Archive for September, 2009

From ‘Three Philosophical Poets’

September 29, 2009

This thought from George Santayana:

If a short passage is poetical because it is pregnant with suggestion of a few things, which stretches our attention and makes us rapt and serious, how much more poetical ought a vision which was pregnant with all we care for? Focus a little experience, give some scope and depth to your feeling, and it grows imaginative; give it more scope and more depth, focus all experience within it, make it a philosopher’s vision of the world and it will grow imaginative in a superlative degree, and be supremely poetical. The difficulty, after having the experience to symbolize, lies only in having the imagination to hold and suspend it in thought; and further to give this thought such verbal expression that others may be able to decipher, and to be stirred by it as by the wind of suggestion sweeping the whole forest of their memories.

A vision which is pregnant with all we care for…

The Pictures He Paints

September 23, 2009


Those ratty kids. Those names they put him through—

Like Little Boy, and Tiny Alpha Man,

Like Dog Head, like Krakatoa—my son,

He’s a volcano? They’re comparing him

To a volcano?—well, he saw it through,

And I guess he did see the explosion…

But you don’t know what you look like,

Do you?—or how tall you are, or big…


…Until those photographs came out in Life—

With captions like:  A Giant, The Pictures

He Paints, Prometheus.  A cover story,

His body, log-like, gaunt. The whole country

Saw them. The world.  And it hurt him too, I saw

It in his eyes. He’d thought it was to be

About his painting, not a ghost story,

Not a freaky giant.  These days they’re famous,

These pictures, taken by a famous photographer,

But at the time, we didn’t know that or care

About it. This woman comes out, sits on

The porch with her camera, and takes

A few ‘shots’ of Harvey, and the next thing

You know, he’s in Life. Harvey was serious

About his painting. He had a few shows

Before he died.  He even sold a few portraits.

Harvey was seven foot three inches tall,

A giant man, with a six year olds’ thoughts

And mind. Even so, even as a kid,

He knew about Prometheus, he knew

A god lived in his soul, the ghost of a god…

Imagine that.

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September 13, 2009


It has to be something like this. ‘A’

(He has no name as yet) is telling this

Preposterous lie to the womenfolk.

It’s also a proprietary lie,

Which means, although he senses disbelief,

He does not know the truth as yet, just lies—

But you’ve already guessed this part, right?—

Maybe he can’t, maybe he doesn’t even want

To know the truth—still, standing there, too late

To change his mind, he makes a bad decision

And tells the story like it was Collier

Who was lying, not ‘A’—Collier, the foil,

Collier, the character. To wit:

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Quest Topos

September 7, 2009


Suppose two monks are searching for a river, for

A certain bridge. Suppose they think this bridge

Is magical, that it will change the water

Into salt—transform the river into salt-like tears—

And thereby let the monks enter the sacred lands

That lie ‘beyond horizons’. Just suppose this.


Of course, they have adventures on the way.

Some stuff right out of Harryhausen—like a fire

Exhaling dragon, two two-headed vipers, and

Arachnids carrying poison spears that spin

Webs out of burning sulfur…Then they cry:

Childe Roland to the dark tower came!


Because they do come to a river, and…

It’s wide and calm and shallow. No big deal.

Why, they could wade across right here,

Be done with it, the quest complete, a piece

Of cake. The monks are puzzled. This is too easy.

Not part of the quest topos. And no bridge.

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Too Much Music

September 2, 2009


I don’t know, you just can’t beat a good parade—

And John Philip Sousa, either.  Either

The Colonel Bogey March, or Stars and Stripes

Forever—or—do both! A row of drums,

A row of trumpets, fifes and flutes, my fav

The glockenspiel, the cymbals, saxophones,

Sousaphones, of course. Then—then—the Mayor’s car,

The fire department, police cars, girl scouts,

Boy Scouts, the K of C—fucking A—even the

4 H Club wants in!  Still, it’s a strange, strange

Prolegomenon to silence, this parade.

Like, it could be an ancient battle of

The bands, like that Charles Ives’ thing where

These two bands march along Main Street, you know,

And pass each other playing all the tunes

They can imagine…and imagine they do it

Every day, music for everybody,

24/ 7. Some imagination, right?

But silence used to speak louder than that.

Turn off the lights, my dear. It’s time for bed.

The music of the spheres is greater still.

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