Friday, April 26, 2019

Three Rondeaux

my situation otherwise*
my situation otherwise is simply what
occurs each time I think I have exhausted
ways to demonstrate my idiocy, which
bit of hubris seems of a sudden to require
conscious re-activation of what is,
in fact, in me, ongoingly, a ruthless
subterranean mining excavation bent
(on revealing the infinite inexhaustibility
of my idiocy – which pursuit, now
enlivened, effortlessly egests more proof
of it, lest I should ever unhumbly think
my situation otherwise.)

beyond the blindest grope
Beyond the blindest grope! no greater call
when I have seen the ravages of all
I do not know, spread out syntactically
unbeautifully: half-clauses so impractically
half-glued into the ghastliest of junctures,
unrepentant, brashly stupid punctures
prickle on the surface, stab deep in
(trickle fluids over pebbled skin,
drip down in obeisance to parity
with gravity, lacking linearity
of thought or other trace of scope
beyond the blindest grope – )

in the dying of the light
in the dying of the light, no greater call
than that to clean the mind up, find reason
for a wind-up, achieve capacity at some
point to believe that there’s a time
to stop that’s not a stage prop in a play
suspending showy effluences of
a playwright’s way with words.
(Should that rhyme with birds
or thirds or turds? What girds
us into battle when we near the end?
What fight is left to fight
in the dying of the light?)


* Every once in a while, I go all weirdly meticulous and “academic” with poetry. I don’t ever do it well for two reasons. Unaided by Google, I don’t know enough about poetic form and metrics and the rest of it to have anything approaching an easy grasp of it (if it sometimes appears as if I do, it’s because Google is God, permitting an assiduous-seeming investigation that can be done in a few minutes and can pull the wool over many eyes, though not those belonging to Reed Woodhouse). Anyway, I wondered when I was done with the first draft of this tripartite thing, each stanza really a separate poem of twelve lines, what if any label there might be for a twelve line poem. I could find only one: The Rondeau Prime, which at least as described by one Lawrence Eberhart in a thread called “Poetry Forms” in the site “is a short variation of the Rondeau originating in 13th century France. It allows more rhyme than the Rondeau, but incorporates its defining feature of the integration of the rentrement. (opening phrase of the first line which is repeated as a refrain.) The Rondeau Prime is: ○ in French syllabic, in English tends to be iambic meter, line length is optional as long as the lines are relatively equal, with the exception of the shorter rentrement. ○ 12 lines, made up of a septet (7 lines) followed by a cinquain (5 lines). ○ rhymed, rhyme scheme abbccbR abbaR, R being the rentrement.
I wasn’t about to futz with that rhyme scheme in any of these three forays into form. Actually, to my mind what I wanted to do was more interesting. There would be no rhyme scheme to speak of in the first poem, “My Situation Otherwise.” “Beyond the Blindest Grope” would by contrast be a sort of strict nursery rhyme aabbccddeeff – rhymed couplets, that is. The third one, “In the Dying of the Light,” is Guy rhyme – you’ll recognize it from what I usually do. I liked the mix of that soundwise. It made the poems hold onto their autonomy. I did like, in each, wheedling in the idea of the septet followed by a cinquain, and, never the subtle poetic wheedler, I proceeded both to italicize and parenthesize those last five lines in each of these Rondeaus Prime.  That structural break: with its set up of promise in the first seven lines, and presumably delivery of the promise in the last five (I’ve no idea if the poems delivered on that) was a set-up and pay-off that might tease you into buying it as real, rooted truth. And oh! the phenomenon of a “rentrement,” who can resist a refrain? Rentrement – what a wonderful word to pronounce in French (I like all the French words meaning or suggesting re-entry or coming back that begin with those rich French sounds “re” (reviens, revenir, reconciliation) and “ren” (rendez-vous, rencontrer, renseignements).
With language that sounds like that, who cares what it means?
It’s apparent, perhaps should be dreadfully apparent, that “who cares what it means?” is probably my only theme these days. That alone should get me banned from the bookstores. Assuming I ever get into one again.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Maternal Gravity

It was once believed that objects
fell because they longed to reunite
with Mother Earth. But then when
his bright telescope-amended eyes
began to re-write principles and give
mathematic birth to truth suggesting it
was otherwise, Galileo would provide
the proof in 1632 that Destiny decreed
he must devise, inspired by the brave
heretical Copernicus and making way
for Isaac Newton who, in 1687, in full
flower of his genius, as if he had
received its laws from God, conceived
his vast Principia, whose academic
suavity elaborately would with elegant
precision undermine and redefine
the inexplicabilities, the premises,
proclivities, as they’d been thought
to be, of gravity. That is, until
Einstein upended it with relativity.
But still, the old belief that objects
fall because they long to reunite with
Mother Earth supplies to us far better
reason for descent, in fact requites
the feverish desire for her love we hide
behind a show of calm surmise that
physics springs no less than we do from
maternal turf. A mother is why we arise,
and why we fall. She is the land, the air,
the surf, the flood, the draught, groaning
quake, lonely squall. Mother said she
was the only explanation for it all.

Friday, April 12, 2019

First of All

23rd street
First of all, please know that the entirety of New York City
fits in my back pocket – no one part of it is any distance at all
from any other once you’ve mastered the subway which
existentially erases distance. Think about it. You walk down
the stairs in a hole in the street, you wait for a train, or rather
you wait for a door to open in a compartment that pulls up
in front of you and you step in and sit down and three, maybe
34th street
four or five or six times more the same door opens and people
walk in and out, and finally the door opens a seventh time
42nd street
onto the platform which features symbols (words and/or
numbers) you associate with your destination and you get
out and walk up the stairs through another hole and you’re
there. Or rather in another here. Where is distance even
noticeable in that transit? And what have you done to make
the transit? Let’s go over it again. You descended into a hole
and waited for a compartment to appear, sliding in on two
59th street
parallel metal tracks offering you through its opening doors
ingress to an enclosure into whose premises you walked a few
125th street
steps and sat down on a bench and eventually according
to various expectations being met that you had grown to harbor
meanings and identities to give you a sense that things were
knowable, you got up and ascended through another hole to find
yourself here. So you see, although we go up and down and in
and out of many holes in New York, they never take us there.
They’re only ever here. There’s also no time. There’s only eternity.
145th street
As you learn when you sit and discover you can’t detect time
any more than you’re able to know where you are besides here.
168th street
You see, the time and space continuum is a hoax. But not
a nasty one. Reality can only serve up to us those parts of itself
that we can imagine. That’s precious little of its whole. The needy
Human Soul is on the dole. It has to be carefully fed the few things
it can digest. Then it must get a lot of rest. Is there more for it
to learn? Beyond measure, yes. Will it develop the wherewithal
to swallow it all and understand? One can’t begin to guess.
175th street