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.

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Pigeon

Why do I look stupid? Why do I blink?
Staring at futility. Dunno what to think.
I can’t sort out hypothesis from fact.
I keep getting caught in the act.
So many acts to get caught in.
And so many facts to be brought in
to address the question ‘Yo, wassup?’
I don’t know why anything is up.
I’ll never know how to explain it.
I battle reality, try to contort it, 
exhort it, report it to every authority:
still am not able to train it.
So I keep getting caught in the act.
That’s the immutable, that’s 
the inscrutable and irrefutable fact.
So I look stupid? Hoopdy-do.
So, by the way, you two-leggèd
chattering mammal, do you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Too Many Questions

Too Many Questions
(Pardon my bravado, but I believe I have, with this freshly baked combo, just done the best drawing, poem & video I may ever have done.
But what do I know, right?)
What is excellence?
Can it be defined as honoring the efficacious
application of a skill? Is it entirely obsessed
with an assessment of design? Does it mainly
cheer about a clear establishment of form?
Must it entail minute attention to detail? Does it
emerge from the amorphous as a mystery? –
or as the moral substance, then the tool and then
the servant of an artisan’s direct intent to civilize
the swarm of the competing instincts of the world
into another paradigm which might induce
a less disastrous norm? Does it suggest the tale
that we’re perfectible might after all be true?
Does it mainly have to do with altering the notion
that humanity is faltering, seeking through
its offices to bring us to believe again in an ideal –
and that achieving excellence is how to make it
real? Does it depend on will or serendipity or luck?
Does it flourish in that fluctuating moment
just before created things appear, just before
the lonely object is enmeshed in all the warm
accoutrements of flesh, or does it show itself
right afterward, in harsher specificity, primally
adjusting to incarnate life right here? If it had
a face, what would it be like? Shocked, delighted,
frightened or excited, unknowing or omniscient,
calm or overwhelmed? Does it describe when light
consumes the sight from floor to rafter, illumining
us into newness, intoxicating us with clarity?
Is it the smoothing of disparity? Does it make
us feel enormous or so tiny that we can’t believe
we are permitted to be in its presence?
I was told once by a poet who is greater
than I’ll ever be: “never fill a poem up with
questions. Let them be implicit, like a sigh.”
Oh my. I’ll never be that kind of fancy dancer.
I want an answer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Vestigial Rage

A dozen selves barged their way into today.
They took up the space of two chairs.
I ought to have held back eleven of them:
only one hadn’t needed repairs:
endlessly winding and grinding and lying
unpacking their made-up affairs
and making ridiculous dicks of themselves
putting on their unbearable airs.
I ought, I suppose, to claim some of the blame
for letting them out to rampage.
Disingenuously crying “how did that happen?”-
thinly disguised vestigial rage
at the too many times that I barely could breathe
when I didn’t yet know that the page
I was on wouldn’t be the last page I’d be on.
Oh yeah, I unlocked their cage.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Where to Keep the Bipeds

Not a pet I’d get. You try to leash
a wobbly two-legged manimal
and walk it down the street,
heading toward catastrophe,
skull to ass to feet. Mumbling,
squalling, stumbling, falling, peeing
on or tripping over paws, yours or 
those of other dogs. One hears they're
smart. Not so we can tell. All we see 
them do is eat and fart. (They sleep 
quite well.) But try to make them heel, 
play dead, roll over, fetch a bone –
or indicate the least capacity to think:
they’d rather squat alone and blink.
Primitive in realms olfactory and otic,
they essentially can’t hear or smell.
Thank the Dog Star I’m a sturdy
main-line canine quadruped, four
feet on the ground, intelligent,
true blue. Keep bipeds in a zoo.