Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Whatever Always Wrongly Steals the Heart

Let’s bare our imperfections and asymmetries
and take them on a rowdy roustabout and gaudy
promenade today. Exalt their faults: exhort
the lot of them en masse to say, to explicate,
expatiate upon, and otherwise convey without
apology the etiology of the mistakes they will not
argue that each makes, why they’re completely
accurately held to be bizarre (because they are):
what’s induced the wart that grows upon the nose,
disease that rots the petals off the startled daisy.
Then audition them for a revival of “Girl Crazy.”
Let ‘em fret about who gets the Ethel Merman role,
the one who’ll make us gape, the star, the apogee,
the single essence equally assembled from ungodly
talent and unbridled art, whatever always wrongly
steals the heart. Make the loser take that part.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Thing

How do we account for it or her?
All she had to do was stick her nose
outside for the inevitable to occur.
All sentient beings noticed and arose,
became her entourage, adoring
but respectful of her patent need
for space – their hushed imploring
faces silently adhering to a creed
belonging to a faith they’d breathed
in from her like a sacred atmospheric
breeze – which lent new life that seethed
as if into the primal stage of stratospheric
orgasm that sex with god or goddess
is proposed on evidence to be. But what
exactly was she doing to effect this 
deluge of response? Was she shut
or open to the importuning eyes 
that could not not embrace her, whole?
Was her ineluctable divinity, disguise? -
or a blessèd incarnation of the Soul? -
or the divisive dissonant deception 
so inherent in her unplumbed mystery
that human psyches lacked perception
to investigate the sordid history
of this phenomenon of demi-god
whose virtue they began to disbelieve -
this fake, now a likely demon of the sod
not the celestial ether: how could she relieve
their existential agony, assuage 
their ache to be released? She’d spilled her
falsity herself : tainted blood! So in a rage -
deserved? we cannot know - they killed her.
Where or what we wonder is the moral?
What are we here or there for?
(Oh, make it soar all vast and choral!)
You’re the thing that you prepare for.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Some Smarter Thing’s Problem

I once wondered why dreams
rarely blundered into my
night’s somnolent view.
Now I see they arrive in the day!
They’re in the drawings I draw.
They’re not in my poems:
poetry drives, by my lights,
into being: it endlessly aims
at our seeing its sense.
But drawings and dreams
are more bumbling and dense
and far dumber than poems.
They’re a who-knows-what
running amok. Some Power
That Was at the drawing board

long ago let them come in:
allowed unavowed, unavowable
sins (if they’re sins) to kick
pencil and pen around
paper to be what a dream is:
opaque, overwrought,
a mistake. Some, without
protest, reside in the crow’s
nest right outside my window,
where sometimes I lob them,
to make them not mine but
some smarter thing’s problem.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

More July Mornings Than Not

More July
than not
arrive with certainty and grace.
When a July morning is enjoined
to encase itself in the oppressive
heat of a midsummer day, it loses
but not
Brutal obliviousness is a strength –
an eruptive card in Nature’s pack,
and ineluctably shows up many
more times than once.
neither holds
nor is swayed
by the card for too long, but seems
to like to keep it long enough
to trouble. Troubling foments
visionary imagination.
all in
gain edges out loss. Awareness
becomes at once preternaturally
wide and focused. A wild card
of improbability always awaits it.
takes on
the bristle of excitement. ‘Trouble’
adds interest and beauty. Ergo grace
returns even to hot July, sometimes.
Grace has a sense of duty.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ad Hoc Perfection

Perfection easily achieves itself:
it happens everywhere. You’ve
only to discern its terms to catch it
sending out another rare array
of light and shadow to becalm
another compositionally edgy
contretemps, effect a new détente
to lend a deft insouciant aplomb
to a banana peel or Snickers candy
wrapper, prematurely fallen leaves,
a standpipe bolted as if wedded to
a metal-banded bouquet casket (both

in harmonies of soft red) which hosts
the ghosts of flowers. Perfection never
cowers, knows no terror as it blithely
rids itself of any chance of error
in the service of incarnating the fleet
complete ideal. It illimitably follows
its inimitable laws: then gently,
briefly pauses to apprise us
it is time to seal the deal with
stunned ingenuous applause –
before, as all ad hoc perfection
does when it is dying, it withdraws.


Premise, Upshot, Corollary. (Hang On for the Ride.)

Premise: Writing writes writing.
Upshot: There's no such thing as a writer.
Corollary: There may be no such thing as a self either.
(okay, so, this is something I just poured out on a thread in a poetry forum where I post my stuff to a gorgeously smart and funny and accomplished young poet-man who seems to like the greater part of my stuff and whose stuff I very clearly like and who, by my lights, which do not incline to what I understand is other people's common sense, pretty much always responds to a poem as if a poet had written it - in the case of the one under scrutiny here, that would be a Guy Kettelhack. But as I trundle on, not just through poetry, but through everything, I just can't see that connection anymore. .
Anyway, chew on the indigestible edges of this expostulation if you feel like it (they'll at least exercise jaw muscles), and/or kick it in its virtual butt and "try to go on", as Quentin Crisp was fond of saying (say, on difficult occasions like his birthday, which was the same day as Christmas) "as if nothing unpleasant were happening."
I'm sticking in some kaleidograms of my humanoids because, oh I don't know, that seemed like the thing to do.) Here goes:

IN SOME WAYS, dare I say what I think about one of my own poems (I generally daren't because I simply don't know anything about them while they're happening and after they're done; that's not being coy, I really don't) is that any poem that comes out of me, but especially one which sounds like a manifesto, like this one,…/…/toomany-questions.html is shouting that it is writing itself: the "I" in it (as in the work of Miss Dickinson to whom I can't not run for guidance and cover when I use the first person) has truly nothing important to do with "Guy," the "I" I'm not quite idiot enough to deny as I wield strategy in the Real World, is a provisional construct, useful, say, when you have to show your photo ID to someone to get something or get in somewhere: then I'm fine being Guy Blake Kettelhack, do with "me" what you will. But a poem utterly completely writes itself. The moment the cyber finger touches cyberspace to form words for it, it's taken the reins completely, makes all the decisions, becomes outrageous or perverse or bland or funny in ways that, apart presumably from drawing from the lexicon of verbal toys I can't not provide it (to which it responds also by finding words not IN that lexicon). It has nothing past the superficial to do with the rest of the me tagging along because it happens to know how to type. 
So you see, for example, 'my' (putative Guy Blake Kettelhack's) insistence in this poem on "getting an answer" is fundamentally detached in any of the ways that count from the Guy who shows his photo ID to get into NYU to give a talk on Quentin Crisp (which I did for a Duke U. prof friend of mine who a couple weeks ago brought his Dukies to New York to freak 'em out, as part of which mission he had me talk to them about whatever it was I talked about) or who signs that name on a credit card bill or whatever else one does publicly as oneself - so far from the 'poet' or the 'artist' or the 'violinist' or the sexual shenanigannist that when the poet/artist/violinist/sexter is doing his thing he is conscious of having no identity resembling the signature signer. The writing does not (in any writing) reveal "Guy's" opinions. Partly for the simplest of reasons: I have none that I know of, except, maybe, I don't like lima beans or eating animal organs which dispense excreta. I have no beliefs or ideologies other than the ones I've come stamped with by my culture and the subtle trickery of English grammar, which because adjectives almost always come before a noun, and the subject takes a predicate and you don't dangle prepositions and you keep your verb tenses straight make you think in a certain linear way that somebody Chinese would regard as bizarre and childish. In other words, there is no me.
That's not to say that I don't become inflamed at what might be seen sometimes equally as aesthetic as moral assault or injury ("truth is beauty" such as we each name it) but I never make what I think would be the mistake of signing on to a homogenized smoothed out 'unity' of a statement which purports to speak for me, because when I read it, it never really does. I have responses not opinions. If to someone else's eye they describe a temperament or a series of what turn out to be predictable proclivities (I really never like lima beans) then so be it. But there are immediacies to me, not the substance of codicils. (By the way, I'm not bragging here. I don't think this is the right or noble way to be. Indeed I imagine I may appalled more than a few of you. It just appears to be what I can't not be.)
So how do I talk about what allegedly is 'my' poem because the words of it came thru Guy's body? I talk about it as if I hadn't written it. Because in the way that matters, I haven't. 
Writing is never bald confession to me. It may appear to be arterial or hormonal or spinal, as made of you as your flesh, bone and blood. But even when it seems as if that's what it always is, and maybe by some measure should always seem to be, it can only have been even a little "true" in the way we may want it to be for the exact breath of a moment it took form. Mostly what I'm saying is, what may in the moment flood completely out of what I fleetingly regard as a wellspring of 'me,' as soon as it finds expression, diction, syntax it separates itself from the amorphous sea it came from and crawls out like an arthropod to live its autonomous life. I may feel a sort of familiarity when I see it, but otherwise it's as different from 'me' as anything which isn't immediate and going on right now in me will be two seconds after I've expressed it. Maybe this sounds perverse, but it comes as close as I'm able right now to come to delineating the lineaments of 'self' as it sieves itself through language to pretend it's who wrote it. Writing is never the writer. The writer is never the writing.
But the thing that juices me up most from what you wrote [the poet/gentleman to whom the heart of what you just read was aimed on our poetry forum] with such liberal verve is: "it's our party dammit!" Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. That's the ticket to get you on the soul train.

Monday, July 9, 2018

O Supplicant!

O Supplicant, sweet supplicant!
What can one do for you?
What do you want the universe
to change? Will it come through?
A yellow light is dawning now –
are miracles aborning
at last to offer what you crave?
No, happens every morning,
you say, as if the morning weren’t
anything to care for.
The sun goes up, the sun goes down –
that isn’t what you’re there for.
Perhaps this afternoon, let’s say,
At four o’clock, at tea,
some god will make a visit: show
you all you want to see.
What are you holding back, dear?
Are you secretly in love
with not receiving anything
from any god above?
Perhaps you’ve never not had
what you want: and must concede
you’ve long been what you burn to be:
a paragon of Need.