Sunday, September 24, 2017

To Pledge Allegiance

To say it is to pledge allegiance to it.

I wonder if that’s always true of any word
we choose for any reason. We mouth,
we write, we type, we envision the letters
of the word – say, “breath” – and as we do,
we strengthen our familiarity with it, our
commitment to use it, to mean something by it,
depend on it to convey or reflect something
useful or illuminating: rely on it to re-make
reality, to believe its promise that it can: to give
experience the dimension of the spoken.

But intuitively we know a word isn’t the same
as a physical reality, say, the phenomenon
of breath. To write “Take a breath” and then
actually to take a breath are inviolably distinct.

They do not, cannot be twins. We decide they
mean each other, but we lie. We lie because
we must. How else would we agree to speak?

Words are lies.

What a terrible thing to say or write!
(And then you become Ezra Pound.)
But right now it doesn’t seem terrible.

Acknowledging words are lies suggests to me
there’s some dimension I don’t now know how
to inhabit, enter or register, in which
the experience or “truth” a word wants
to be and pretends it is can be found,
can be had directly. But wait, of course it can!
We are already having it directly.
We breathe as well as say we breathe.

Is ‘separate’ a turn-on? Maybe that certain
categories of phenomena can’t be bridged by one
another is a very great pleasure. Do I operate
on a pleasure principle? Inarguably. But oh,
what strange turns and twists that principle
insists upon! Separation: life. Rhymes
with strife. Unity: death. Rhymes with breath.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Simon Jay

Simon Jay
knows all our little ways –
he’s felt them rise
within himself in waves
then sink to the unspeakable:
those dark and leaking lovely
places you’d as soon forgo,
though don’t forgo,

but say you do
(can’t wait to come back to).
Simon Jay, though,
never doesn’t ferret through
the slew without insidiously
laying down the traces of his
DNA the whole way in and to
and out from all those

untoward graces
you believe you’re better than:
the fettered man,
the dense lump of a Trump,
undone by fun and bumped
into The Moment – where
you hear you should be living –
sieving you ungivingly,

intending surely to foment
so much of everything
that Simon Jay can say,
first thinks he won’t
(“no, don’t!”), then does.
Oh, by the way, the buzz
is that he’s not not gay:
Yay Simon Jay!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Art of Not Being Descartes

(for Donna)

“What is all this?” must surely be a candidate
for the iniquitous ubiquitous first question
asked by sentient beings everywhere; well,
asked by those at least who dare to cleave
to their galactic versions of Cartesian reason:

you think therefore you are. From that self-serving
point of view, who else but you could be the star?
A star exploding into untoward elements which cool
on spinning orbs to sod: can Word be lurking far
behind, all ready to be Flesh, Body of the Letter?
How more neatly to suggest that thought is God?

(Harold Bloom says add the Odd and you have
something better: genius.) God is Phineas Fogg,
finding, naming, blaming worlds. Existence
is a language test. But you and I will shock the rest:
we’ll dock them in our pockets of resistance.

Like nests availing birds, we rest on other
than another’s words. I am the place you live.
You are the thing that lives there. What undergirds
this into grace? What theory does God have waiting
for us to remind us of our place? We don’t care.
I am where you live. You are who lives there.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Momentary Trick

At last, George Frideric Handel
cuts/caresses to the quick:
his baroque concerto grosso
in F major does the momentary trick:

distracts you into thinking
his accomplished comfortably
corseted amusements might slice
through this dull lugubrious confusion

and relax you: straightforward theme,
untaxing fugue, much less exacting
than Bach’s tediously virtuous etudes.
Interest doesn't have to irritate.

Expletives can be implied.
Euphemisms can abide. But ha! –
tough (gerund of the “f” word) luck.
One ride upon the wings of Handel’s

sweetly inter-gliding strings and you’re
bestride your yearning for a certain
kind of touch, and everything
is once again too much.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Climb on – rhyme on!

Climb on –
rhyme on!
Mime us all a sample
of today's cuisine,

all you've seen
& heard in
every moment's ample

(I may be a beast
but you're no burden.)
And oh, the times
we'll have

with all the rhymes
through which your presence
its lavish

and spends
on presents
meant to ravish

a doubt
or fuss -

but with a quiet effervescence.
You bewitch!
You must be rich.
You know how to live

you give
a penny
turn it into any

whose persuasion

with its advantages
and views
to lift,
to choose,

with heart,
gift -
a truth:

a mother's


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mabel and Fable

Mabel the mother had always been drab;
Fable her daughter, formidably fab:
so fab she had long since become inorganic.
Mabel looked on in a panic as Fable inhumanly
groomed herself into unnatural angles and folds
and extravagant dips, over time, as she somehow

divined in, and managed to wrench from, what
once were her hips – amid all of the other hot-house
mutant forms she’d assumed, involutedly
blooming into yet another synthetic esthetic –
which to Fable expressed jubilation! But Mabel
assessed mutilation – a doom, not a bloom,

with no room for what Mabel believed to be soul.
Then they posed for a portrait together. Expecting
to weather the shocks once again of their rocking
antitheses, ha! – their antitheses had become
intimacies, new and mild, without threat
of attack, like the unquestioned fact of a mother

and child. Who cared about theories of soul,
and their basis? Mabel and Fable had always
known homeostasis: had always been whole.
If Fable were able to make herself look like a bowl
made by Gaudi, well Mabel was glad, just as glad
as she was to remain unreservedly dowdy.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Another Way to Know

Fixations are predations. They subject the psyche
to a mindless sway in which we say and pray
all night and day I-likey-likey-likey-likey till we’ve

drained the language of its juices and most uses:
dropping all but one auxiliary verb – the sole necessity,
demonic talisman, the god, the holy writ of “must.”

Fixations earn because insist on trust: they can be
trusted to exhaust and to deplete and yet forever
promise plausibilities of the replete, the unimaginably
sweet outcome in whose pursuit we end up spending

every slice of who we are: we hold onto a great gold
glowing chunk of what think is star – deaf to all
entreaty to do otherwise. And yes indeedy, darlings,
this becomes the size and content, then, of life.

We do so like its glow. Which for a heretical few
illumines a mystical purview: another way to know.
It is a star. Everything’s a star. When we’ve really
looked, we see we can be seen to startling advantage,
hooked. There are pleasurable purposes in claws.

There is peace that passeth understanding in
this pause. Release afforded by quite other laws.
It isn’t what we’re told, it isn’t what we’re told.
It may be, surely is, some other enterprise as well.
But heaven doesn’t seem to be a part of it, or hell.