? Well, there’s a question. Perhaps because the love can seem so consuming as to frighten us? That we feel somehow we need ‘help’ with it? Or is it just the sheer dumb (not stupid but inexpressible) hunger we have as social beings to feel united under the flag or umbrella or sky of something ecstatic? (Think of 13 year-old-girls in 1964 & the Beatles.) I hasten joyfully to add how wonderful it is to listen, say, to the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto, as I’m doing right now (Sviatoslav Richter the wonderful soloist), with other people who love that concerto or who love Brahms and feel for great long moments that we are all in exactly the same ocean: there’s a huge commonality to be enjoyed here. But my private experience ends up being the one I’m most vitally and movingly left with. Movingly perhaps not least because I must contain it: only I can know it. There’s poignancy in that.
Latest reminder of this was coming upon this ‘swatch of Bach’ as I call it which I recorded and posted last June, a bit of a Bach violin & harpsichord sonata more of my love for which I think I may have conveyed here, listening to it again, than I realized. But that’s of course for your inimitable eye and ear to decide. Part of what entrances has to do with stuff I’ve suggested about Bach in these videos before, and tried in fact to demonstrate playing him and then reading Henry James aloud: James' subordinate clauses especially in his late writing have often seemed to me like Bach’s pulses in his own “subordinate” musical phrases – turning the prism to reveal yet another angle, yet another angle of an argument, somehow with a comparable weight of cadence. 
But Bach can probe so tenderly, too, arguably more directly – as in this swatch from his 6th sonata. Reed confesses to an impatience (here I go trying to paraphrase Reed again, always a mistake) with the perpetual motion effects of his uninterrupted keyboard etudes or movements of the Cello or Violin unaccompanied sonatas, suites, partitas which in form never deviate from 16th notes, beginning to end: a rush that can feel automated, almost soulless, at least in insensitive hands. However I so love getting on the rapids of one of these 16th note rides, trying, although never anywhere near achieving the goal, to reveal their constant emotional evolution and surprise – but I also love, oh how I love, the different intimacy of what he manages here.
Perhaps you’ll hear it, too. Though who knows what (or what else) you may think of it!