Tuesday, October 30, 2018

What One Needs Must Label Crap

I once trafficked in ladies to find just the one
I could train as the perfect receptive syntactical lens:
to sort out the sentences, lend them the grace
and the pace of convivial diction, a well-bred young 
woman who rarely read fiction (she'd much prefer
Hobbes, Kant and Hume) I'd treat with the blooming
immensities of my respect for the bulwark of all
the defenses she'd wield that I'd need against
ill-begot ventures. With a gasp I remanded Amanda
to this sacred task the moment she strode into view –
it was clear I'd find nobody else with the same alert 
sensitive snap, apprehending the least apercu and velleity,
and who'd be able to rid us of what one needs must
label crap: to be sensitive sensor and censor a qui j'irai
envoyer chaque nouveau truc, each precious new thing
that I daily will do which I wittily label sneak preview
(I am a droll sort, as she'll see) and that she, only she
and herself after me, none the better or worse for how
virtually she and I would be tools in the service
of aiding the cause, an objective case her and obedient
me, which (now turning to who) would thereby soon
free her herself, my myself, not to mention one's oneself
to float up and onto and over the ramparts of subject 
and object, the nominative and the word after of, to or with
prepositionally dangling impotently and abjectly dejected,
oh what would become of the glory we'd just have 
projected but sometimes (as now) clearly knew was
a no-go, a phooey, too gluey to think it would ever 
be served. But it would. Oh it would! Be served, so to say. 
And to use the vernacular, be just the whiz, just the fizz,
just the ism, the prism, le truc absolut that turned out to be
perfectly what the tight posse of she, me, herself, I and we,
whether virtually or in exigent actual separate collectively
parsed permutations of that noun or adjective, adverb
or verb, in the long and the short run, deserved.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Harvey Lost All of his Teeth

Harvey lost all of his teeth. You had a tooth fairy,
his was a tooth thief. His teeth came to grief
early on. The baby ones went in the usual way but
then so did their siblings chip, soften and crumble
and turn their array into ruins: normally, new teeth
that grew were shoo-ins for staying to chew. But now
a mere cough made another slip off – a moderate
shout once made thirteen fall out. One winter he’d
shivered a little at dawn. Three splintered abruptly,
flew hither and yon. They tried to nail implants
into his frail bone. But the implants fell out
and left Harvey alone. False teeth were fashioned
at last as a cure but they tortured his gums. His
prognosis was dour. Then the Tooth Thief revealed his
unparalleled plan to the man. (Tooth Thief now long
had been Harvey’s one friend.) His grandma Ruth
Loose-Tooth defended it when she was dying. Teeth
were what kept human beings from flying. One didn’t

know why, who cared about why? He ruthlessly wanted
the man he made toothless to fly. He’d chosen him
randomly, spun around close-eyed to choose the first
female or male his eyes chanced to espy when they
opened: there lay un-marvelous Harvey, lying abed in
his baby clothes, sucking out one little tooth, then
another, another until there were no more of those
in his head. When finally toothless and ready – was
Harvey a whiz in the sky! As Harvey rose up on air flow
he bid all of the teeth in the world a goodbye. His mother
cried “Harvey, don’t go!” But that was a show. She’d
never have stopped him with smothering mother-ness,
forcibly sappy. She’d never seen Harvey remotely
as happy. He soared. His life had been mush. It now
was a sword. Is there a moral here, maybe? Don’t grow
your teeth back, the ones known as baby. You’ll suffer
their lack with a charming if toothless wide grin. Just
think of the freedom of heaven you soon will be in.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Here's the Deal

So here’s the deal.
Here’s what’s real.
You arrive.
You’re alive.
You fend for yourself
till your body wears out.
Then, with a shout
or a doubt or without,
Your body takes a dive
And you go.
That’s the show.


Rather Too Terribly Happy

We got rather too terribly happy today.
Like too many Santa’s piled high in a sleigh.
Ate too much confetti, and too little hay.
Even your mom wouldn’t come out to play.
One little grin, and you all ran away.
As if you believed we believed you were prey.
As if our great pleasure in greeting you,
And our gladness at last to be meeting you
To ask you to dinner, entreating you
To believe that we soon would be seating you
At our table meant we’d be deleting you:
As if here is where we would be eating you.
As we caught the thought you were thinking –
After sighing and gasping and blinking –
We found ourselves gracefully sinking
Into an idea: that by steaming you, shrinking
Your bits to a broth, and sieving your stinking
Effluvia off, you would be ready for drinking!
We got rather too terribly happy once more
And decided that it would amount to a bore
To discuss it but never accomplish the chore
Of refining you into a soup we’d adore.
So with wherewithal, wherein and therefore
We swore: We’ll make consommé! Let it pour.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Quora Question, sort of answered.

Guy Kettelhack
Guy Kettelhack, lives in New York City (1975-present)

New York City - which in this context has to mean Manhattan - is a big sneak. She’s perfectly ready to support any hypothesis about her you bring to her. Every argument has merit. Anything infinite has this luxury: since it already iseverything. But I think she’s especially sneaky about architecture. What may very nearly universally be the inner image we have of her, largely induced by 30s Hollywood movies, is her brash sophisticated Art Deco phallically jagged skyline. Surely, one assumes, she must have the best buildings in the world.
Indeed, some are noteworthy, one or two perhaps ‘great’, but to me no one of them strikes me as the exemplar, the adequate personification of her, not even the ‘best’ urban architecture in the world. Numerous cities - Paris, Vienna, Rome, et al - might be said to edge her out in single ‘great’ buildings. But none can claim, I think, the same power of collective effect.
Certainly many buildings are iconic - the Empire State Building probably wins that prize - but if architecture defines New York, for which I think an air-tight case can be made that it does, it’s architecture in the aggregate. It’s the effect of a great interior decorator whose vision is very much more the point than the furniture she arranges, fine or desultory as it variously can be, to carry it out. New York’s special effects, part of her sneaky beauty, are what grab you, stay with you, get under your skin. The skyline is the great accomplishment, even though coming upon it in the distance on a grey day when driving in from Long Island, it can look unprepossessing, grim, even a little puny. Of course that’s another of her change-artist ploys: you want grim? Oh baby, she’ll give to you. You have no idea.
But back to where we want to be: the best and the brightest. I confess right off I lost interest in imagining I could come up with a building that exemplified architecture in New York. Of much greater interest to me is the building that suggests the heart and soul of New York. So that became my divining rod. And that stick led me to two contenders for the crown. One just barely edges out the other.
That close second is the Chrysler Building. Like all great art, she defeats any attempt to nail down exactly what moves you about her. But I choose her as almost the Number One Synechdoche for New York - the single brand or specific instance of and in the city that as semaphore and metaphor might stand in for Manhattan herself - because she’s a gorgeous freak. You want her hat. You want to live in it - be it. You want to ride her tightly rising Art Deco adornments all the way up, you want to have her. She stands out the way Garbo overtook any movie she was ever in. Her strangeness rivets you.
But to me there is an even more abundantly strange and enticing lady in the city who still awaits the acclaim she deserves - 121 years after her année de naissance, that magical year the sound of whose very array of numbers seems to define something poignantly essential about New York just before she passed into our era - 1897: the Bayard–Condict Building which stands at 65 Bleecker Street and is the only work of architect Louis Sullivan in New York City. Here’s Wikipedia’s entry on her: Bayard–Condict Building - Wikipedia
She’s breath-taking when you come upon her. She’s always unexpected - even when you know exactly where she is. She exalts the vertical as the “skyscraper” (a term relatively contemporary to her) she agrees to be seen as, which she does with such a delicately glorious amassing and vining up of some of the most intricate carved stucco surfaces you’ll see anywhere in the world, and which in this gritty block of mercantile Bleecker Street, sings out like choirs of ‘better’ Gibson Girls, both more voluptuous and heavenly than that earthbound crowd. The surface decoration embraces art nouveau but in a way that unites it decoratively both backward to the rococo and forward to the sleekness of Art Deco, if really only the barest hint of the latter (not least its strong verticality). What it is, is Chicagoan Louis Sullivan’s great love letter to New York. This is part of what gives her the sense of BEING in some measure New York.
In a way all architecture in Manhattan are love letters to her. The small deli, the ugliest early ‘60s rectangular box apartment buildings, an 1858 row house in Chelsea, and on and on. But Mr. Sullivan’s sole edifice in New York to my mind amounts to the best of them. She forms and breaks the heart and forms it again. Like the best beauties she defeats photography. The swatches of her you’ll see in the Wikipedia article (all with attributions) do point out her glories in chopped form. But none do her any but remote justice.

Three Minutes Past Friday

“Let’s have a shindig and foster disunity
raise up some hell till we’ve lost our impunity
not that we ever had much to rely on
what law can alter the night you will die on?
Three minutes past Friday is when you will go.
When I make the plan, trust me, It Will Be So.
Undress for this party, my frail little friend -
you were bare at the start, so you’ll be at the end.

He rants as if he is the Devil on Friday
He tries to forget that each Friday is my day
And my day, like all days, remains sacrosanct.
There’s only one day after all, God be thanked
for abolishing fear that you’ll leave our fraternity: 
heaven is here and you’re here for eternity,
you can’t escape, evanesce into night
and the endlessness we all must face in this light
that will never turn off. All Devils are Gods,
and Gods are all Devils. That sets up the odds
and bevels the levels of our destiny
which we’re living right now and always will be.