Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Investigations: a Prose Poem

I tried to give them identities - Columbia seniors or first yr grad students? gay, straight? - but they kept slipping out of any container. Musing on them made me appreciate the vast shallow ambiguity of youth, the unformedness of it, here offered in such appealing promise, a kind of perfection of a moment - as if with exactly the color, consistency, shape, size & temperature, say, a soft-boiled egg should have and be at the 1:46 mark of the 5 & a half minutes their destiny requires them to cook. Every age has a perfection to which it aspires.

Then I looked down at my two-toned because half-water logged brown shoes & mused on what ‘maturity’ could possibly mean. (I don’t see the connection either but that’s the chronology of association.) And the best business of a definition I could think of for ‘maturity’ in sentient (self-aware) beings was that it suggested the condition of intentional life in which economical pragmatism held sway - a stage of life in which navigating the world encouraged questioning reflex assumptions out of the determination to coax out of life what you wanted to appear — marking an awareness of what the full psyche wanted, not merely the presenting self, and the discernment to see in available resources which could be used for what ends. ‘Mature’ most simply implied ‘fully operative.’ It had no necessary moral or other preconceived aim. Then I looked up at these 21 yr olds again. They looked then as they look to me now in this photo: completely transparent and intransigently impenetrable, immune to the importuning of any generality. They still seemed like they didn’t know squat, but that may be because I don’t. 
Is investigation ever really profitable?


Dans le Cas de Cette Dame*

Commençons à regarder,
dans le cas de cette dame,
aux variétés de "désespoir".

Chaqu’une d’eux est subtilement
plus exécrable que son frère

(Frère? Eh bien, peut-être sœur.
Semblable? Pas au coeur.)
Ils souffrent d’une autre
sorte de savoir-faire:
plus étrangement attrapé;
motifs, beaucoup moins claires.

*In This Lady’s Case

Let’s begin to look,
in this lady’s case,
at varieties of “désespoir“.
Each of them is subtly
more execrable than its
American brother “despair.”

(Brother? Well, maybe sister.
Similar? Not in the heart.)
They suffer from another
sort of know-how:
more strangely trapped;
motives, much less clear.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Auf Wiedersehen

A sudden funk just soused me
like an Indian Summer rain, quick
and humid, narcissistically denying blame – 

It said I was a nonsense rhyme – in sickly thick 
molasses purgatory – with fuck-all left to do: 
arguably thus to misconstrue whatever

had been holding me, ostensibly to reassure: 
it turned out to be luckless you. Why had you
come back, Frau Schadenfreude? –

(“why should I avoid her?” I was wont to say once,
meaning you.) But back then how excruciatingly
you entertained! – your schadenfreude measure

of dissociative pleasure, grimly laughing,
at your leisure, at misfortunes of whoever
wasn’t you. That had once been my taste, too:

indulging the exultant false guffaw – giggling
at the saccharine taste of any show of caring.
How daring and sophisticated it felt then

to think it was the truest view, the most
authentic taste of Being. How illuminating now
to know that I’d been seeing, tasting nothing.

Bitte, meine lieber Frau: auf wiedersehen.
Good riddance to your hell
with all its hollow comedy of pain.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Flaring Up and Flaming Down

Flaring up and flaming down abound around this town.
Everything and everyone aspire to the vast. Hyperbole
is bred and bled from first to last: their best is better
than your best, the worst more cursed. While no one

says they court catastrophe, it would blaspheme to think
or dream they didn’t. They have no truck with calm. Eyes
light up at prospects of the doomed and irreversible, like
being cornered in a cul-de-sac beneath a falling bomb.

If it entails a raging fire it stokes these folks’ desires.
For any badly misbehaving lass or lad, they’re glad to open
up, indeed will dope them up if they’ve a chance. Excess
marks success. They undergo what it requires: humiliation

and exposure, embarrassment, disclosure. We watched
a nude hermaphrodite alighting on a falling quadrupedal
humanoid ignite the air around them to a white-hot blare –
which singed their naked nether regions badly.

They madly wished they’d put on pants. We asked them
where they came from. They said it wasn’t France. Well,
we thought, at least one thing was clear. We’d reached
the point where we devoutly wished we weren’t here.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Trials and Travails. Saturday Prevails.

Doesn’t Saturday seem like a Tuesday, somehow, these days?
Hasn’t Tuesday acquired a bit of that Saturday bliss and haze?
Saturday did it: bull-dozed into Tuesday a week ago, took on
its twenty-four hours, shoved Tuesday into its old central place:
that prison of weekend space that Saturday hates, and vacated.

Saturday simply refused, as the rest of the week’s days would
later relate, to remain where it was any longer. “I can’t take
the pressure of being the favorite day of the week – pretending
I’m stronger and happier, saucier, sappier, sweeter, more cheerful
than all of the other week’s days whose position, effectively barring

the way to the prospect of perfect contentment and leisure for which
I am speciously known – pretending I’d always be able to flatten,
condone or inflate or conform to their pleasure and beckon them
into a warm embrace, make the case that whatever they wanted
I had, that they never again need be sad, that as long as there

dawned a new Saturday morn they’d be glad they were born.
I needed a break. Couldn’t keep telling that lie. Friday and Sunday?
I bid you goodbye.” So if Tuesday and Saturday seem to be strange –
the former a touch more enlivening, the latter more worn
and withdrawn – well, now you know why. They’re both getting by.

Tuesday is doing the weekend okay – dispenses an adequate bliss.
Saturday (wedged between Monday and Wednesday pretending
it’s Tuesday) has just now begun to relax and become the one day
to take off we from time to time seek illegitimately: peek out, do
something amiss. Take an al fresco piss. Find lips, sneak a kiss.


Monday, October 23, 2017

My Sport

My father, and my mother, too
have gone the way of others who
no longer walk the earth. They spun
my spinning top of destiny at birth.

They set up all the rest of me.
What's beyond this vast elastic Dearth
of anything that matters?, this incarnate
just-won't-do? What are our tasks

when we’re alive and after? Maybe
daddy's doubled up in laughter reading 
random passages about the past in vast
Akashic records speckled through 

etheric texts dissolved in motes
of hydrochloric acid floating
imperceptibly above Alaska. He’s not
around to ask. Is Mommy in a belfry 

making existentially elucidating fudge,
so dense it will not budge?
Does Bob my bro still hold a grudge
against them? Is he on an ocean-liner

now regaling him with whales?
And so I fence them in with speculative
tales and stories about offhand glory.
They're flakes of nothingness, most likely,

as I'll be as well. Hell is when you break
the spell. Unless I'm wrong. Speculation's
long, and death defines long’s opposite:
there’s nothing shorter than can’t-be.

I slap my knee. My sport is
to report on it and disagree.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Another Test

The question’s not to be or not – hey, who’s that man behind the curtain?
Does he dare to eat a peach? No, I’m certain we reach into other regions
of – I want to say intention! – I wish there were intention! – I wish that I
believed in guidance from a hand or from a holy man or from the grandeur
of a Bach to Bach seduction, and it doesn’t mean I don’t, that is, “believe”,
it’s just it doesn’t matter. Want to shatter into bits? Believe in sociopathy.

Or cleave to opportunity instead, when you are rolling out of bed and take
your shambles to the bathroom and regard the thing that mirrors back
into your eyes as not-so-bad this morning come, perhaps, to think.
Today your soul may come to drink from some new just-discovered spring.
Let’s get practical about this drawing thing. You say it’s random. Is it?
Is it like the physics in that quizzical imagined business called mutation?

Stick a “random” on mutation: Darwin did, Darwin thought he had to. Or is
questioning esthetic? Is there an impulse toward the beautiful? When I got
my six buck sale-price plastic bag of Sharpies, did it mean I wouldn’t start
my next perplexity emerging from the void? Mutation can’t be random.
It starts from something proven, there, like Steuben glass looked on a shelf
all lit up like a brain when you were ten, a class trip to the city. It wasn’t pretty.

It was crucial. Rain’s not random: it’s solution. Inevitable child of two
parental elements deciding that the temperature is right not just, as always,
to collide but to collude in something so salubrious it has the power to enact
a generating enterprise, to aid a thing to breed. It changes need into creation.
Water is a dare. To eat a peach. To reach the man behind the curtain.
To be or not to be a question. Somewhere there’s another test. And


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Makes, Measures, Gives, Lends, Is

The premise which makes every other
premise so uninteresting they're rendered
ineffectual and therefore inadmissible –

the measure of what gives us a voluptuous
capacity for leisure, lends us everything
we treasure, and whose generative power
is invincible: the Pleasure Principle.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How He Painted His Portrait

He began by standing
grandly like a cavalier –
a wily stylish royalist –
bound to his king by reflex –
all ample elegant virility,

tastefully testosteroned:
his thrill was real. He warily
leaned back – quick hands
turned cowboy: reached
for guns – tense spine

relaxed into impasto, half-
mixed hues, whites, blues
and greens – scarlet,
black and turquoise mark
the outer limits of the paint:

there’d be a void
of unalloyed un-painted
canvas beyond that:
what color could one call
unpainted canvas?

Ridiculous and inexplicable:
no point beyond existing.
Someone said to think our
species had more purpose
than to be organic landfill

was presumption. But
presumption will insist. His
cowboy/cavalier’s still here.
Albeit with those funny
squiggles out each ear.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Private Blue

Assuming, as I am today disposed to do,
that there’s no reason not to think
whatever we would like to think is true,
I have decided that you trade in an ephemeral

but incontestable exasperating magic which
creates the cloud that you inhabit and accrue
by simply being you: that you in any other
context – Idaho or Timbuktu – would be as

inexpressibly uniquely new as you seem now.
Every day I look and see what seems to be
the recognizably colluding is-and-what-and-how
of you: contours that depict familiar outlines

and announce your various peculiarities
and unmistakable phenomena – no doubt
whom I am looking at – that brush of shadow
in your eyes and face – inveterate elusive

specked-with-sun-gold linearity which finds
some parity in cherubim, but more invokes
a camaraderie with poltergeists and demons
whose deft steaming sweet shenanigans

will never be denied: every day I see the slide
into the mystery of how you claim complete
autonomy – dimensionally here in every way –
and yet with some strange inexplicability:

there is a crucial floating thread in you, an art
connected to an answer in your heart – or so
I am assuming, as today I am disposed to do –
which drifts astray into a private blue.


Monday, October 16, 2017

She and Her Hammock, Her Hammock and Her

“Hang up a hammock,” her spirit guide
told her one night in a nice enough dream:
“sit in it often until something softens inside
and you feel something gleam.”

“Soon you will see it. It will go grow clearer
as long as your hammock and you co-construe
to co-habitate: gently and warmly get nearer
by sitting, awaiting the next breakthrough.”

She thought: won’t be hard to do that.
The hammock and she got along like a charm:
they happily nestled like lap and cat.
And then she began, with the faintest alarm,

to see the dream’s gleam had arrived.
Her hammock had brought her transcendency
which she now knew was why they had thrived.
Hammock and she were in love. Destiny.