Poetry, fait accompli

May 2, 2011

It starts so peaceful-like, like clouds that might
bring rain out on the horizon, this poem, just like a cloud’s
existence, to be sure, but such a calm one, full
of shallow tears against a heedless earth—

no tornadoes, no cats flung into space, not today,
just a gentile rain…and puddles.  Earth’s face is left
unscarred, like in that poem, I Wandered Lonely as
a Cloud,
where daffodils provoke a store

of memories, something for us to savior late
in life, lying on the couch, oh, a touch
pensive perhaps, perhaps the gout is acting up…
Or it’s like in that Elizabeth Bishop poem,

The Fish, where she says everything is rainbow,
rainbow, rainbow!
It seems the storm has passed
us by again, and—happy thought—neither
the fish nor poem must die. Or end.

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2 Responses to “Poetry, fait accompli”

  1. extrasimile Says:

    John… a hundred cares, a tithe of troubles… and yes, the tornadoes in the mid-west were in my mind, as a contrast to the gentle rain of a little poem. Perhaps I am still thinking about slow poetry—or at least about the kind of ambition a poem must have in our post-literary culture. The passion of puddles and not tornadoes. But optimism? Let’s say, I try to stay in touch with my ‘inner Freddy’. Is poetry a way to say in public what cannot quite be said in polite society? A way of exploring the ‘self’ below the ‘self’? A way of preserving a respect for words in a world where that may not be possible? (Consider the spectacle of our president having to call the killing of Osama bin Laden ‘justice’ when the word is clearly ‘revenge’.) The Fish is one of my favorite poems.You might take a look at The Moose; it approaches the same territory. And, yes, astonishing is the right word–but it’s a light rain, not a cloud burst.

  2. John Stevens Says:

    I’ve been slow to comment on this poem but I enjoyed it a great deal when I first saw it and wanted to return this weekend when I had time to do it justice.
    I like the slow unfolding of the thoughts, the syntax and the lines, the tranquil mood, the optimism, and the relief that we’ve been spared some great devastation.
    Almost incidentally I wonder whether the recent tornadoes in the USA were part of the inspiration – they don’t have to be in mind of course for the poem to work as a metaphor for any number of situations in which readers might find themselves.
    (I had to look up Elizabeth Bishop’s poem – what an astonishing tour de force!)


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